Thursday, August 27, 2015

God delights in pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows

Weird title, but you need to understand something first, watch this YouTube video, all of it, now.

Now, I've seen only two reactions to this "Oh my goodness this is the greatest thing ever!!!1111 lolz"

However, I fall into the other reactionary camp of "Has someone slipped me LSD?!". It feels like my brain is leaking out of my ears and I'm really not having a good experience.

But, who am I to actually judge this... Creative output? I know from experience that animation and video editing are difficult skills, the last time I did any serious animation I actually wrote computer programs to do most of the animation work! Whatever reaction you have, someone used their creativity and hours of work to present the internet with that little animation.

I have literally written thousands of lines of computer code, almost no one ever sees what I create, my reward is knowing that if I've done my job right no one will ever see what I've done. I take a great amount of pride in this, in fact. It is my job, indeed my joy to write code that is never seen.

See I'm a programmer, I don't work as a programmer, I am one, I just happen to be lucky enough to be paid to do it. Outside work I maintain websites, build little games, write little utilities to make my life easier. I was programming before I had my job, I program outside of my job and no doubt I'll program once I eventually change jobs or retire.

It should be obvious that I have a big passion here, I love finding a way to make code run blisteringly fast. In my current work projects I am rewriting a ten year old system and updating its core, in place. It's slow and used to take several minutes to load, I've got several minutes down to ten seconds at its slowest. I thought that was so cool!

You might not find it cool, but I do and this is my corner of the Internet so, it's cool here in this part.

My point is though we all have things that bring us joy, it might be tea, baking, knitting, cats, swimming, cricket, curling, code or adventure time. It doesn't matter, we were each created to be a unique expression of God's creative output in this world.

Some things we are to bring into the world, some things we are just to appreciate.

Going back to my code for a moment, when I write something fast, elegant and concise I sit back and think "Damn that's cool!" And you know what? So does God!

I went a walk around the village I grew up in last week, it was so still and peaceful that you could hear the maize popping open in the sun. It was as if the world itself was holding its breath, it was amazing. I was delighting in it and I really felt that God was delighting in me delighting in it.

I really believe that God delights in the things we delight in, for instance, if God loves everyone, and we have great relationships with people, does God not too delight in the fact that we do life with each other? Does God not look down upon us and our respective relationships with people, and delight in our time spent together?

If I remark how beautiful or attractive someone is, does God not think "Of course they are! I made them beautiful in my sight! I made your eyes so that you can appreciate their beauty!" if I see beauty in something or someone, God sees in a million times greater than I ever could.

I felt challenged recently in my life, I was reading a book given to me about how God met LA gang members where they’re at and for all their faults God delighted in them and the priests working in the heart of the gang district found something amazing in those involved in shooting others and those in and out of correctional institutions. If God can see something delightful in the most hardened of criminals, if God can take delight in that individual and see something that no-one else can see, some element of goodness, then maybe, just maybe, God can also delight in me.

God says I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, and while I’m not exactly sure what elements of fear were put into me, it’s nice to know I was wonderfully made. I was made to have the friends I do, to enjoy the things I do and to see the world in the way that I do.

I find myself constantly overwhelmed by how delighted God is in me, my friends and my interests. I stop and wonder to myself “What about programming? That’s kinda dull, right?” and I feel as if I’m told “You dummy, I made you to enjoy it, programming is cool, you should try Lisp (XKCD 224)!”, then I watch Adventure Time and get inspired by all the Heroics and adventuring and want to go off on my own adventures and feel nervous and I feel encouraged to “Go and have your own adventure, go! Enjoy!” I’ll text my best friend and I’ll wonder if I talk too much or, perhaps say too much and I’ll feel a reassurance “Didn’t I bring the right people into your life? Go, talk, do life, enjoy!” and I find that I can’t think of something that is good in my life that God doesn’t delight in too.

God delights in all the things I take delight in, even if those things are stupid internet videos about Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing on Rainbows.

God delights in me.

God delights in you!

Monday, August 3, 2015

3.0 - One whopper of a change.

"I'm phoning you from Trenzalore, from before I changed. I mean, it's all still to happen for me, it's coming... Oh it's a-coming. Not long now, I can feel it."

