This is the (Match of the) Day That The Lord Hath Made.

I was -1 when Northern Ireland lost to France 4-1 in the World Cup in Spain on a Sunday in 1982. For many, the world cup is still considered to be the pinnacle tournament for any player to be a part of. Millions of kids dream of getting the opportunity to play for their country in a World Cup match.

On that Sunday against France though one player, Johnny Jameson the Glentoran winger decided he didn’t want to play as he was a born again Christian. The one and only chance he had to play in a World Cup and it was gone. Continue reading

Being unemployed.

indexSince moving to Detroit in November I have been unemployed. For the first few months this was ok. Britt and I had saved before we came and we very generously helped out by family here and back in Ireland. Britt has since found a job and we are still not starving.

We were getting used to our new life, me for the first time living in the USA and for Britt, the first time since she was 18 (She’s now 24).

We knew it was the right thing for us to do and we knew that we would miss people terribly. The first couple of months though were easy and we both, despite missing folk and our church community, were enjoying getting used to new things. Like access to Chillis anytime we want. Or a million different varieties of pop tarts.

In the last month or so however I think we both hit a wall when it came to being here. We weren’t sad that we were here or regretting the move, instead we began to miss our home in Ireland very much.

People, family, Belfast, decent pints of Guinness. (Although I suspect that’s just me).

Before we left I struggled with the job that I had and believed that I was made to do something else. I got very comfortable and didn’t really try and get out of it. I had a regular income, Britt and I never starved and I was probably too frightened to step out. As a result of my job I also had some issues with my self worth. I looked down on myself because I thought that others would look down on me too. Simply because of the job I held or where I imagined other people my age were in their lives. Facebook can be a killer in this respect. Rather than motivating me to look for something else, it actually made me more and more afraid. So I stalled and stayed where I was.

Two things then, that I have learned from the past few months being unemployed.

1. Just because I didn’t have a job I went to everyday didn’t mean I couldn’t work. Other than the obvious and tedious job hunting, I have spent the time writing more consistently than I ever had and I have been reading more. I decided to teach myself coding and I have thrown myself into the work I do with xxxchurch and x3groups. Yeah, there have been times where I have gotten cabin fever but if I don’t have a job I still have a choice. I can still work.

2.  Before the move, my self worth was based on the job I had. This wasn’t really my self worth though. My self worth wasn’t my job but rather what people thought of my job. Even then, that wasn’t the end because it wasn’t so much what people thought of my job, but what people thought of me. Admittedly most of this was probably in my head and my own insecurities. I imagined that if I felt this way about myself then others must to.

The longer we have been here and the longer I have been unemployed here those insecurities have started to creep into being unemployed. The embarrassment in having to tell people I still haven’t found a job. Or maybe that too is all in my head.

But the big lesson I have learned from these last few months isn’t so much to do with my job or lack of but with where I place my value.

Where I get that deep inner peace. Do I get it from a job or do I get it from something higher? Am I liked because I have a job that looks good?

These are questions I have struggled with and in doing so have come to the conclusion that if I place my value in those things then I will always be left disappointed. Instead when I start to place my value in my inherent worth because I am loved, I have found that less and less I measure my value by what people think of me.

It actually doesn’t matter what people think of me one way or another. I can release myself from the pressure of finding the perfect job because no longer is that an indicator of my value. I can stop forcing myself to act a certain way around people because their affirmation is not what gives me life.

When I do this I realize that there is more to life than constantly arguing with myself that my life is worthwhile through others opinions. Ironically, it is that type of attitude that drains life from me.

So maybe for you it’s your job or your looks or how smart you are. It could be the successes or failures in your life that shape how you see yourself.

My prayer for you is that you see yourself as someone who is worthy of being loved. Simply because you are you. Because you were created with beauty. Not because of what you do.

It’s a simple prayer that takes guts and work.

Thankfully though, your work isn’t the whole you.

