Mrs Noah and sons

Another thing that makes me ponder about Noah is what his wife did.

I can imagine things were a bit awkward in bed that night.

“I need to build a massive ark”
“Why dear?”
“God told me too. He said all men are wicked, but because I have found favour, he will save me and my family. I just have to build this boat and we won’t be destroyed by the deluge.”
“What’s a deluge?”
“Not sure exactly, but it can kill, so I don’t want to find out.”
“How are you going to pay for this ark? You promised that I could have some new sandals.”

And so on. I highly doubt she accepted it as a command straight away.

I imagine though, that there was a point where she realised her husband wasn’t going to give up. Did she at this point decide to support her husband and decide to leave her questions unanswered or did she remain critical and seek out other options? The Bible doesn’t say either way, but because we know the ending, we really want her to have had faith alongside Noah.

I don’t imagine Noah’s wife to have been a very good carpenter. She probably thought there was nothing she could ever do to help at one stage, but I doubt she stopped there. She kept looking at what was going and upon seeing what she had in her hands, she pitched in. She could have made food and drink for the workers, or kept records, or helped with making the pitch. I don’t know what her skills were, but I’m pretty sure that there were jobs she could do.

In a large venture of faith, there is a lot that needs to be done. Some tasks are visible, others are more behind the scenes, but all are worth doing. Noah was probably leading the ark building, but I imagine the whole family were involved. His sons would be aware what was going on, and I imagine that if nothing else, they prayed for success.

I hope people won’t look at my lifestory and wish I’d had faith in the crazy ideas I rejected. I’d much rather be seen as someone who tried lots and was willing to give it a go. I want to be someone who did things, not just saw them. I don’t care what it is I do, that’s not the point. I just want to be involved in something spectacular, that’s much bigger than me.

Preventing paedophiles

I read an article in the news a while back about the former lead singer of Welsh band Lostprophets being found guilty of committing various sex offences against children.

The story stunned me, as I’m sure it has others who’ve read it. Not because the guy was a celebrity, but because I felt sympathy for the guy.

I am not a paedophile, nor have I ever been. At some point in his life, that was true for Ian Watkins too. What happened to change him I don’t know. I doubt it was a sudden thing, that on one day he woke up and had sexual impulses related to children. I imagine it to have been a gradual slope down into addiction. The drink and the drugs were probably similar in that regard, like a thickening wedge.

I feel sorry for him because I believe he felt powerless to stop it. I feel sorry that he went through whatever trauma he did. I feel sorry that his fame has now been traded for infamy. I feel sorry that he will have to face people who will never forgive him. I feel sorry that he had nowhere to go for help.

Right now I feel a little powerless too. Child sex offences are in the news a lot these days, but the only solution I hear offered is a harsh punishment. We should be doing something to identify the problem at the root, before anyone gets hurt.

I know of online petitions written asking that rape be talked about in school. I think they should also talk about pedophilia. Many guys will experience sexual urges they cannot explain, why don’t schools teach people how to manage these? I admit that’s hard, but at least acknowledging that some people will have mixed up urges due to issues in their past would be useful.

Sex education for me consisted of saying what each gender has and that the men should wear a condom. In a school with a number of teenage pregnancies, I can understand why there was an unspoken assumption that people would have sex. They knew their pupils had urges to do it and that any child will break the rules to test them.

The children in school today have access to porn on their phones and are sexting. Their childhood is being swapped for sexual discoveries. When I was growing it was clear that “the conversation” had to happen about when puberty hit. Nowadays that may be too late, as some children as young as five are being excluded for sexual misconduct (source: Independent).

The big question is what can we do? The answer is whatever we can. Use what’s available to you, whether that being talking to your kids, writing to your MPs or setting up better parental controls at home. If we take responsibility for this rather than passing the buck, it will improve.

Blogging versus real life

I mentioned in an earlier post that I wanted to post one blog post a week, every Wednesday. Last week, I failed to meet this objective and the previous week it was late.

The curious thing is that I’m not bothered about this. I had an idea which I could have written about (India still needs aid even though it can afford a mission to Mars. Suggesting otherwise is to say all Indian charity work is pointless and everybody there does not deserve our help, simply because the government are spending money on rockets) but life got in the way.

For some people writing is their life. They have to do it else they explode and find it hard to contain themselves. That is not me.

I have to think and process new ideas. This is one of the ways that I process them but there are others. This week I have not slept well and spent many nights tossing and turning, thinking over the busy week. My imagination has been very active, but writing it down and sharing my internal monologues has not been necessary. I’ve had a few deep conversations with close friends and spent the weekend discussing this and that with my girlfriend.