"Why? Why did you do this?"

"Because I think it's going to be a whopper!"

This was quite an emotional moment, I'll admit, a beautiful emotional moment.

Ok, back track. This was a moment from the TV show "Doctor Who". For the uninitiated, the titular Doctor is an alien who changes his appearance and personality upon his death. Kinda a way to cheat it really, but there's rules you see, these aliens can do it only 12 times and the Doctor had used them all up. He was a goner, except, for the sudden intervention of his people, they broke the rules and allowed him to change again. Indeed maybe forever more.

He changed from a charming, if a little absent minded professor type character, into a badass, Scottish, 100% pure rebel time lord. Quite a whopper of a change.

Why do I bring this up though?

Cos... While it's easy to feel sad that the person you've watched on a journey for several years suddenly not be there anymore, there's the excitement of a new doctor, a new adventure, new possibilities

Life can be like that, sometimes things inside us die, but also... Sometimes new things are born inside us too, and that’s epic.

I bought my own home in December last year, I thought I was sorted, I have a good job, my own home, by all societal values I am very successful. I thought I knew what I wanted from life.

I was wrong. I don't feel successful.

I have spent the last six months having parts of me die inside. I was a very homely, quiet, reserved individual. I had my job and my home, I had no dreams, no hopes, no vision for the future. I'd been hurt too often to dare dream.

No more.

I know what I want, it ain't here yet. I won't be here yet for a time, I ain't ready now, but it's a-coming. Gods perfect timing, not mine, but it's a-coming.

I've been finding life hard, not in a depressing way, just in a daily slog, like all the conventional things in life that society demands we have to be considered successful aren't what I want.

High flying career? Boring.

Big flashy car? Not interested.

Kids? Just... No. Cats not kids.

I want to live a unique, adventurous life, I want to experience moments in time and space that never will be again.

Just like my hero, the Doctor, I wish to break the rules, but even that isn't enough for me... I wish to rewrite the rules.

Yes, I'm that audacious. Apparently.

Thing is, the dreams I have are legitimately crazy, the things I hope for do not make sense naturally, but as I learned at conference God cannot lie, if the facts are one way and God says it will be another, then the facts will change. They can't not change when faced with the awesome power of God.

I have been getting a very clear vision of what I want for the future and in the natural it doesn't look like it will happen, but Hebrews 11:1 states that "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

I have a hope, I have a vision for a preferable future outcome. More than one, in fact, I have lots of hopes and lots of dreams now.

This is new for me. This is my whopper of a change!

I stand on the brink of something new and I've been clearly told to wait, not to turn around, not to come back later, but to wait, like a parent would tell a child to wait until a road was clear before crossing. I'm going somewhere I've never been before, it's all going to be new and different and I'm going to adapt to an entirely new way of living and doing things and I can't wait.

But I must.

Just as the Israelites walked out of the desert after forty years and waited on the banks of the Jordan river, so too must I wait. I can see the other side, I can see all sorts of wondrous things, but it's on the other side and it's not yet time to cross over.

It'll come, I'm exactly where I am supposed to be, positioned to cross over when it is time, unsure how or when it'll happen, but having faith that it will.

Prior to conference I have three very specific words.

"You are where I have put you."
"I have given you a gift, just enjoy it."
"It might feel like you're scaling a mountain, but when you get to the top the view will be amazing."

I'm not one for waiting around, I never have been, if there's a task that needs doing and I've asked someone to do it and they don't get on with it quickly, I do it myself. So to be placed in a position of just waiting for God to give me the next step is hard... I don't want to wait, but I must.

I must trust that God knows what he is doing and that it has to happen in his time and if I run off ahead too quick I risk encountering something unpleasant.

It's hard, but if God has truly given me a hope for the future and said that I'm to wait... Then how could I do anything else, what I see, what I hope, is so far beyond what I could have imagined that I have to wait, because what I see now, is just epic.

Just like my hero however, I need to grow into this new me, find how all this new stuff works. Mark 11:24 says this: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” I know what I’m asking for in prayer and I’m believing that it is already here. I just have to follow God's’ way and wait for him to give me the next step.

