A Puzzle Game
I don’t even play Portal that much. It’s a puzzle game. The replay value is nonexistant. Once the puzzle is solved you might get half the fun of the last playthrough every few years. Still, I chose to go with Portal as my featured image for three reasons.
- I need to maintain my theme of using scenes from video games as my featured images.1
- I wanted to branch away from using Kingdom Hearts or Halo screenshots.
- I desired something that vaguely referenced the post’s theme and the quote from Portal, combined with the visual of the companion cube, accomplish just that.
Now, the symbolism found in any video game may speak differently to me than it does to others because of my focus and experiences in life. That said, if there’s any symbolism in Portal at all when it is said that “the cake is a lie”, I percieve it’s a harsh view toward the “reward” of religion or Christianity.2 I assure you, this is not the cake I refer to. That’s why it’s so helpful to throw in the companion cube with the quote.
See, in high school, I thought differently about relationships. I don’t mean just significant ones: I was in oppposition to any form of friendship as well. I had one friend that I kept really close and he introduced me to a few others, but for the most part, I was very antisocial. Ultimately, that thought process died at Bible College. In college, I began to make friends and found it enjoyable. The “cake” I refer to symbolize friendships or significant relationships.
During and after college, I obtained the idea that I was meant to be a “social” person with many friendships. I’d hoped that eventually, a significant relationship with a woman might be in my future. Companionship with friends or loved ones by hanging out together, engaging in public activities together, or even something as Holy as studying the Bible together was something I was very comfortable doing and something I enjoyed very much, like eating cake.
However, something happened around the month of December 2018, that made me think that maybe I wasn’t set apart to be a social person. Maybe, I’m not supposed to seek a significant relationship. Maybe, I’m not supposed seek God’s best version of me. Maybe, the cake is a lie.
I’d hate to keep dancing around the events of the worst Christmas season in RoChriMel-II history forever while keeping the actual events to myself. So, without futher ado, let’s talk about what happened.
On the second of December 2018, I had an exceptionally memorable dream. Although I wish to establish an honest and open quality in the way I write, I’m afraid to inform my audience that there a few things about this dream that will have to remain my own.
However, I will reveal that the dream kickstarted my rebellion. My eyes were opened to the things I truly desire.
For the past year and a half, I had experienced many unsuccessful attempts at resisting my sinful nature. I figure this was due to my only incentive being, “because my God requests that I abstain from sin.” I was patiently waiting for a stronger reason to be better than my sin.
The fantasy I had on the second night of December 2018 taught me that I didn’t want to wait for that reason anymore. If the Lord doesn’t want to give me a better reason to fight my sinful desires, I’m not going to. I’m tired of clinging to the hope that God might have a better life for me at some point in the near to distant future. I’m done waiting for that future. I’m going to do things my way.
What Do I Need With Love?
Before I left to college, one of the many factors that people told me in order to persuade me to go to college3 was that God would let me meet my wife there. Prior to college, that idea didn’t have that much affect on me because I still had the thought process from high school that taught holding people close as a weakness because people will leave. When I left Shasta Bible College, I was very different in my opinion of friendships, social interaction, love, fellowship and, lastly, significant relationships. I had this idea that God did actually have a woman set aside to be my wife. At the end of December, I came to the realization that she doesn’t exist and trying to find her is a waste of my time.
In fact, on the seventh of January 2019, I sent an email to my ol’ buddy, Max, concerning the topic of my anger toward this realization. He’s married now and we barely ever talked since the wedding but I always used to send emails to Max. Writing an email about my anger, frustration and impatience toward the Lord and love in general to the one person that’s been my friend since middle school, stuck with me through everything else and who I thought was going to be my best friend forever only seemed logical! I wrote about the events that led up to this realization and how I was extremely upset about what the Lord has kept from me as opposed to what He has allowed me. To finish, I told him that I’m done looking for this person that God “may or may not” have set apart to become my wife.4
Something in that email must have sparked him because we don’t talk anymore. I remember a time when Max taught me that when a person ignores an argument, that he has lost by leaving the argument. ‘Guess I won this argument because he’s ignored me for the last three months5. I’d rather have my best friend, but whatever. The other day, I called Max on my lunch due to another friend that had just exited my life but he never answers anymore so I left a tear-filled voicemail asking what ended our nine-year friendship. After thinking about it, it was probably the email (where my anger wasn’t even directed toward him) or my desire to not be the best man at his wedding because I couldn’t very well approve of the marriage since I didn’t know the bride. It was probably a combination of both so I texted him the next day apologizing for the outburst and sent the photo I made for him.
