Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Step 5: Confession

It's been a while since I've stepped. I've got 4 down and 8 to go, so I don't know why I'm always so slow. Things won't take care of themselves automatically, I suppose. So, on to step 5.

“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.


Mr. Fob said...

Yesterday my therapist suggested that any approval or disapproval I sense from others, as well as approval I seek from others, is reflective of how I feel--or want to feel--about myself. When I like myself and perceive that others like me (i.e. see me as good), and vice versa. I don't know that it applies to you at all, but it rang true to me.

Marc said...

On selfishness -

We're all selfish. At least a little. It's a human survival mechanic.

Some people have it easy, when it comes to the church. The things they selfishly want just happen to be "ok" within the rules.

They want love, they want sex, they want kids, they want happiness, and they want to live forever in that big kingdom in the sky.

Is this any different from what you want?

Being gay does NOT inherently make you any more selfish than the rest of your LDS comrades. The only difference is that the things you want are against their rules, and the things they want are not.

Convenient, huh?

That's my two cents anyway.
*plink, plink*

Mr. Fob said...

Um, that second sentence in my comment is not a sentence. I think I meant to say "When I like myself I perceive that others like me (i.e. see me as good), and vice versa" (emphasis added).

Jason said...

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.

It's so refreshing to see somebody be real. And I echo your sentiments--the statement has rung true to me, often. What can I say? I'm a work in progress.

Danish Boy said...

I agree with Marc. It is a natural tendency that comes with being human. It sounds to me like you are on the correct path. As Robert Millet put it " The definition of sin is missing the mark" We all miss the mark sometimes. The key is that we are aiming in the right direction. We are going to overshoot or hit the sides and rarely are we ever going to hit dead center. Your heart is in the right place. We are all human. Jesus Christ was the only perfect person and he was not mortal like us. Anyway thanks for the thoughts you stirred.

Beck said...

I know you don't want "approval", but I'm going to give it to you anyway... You are not selfish. You may have selfish moments, but your core personal trait is one of unselfishness. You have shown over and over again your willing heart, your availability toward the Lord and your wife and family, and your kindness and thoughtfulness toward others, including me.

Anonymous said...

Hi L~ well, umm I like your editing style but may I humbly say that goodness the Prophet and the Brethren lead this Church and not we members?LoL....

I agree that GLBY and adults for that matter (and parents!) continue to need guidance, support, direction, clarity on this sensitive topic. My brother in Laws only brother has aids, he is a performer and has been on TV lately and a Hugh Grant movie etc. When the topic of his "sickness" and lifestyle comes up, our teenagers are pretty sharp but still ask some deep questions!!

I guess the big bottom line~

~Stay Morally Clean
Love yourself and the Savior enough to have self-esteem=keeping the commandments & having the Holy Ghost and feelings of peace/joy.
If you fall into sin (including hetero or homosexual pornography and images) confess to your Bishop and seek guidance from him. He is the authorized authority on earth representing Christ to help you repent and overcome the temptation.
Homosexuality is a sin as an act, as a thought it can be a sin also as we must strive to keep clean in our thoughts also. Talk to the BIshop if you have feelings of unworthiness, lack of the Spirit etc. Get priesthood blessings from Dad or Bp. Pray for help from the Lord. THis goes for straight and gay youth and adults alike!!

I think sometimes as adults we think "oh, we're adults...we can handle this/that situation." I think a spirit of humility, faith and love is a good start to keep us clean in thoughts and deeds. I find it interesting how Satan uses this theme with evil. "adult movies", "adult entertainment" we just got back from a cruise where the comedian said "ok tonight I'll have a version not fit for the children,adult content".. well if my kids can't listen I certainly don't want to either!LoL.

I spoke to my former mother in law(the gay dentists mom) It was some convo! I told her what it was like to be married to Spencer, the heartache etc. I asked her about the time she asked him if he is gay. It is so sad because she struggles to show emotion and love to him and others. She could only say "I don't believe my son is "like that" she couldn't even say the words!! I found myself sticking up for Spence, telling her that her beating him as a child really hurt/messed him up. He felt unloved and therefore feels he can't really go to her and talk with her about something so personal as his SSA etc. I asked when I left him why she didn't come out to help him, instead sending my former father in law. She said: "I couldn't deal with it." I appreciated her honesty. I hope as parents we will "deal with it" when our children, nieces, nephews etc. come to us with there SSA feelings and that we love them unconditionally and give them the tools to fight the worlds version of "gay happiness". It's an oxymoron. Wickedness never was happiness. My gay friends that live the lifestyle tell me how elusive a loving, long-term relationship really is. How real aids, sickness etc. are part of their world as they watch their closest family and friends succomb to the disease.

I always put our gay youth and adults down on the prayer roll when I attend the temple each week with Dr. H (my husband). I put "lds-ssa.org" and "lds-ssa of then my stake, ward name" and "lds-ssa" of church. I bet if someone read it they'd think "hey, new youth group in the Church? missed that one in correlation!"

Keep up the good work L, also please read my fav scripture (everyone would enjoy it as well)
Alma 37:37-44.. Its as we say in pharmacy a good empirical formula, to be prepared 1X day with prayer and given to pt at bedtime with prayer. Love Sheila,