Friday, July 31, 2015

2.9 (3.0 pre-release).

So, looking back at what I wrote yesterday, I have not been disappointed. I knew going into this that I had to position myself to receive what was available to me. It’s like… Apple fans, they’re camp for days to get the latest iDevice, they’ll come with food and drink and tents, crazy as it may be, they’re preparing to receive something.

Being an Android user we wait for all the big stuff at Google to come through which is just as exciting, but we just don’t have on single unified product that we can all get behind and support.

Conventional wisdom states that hyping something up only creates unrealistic expectations and while that’s certainly true of worldly things, how can we create expectations too high for God to meet?

So, day three, the last few days have just been mind blowing, I feel like if I hear any more my brain might just begin to leak out of my ears due to the sheer mental overload.

We have had Ps Glyn Barrett talk about all the places that the enemy camps and gets into your world. Jeremy Johnson built upon this with having the keys to the kingdom and having the authority not just to unlock things in our world, but to unlock things in other people's worlds too in his talk entitled ‘Energy’. Ps Chris Hill to us to another level as he spoke on the subject of ‘Full Recovery’ absolutely amazing stuff. He taught us that when we are by our self we must not let our situation determine our reaction, but we let our revelation of our situation dictate our reaction and instead of magnifying what we see as problems but magnifying God instead we can recover all.

The action isn't just in the seminars either however, fellowship is happening in all areas of the conference. There’s sharing of what we each got from the messages and how it relates to our lives, the spontaneous sharing of mess and messages, the establishment of visions and dreams.

All in all it’s just (‘another brick in the wall’, sorry), such an amazing thing, to see your expectations be met by God. I've personally been feeling run down in recent months, but I'm feeling energised and refreshed, ready to take on whatever is going to be thrown at me.

Yesterday I spoke about building to almost re-inventing oneself. It wasn't that eloquent, but little sleep and lots of sugar… Anyway I really feel that there’s an internal change going on and that is fantastic. Well, upgrade, I think I mentioned yesterday that change could be good or bad, an upgrade is a deliberate improvement over what was before by an author.

So here we are, one day to go, still can’t wait for all that’s going to happen but very excited about what has already happened. Sometimes in the tech world when something big is about to be released, something known as a ‘pre-release’ is sent out, and it’s not given the final number, but it’s given a number version close, often something like 2.9 in anticipation of 3.0.

It’s going to be epic.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Upgrade to 3.0

Ok, obscure title, well, nerdy title, but what did you expect?

It's conference week here where I live and last year was the first year that I went to the conference and it felt like my entire life had been rebuilt from scratch. I wasn't ready for it, didn't know it was coming, but it happened anyway.

In my world when something fundamentally changes we update its number and I suppose you could argue that last year I hit version "Neil 2.0", nerdy, but hey, never mind, these are my words, my way of interpreting the world. It represented a major change where tons of old stuff was removed, stuff that was holding me back, stuff that was there for historical reasons that don't matter any more and frankly needed to just go.

Likewise it felt like a bunch of new stuff was added too, things that will prepare me for what it is that God has for me in the future, in the world in which I operate this represents a sufficiently major departure from what was and represents the vision for the future going forwards. A leap forwards in fact.

Did I say I wasn't prepared for what happened last year?

In my world, we call the process of removing some unpleasant bits, adding new bits and sanding off the rough edges “upgrades”, and upgrades aren't random unexpected things, upgrades are planned, they’re carefully thought about in regards to get from where something is to where it needs to be. Upgrades don’t just happen, they’re expected. They’re a process, they’re how change happens.

Although you can apply an upgrade unexpectedly, but that doesn't mean it had not been prepared for by the author.

Not falling into the trap this time around, this time I'm going to be ready, this time I'm going to be expectant and prepared for whatever changes come. This time I'm ready to receive something. If last year represented a fundamental shift to a radically changed me, and prepared me for the year I have experienced then I'm building towards what's coming during this week so that I can be prepared for what comes in the future.

You can’t want things to change and be unexpectant for them.

