Posted by: zephaniah317 | July 24, 2007

I Go To Extremes

Parents.

I don’t envy the job nowadays.  It’s hard being a Mom, being a Dad, in today’s culture.  HUGE responsibility.  “An 18-year process of letting go,” Neil Anderson once said.

I don’t like mine so much right now.  Never have, really, to be honest.  The whole “high-performance, low nurture environment” thing.  Perfectly describes my household growing up. 

And I’ve been battling with my internal programming a lot lately.  I’ve even gotten to the point where I’ve believed that rebelling against my parents would’ve been a GOOD thing for me to do in high school.  But I would be wrong in that assumption.

Because, in theory and principle, everything they taught me about the big “don’ts”:  drinking, smoking, doing drugs, sleeping around, etc. was true.  Don’t do them.  OK, got it.  But, when taught in an attitude of fear, isolation, and condemnation, well, that’s just prideful and…well…just as bad as the deeds themselves.

My parents didn’t have any close friends (including each other).  Didn’t hang out on the weekends with anyone.  The La-Z-Boy and the TV was my Dad’s best friend, and my Mom, other than her relationship with her mother, was really left out to dry.  I would actually go as far as to say that my parents had some deep prejudice issues against people (a LOT of people).  And I’m ashamed of that, both in them, and myself, although I’m not as deeply rooted in that as they were.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m extreme person.  I’m either all in or all out.  I love that Billy Joel song from a few years back, “I Go To Extremes”:

Call me a joker, call me a fool
Right at this moment I’m totally cool
Clear as a crystal, sharp as a knife
I feel like I’m in the prime of my life
Sometimes it feels like I’m going too fast
I don’t know how long this feeling will last
Maybe it’s only tonight

Darling I don’t know why I go to extremes
Too high or too low there ain’t no in-betweens
And if I stand or I fall
It’s all or nothing at all
Darling I don’t know why I go to extremes

Sometimes I’m tired, sometimes I’m shot
Sometimes I don’t know how much more I’ve got
Maybe I’m headed over the hill
Maybe I’ve set myself up for the kill
Tell me how much do you think you can take
Until the heart in you is starting to break?
Sometimes it feels like it will

Darling I don’t know why I go to extremes
Too high or too low there ain’t no in-betweens
You can be sure when I’m gone
I won’t be out there too long
Darling I don’t know why I go to extremes

Out of the darkness, into the light
Leaving the scene of the crime
Either I’m wrong or I’m perfectly right every time
Sometimes I lie awake, night after night
Coming apart at the seams
Eager to please, ready to fight
Why do I go to extremes?

This song fits me to a T…doesn’t matter what I get into, I’m in all the way.  Video games and pornography were pretty much it for my late teens, 20’s and early 30’s, a very miserable time in my life.  Golf was smattered in there, too.  Now it’s somewhere between online poker (FREE online poker…more on that in a minute) and paintball (which only takes up every other weekend or so).  Spending money can get addicting for me, as well (which, in the case of paintball, hasn’t been easy, but I think I’m done for now).

My point is, there’s a reason I only have channels 2-13 on cable, an internet filter on my PC, and no video game console.  And it’s not because of my parents or anyone hurting me in my life.  It’s because I have an addictive personality, and I’m fully aware of my limitations and how I can hurt myself and others when it runs amuck.  That’s why if I ever find myself in a casino, it’ll be playing in a tournament with a one-time buy-in price, not something where I can run to the ATM every five minutes.  Again, this is not to say I don’t have any control over my flesh, because I am able to exercise control in a lot of areas.  I’m just fully aware of the areas I can’t, and I’m also fully hopeful and firmly believing in the fact that God can, will, and is working in my life to help me better control and have some moderation in the areas that I struggle.

Another point:  having an addictive personality ain’t a bad thing.  If you’re addicted to the right things, it really is a passionate lifestyle.  Being addicted to loving and serving others and being in healthy community can be a good thing, in it’s truest form, i.e., not doing it for my own well-being or good feelings, but theirs and theirs alone.  Being addicted to reading God’s word (which I’m not, but trying to get better at) is a good thing, again when done with the right heart attitude and love for my heart, my soul, and God, not necessarily in that order.  I also would like very much, as I’ve stated in previous posts, to have fun (“good, clean, fun” as it’s known) in life.  I’d like very much to be addicted to that.  And there’s NOTHING wrong with being addicted to God Himself, just ’cause He is who He is – I believe that’s worship in a very good form.  🙂

Now, back to the main point.  In a roundabout way, my parents actually helped me in the area of the “don’ts” of life, whether they understood that I had/have an addictive personality or not.  Some people can do some things in moderation, and that’s a great thing.  I can’t.  My problem is, I was taught to adhere to these “boundary markers” – as John Ortberg calls them, another word for how we stereotype people based on their habits or behaviors – as a source of pride and superiority, not emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual health, as I firmly believe God intended and still intends for us this day.

(NOTE:  I’m NOT saying that ANYONE should do drugs or view porn or sleep around or smoke in moderation…I’m talking about the video game stuff or drinking or stuff like that;  shame on you for thinking otherwise!)  😉

So now, I understand a whole lot better.  And I’m learning to love my folks a lot better, although I’m definitely the one to break a cycle  of pride, isolation, and legalism in my family, and that excites me.  I hope I can learn to effectively communicate to others that if I don’t agree with you or participate in a facet of your lifestyle, it ain’t because I don’t like you, it ain’t because I’m “religious” (man, there’s a whole SERIES of posts in THAT statement right there), it’s just because I know myself, and I can’t do some things that other people can.  I still love them/you.  Really, really!

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Responses

  1. Great post! Hits really close to home in many, many ways. As you know we are similar in many ways and this post just shows me that even more. Go figure, could it be that God had a plan for us to be in each others lives? lol. Thanks.

  2. […] not making any excuses for it, either.  It’s how I behave a lot.  I think it fuels my addictive personality a lot, too.  And it’s exhausting.  It’s almost a twisted kind of thinking, isn’t […]


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