It would seem that for all the affection that I offer, there are a lot of people that stay in my life to reciprocate but that does not distract from the people that reject it or exit my life. It is this smaller group of people that draw my attention away from those who accept my love that make it not worth giving. My fear of rejection or departure is larger than my hope for acceptance or conservation. What I need is someone that is going to stay in my life. “Oh! Christopher! That’s great! ‘Cause you know who never leaves? The Big Guy Upstairs. You should talk to Him. He’ll never abandon you.” Yeah, but the problem is when I leave Him. “Well, yeah. So, just don’t do that.” Oh, if things were just that simple! Maybe it’s just a problem with me, huh? Maybe I just don’t know how to love Him and that’s why I keep leaving Him. Maybe I just wasn’t “set apart” as one of his “elect” and I keep trying to be something I’m not. I mean, it’s cool. Don’t worry about it. Has to be someone, right?
Honestly, I’m just upset I didn’t realize this sooner. Entire years spent trying to obtain a prize that I was never meant to keep. Like, what did I think would happen? That if I resist sin long enough, the fight would just get easier? [“Jeez”]. Or that, maybe, God would reward me with a special someone that would make me want to be better than my sin. Stupid. Pathetic. I mean, I’ve never even had a girlfriend and I’m dimwitted enough to think that God would bless me with “just that perfect person” that would help me fight temptation or pray or read the Bible more?
…because when that happened before, she definitely stuck around, huh?6 [“Jeez”], I am disgusted that I ever even tried. I’ll find my purpose elsewhere because, from my point of view, I was not designed to fight that fight.
Over the past four months, I’ve experimented with a few different lifestyles and have had trouble finding out where else I “fit”, so to speak.
See, not long after December, I noticed I was being invited to parties less but, to be honest, I was not that disappointed. As recorded in my post, “About Bread…”, I sometimes engaged in activities that I was not particularly interested in but that I knew would disappoint the Lord. Attending parties with my newfound friends was one of these activities. I didn’t exactly enjoy myself at any of these parties. I had a few “beverages” and talked to people occasionally but most of the people at these parties speak casually in another language so I was really outside of my comfort zone. What’s more, I don’t really enjoy the taste of alcohol. Even when I find myself in the comfort of close friends or family, alcohol or vodka (in all honesty) taste absolutely disgusting to me. As a result, I decided “party monster” was just another lifestyle I was not made for.
My metaphorical absence from these parties, teemed with my opposition with Max, influenced my decision to start cutting unnecessary social communications. After all, since my social characteristic was only discovered at Shasta Bible College, it must be a characteristic of the person that God wants me to be. I began to think that maybe the old me had it right in thinking that I should keep to myself for the most part. I should still be human and socialize a little bit. It’s my job for [“goodness”] sake but I never really knew how to make friends anyway. So, in late January, I began my trial subscription to Xbox Game Pass to try and return to old habits and start cutting myself off. But alas, it seems my love for video games has died with the desire to resist them.
I think in Romans, the Apostle, Paul, teaches on resisting sinful temptations. I’m very sure that I remember studying a passage in which he says that the desire to sin, being a natural human desire as a result of the Curse, is only strengthened from the need to resist sin. In a relative way, now that I don’t have to tell myself to stay away from video games, I can realize that there’s really not all that much I want to play. Anytime I turn on my Xbox to scavenge for games to play due to boredom and I actually decide on a game to play, I really have to force myself to enjoy said video game. Drawing from my own past experiences, the joy found in any activity is lost once you have to force yourself to enjoy it. Every now and then, I’ll turn on my Xbox to see if I actually want to play anything but video games appear to be yet another activity I was not designed to enjoy.
An unfortunate night on Facebook Instant Messenger and an awkward trip to the store also taught me about two other lifestyles I was not made for. I will not go into detail about these two very personal discoveries about myself but I’ll be honest enough to admit that they happened. In my opinion, it is better for me to admit that I am not perfect than try to hide the fact that I am imperfect. At least I know what I’m not now, right?