I’m not prepared to rest, I'm not prepared to stand still. I absolutely refuse to end this week without something having changed me, without something sanding off more of my rough edges and equipping me, re-tooling me for new challenges and new adventures.

That’s what I want you see, I want new adventures, I want to stop living the constrained inside the box life I had been living until last year and I want to expand my horizons, reach farther, run faster.  I want don’t want conventional, I don’t want a comfortable ride, but I want an incredible one.

So here is me, unsure of what is going to happen, or what is going to affect me, but I'm ready, I'm here and I'm expecting…

… And I can’t wait.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Trust is choosing to fall and knowing you'll be there...

I’m at the point where I need to just spew, I’ve tried multiple times to write a post this month and I’m just unable to organise it into anything resembling anything coherent so here’s the ramblings of a crazed mind.

I sit here, in bed, feeling a cocktail of things I’ve never actually felt before and it’s hard. I want to throw up, I want to curl up in a ball, I want to go running, I want to talk and I want to be silent. My moods are incredibly mercurial these days. I can go through twenty emotions in as many minutes, it’s a real challenge. I was at work this evening, somewhere around eight, weeping, over nothing, thankfully no-one else was around to see it. Then, just like that I was happy again.

I did the maths, it’s been eight years. That blew my mind. Eight years since I’ve felt… “Human”, that’s how my housemates put it. How they cope I don’t know, I’m on top of everything one moment and a moping sniffing wreck the next. It’s rather incongruous behaviour, at best.

I feel like a huge mess, but, that is what I’ve figured out so far.

I had a moment where I was at the front of church about a month or two ago, at an altar call, I’d been feeling depressed for months again, I was sick of it. I just wanted it gone and it went…

Be careful what you wish/pray for folks, you just might get it. I sure didn't feel ready to handle it what came next, let me tell you that!

I’d been numb for a few months, run down, drained and unhappy with brief moments of ecstatic  joy puncturing my sad existence, it usually involved coffee or animals, sometimes both.

Anyway, when I awoke the next morning I felt everything at once, and it was too much… Ever been swimming and got water stuck in your ear so bad you go deaf and then when it finally drains it sounds like the whole world is screaming and you have to adjust to how loud everything is? It’s like that. Just with, you know, feelings.

Needless to say I emotionally face planted many time, like a deer learning to walk. Truthfully, I still do.

I’m still quite unsteady, quite afraid, I wore armour so tightly for so long that I forgot I was made of  flesh and bone and am allowed to feel… No, still not used to that yet.

What if I feel the wrong thing though? I’d had friends abandon me before, simply because I felt the ‘wrong thing’... Where’s the guide for this sorta stuff? Surely someone has a specification for how you work these feelings? Is there not some settings I can adjust?

I was depressed, but I was balanced, subdued but consistent. I was unhappy, but I knew how to cope with that.

Now every day is an adventure in a new combination of feelings and experiences, it’s confusing, it’s hard and I almost wish, almost, that I still had all the armour around me, it created a barrier, but it kept me contained, but don’t think for a moment that the armour was there to protect me, it’s much too late for that, my armour was keeping my together. Now it’s gone I feel like I’ve burst out in all directions and it’s scary. Especially since I’ve lost a few good friends this year. It’s just freaking terrifying.

In the midst of my fear however, I’ve experienced kindness, acceptance, and it scares me to think I might lose that. So, in that way I’m learning to trust, sometimes small little things, sometimes huge confessions of massive insecurities, other times it’s waking up and speaking of the nightmarish place my brain had gone to while I’d been sleeping.

Amanda Palmer once described trust this way “I trust you this much… Should I? Show me!”

I like this, but trust isn’t a one time thing, trust is a totally counter intuitive series of moment to moment choices to believe a person when they say something. When someone tells you something, it isn’t invalidated by their absence or silence or anything, I’m learning that you can’t trust someone and ask for constant reassurance. Trust requires something of me, trust is absolutely two way, I can’t say I trust you and then never give you opportunities to demonstrate that trust.

Cards on the table, I want to be better at it, I’ve made progress, I can see it in myself, but I want to be better still.

