Wednesday, February 29, 2012


So, as promised, I'm going to do a little retrospective on my last several months as a blogger. To be completely honest, what I saw as I reread the last 10 months of my life were cyclical phases of confidence, obedience, self-loathing, and pride. I remembered how I felt while writing those old entries and what was going on in my life at the time and tried looking for triggers, external circumstances that affected my emotions and choices and I couldn't come up with too many.

There are the obvious physiological triggers; me getting into a habit of saying yes to those urges made them more difficult to say no to later.  But as far as external circumstances or emotional triggers were concerned, I had a hard time coming up with a conclusive list.  In fact, as toxic as my relationships with some old friends were, they occasionally inspired me to try harder. Their advances, while tempting, sometimes repulsed me and scared me into being better.  (That's not to say those relationships weren't damaging. Just saying.)

So, since the only real trigger I could figure out related more to self-control than anything, I started researching good self-control techniques. The most interesting one to me is the theory that exercising temperance in one aspect of daily life can increase one's control over his actions and thoughts, even unrelated ones. The mere act of forcing oneself to do something out of the ordinary on a habitual basis is shown to exercise the parts of the brain in charge of impulse control. Makes sense, no?

So, in addition to creating distance between me and my enablers, I'm going to try this concept. As I was thinking about something I don't naturally do, the obvious answer came: exercise. I get lots of exercise at work (I once figured out I walk about 5 miles per shift, lifting heavy objects the whole time) but my activity at work isn't regulated by the part of my brain that controls impulses. I feel compelled to work because I like having food and wearing clothes. So then, what if I took some free time and dedicated it to more organized exercise? My natural impulse would be to get home, take a shower, and be lazy for the next three hours. But what if I took a jog for awhile after I got home? Or before work in the morning?

So yeah. That's that. I'm registering right now for a half-marathon in June, which should give me plenty of time to convert my decent muscular fitness into some hella-good aerobic aptitude. I've set a goal to keep me motivated and I'm really hoping that all of that, combined with some redoubled spiritual effort, will help me kick those bad habits.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Reaching Out

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Last night, I made some mistakes with pornography. This is the first time, dear reader, that I've admitted something like that while it's still so fresh. The wound is raw and my natural impulse is to hide it and cover it with a shoddy bandage until it's a little bit healed, but a little bit infected, and only then will I try to clean it, after it's too late and the damage has been done. The scar may only be noticeable to those who pay close attention, but I'll always know it's there.

Not this time. This time, I'm going to douse the wound with hydrogen peroxide, scrub at it with a stiff brush to get the debris out, and then soak it in some more antiseptic. I'm going to expose it to fresh, life-giving air and acknowledge that the raw, torn flesh and unattractive scar tissue will repulse and scare some people. It's going to hurt like hell and the sting will remain for a long time. More people will know I'm damaged and see the ugliness than if I covered it up, but in time, the scar will diminish because I took the time to care for the wound in the beginning.

I've said it before, far too many times, but the shame cycle is a genuine struggle. It's a line of thought that taints my emotions and tells me that even behind the anonymity of this blog, even within the trusted friendships and familial relationships of those who know who I am, even before my almost guileless bishop's love, I can't reveal my wounds because others will be repulsed by them. Instead, I take time to cover them up, I minimize them in my priesthood interviews, and I wait until they're somewhat in the past to tell others, including you, dear reader.  And then, it happens all over again.

Something clearly isn't working. So it's time to change the plan of attack. And so, my life will become more public. You don't need to know all of the details, but you're prepared to hear more of the real-time truth.  Last night was a night that I regret, a night that I am ashamed of. But it's a night that I don't want to cover up anymore. It's time to be honest with the world and reach out, at least behind the relative inconspicuousness of this (hopefully) anonymous blog and within those trusted relationships

As always, if you're struggling with shame or pornography or masturbation or anorexia or overeating or poor self-esteem or anything else, maybe we can struggle together. I'm not saying I have all the answers, but if there's anything I've learned from this shitty situation of homosexuality and pornography, it's that everybody hurts sometimes and sometimes ya just gotta cry and wallow and ask someone to wallow with you.  Your struggles suck too and I'd love to help you if you want me to, because I guarantee that I love you and that the Lord wants us to help each other. I'm reaching out. If you want to do the same, feel free. gay mormon pioneer at gmail dot com.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Light Switches and Sunrise

Several months ago, I was asked to give a talk on personal revelation. It was a great experience. I already love giving talks in church (I'm a natural-born attention whore [gay guy=attention whore. shocker]), but I was asked to speak on acquiring personal revelation, a topic I was already working on improving in my life, so it was perfect!

I came across a talk given by Elder Bednar in Conference in April 2011. In it, he gave two allegories, both pertaining to revelation: A person can walk into a dark room and flip a light switch. In almost an instant, the contents of the room are revealed. The room very quickly becomes filled with light and the transition from darkness to light is palpable and quantifiable. That same person can sit outside on a dark early morning and watch for the sun over the east. Before the sun even comes close to the horizon, it lightens the sky above it. Gradually, the person's surroundings become less obscured, little by little. And the sun doesn't need to be visible for everything to be clear and illuminated. The transition from darkness to light is difficult to quantify, but the increasing presence of light is identifiable. The moment when the sun breaks the horizon is obvious and glorious, but it was preceded by an increase of light of an infinite magnitude.

Such is personal revelation. Rarely, people walk into the dark rooms of their heart to find a light switch installed, a switch that answers questions and chases away doubt instantaneously. However, much more common is the gradual increase of knowledge. By sitting out on a dark morning and looking for light, we find it little by little, as details become illuminated until we are able to see clearly. And only after we see those things clearly do we see God clearly.

A very interesting thought that Elder Bednar highlights is that even things that seem like light-switch moments were really sunrises. He specifically discusses the First Vision, which is as literal a manifestation of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as has been recorded in the common era. Surely, a personal appearance from the Supreme Being and His Son would constitute a light switch revelation, no?

Well, as it turns out, a careful reading of Joseph Smith's history shows that he came to the Sacred Grove to pray with a question: Which church should I join? And skipping to the end of the account we see that he isn't really given an answer. He is told to join none of the churches and await more instruction as the time comes. He was left to face all of those same worldly concerns he had before: ostracization from the local ministry, threats and ridicule from his friends, and still no definite course of action to bring about his salvation. In fact, such a manifestation from God the Father may have left him with more questions. But his faith in seeking answers paid off. Gradually, he received the knowledge he needed to restore the Gospel in its fulness to mankind. It started with a grandiose and glorious revelation, but certainly not one that gave the Prophet all the answers he wanted.

By the way, this is my 100th post. Retrospective imminent.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Shamed- Full Trailer

In case my last post didn't drive home the point well enough, shame (as opposed to guilt) is something I really struggle with. Guilt says that my behavior is bad and shame says that I am a bad person.

Shamed, a documentary by Jessica Mockett, is still in the fundraising stage. I have high hopes for this documentary. Please, watch the second trailer the production crew has released and consider donating via Kickstarter to help this film be produced.

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