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..: Woah, my heart is made of cold snot.
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What does it mean that I had one of the worst weekends of my life at my church retreat? What does that mean?

By the time we got home, were were emptied out. Discouraged, tired, empty. The thing is, it was a pretty normal retreat. Nothing spectacular happened to make it bad. It was bad because of my perspective. I think I personally made it bad.

Weather. It was the absolute coldest retreat ever. Ever. The Oaks is a facility nested in a valley, and the wind really picks up there. Need to go anywhere? Better drive. You'll freeze if you try to make it across the road. I just didn't have the right clothes, none heavy enough. When it started raining, I just about gave up hope.

Guitar. I was going to play second acoustic. And we did, but the tempo was so slow for all of our songs, and I am just no good on slow songs. I need intensity and volume to stay afloat, to mask my lack of skill and finesse. Ask me to really keep time, and I can't. And I'm not used to being able to actually hear my instrument, so that was weird. I heard every mistake in perfect hi fidelity.

Optimism. We all took personality tests, as part of the topic of "change." We scored ourselves in traits such as adventurous, resourcefulness, adaptability, etc. I scored an off the chart low on Optimism. The speaker said that those without Optimism ought not lead in a capacity that involves vision. This lines up with what Blanchard says: "Optimism is not an option for leaders." Was the test weighted wrong? Did I answer wrong? Should I not be doing what I do?

Small Groups. Ever have a small group leader fall apart on you? Mine did. He is a good guy, a great guy. I just wasn't prepared to have to console and reassure him about that. It made me just more convinced that I am cursed to doom all small groups with my personality. I reveal too much, I speak too candidly. In the past, it would occasionally and miraculously spur encouragement. "Your sharing is so honest and encouraging," they would sometimes muster. But not this weekend. This weekend, it put people on edge perhaps. Especially my leader. You know the group is unravelling when the leader keeps looking to you for confirmation that things are going ok. I would give him no such satisfaction. I didn't bail him out. Oh, what the hell was I doing in that group?

Games. The two people they put in charge of games were the most sadistic people I have ever seen lead group games. Their first game required five volunteers to eat a plate of gummy worms doused in chili pepper, tabasco sauce, soy sauce and other crap. All their games had some element of embarrasement or a freakish danger to them. Clearly they came from some parallel universe where people are so secure with themselves that doing these kinds of things is never humiliating or awkard. My personality test says I am weak in dealing with ambiguity. Every time they asked for volunteers, I wondered what the hell they'd put me through if I went up there. I couldn't deal with that at all.

Koreans. While we're talking about me talking too much, I realized that I have almost no filter left on my speech. All these years of typing nearly exactly what I'm thinking on the RageBomb has done this to me. I don't think anymore about my audience when I speak, or the consequences of my words. I only communicate to purge myself, not to encourage or exhort. It has become a selfish thing. I might as well be burping. I wrote some things about Koreans on the RageBomb that I've had to work through all weekend. I feel bad about how I've felt, but not that bad. And I said something to a worship leader's wife that I should never have. I wasn't going anywhere useful with my observations about her husband, so why did I start? Why don't I just shut up? Somewhere between Saturday and Sunday, I realized that some people saw me as a snob. You hear about bitter old people dying unloved and barely missed. When I hear snob, I think maybe that will be me. Mourned by few. If I don't change ... something.

Second Guessing. Some of my best friends tell me to "be myself." That makes me happy to hear. Problem is, I can't reconcile what others think I am. I do not trust my own perspective about who I am, you understand. So I listen to what others say. Some of the voices, anyway. They call me teacher, joker, cynic, listener, leader, follower, nitpick, fool, artist, boss, or slacker. The voices are not lining up. I left to the retreat sort of hoping that there would be some answers about my job, some clarity for all the competing values here. But I feel worse now coming off the mountain. Even more confused about the badges on my hat. I am a Jack's bleeding ulcer. I am Jack's compassionate heart. I am Jack's spinal column. I am Jack's left pinky toe.

I have never been more convinced that I am a selfish, horrible person. Where was God in my retreat? Have I edged him out so completely that I don't notice it anymore? I didn't even bother learning the name of the guys in the bunks around me. What does that mean? Why would anyone want to read the crap that I write here on the RageBomb? I am Ender, stuck in Fairyland beyond The End of the World, weary from missing Valentine.

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