Night Commuters

Have you seen Hotel Rwanda? If so, you will know some of the experiences you can expect of reading this article about the 'Night Commuter' children of Uganda.

I imagine that after encountering a story like this we go through a series of emotions. Sadness, anger, possibly rage, charity, longing... I felt overwhelmed. I cried. I fantasized about a team of US elite military going in and wiping out those monsters. Now, something strikes me about the article. They would like to offer - even the leaders of the atrocities - a chance to reconcile (if it weren't for the ICC). It appears the negotiations are focused on ending the conflict - and therefore ending the need to continue doing these things to Ugandan children. It will be in my prayers - and possbily my dreams tonight. And even as I am overwhelmed by the sense of evil, I hope you will find yourself moved to pray. Whether it be like the Psalmists crying out - calling out God to His responsibility to his children, or whether it be prayers for refuge of these children.

I will accept that I don't need to go kill Kony, though I want to. But I will not accept inaction. And I do not like action out of guilt - but from the sense of injustice... that's something I can take to God. From thousands of miles away - God please move me past being overwhelmed and feeling helpless. Show me how I can join with what you want for these children even from my couch. From my bed. From my protected place.


An Organizing Principle

I sat there at the far end of the couch, scanning the warm colored wall for something of interest. An imperfection in the paint or maybe a scratch whose origins I could attempt to imagine. This was happening in one part of my brain, while the other side was reviewing what just landed inside me. I had just left a place of angry tears and my body, having just been intensely tightened and relaxed, was very comfortable and light feeling.

As if finding an old memory in the shed behind the house I grew up in, I was reflecting on my life with a strange sense of nostalgia. The images and memories felt like artifacts, but the nostalgia was sad. I picked up one memory and looking at myself realized how it all fit. I came across what appears to be an organizing principle for my life. I did this quietly, sensing that this organizing primciple operated almost unconsciously at an assumptive level. It organized my decisions, my perception, my actions. "I believe I have to give until I am empty," fell from my mouth like I was reading an inscription from the back of a photograph.

I saw her eyelids squeeze just slightly closer. "Sounds like co-dependency disguised as Christianity." 'True enough', I felt. I knew the codependent character traits well, and fit them quite handily. It was not an unfamiliar thought - we had discussed this before at one point. My sadness came from realizing that I was stuck here. "I just feel like that's how I do things. I try and pour myself out, my energy - at times my heart. I feel like I have to. To give till I'm exhausted. Pour myself out. Go till I am empty."

There was disappointment. This belief operated at a deeper level of assumptions regarding life. I knew I needed to replace it with something or I would never have the strength to leave it behind. I was stuck in this belief with which my intellect did not agree and my experience had a distaste for. 'How odd' I thought, 'if I don't have control here, how can it ever change.' Knowing my tendency to follow such disheartening thoughts I voiced what I recognized in this. "I need something else. I need to replace it with something rather than just try not to follow this. It's too familiar."

"Scott," She squared up. "You don't have to be God."

I felt like the wall of a damn had just ruptured. I felt a wave push straight up from my belly, tighten through my chest, and well up in my eyes.

"You don't have to sacrifice yourself on a cross. That's why he did that for us. So you don't have to."

I was not offended by the rudimentary nature of her response. She spoke to a very deep place that was developed by its primitive experiences of this world. She knew she spoke to a part of me that found its conclusions about the world left wanting. "You don't have to be God" she repeated to punctuate the effect.

As she confirmed her previous words it was as though they let loose all the prayers my groans couldn't articulate. It let loose the dammed up emotions which found themselves very briefly and intensely expressed as tears and bulging veins. After a moment I quickly recognized that I was on an exciting road that I was not yet ready to stop travelling, and that pausing in my pain only delayed finding its end. I was given an answer to a question I didn't realize I was asking. (What is it You want from me?)

"He wants for you to be filled up. Filled up to overflowing. He wants you to be filled with His love - and to give from that which overflows." She responded without my thoughts voiced as if reading them on my face. "You are human, and that is all He wants. That is what He loves." I felt accepted as the prodigal and a sheep. I felt comfortable as needy and dependent. I rejoiced in the thought of not feeling so lonely and empty - and being so intimately joined that I was filled up to overflowing. The water was for me! The back of my eyelids filled with images of water rushing over my edges, pouring out with new meaning. Pouring out with a steady stream behind them - rather than emptying all reserves. It was refreshing.