So, another lesson is learn who is trustworthy, I’ve made that mistake a few times before, hopefully I’ve gotten better at it. I hope to not find myself feeling the same sense of loss and trying, once more, to piece the broken bits back together again.

I mean, I’ve only just now figured out how it is that things are supposed to be in the first place.

I’m reminded of the movie the Shawshank Redemption, the tagline is ‘Fear can hold you prisoner, hope can set you free’, eight years… Eight years, and I’m making plans, maybe not big ones, but there’s events I look forward to now, I find that I feel I can lift my head (sometimes with tears streaming down my face) and have hope in things. Hope that there’s a good things coming.

I hope that the future is as bright as it seems today, I really hope it is.

Because a little hope is a dangerous thing, now that I have a hope for my future, I don’t want to return to feeling numb and hiding myself away, even though that’s the most comfortable thing to do right now.

Today I choose to trust, and tomorrow and the next day… Can I do that? Show me.

Thank you :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

May 7th: X

Cryptic title, perhaps, but it'll all become obvious when you read the words 'general election'. To anyone not from the UK reading this, on May 7th 2015 the UK will be holding a general election to decide who will be running our government for the next five years.

At the time of writing there's very mixed reports and it doesn't look like there's going to be a clear majority. This is pretty much what happened last time too, suggesting that the UK is trending away from having any great faith in the major players. That is what it is and we need to talk about what I think we, as Christians, need to consider when voting in our elections.

First lets look at the word Christian, historically it was actually used as an insult to the early church who were identified as being 'Christ-like'/Christian, I guess the name stuck because that's what we use to this day.

Now, when we consider that we are known for being Christ like, it is obvious then that we must study Christ, learn his heart and attitudes. What he said and what he did, and how he lived his life.

If we consider what Jesus stated was the greatest command in the law was we have this:

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'" - Luke 10:27 (NIV)

Now, this does refer to the 'old law' which the Jewish nation at the time was following but, do you know how hard it is to love your neighbour sometimes? I mean, you might not even LIKE your neighbour, they might play their music too loud, they might take drugs, be from another country, practice a lifestyle choice that makes you feel uncomfortable, you don't get a choice in who your neighbour is, you gotta love them anyway.

This one is important, we're going to come back to this.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35).

There's that l word again. It's worth noting that Christ doesn't command us to do things that he hasn't already done himself, Jesus wasn't a 'do what I say, not what I do' kinda guy, he first lived and asked us to follow his example. Love one another! Ever been in a group and found there's only a couple of people you get on with? Yeah, even in Church, ya gotta love people and serve them.

"For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love." - Galatians 5:13

We see it again here, we are not called to be selfish and please ourselves but we are called to serve each other and demonstrate love.

Serve and love folks, serve and love.

Ok, so what does this have to do with the elections? 

I'm frankly sick of the system the way it is, and I will not mention any names of political parties, but I used to vote for one party consistently and in our 2010 election I changed, I voted for another party. I was hoping for a 'hung parliament' where there was no clear majority and all parties had to put aside their differences and work together... So yeah... That didn't happen.

This time around I find myself with a choice between two minor parties, neither of which are likely to get many (if any) seats, but, these two parties have strong manifestos that align with what I believe we should be doing as followers of Christ.

I mean I could turn up and spoil my ballot paper, but I understand that unless a statistically significant number of people do this then nothing changes... So I feel compelled to vote for someone.

So lets look at some things that I think we need to bear in mind when we put that cross in the box.

Mark 12:13-17 details some religious leaders trying to trick Jesus with a question of taxes and he ultimately asks them whose face is on a coin and the leaders reply 'Caeser' to which Jesus replies 'Give to Caeser what belongs to Caeser and give to God what belongs to God'.

So yeah... Tax, that tricky thing everyone wishes wasn't as much as it is.

I pay tax, gladly I might add. As a child I grew up and my family got working tax credits (or something like that, I don't know the exact term), I went to school, I saw doctors, I even had dental work provided free due to services that are paid for by tax. I am happy to pay my tax, I was born in a hospital, I entered this world on the backs of others who had paid their taxes. Our entire national community depends on us all paying our fair share of tax.

