A Touch of the Divine, A Taste of the Dastardly

There is a choice we all must make, one not easy nor simple. It often forces us to pit ourselves against that which defines us the most. Yet without a decision, we wander aimless through this forsaken plane…

Well then, now that I have your attention, I’m actually going to revert to a reflection on why I chose the title I did. It is, in fact, a summary of my past year. For I have been blessed in ways only God could have managed and faced off with situations that left a horrid after-taste. In fact, I’d go so far as to say my 2014 experience began and ended on sore notes, not really the way a year is supposed to. But who am I to judge what I deserve in this life?

So how do I chose to divide this year’s summation? Perhaps by simpler categories, such as physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So here goes:

Physically:

I made a conscious effort to get out more and take opportunities to be more active this past year. This involved not only getting back into playing Ultimate Frisbee on a weekly basis but also joining a couple different teams to play soccer in the local recreation league during the warmer months. I also continued my role as a Jr. High school coach for my high school alma mater in the fall and desire to do it again this year. However the common tendency of mine to avoid gyms (for introverted reasons and lack of motivation) during the colder months means my activity levels are slipping to near hibernation levels. Hopefully I will find my way to some pickup indoor soccer before warmer weather begins so I am in better shape for the summer season than in years past.

Emotionally:

Now this category is hard for me to discuss, largely because I am not an emotional person to begin with. However I can try to divide this into slightly simpler sections and divulge how each has unraveled over the past year. First I would like to start with the mental aspect of my emotions. My mental state has, as a whole, been significantly more stable over the past year than years prior, something I attribute to consistent full-time employment, a simple and efficient living arrangement and the inclusion into new and beneficial social circles. While I was not without my lapses into the irate or insane, these were mostly responses to a difficult situation and not a permanent funk. Second I would like to examine the inter-personal aspect of my emotions, or how I responded to events involving others around me. There were several couples within my circle of friends that had their first child this past year and while I was happy they are establishing families, I often had a twinge of solitude because I knew  this also meant my already small social circle would become significantly less involved. However I was blessed with new friends and rediscovered a couple old ones throughout the year. Yet the year ended on a sore note as shortly after the annual Christmas celebrations had ended, my father was rushed to the hospital with extreme pain in his right leg. I was able to visit him a couple days later before he was released to go home but it was still hard for me to witness him in that state, lying on a hospital bed. Here lay the man I often thought unbreakable growing up, yet at 55 he was bedridden by a pain that wrecked his body to the point of exhaustion. This mental image still haunts me days later…

Finally I must rant about the relational (romantic) aspect of my emotions. Now I readily admit this section may be heavily influenced by my present singleness and the lack of any measure of success on my part in the romantic sector over the past year. Just to name a few events (in no particular order): had a second chance with a girl I wronged and probably fucked it up again as she just shut me out after a couple months of tentative friendship, got friend-zoned at least once, had the girl who broke my heart a few years back message me with an apology I never thought I wanted to hear, finally apologized to my high school sweetheart with whom I unceremoniously ended things because I wasn’t ready for the responsibilities a serious relationship led to, and got stood up by a date I met online (yeah, probably not the best place to be looking but, you know, single-guy problems). So yeah, despite almost everyone around my age in my immediate and extended family having been married or gotten engaged by now, I’m still (and perhaps hopelessly) single. Which leads me to wonder, am I really that bad at relationships or am not worthy of one? I know I can be a hard person to get to know, given that I tend to avoid emotional responses and cannot for the life of me put my emotions into speech and therefore act based on a logical progression of idealistic thoughts. Or maybe it is my rather unconventional ideal of romantic relationships and their progression, something I may detail in the future. But here is what I have going for me: I can cook, clean, perform basic auto-maintenance, have a fair understanding of financial responsibility, know how to care for a family (you learn things as an elder child in a large family), have a clean criminal and driving record, am athletic, smart, usually funny, and my worst addiction [sic] is Mountain Dew. I don’t know about everyone, but that pedigree seems pretty well-rounded and even desirable. Yet it would seem that my obstinate view of social conventions combined with my introverted tendencies make me unsuitable for any sort of romantic relationship. So I guess we shall see if the Sun only sets to rise later on or if I must continue to watch the Moon as a reminder of my solitary status.

Spiritually:

This category is perhaps the most improved as well as the bleakest, as I have hit tremendous highs in my spiritual walk as well as dug myself to terrible lows. Perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments (or gains, depending on who’s keeping score) is my involvement in a study on the meaning of Biblical Manhood. While I happened to be the only single (and I believe the youngest) man of the group, I learned significant things about myself, my heritage, and my role as a man. I overcame wounds of my upbringing, established my desired path as a masculine leader, and rekindled the connection with my Eternal Father I had let slide in months before. However the Enemy strikes when we are at our brightest and I fell victim to my passions of game and sport, sacrificing fellowship with believers for the dim glow of a TV screen as I reveled in the competitive football of Barclay’s Premier League and EUFA Championship. Slowly in recent months I have drawn the line between necessity and privilege and am endeavoring to maintain a balance I can be without guilt. I have also grown as I have volunteered my knowledge with the men at my place of employment during our weekly devotions. When I am in “educator” mode, I tend to out-perform my intentions and overcome the limitations of my usual introversion. It is almost as if having a message to deliver gives me an unusual sense of purpose and social presence. It is because of times like these I wonder if I would be better suited for a profession involving instruction or education, despite my usual aversion towards public speaking.

In conclusion, if I had to put a value on the quality of my past year, it would be better than the year before but still a part of an ongoing process of improvement. As I told my dad during my hospital visit, these past couple years have been good but there are moments within them I would be glad to forget, usually memories marred by my own stupidity or social awkwardness. But if I look back on my previous reflections from the beginning of last year (see A Retrospective Inflection and An Introspective Reflection) I would say I did accomplish what I said I wanted to. Perhaps not to a point of lasting results but definitely in ways I can reflect on and appreciate. So if I had to choose a resolution for this year, it would be to continue moving forward and not take anything for granted, for only God knows what the future may hold. Yet I will maintain my belief that things can, and will, be better if I set my eyes on Him, and place my feet where He leads.

S.D.G.

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