Why Giving Up is the Only way to beat addiction. Part 2.

If you strip it down to its core essence, essentially all addiction is about worshiping an idol.

Now I realize that the term idol has a lot of religious connotations which will put off many people, but I think that the word idol fits well here. Especially if we rethink what it means.

So let me come up with a definition of an idol that hopefully will resonate with anyone struggling with an addiction, regardless of belief. Here goes. Continue reading

Why Giving Up is the only way to Beat Addiction. Part 1.

ImageBecoming free from the never-ending cycle of an activity that is harmful for you is one of the most difficult things that anyone can ever do. Addiction is a horrible thing to live with and the hopelessness that it causes is soul destroying.

I write a lot about addiction because I am an addict. I used to look at porn. I’ve written that sentence in various forms a lot over the years. At first it terrified me, afraid what people would think. After a while being clean I didn’t want to write it anymore because it wasn’t who I was anymore. Then I realized that actually it’s always who I will be. In much the same way an alcoholic can be sober for 30 years but still identify themselves as an alcoholic.

The reason we do this is simple. No matter how long you have been sober, you are only one pint, or one click away from falling back into old habits. So everyday I remind myself that I am an addict and I can’t go back to my old ways.

Some days are easy. Some are unbearably difficult.

But by reminding myself that I need help everyday, that I need to continue to reach out to the people who support me, to keep going over and over and over the tools that I use; I remember the beauty of where I am and will hopefully keep heading. Every addict who wants to give up will say that this was the last time. That tomorrow will be different. That I don’t want to feel like that again.

The moment you finally do give in again is one of the most depressing and hopeless moments in your life. All the hard work seems like it is lost. All the many victories pale in comparison to this one defeat.

And there is no warning. Your mood can sometimes play a part in staying sober but not always. Everything in your life working out can be just as much of a trigger as everything falling apart. That’s why addiction is so tricky. That’s why you take every day as it comes. Otherwise it will smack you in the face when you’re not looking.

When that moment came for me I had been sober for a few months. Everything had been great and then one day, one single event led to a spiral back into porn. I didn’t see it coming and I wasn’t ready.

That triggered months of indulging in porn.

I tried everything in the book to stop. Accountability, filters, reading the Bible more, praying fervently, journaling, you name it I did it. And yeah some things worked for a while. But not for long.

It felt helpless and I felt trapped in the cycle of shame, some fight and positivity in me, eventual failure and back to shame.

Deep down there was a part of me that believed that success was attainable. I had experienced it for several months before so I knew it was possible. Not in a theoretical sense but in a personal way. This was not someone else telling me I could do it; I had actually done it.

Then one day it hit me. I realized the mistake I had been making the whole time. It seemed so obvious but yet I had missed it completely.

I had been trying to stay sober for all the wrong reasons. I had been using the tools given to me for the wrong objective.

My goal had been to stop looking at porn and I realized that that was a mistake. I had to ask myself why I wanted to stop looking at porn. Yeah it made me feel like crap and yeah it stopped me from being part of things but those were the wrong reasons. As long as I continued to make not looking at porn my goal I was doomed to failure.

And it was so simple why it was doomed. Maybe too obvious.

But once I realized what my true reason for staying sober should have been there was no turning back.

Suffering and Sin. Why I Believe In An Unconditionally Loving God.

The way that the world works means that most of us don’t get anything for free. We go to work and we receive payment. We have to go to the gym to get fitter. We study for an exam and pass the test.
There is an effort required for each of those things. Work hard and you get your rewards.

This is the American dream. Continue reading

“Just Wanna Be Here”

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - Season 22

As I watched Jay Leno’s final appearance on the Tonight Show before Jimmy Fallon takes over this month, I was struck by a comment by one of his guests Matthew McConaughey.

As Matthew talked about his first appearance on the show back in the 90’s he reminded Jay about something he had said to the nervous Matthew backstage before the show began.

His advice? Simply this. Continue reading