Exhausted now I realized - I have a new organizing principle for my life. This is not something you come across every day. An organizing principle is as good as a money tree. Simple. Clean. Enough to satisfy my imagination and to turn my energies.

Desperate, I begged, 'Do not let me forget Father. Just as new cement, may this set and cure. Do not let me forget that I'm not God. I'm loved as I am. Draw me to you!'


Who the hell am I to say?

Class finished. There he was standing in front of me with his brown suit jacket and jeans. His dark hair and wire rimmed glasses accenting the bronzed skin in just such a way to make him look like a recent USC or UCLA post-doc on his way to bigger and brighter things. That's what his appearance said - but his words didn't quite match as he wiped the tears from his left eye. It's not often that men cry with me. I think to myself "it makes sense for what he's been through" to help put myself at ease.

His wife was recently murdered. Brutally. It's not clear why. It's not clear who. I try to reserve judgement. I look in his face. A picture of a courtroom trial with me on the stand as a witness flashes through my brain to make me careful of my words. You don't want to get called in. And I begin to choose. I become deliberate.

"It's very important to consider these different consequences, because I think it's important that you be able to make the decision about what's best for your kids." With one sentence I just made the 18 inches between us into 3 feet. Everything seems important talking about death, especially so immediately. I feel inadequate.

"I was just looking for some advice because you had said that its best to be honest, and well..", he starts in.

"Considering their development I don't think that waiting to tell them would be traumatic, but it's the trust you want to preserve. Do you think they have adequate emotional support from your parents to be able to express their grief?" I pile on considerations that are beyond his emotional state. I use words and sentence structure to emphasize my composure.

He's just reaching now, eyes averted, "Yeah, I'm gonna read the rest of this packet you gave us. I really appreciate it. I just wasn't sure whether to tell them if I'm not around - and from what you said..."

I am quick to place the weight squarely back in his arms. "It doesn't seem to me that it would cause too much harm - but there is value in going through the grieving process with them. The sooner you can tell them..."

But I can't imagine. I simply can't imagine how those words would come out of my mouth and I am trying to facilitate his decision, his words! My mind goes blank. What must be flashing through his!

"Girls. I need you to hear something."
"Girls, I'm sorry but..."
"Girls, your mother, she's been..."

Blank. It overwhelms me.


First rain in 52 years... And I was there for it.

Well, the week is over. My parents flew out this morning. I think they said that this was the first rain in 52 years for the Rose Bowl parade - and my mother, she just enjoyed every minute of it.

Interesting how stubborness can seem almost like a virtue at times. We were drenched head to toe in the gusts of rain coming sideways into our backs. My boots, adequately waterproofed, filled with water. This water came running down the backs of my legs and was unfortunately held in quite well by that same waterproofing. Can't account for everything I guess. Should've just worn a wetsuit. And there I stood, cold and starting to shiver after a good hour and a half. But my mother. That woman is five-foot-two inches of farm raised, N.Y. weathered stubborness. She came all the way across the country to see this parade. You're damn well sure she's gonna.

And she did. The USC and Texas bands. The dinosaur float and the 'Little Einstiens'. The Mexican's and their horse tricks. The Ivory bubble float. And the mixed faces of the high school bands honored to come play, but now revealing how those hours of being smacked in the face with wind and pelted with rain was wearing their smiles right off. And that's when I saw it. My mother's stubborness, with her smiles and firm declarations that she was staying for the parade - it almost looked like resolve. Just for a brief moment through all my knowledge of her annoying habits and misplaced words it broke through like a ray of sun. My mother is a woman of resolve?

Huhmmph. Alright God. I get it. Yes, yes. I suppose I don't know everything. And yes, I suppose that I do need to just let them be who they are. And yes, I can see that there are good things in them that I have inherited too. And here I came for the parade. Who knew?
Yes, yes. I know. You did. God! Thank you.


The reason that it was eventful...

It's been an eventful day. I closed my conversation two days ago telling my sister and brother-in-law that I didn't care if their lives were exciting. They didn't see much worth blogging about. Itold them that "it's your perspective on it - and the connection that I like. I pop in on a blog about the dog walks a woman takes out in the middle of nowhere." I was hoping that drove my point home. Exciting - no. Meaningful - yes.

Yada, yada, yada - get back to the opening line... I woke up. Cleaned the apartment. Picked my folks up from the airport. Had lunch. Bought groceries. Showed them the sweater I bought my girlfriend for Christmas. Picked up videos. Went for a walk to Target and bought some essentials. Ate a wrap for dinner. Watched some 'Statler and Waldorf' movie reviews. Watched 'Cinderella Man." And reclined to write these lines. But those things did not make my life eventful, only a little busier.