End of Line
Almost every night before bed, when I am left to my thoughts, I can’t help but consider: Maybe I’m not finding what I am elsewhere because I already once knew but didn’t like that answer. I toss and turn at this outstanding hypothesis because there’s absolutely no way that it can be right. All this time, I’ve been trying to be an actual “follower of Christ”7 through obedience and forcing myself to love the Lord. Truth is, I really don’t; I just don’t want to go to Hell when I die.
The reality is there only two places you can go after you die, right? You either love God wholeheartedly somehow and dedicate the remainder of your entire lifespan to Him, resulting in an eternity of peace and freedom in Heaven or, the only alternative, resulting from when you do not do that perfectly, is an eternity of torment and punishment in Hell. Just think about that for a sec: The Creator of the universe and everyone in it is going to damn the majority of his “children” to an eternity of punishment just because they don’t “love” Him. So how do you do that, huh? I wanna know. “Well, Christopher, glad you asked because it just so happens that there’s this Book–” I’ve heard of it! I’ve even read a few hundred chapters. I know why I should love God but I just don’t.
…So, why don’t I? What does that mean for me? Where am I going when I die? You tell me. Am I going to Hell because I just didn’t try hard enough?
The past few weeks, I’ve actually been going to Church. I’m always listening for a message that God has selected just for me to hear but not too long ago I was asked why I go to church. I could have said that I go to hear the Lord speak through the pastor but that would not explain why I so often forget the message after hearing it. I take time out of my week to endure two hours in a building to listen to a message I’ll most likely forget within the following 24-hour period because I don’t want to lose the small group of people that care for me. I go for the people. Which forces the question: has it all been a quest for approval? Did I only call myself a Christian because I desire to be with the people that love me? Of course not! It was because I wanted to love the people that love me and I really don’t want to go to Hell.
It doesn’t sound too groovy to be eternally separated from the Lord after the Curse is lifted. The only alternative spoken of in the Book of Absolute Truth is Heaven. Naturally I’d rather go to Heaven but if I want to go to Heaven, you’d think it would require more than just belief, right? I do not have a “faith” problem. I am confident, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Triune God of Israel exists and is the sole Creator of Heaven and Earth. Still, I am not comfortable in the belief that this knowledge alone will prevent my eternal separation.
If I want to love Christ, it cannot be because of what He’s going to do for me or the things He blesses me with or the friendships He grants me. I don’t want to go to Hell but I’m through with trying to force myself to love Someone I don’t. So, what gets a sinner like me into Heaven, huh? Let’s take a look at the most familiar verse in the Bible which everyone points to when asked about salvation.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Jn 3:16.
This verse only states that anyone who “believes” in Jesus Christ shall be spared. What does that mean? The original Greek word translated “believe” means to “believe to the extent of complete trust”.8 It’s easy to trust in the Lord! Who wouldn’t? He’s the Author of eternity! If I were to trust anyone with my life, who would be more worthy than God Almighty?
Wait… Is that what it means?
1 Admittedly, I did not use this “theme” from the very start but, soon after I started writing, I decided that my experience with video games can work with my writing ability. …and the featured image for Musical Influence was such a masterpiece that it deserves to be the exception.
2 Now that I write it down, it kinda sounds like an extremist view. More likely, it’s probably just a jab at the end-goal of any menial task.
3 I originally didn’t want to go.
4 I know that it’s something that ought to be taken seriously but phrasing it like that just makes it sound idiotic. Like, what did I think would happen?
5 …With the exception of a conversation at the end of January concerning the release of Kingdom Hearts III and one text concerning my W-2 a few days after.
6 A few months after I met Rachel for the first time, I was so thankful for my friendship with her that I remembered to pray to the Lord daily and ask for strength to battle my sinful addictions both in obedience to Him and out of appreciation and respect to the friendship he’d “blessed” me with. Shortly after this mindset developed, for reasons beyond her control (but not God’s, obviously), she moved away. Almost as if the Lord doesn’t want me to have incentive to fight the good fight. She eventually moved back but only after the feeling was gone.
7 Ever since my Senior year of high school, I preferred “Christopher” above “Chris” because this is what the full name actually means.
8 James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).