“I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good” (Alma 39:7).
• Some people would claim that we dwell too much on negative things in life by taking steps 4 and 5 and that doing so can only add to our stress. In this verse, we are taught that facing shortcomings can do us good, not just “harrow up” (or distress) our souls. In what ways can steps 4 and 5 relieve you of stress and bring you more peace?
With all the attempted suicides and self-hate that I see among young gay guys, it's easy to get carried away and apply the same soothing rhetoric to myself that I would like to extend to them. But the fact is, I'm not suicidal and have no real problem with self-hate. My problem is excusing myself.
I excuse myself from looking at porn because "I'm addicted," or I excuse myself from really stepping up and carefully studying the scriptures and participating in church. I excuse myself for masturbation. I excuse my selfishness.
Selfishness. That reminds me of the recent discussions I've seen about President Packer's pamphlet, To the One, in which he opines that many of the difficulties associated with being gay are attributable to selfishness. The rhetoric flying off that discussion was thick and deep, and frankly, irrelevant to me. Because, regardless of whether you want to take issue with the generalizability of that, regardless of whether you are prone to outrage that an apostle would say such a thing, I can't deny to myself how true it is in my case. I'm a very selfish person, I always have been, and it's no good trying to deny it.
...President Spencer W. Kimball: “Repentance can never come until one has bared his soul and admitted his actions without excuses or rationalizations. . . . Those persons who choose to meet the issue and transform their lives may find repentance the harder road at first, but they will find it the infinitely more desirable path as they taste of its fruits”
Being selfish is not going to make me happy. I'm fully convinced of that on an academic level. I love the scriptures where we're invited to lose our lives for Christ's sake, and that through so doing we will find ourselves. And, to be fair and honest, I've done a pretty good job of being unselfish in some ways in my life. But there is still a very deep-rooted desire within myself to look at porn, despite what it may do to my wife, despite how it may affect our family and marriage, despite its effects on my spirituality. I know what I want, and the largest effort of my daily life ends up being a puzzle of risk and consequence management, keeping the negative impact of my selfishness at a minimum, but harboring the selfishness through it all at the protected core of my life.
One major obsession of those who struggle with addiction is a great desire to look good to others. How would this desire keep you from improving and bringing “forth more fruit” (or good works)?
I've always been an approval junkie. It's a problem on this blog, certainly, because I tend to want to look consistent and sometimes avoid airing my dirty laundry (despite that doing so is one of the reasons this blog exists). I'm not looking for reassurances of my self-worth with this post, and I don't want to hear criticisms of President Packer. This post is just for me to say what I know is true: I have a fair number of problems in my life that still need to be dealt with. Primary among these problems is my selfishness. It's the center of my issues with porn, imagining a life of gay bliss, wasted time, hypocrisy, and so on. So, there you have my confession, hopefully unsoftened by my desire to look good.
You may fear that someone who really knew all your weaknesses and failings would reject you. But a priesthood leader or a trusted friend who understands the recovery process usually responds with understanding and compassion. How could such a response help you heal?
I suppose this speaks to my last post. My wife allows my confessions and responds with understanding and compassion. She doesn't excuse my faults, and I'm glad for that. But she stands by me regardless of my failings, and she lets me know that she wants me to be happy and she wants me to be the person I can be. I don't bring up my failings to her on a perpetual basis, because that wouldn't be fair to her. Luckily, I do have friends who are supportive and encouraging and who I trust not to give me improper guidance or misinformation when I confide in them. For all the love I receive from people both near and far who care about me, I say thanks.