The reason that it was eventful... I made my mother and father laugh a couple times.
I shared something I love (A la 'spicy chicken wrap from California Crisp').
I gave
them a few stories about my girl.
I got to see the look on my mother's face as she was so tickled that, yes, the sun is shining in California and she was being warmed by it.
I got to share an appreciation of simple, obvious, hokey humor from the Muppets in chuckles with my father.
And I got a picture from a movie of the kind of support we need to give our loved ones.

You know. I think I'm simple. Definitely hokey at times. Conservative with vulnerability. Even anxious at times about who I am. But today - today I am thankful that I can appreciate, even revel, in the meaning of small moments. It's a gift to find meaning. Like fresh water - its a gift.

Not much of one for missing.

I must say. I am not much of one for missing people. For the most part I rarely think about the people who are not somehow in the passings of my everyday. Makes sense to me - I tend toward the 'out of sight - out of mind' approach to life.

Well, it ends up I started missing someone over Christmas. And I gotta tell you, I don't enjoy it much. The sense of loss. The awkwardness. The longing. The un-satisfaction. It was certainly more comfortable being all independent and calloused. Now there is this sense of dangling ends and unfinished days where missing punctuation leaves some of my experiences feeling incomplete. Paused.
The reality is... I miss sharing. Its just not the same.

I'm finding there are ways to value dependence on others. It keeps a vibrance to life. As the old adage goes: absence makes the heart grow fonder.
I think I'll add: because sharing makes life more meaningful.

I'll admit it. I miss you. Just as long as people still believe in the gruff, independent exterior. A man has to to keep his self respect. : )


Burbank. Pheonix. Las Vegas. Pittsburgh. Syracuse. Oneida.

"Please watch your step - and hold on to the handrail."

"The walkway is ending. Please, watch your step."

"Please watch your step - and hold on to the handrail."

"The walkway is ending. Please. Watch your step."

The two very courteous gentleman in the speakers overhead fought for my attention. They warn these people in motion, going somewhere. Anywhere really. The airport is one of those great people watching places, much better than the mall really. It is so ripe with curiousity because people are inherently on their way. They are in motion going somewhere. There is a destination - and as they walk by I can just imagine the narratives in their heads. "I wonder if the house still looks the same. Dad always put the big, bulbous, colored lights out front on the bushes. That'd be great if they're still there." Or, "Damn! I can't believe they bumped my flight! Now I've got the stupid red eye and won't get until the morning... And Frank said he'd send a taxi! A warm reception for the brother that put him through school." Or, "This was so much easier when Ted was here. God I miss him. All this airport stuff is just too crazy for me. Maybe Ana will come up to Oregon next Christmas..."

Thousands of people going through Pheonix today. Hundreds passing by my little respite of a table at Starbucks. Talking on cell phones. Thinking of where their going. Of where they've been. Anticipating what the next few days will be like. Each person's story ripe - sitting on the edge of another chapter. Me? Well, I'm wondering what Oneida will be like. It's 3 feet deep in beautiful white insulation and I'm already waxing nostalgic about playing like I was 6 again. And 9 again. And 14 again. And maybe even some brief moments of 17. Though the earlier years are much simpler to enjoy.

Going home I realize that somehow I am all ages at once. And I bounce between them a bit, never knowing where I am going to land. What memories will pop up - and what familiar emotions will sweep in. It's true that distance somehow makes the heart grow fonder. You know - I'm not looking to make some great memories with the family this year. That seems much to daunting of a goal for my heart. I have needed to try for that in years past. Really, I'm just looking to find out where everyone is at. Find out where they are going. See their faces and expressions. Feel an embrace. And if I'm lucky - share a laugh and a smile. No expectations seem to be much more freeing than high expectations. And it even helps me feel contented sitting at Pheonix airport, before I head to las Vegas and Pittsburgh and then Syracuse and just be gald that sometime in the next 24 hours - I will be home. And probably feeling at least a bit lucky about having made it there. : )

And instead of wanting to sleep - or retract to my book, I think of all people walking by.
"Merry christmas and make your flight!"
"Be well and enjoy what you have."
"Please watch your step - and hold on to the handrail."
"The walkway is ending. Please, watch your step!"


letting my story be what it is

Hoarded Ordinaries
Pictures that make me nostalgic.
Writing about her dogwalks. And finidng meaning.