My taxes pay for others to have the same luxuries I have been lucky to have, I made no effort to hide the fact that my company provides private medical care, but I absolutely will never criticise the fact that I'm paying for National Health Services (NHS) I never have to use. Most of my friends use the NHS, the homeless girl on the streets suffering from hypothermia uses the NHS, the junkie shooting up to numb the pain uses the NHS. The NHS is something so many people depend on, something I've used, how can I begrudge it as a service, how can I in any moral standing condemn people to a private system that many could not afford and any pre-existing medical conditions would not be covered. I for one am grateful that there is a place everyone can go, regardless of their status, and be healed. 

Kinda sounds like someone else doesn't it? Come as you are and receive what you need.

Taxes pay for our sewers, for social care projects, maintenance of the places we live, investment into the places we live. Taxes are hugely important, the sooner we ensure everyone pays the fair share (this includes corporations tax, entities that aren't even real people) the better.

What else?

Immigration, yeah, I'm going there, remember I said we were coming back to Luke 10:27?

Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
He said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?"
He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself."
He said to him, "You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live."
But he, desiring to justify himself, asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbour?"

Jesus then proceeds to tell the story of the good Samaritan, which I won't rehash here, but I'm sure most people will be familiar with, the most significant part of the story however is in its name, 'Samaritan'! Jews hated Samaritans, there was a lot of racial tension between Jews and Samaritans. Yet Jesus pointed out that in this context the Samaritan was the neighbour that the lawyer is commanded to love as he loves himself.

This would have been deeply uncomfortable then and I know that it is deeply uncomfortable now to some people. We don't get to choose our neighbours and we don't get to exclude certain people or groups of people which crap platitudes like 'But they're different' or 'But they've done X and Y' or even bringing up stereotypes. We have to love our neighbours regardless of who they are or where they're from. 

Finally I'm going to pick one other topic and look what Jesus had to say on the matter and wrap this up...

The poor.

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. - Mark 10:21-22
Jesus doesn't say give it to the temple indeed he rebukes the Pharisees for manipulating the rules so that they can avoid giving to their own needy parents and be seen to be giving to the temple.
But Jesus put it right back on them. “Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God’s commands? God clearly says, ‘Respect your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.’ But you weasel around that by saying, ‘Whoever wants to, can say to father and mother, What I owed to you I’ve given to God.’ That can hardly be called respecting a parent. - Matthew 15:3-9 (MSG)

I heard it preached once that the 'what I owed you' element in the above passage referred to parents who needed some (likely financial) assistance from their children and they instead of helping their parents, gave the money elsewhere. Essentially the law of charity was being re-interpreted such that those in need were not being helped and given a rather pathetic excuse that they are being helped, just not in any practical way.

It angers me, when I see political parties abandoning essential community services for the poor and for those in need while declaring that we need to return to good Christian values. I feel physically sick sometimes, to know that we are commanded to look after those in need and those with the power to make large scale change and create a better environment for those we are to love and serve are disengaging and claiming that those are the ones at fault.

Yes, some people don't help themselves, some people are scamming the system, but how many good, honest, trying people does it take? Because like it or not, we're talking about people, some need benefits and food banks. When we decide they cost too much, we are ultimately saying the lives of the people most in need cost our society too much, and that's just wrong.

When we look at what our political parties are all doing in our nation we shouldn't just be voting for what benefits us most as an individual, we should be aligning ourself with what we know to be righteous and moral. We are not called to be selfish, we are called to be the heart of communities, to be good Samaritans, what example do we set when we vote only to benefit ourselves and not for our communities? 

I don't think it's a coincidence that in Jesus' time the word charity and the word justice meant the same thing. Being charitable is being just and righteous

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Prison In My Mind: Part 3, The Voice

 So, uhm, it's been a while, things at work have been busy and I moved at the end of last year and there's been a few teething issues, I think for the time being I might reduce my posting schedule to once a month to keep everything in balance.

In the last part of this series we looked at shackles and how they limit movement, in this part we're going to look at the voice. You know, that one, the one that always tells you that you can't escape. The one that knocks you down a few pegs... Or more.

