I am finally confronting my pain.

For the past week I’ve been involved in a church group revolving around servant and leadership training within the church.  From before it began, I was afraid to try it out.  I’ve held my path with the Lord since I was saved a few years ago.  Much has changed.  Just today it dawned on me that a year ago today, I was still living in Pine Island, in my old house.  I can’t recall if I had any prospects, if the folks who eventually signed the contract were in the picture yet.  My future was, as Sarah Connor put it, a dark highway at night.

Now I’m sitting on my old couch in a new house that I’ve just purchased.  I am being pushed beyond my comfort zone by engaging with people again.  I’d always had a short list of friends over the years but the vast majority of my life was one of solitude.  I’m now 900 miles away from my family, those friendships I cultivated over decades, my step-kids.  One of the driving factors to me coming down here was to try something new.  Go big or go home.  When my dad passed, I took stock of my life and realized that I didn’t take enough chances in my life.  I played it safe for far too long, safe, and alone.

All my life I feared loss.  So many relationships I ended pre-emptively before I got hurt while others I rode out to the bitter end and spent countless hours trying to figure out what I’d done wrong.  All of them provided lessons to learn from and grow from.  At the end of the day though, I was alone.

So at this group, the first night of a year long process, I sat and listened as the other men introduced themselves and shared a brief summary of their life, who they were before Christ, and who they are today.  As the conversations got closer to where I sat, I started to break down.  Eventually it became too much and I left the room for a few minutes to regain control of my emotions.  I had no desire to become a blubbering fool in a room full of strangers but I was about to confront a truth of my life to date that I have been lying about for over a decade at this point.

Many times in this blog, on Facebook, to friends and loved ones I have stated unequivocally that while I am alone, I am not lonely.  I was making the most of it.  Surviving it.  Thriving even.  My friends, that was a flat out lie.  I didn’t realize I was lying though.  On the surface I have a successful career.  I had new friendships in my old neighborhood that still exist to this day, but behind the smiles and laughs and good conversations I was as miserable as I had ever been in my life.  Now this isn’t a woe is me post, this is a come to Jesus post.  Christ saved me.  He restored my family.  He carried me through every moment.

He sat beside me in my denial, leading me down a path where 900 miles from home and amongst strangers, I would openly share and confront my pain.  I would become what I called at the time a blubbering fool, but in reality Christ was shining a light on an aspect of my life that sat in the shadows for far too long.  The denial of my pain lead me to sin.  Instead of relationships, I sought hookups.  I engaged in situations with people who could distract me from my pain and prolong my suffering.  Good people came into my life and I chose my pain over them.  A few years ago I dated a wonderful woman who lived in Georgia.  A few weeks after I moved here, she moved back to New York.

The irony isn’t lost on me.  Back when I was dating her, I said I’d planned to move south in 2-3 years.  3 years later I did it, but she’d moved on justifiably.  I can’t blame her.  I just hope she knows how sorry I am that I chose my pain instead of her.

So after the first meeting, I went to church and after the service they always have a meal for the congregants where we have fellowship and break bread with one another.  I had a brief conversation with one of the men in the group who thanked me for sharing my pain with the group.  Then I made up a BS excuse for heading home.  I hopped in my car and began the 20 minute drive back home when the Holy Spirit decided to chime in.  “Sam, you have confronted that you are incredibly lonely.  I have guided you to good people and an end to your loneliness, and you left.  Duh?”  Yes my friends, the Holy Spirit flat out convicted me on once again choosing my pain, and punctuated it with the classic “Duh?”

Every day is a struggle.  I am engaging in conversation, bible study, and growth with good Godly men and women, and my first instinct is to RUN FOR MY PAIN.  Every time I hop in my car, by the time I’ve opened the garage and turned the key to leave I already have a dozen reasons not to go.  I sit in this group and start participating only to silence myself as I come up with even more reasons to quit.  I am unbelievably lonely, the path is laid out before me with giant glowing arrows and a gigantic neon sign blinking “DUH?”

So there is my confession friends.  I’m alone, and I am incredibly lonely.  The quick fixes do not work anymore.  Sin is not a long-term solution.  Christ is.  Fellowship is.  Every single day I am struggling to overcome my nature, the pain I have clung to dearly in order to live this life to the full.  I don’t know if I have hope of meeting a woman again.  Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.  I simply cannot let the anhedonia win, lest I become the sad clown laughing on the outside and crying within again.  I don’t know what is next for me, but I do know that God has lit my path and all I need to do is take one step at a time.

That’s where I am now.  Fighting against my pain.  Struggling against my nature.  Surrounded by good people who can fill the empty spaces and praying to God that one day I can share my new home with just one person with whom I can be completely myself and whole.  Until then, I will continue to climb.

Everything is insurmountable until we start to climb.  Praise God for carrying me this far.

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