Blogging is important to me though, mainly because I want to share what I think. I don’t believe I’m always right, but I do stand by the fact that I have something new to offer. If you’ve followed me for a while, I imagine you think so too.

I want to keep this up and as previously posted, become better at putting my ponderings to paper, or print at least. I’m therefore going to loosen up on the day of submission, but aim for once a week. I hope to post again before Sunday, but if not, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. Life goes on.

A nation changing testimony

Last week, I was aware that a cyclone was about to hit India. I didn’t know much, but it was going to be a big one, the size of which hadn’t been seen since 1999 when tens of thousands of people were killed.

On Sunday, in the morning service at church, God prompted me to pray for them. I was in worship at this point, and just started going there, spiritual-pedal-to-the-metal. I prayed for people’s protection, that they would be kept safe in Jesus.

Later that day, I’m eating lunch in a pub. I see on the news a story that 78 people have died during a stampede at a temple where people were praying about the oncoming storm. They had been rushing across a bridge and afraid it was going to fall.

I have a real heart connection with India as a nation, so this hurt. I once again asked God to protect this nation and then, because I’m not perfect, I just continued with my meal.

The next day I see an article numbering the people killed by cyclone Phailin at nineteen. 1. 9. Not 5 figures, but something I can count on my own fingers and toes. WOW!!!! The government had ordered the people to evacuate ahead of the storm and the number of lives saved is phenomenal!

Whether you believe that was caused by my prayer is actually irrelevant. The fact of the matter is it happened and who am I going to give the glory to for that? The weathermen who foresaw it and the ministers which acted so promptly to save the people they represented both did amazing work, sure, but God is the one I praise here. As I try to do in all things, I want to acknowledge His glory in what has happened.

The how and the reason are almost irrelevant. (I personally do think my prayer had an impact, hence the title.) If God did just sat back and left people by themselves to figure out how they could predict the weather, how to communicate at rapid speed across a nation and move them all quickly to points of safety, then that these created beings are capable of so much is still miraculous!

I am consistently astounded at how much we are capable of and what great things then human race can do.  We are made in the Father’s image and have been given very great power.

John 14:12
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

Beginning

Not long ago I wrote about learning to ride a bike. This is not the only new thing I am doing. There are quite a few. In a sense, this blog is still in it’s infancy. I’m also drawing and venturing into non-fiction writing.

One thing that I struggle with in all of these is motivation. It takes courage to pick up the pencil each time and very rarely am I amazed by what I achieve.  This makes it harder to get back on the metaphorical saddle and easier to lose the faith you’re clinging to.

I was shown this quote by someone a while ago and I loved it.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” 
― Ira Glass

I’m planning to write a new blog post every week and publish it on Wednesdays. Its not going to always be stunning, but it’ll be good, getting slowly better over time. I’m also going to try and draw something every week, but that will rarely be shared.

There, I’ve made a commitment. Now I can be held to it. Gulp!

Learning to ride a bike

When I was very young, thinking double figures was a long way off, I loved my trike. It was fun to rush round at a speed that I thought rivaled jet engines. In my old house the garden was on a steep hill, which meant I could stress test the brakes. When we moved, this was replaced with a smaller square arrangement, which to my mind was dull. It gave my parents the chance to develop some colourful and varied borders, taking full advantage of the better soil, but the bike (I’d upgraded) wasn’t as fun.

At this point I was ten and the stabilisers had always been firmly attached. Removing them wouldn’t make me go down the hill any faster so why bother? As the bottom had been occupied by concrete patio slabs, the risk had always seemed too great. I knew that a lot of kids my age had already mastered this, but peer pressure has never had much sway with me.

I remember there was one time after we’d relocated when my Dad tried to teach me with only two wheels. It lasted half an hour at most and I was not an overnight cycling sensation. I didn’t get it. Riding on the flat wasn’t as fun either, even when I didn’t fall off.

I never had another lesson. I didn’t want it and my parents were not going to force me to do so. I respect that choice, but it hasn’t been easy.

Just saying that I can’t ride a bike is still difficult. It’s embarrassing and comes with a sense of guilt. It hurts to hear people’s reactions, blaming either me or my parents for not doing what they clearly think is mandatory for everyone my age. I know they are trying to show they care, that they don’t want me to be missing out, but I still have to fight to not feel like a failure.