Great stories about life in canton, oh.
Each distinctly interesting in its own right - perspective affords so much.

I am what I am: Underwhelming or worthwhile

It has been an emotionally eventful haitus from posting to my small blog world. Despite the sharing of thoughts, I have still been taught many difficult things from Old life.

I have, most recently, felt more a part of the "Not yet" of the world - the unredeemed. At least I can say I come by this pessimistic side honestly - inherited from some other unhappy people I'm related to. With a taste of depression, nights of melancholy, and some numb ambivalence I have avoided looking at myself - secretly wallowing in a bit of self pity... ("Is THIS really my story, God? How depressingly underwhelming.") A thought which is very similar to that which choked any real motivation to continue sharing my story here.

But it's no use deieving myself. I am what I am - and relationally, not what I want to be. To avoid what I see in myself because I'd rather have a more dramatic or meaningful story is foolishness... and leaves me stuck in that story I am sick of.

Recently, I have realized one of the beautiful defenses tucked within my prideful, suspicious pessimism. For those who are unaware, I am a fearful kind of person. I have often and early experienced vulnerability as being one big scary liability. The avoidance of which has most certainly contributed to the architecture of a number of defenses within the foundation of the way I relate to others. When fearing (or feeling) vulnerable I begin to demean relationships that are the source of this 'weakness'. Until now it has been subconscious as a blink. I become critical - even dissmissive - of people who are otherwise special, valued, and meaningful in my life and thereby create emotional distance. ("You don't really care about me. Have it your way! That's just self-serving.") Wordlessly repeating to myself "You can't hurt me!" These responses are rather organic really - a way of relating it seems I've grown into. These defensive thoughts, I am told, are good and fine when those otherwise 'special, valued, and meaningful' people ARE hurting me (or don't care). The trouble comes when this little unconscious defense kicks in when there is not truely a threat - or a threat I cannot otherwise handle.

And here is THE problem. I keep myself from the kind of intimacy I want to have. I retreat to a lonely and distant place. And I only notice when I become emotionally numb and realize that I'm not caring about my life much anymore. When I feel mean and critical toward those people I actually want to be close to.

Thankfully, this defense has moved from involuntary defense to a choice that I can now make. That is where my hope lies - in the God-given human ability to decide my response to what life deals me.

To choose to risk.

Welcome to love. Welcome to a worthwhile story. Amen?


kiss me.

Kisses are a funny connection between two people.

Sometimes they're the words.
Sometimes they're the punctuation.

Nothing like a well placed period... or exclamation point for that matter.


Growing into my skin

So - its coming to a close. My few years of grad school, classes, and school friends. Not to mention my practicum and my clients. So many goodbyes in such a short time. Its hard to be sad around people. I don't think they know what to do with me. And actually, there's such a mix of excitement, hope, joy, and loss. I want to cry pretty consistently. I'm going to miss this part of my life. The people, the coursework, the conversations, the lessons. I feel like I have learned so much in such a shsort time.

Apparently at the baccaluareate (I can't spell), that I didn't attend, the speaker offered a good question. What would you call this chapter of your life? If you had to sum it up - how would it sound.

Adolesence all over agian
Finally facing your shit
Growing into my skin
learning to feel again

You see its exciting because I finally feel like I am beginning to get healthy. Its sad that it wasn't until recently that I learned so many important things about life that make it so valuable.

Its good to get to a point where I can "jog" and my lungs don't burn and I don't just want to quit when it hurts. I'm kind of proud to be at the point where I want to see what these legs can do. I'm not just trying to get out of bed - I'm wondering how fast I can run it out. To truly see what my limits are, possibly by failure, but to find out all the same.

To actually step into my own skin and feel. To see what I can do. To engage a hurtful and hurting world and believe that I can make it through ok and still feel every part of it. Finally ready for life...


Where's the good in goodbye

I've always avoided it. Been unemotional about it mostly. Waited until it was upon me to accept that its happening. And tried to forget that I ever had to say it. Goodbyes suck.

"Yeah, hey. I've really enjoyed having you be a part of my life. You have actually been important to me, and if I had my druthers we'd keep going on this way. But life sucks. It takes us apart sometimes. And so I'm going to say goodbye."

Where's the freaking good in the bye? I've just assumed they're good when you don't really care about having the person in your everyday. But maybe I'm missing the good as I tjoml of the loss.