I used to think I was crazy to have a part of me that always second guesses me, always drags me down and I thought it was abnormal. I have however since learned that a lot of us, if not all of us, seem to have this part of us that always seems to whisper "What if you're wrong?", or "Are you really sure you can do this?".

It really drives me crazy and it happens a lot, in some pointless things as well as serious things.

For instance at work, I've been working on a huge project and I've taken a particular approach which was considered a bit unorthodox, but after all my initial testing the whole thing ran painfully slow. I then tested my code relentlessly until I could find no reason for the slowdown, I then on a whim deleted some other... Not strictly required code, wouldn't you know it, it ran blisteringly fast?

Yet, my first reaction was that it was my fault the whole thing had slowed down. Even when confronted with previous experiments that showed my code was fast, I assumed it was my fault.

I like to think of it as the cell mate or guy in the cell next to you, the faceless insubstantial voice that talks at you and tells you that you're crazy when you talk of your hopes and dreams and what you will achieve when you get out.

I can imagine it now "Haha! You think you're ever going to get out of here? That's hilarious! Face it, you're locked in here with the rest of us."

Now, perception is a funny thing, everything in that sentence is a lie and frankly, this is my mind and I'll do what I want inside it and if I want change, the voice has to realise something...

With that in mind, my voice, which for the purposes of this blog I'm going to call "Harvey", why? I'm glad you (didn't ask). I watch a lot of cult tv, and I thought I'd discussed of one of my heroes in 'Who do you want to be?' but apparently not.

Context: Farscape is a sci-fi show created by Rockne S. O'Bannon and in partnership with the Jim Henson company, basically, after a rather long and complicated series of events the protagonist ends up with another consciousness in his brain. It often manipulates him and keeps him down, he refers to this entity as Harvey. Once he wrests control of his mind back from Harvey he frequently keeps the unwanted 'guest' in a trash can in his mind...

Look, just watch it and it'll make sense, OK?

It’s a nice comparison, because Harvey is an invasive series of thoughts and words. Isn’t it also true that many of our issues didn’t come from within ourselves, they’re usually the result of someone saying or doing something that hurts us and we keep with us?

When I have that overwhelming sinking feeling of being totally inadequate due to all the stuff I’ve accumulated in my mind over the years, that’s Harvey. A big ball of stuff can’t be addressed, it’s just... There. It is what it is and how do you deal with it?

Given a name, give it form (at least in the show) but more practically, give it limitations, and I can hear myself be self deprecating and I know I am not living and feeling a free life, like I’m supposed to. Yet I can think to myself ‘Shut up Harvey’ and know fine well that I’m not what was spoken over me, or I’m not what I came to believe about myself. It is just the echoes of the past bleeding into the present.

Harvey represents the wrong attitude, part history, part doubt. Harvey is all that crap that accumulates over the years that was never supposed to lived with, the stuff that was supposed to have been let go years ago and just couldn’t be. Harvey and what he says represents that horrible twisted comfortable pained place where one could retreat and just feel like crap, because it was my crap and I knew how to deal with it.

Harvey is all the stuff I need to as a person, deal with and let go of. He is just a metaphor, a way to visualize all that stuff that I know I need to deal with and classify and label as ‘stuff that hurts and holds me back’. I found it difficult to tackle each issue individually and some of my stuff is interlinked such that one thing triggers another thing and my mind has some crazy cascading melt down and one word from a person can set off a chain reaction of hurt that shouldn’t have happened.

Life shouldn’t be like that.

It just wasn’t working for me to have an unnameable, formless void of stuff that seemed so insurmountable that there was no point trying. I mean, why is it that it was easier to believe that my God was finite, but my stuff is infinite. I clearly had it the wrong way around.

Today I’m choosing to, in my own crazy way, place limitations on my stuff and let God have the infinite place in my life.

I don't believe there's an actual person in my head, but I do believe that certainly an ongoing battle for the ownership of my mind and the sooner I admit that there's action I need to take to ensure I don't lose the battle the better. When second Corinthians 10 talks of holding every thought captive I like to think that this is what it means, a full on occupation with armed guards at every synapse. Cos, I’m not trapped in here with my thoughts…

Til next time.