I know that if I had gone back to my parents for another lesson they’d have obliged, but I didn’t want to. That was my choice and I take full responsibility for that. My parents could have made me learn, but they didn’t and I know that was out of love.

Raising children involves making a lot of choices. Some things you have to do for your kids own good, like teaching them to read. There comes a point though when you have to back off and let them live their own life, learning from their failures.

It’s the same with God and us. He won’t make us do what is best for us; He loves us too much for that. He wants us to learn, to develop and mature. He’ll show us enough to work out how, but it’s up to us to do it.

Free will is a fantastic thing, but it comes with consequences. We don’t always chose to do the right thing, but at any moment we can make a fresh decision.

I’m 25 and I’m starting to learn to ride a bike. I made good progress in my last attempt and I will achieve this. I feel no condemnation for choosing not to do this earlier. I decided to do this now for a good reason; I was born for such a time as this.

Rape: The unspeakable crime

Last night I watched a documentary on BBC iPlayer called The Unspeakable Crime: Rape. I highly recommend you watch it, as I found it quite challenging and it changed my perspective. To open in a new tab click here.

The film mainly focuses on one woman in particular. It was certain elements of her story which challenged me and I wanted to share that.

Be warned, the following contains adult content which some may find disturbing

 

It’s New Year’s Day, and Juliet is sent by police to St Mary’s, a sexual assault referral centre. She is asked to tell her story to camera; the footage may later be used in court.

The story starts with her at home. She’s getting ready to go out for the night and to get in the mood for a night of partying, has a glass of wine. One becomes two and so on until the bottle is dry. Juliet heads out to the pub to meet a friend, but she’s not there. She sits down at the bar and orders a bottle to share and waits for her to arrive. She never shows up.

Juliet finishes her second bottle and decides to go home. At this point her memory starts to fail. She remembers being led by the hand, but then another blank spot.

Juliet’s next memory starts with a man’s penis in her mouth. She doesn’t know who the guy is and she wants him to stop, but he’s got a hand on her head and isn’t done yet. She thinks about biting down, but he warns her that she’d regret it. Once done, he leaves her in the alleyway and she goes to tell the police, who refer her here.

The program then moves on to show the hunt for the assailant, and we see CCTV footage of Juliet that night. They find good shots of her going into the pub alone and sitting there by herself. Once her wine is finished, the barman refuses to serve her anymore and she’s escorted out. She’s so drunk at this point she collapses at several points and can barely walk.

It’s at this point that I started to lose sympathy. When she told her story I had felt really sorry for her, as what happened was horrific and traumatic (not an overstatement!). When I saw her inebriated, I thought to myself, well she’s clearly not being careful and my compassion lessened.

The film later interviews some of the lawyers handling her case. They say that it’s sad that because a girl likes to drink, wears short skirts and high heels that they are less likely to see a conviction. The fact of the matter is that the violation was still that: rape.

This hit me hard, as I had been thinking along those lines. The victim’s state had made me reassess the perpetrator and go someway to justifying the crime. I felt sick; what had I just done?

The fact of the matter is that rapists will target the vulnerable. That making yourself exposed, whether it is sensible to do so or not, is legitimately a risky thing to do is thinking from the Pit. The victim is never responsible for the actions of their attacker and to ever think like that is evil.

That moment changed me, and I’m so grateful for that. Why I did it is not clear; did I want to find fault in poor Juliet or was I trying to make sense of a world where people chose to be a rapist?

Being a virgin, I really do not understand the appeal sex has. Of course I have some sexual desire, but the choice to not have sex is relatively easy one when the experience is unknown. So I really struggle to understand why there are so many who do this.

And it is many, not just a few. In Britain, it is estimated that someone is raped once every six minutes. That is not a situation which affects a minority, but a major issue.

The more I saw the aftercare that’s necessary for victims, the more I wanted to stop it ever happening. The question is how? The problem is widespread, spreading across generations and throughout the country.

I have one thought looping on repeat; why was this not talked about in school? We were told to avoid unsafe sex and drug use (though to what effect is debatable) but never was rape mentioned. The only reason I can guess is that it may be a sensitive area for someone in that class, but I think it still needed to be said, at least to the guys.

I’m starting to get angry at the lack of teaching on it. Why weren’t we told that sex is a precious thing and should never be forced? Why didn’t the teachers tell us that the media’s treatment of women was unjust and out of order?

And what can/should I do about all this?

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If you’ve reacted in a similar way, I strongly suggest you watch this documentary. This only touches the surface of the issues covered in the program and if you want to be a part of the change, being informed about the extent and nature of the problem is a good place to start.