I'm moving on because I've completed a long (quick) haul of a degree. I'm moving on for good reasons. And I feel blessed for some people who have been in my life, truly gifted in what we've shared. I'm moving on for good reasons. And many of them are too. Separation comes for good reasons, but it is still a loss. And hopefully when I grieve I can honor all the good with laughter, smiles, thankfulness, and tears of loss.

I don't want to lose people who are meaningful. May my tears affirm who you have been in my life. May my laughter affirm what you have meant. And may my hopes affirm the all the good you've been for me. Still hurts. I'm going to miss you.


People's deepest need

I have to admit that I have been known to be a bit of a fixer from time to time in my life. Before I 'saw the light' of how meaningful emotion truly is in life, that was my first response to everything. How do I fix it and make it better? I still hear that I do that from my girlfriend every now and then.

A few weeks ago I had a rough spot in a close relationship of mine. During the few days I felt lost, sad, angry, frustrated, and confused I was blessed by friends who met me where I was. They prayed with me and could cry with me. Who understood my pain in the situation - and who asked if they could shoulder the burden with me. I can't express what a healing experience that was for me - but one which could never have happened a year and a half ago.

I realized this progress thanks to my therapist. She reminded me how difficult it is to be met if you can't share where you are at with people. I have been rather intentional about the distance I have kept with people. This is thankfully changing - and those few days I realized... nothing really got fixed right then. But I was able to literally share my struggle - and feel some healing, redemtion, and hope - as though the force of the pain and frustration was somehow spread out over my friends also. Truly it was shared in the deepest sense of the word (and they were not just 'informed'). This might be part of the magic of human connection.

But it also emphasizes one of the great lessons of life. People's deepest need is not to be fixed - it is to be met in their pain and suffering. And this is also Christ's promise to us. He does not really promise to fix us!! He does not promise that 'everything will be alright'! He does not promise happiness or no more pain or struggle. That is not our God.

He does promise something very powerful though.
To be WITH us.
To walk beside, or sit beside and share the burden from beginning to end.
Reminds me of my friends for those days. And what I hope to do for them someday.

I am with you.


Gosh, i REALLY like you.

How is it that we come to love each other?

Now, let's be clear... I am not saying I am in love. In fact that's the crux of the problem. Realizing when it truely hits - and realizing when its ok to say.

I feel this dilemma between really like and love with my 'significant other.' And no doubt significant is an understatement. You see I can tell close friends I love them - and rather easily. And I care about her just as much, and in many of the same ways - but I can't really say "I love you."

I think we'll all agree that these are big words - and more so in a romatic relationship. I know those who refuse to share those words until they're engaged. I can understand this cautious stance - its important to protect our hearts.

But here's the sticky wicket. I'm pretty sure love happens before we express it. And if I truely love someone i want to be able to share that genuinely. I think we percieve the risk of expressing love to be either 1.) unrequited love (in which case if there's that much risk its doubtful you're actually in love...) and 2.) overexpressing our actualy position.

But we love people in so many ways!! Friends, family, lovers and on many levels. Emotion, intellect, committment, relationship, time... So what do I tell my girl in the in-between.

i really care about you?
i really like you a lot?
you're special?

all true. and all we've got till we cross into stronger expression.
it kind of stinks. but at least she knows my predicament.


God changed His mind. (Yep, that's what I said.)

Thankfully. not about loving us or sin being bad or anything like that.
But about whether to rain down wrath on Israel, destroy Sodom, and how to respond to His little 'stiff necked people'. If God canchaange His mind it means 1.) He actually listens. 2.) What we say actually has value to Him - and our world.

ASIDE: (I've always been caught up in the dilemma of figuring how free will works along with intercession. If intercession works, then I limit others freewill... etc. Not avery helpful intellectual question for my spirituality though.)

ASIDE #2: (I think without knowing explicitly I imagined Him as a being in the sky with it all figured out. We pray to change ourselves into the right mold spiritually - and when we get it right we participate in His work because, well, we finally got something right. Kind of like talking to a wall - its trial and error learning to achieve congruence. I can't imagine why I haven't been enthusiastic about praying for good things for others.. can you?)

I recently read John Goldingay's article "What is the logic of intercession? Why does it work (When it does)?" and it sparked a whole new view of the guy in the sky.

I have struggled much of my life trying to understand HOW this whole relationship thing with God actually works. I've heard the stories of Christian life from the womb, but experienced spiritual connection with God in greater scarcity than I've heard it talked about. And not only that, I can never figure out very well how the connection came about in order to reproduce it.

Its comforting really that God changes his mind.
My sense of the article is this. God wants to involve us in His work to save the world. Chew on that priviledge for a second.
God has not changed His ultimate aims of saving the world, but has chosen (out of desire for relationship and involvement with us humans) to be flexible and have conversations and arguments about the way these aims are achieved. In other words, when we ask God for something He listens and grants us the potential to bless others. I can BLESS YOU. What selfless power! God continues to involve us in caring for His creation. Take a moment and let that sink in.
Effect: I feel as much responsibility and care for the world as I feel I have spiritual agency in it.

poor is not the same as without!

Or maybe not. Or really not.

You know what sucks about being poor? I have stuff now - and somehow I imagine that to be poor I'd have to have nothing. Or a whole lot less of the wonderful possessions I have. And to be poor I'd have to have a different approach to life - I couldn't DO anything being poor. No movies, no concerts, no more Newcastles and other snooty beers I love to share with friends, no more trips, no more delightful dinners (can you say Panang! ala City Thai), no more attractive cars, no more smooth clothes (maybe this is a big fashion assumption). You get it. No more - no more - no more. And maybe some can't haves thrown in there to.

A state of longing. Incompleteness. A meager life. Sucks, right?
(I suppose I have internalized the essential message of Western advertising - life's no good without ________ - insert your product here!) Or even better - money buys freedom. I can do what I want when I got the cash. there's a certain truth to that.

Well, thankfully I think I am mistaken - and dearly so. The thought at the very end of this post from Andrew was a wonderful shot to the jaw that woke me from my own limited view.

Andrew's Post: "Get rich quick scheme"
"You wanna be rich? treat what you have like its the best resource *ever*. you wanna be poor? Treat what you have like its not enough."

Ouch. and Wow."

Dust off the old imagination and away we go. Great concept of attitude toward resource here. You mean, maybe 'poor' does not essentially mean 'without'?
From my context it seems like thats what it means, but just maybe it means so much more.

I want to know what being poor means. And maybe how it feels. Either curiosity killed the cat or curiousity revealed what an exciting world we live in. It is quite possible that in the mix of paying attention to all these things I appreciate and feed into me I have missed the most important resource. Me. Maybe I'm about to idealize being poor, but bear with me for a moment.

What if poor is not without, but a whole new kind of having. Less about ownership, control, me, and gain. More about sharing, dependence, humility, and appreciation.

No oil changes or gas tanks to fill. No worrying about washing the mounds of laundry accumulated over the last 3 weeks - I wash my 3 pairs of pants every 2 weeks. I read a lot because the library is free. I connect more with neighbors because I borrow stuff a lot. I depend on people for some of my basics - like when I do need a lift somewhere. The movies are a treat. I take less for granted and more for value. I take my time a little more becuase life is not about everything being full - my bank account, my closet, my schedule. And maybe I treat people a bit differently, I don't really know how - but it seems that there's a whole different appreciation of life.

What do you think it's like to be poor?

. . . . .
It seems there's momentum for a tirade about materialism in our culture - and the church for that matter - but I'll leave that for RJ's blog. :)


Authentic Sexuality

This is the title of a book by Jack and Judy Balswick on none other than the big 'S' word. I have found it interesting, insightful, and helpful in considering my own sexuality as an unmarried man in his late 20's trying to be faithful and fully human. My sense is that they see authentic sexuality as that which meets God's intention for our sexual expression and experience.

The bible gives clear guidance in regard to infidelity and intercourse - but does not provide as clear guidance on all that leads up to that point (e.g.: masturbation, oral sex, even kissing!) This clearly leaves us with room for interpretation on the acceptability of these behaviors and a wide variety of stances from Christians. Unfortunately, often times christians do not reflect their theological stance in their own sexual practice - but also in their response to others. The truth is that my body is created by God, and has been sexual from birth and I need to learn how to live that in a way that honors God and grows me.

It seems that many Christians find it easy to take a black and white stance on sexuality in general. Maybe because they feel it is very clear. Maybe because they feel it is very tabooo. Maybe because they feel it is a very dangerous and powerful part of themselves that is safer to keep under strict standards.

I value God's word. I value the act of sex. I value my future wife, whoever she may be. And I value my body and the way God has created me as a sexual being. My desire is to walk through this area that seems so grey in faith, all the while asking for God to shed light on it and on my own experience. The best way to discern God's intention seems to be in prayer, open dialogue, and in community.

With that in mind - Lord, let me be sensitive to your voice. Let me be responsible and honoring to you with my body. And let me understand the role of our bodies in relating to one another and to You.

Can I get an Amen?