Thursday, July 11, 2013

His grace is sufficient, except for me.

This weekend was a rough one. I made lots of mistakes I'd love to take back. Obviously, it'd be inappropriate to detail them here, but suffice it to say, the worst parts of these mistakes weren't how they made me feel, the worst was how they made others feel.  I crossed boundaries with myself and with others and put people in positions that made them feel cheap and unloved.
I hit a breaking point I've never experienced before.  As soon as I learned the depth of my actions, I grabbed my keys and wallet, ran to my car and drove to the liquor store. I wanted the pain to be over, to be numbed to it. I wanted to stop caring about anything and just let myself go, and damn the consequences. I wanted to put myself in a position where I'd make stupid, public mistakes so the whole universe could see how screwed up I actually was.

For better or worse, the liquor store was closed. I collapsed into my steering wheel and descended into panic for the first time in a few months. I hated myself, reviled against the person I'd become. I thought of the self I knew in June of last year, the excited, virgin, prospective missionary who'd been a whole month without porn and masturbation and who read his scriptures daily and felt a regular, consistent overload of the Spirit. And somehow I'd corrupted that boy into this little piece of trash who used people (and their hands) for his own pleasure, with no regard to their feelings and thoughts.

My friend Brad, who I'd been texting, called me and calmed me down, got me to breathe easier, and sat with me in silence for a few moments. After unsuccessfully trying to convince me of my basic goodness, he asked me to ask God to let me see myself through His eyes.  I began to reconnect with some experiences I had with God in the past, experiences that told me that I was okay and that He loved me.  I felt that reassurance come back and began to feel peace in my heart.

But I hated the peace almost as much as I hated the anguish.  

I didn't feel worthy to feel peace, to have any measure of my misery removed from me, because I'd done such horrible, selfish things that hurt people's feelings. I mentioned this to Brad and he said that it's because grace isn't something we can earn, because it's already been freely given.  

I don't understand that and I kind of hate it.  I hate being the recipient of a gift I can't return.  I want the love I take to be equal to the love I make. But that's just impossible with grace. We can never buy our own grace because it's already been paid, and we can never pay the Savior back for it because we are just too incapable due to our mortality and imperfection. 

God has to force me to feel loved.  He has to shake me by the shoulders and then hold me tight for me to believe that He loves me, because I am unconvinced of my worthiness to be loved.  I want to be a spiritual giant and a magnanimous lover of others before I can accept God's love willingly, and maybe that's my problem.  

Brad Wilcox's "His Grace is Sufficient" is profound in its discussion of grace when Brother Wilcox says that grace is not the final step in a process that we otherwise do alone, but that grace is something that we use daily to learn how to be more godly and to turn our shortcomings over to Jesus Christ and let Him do with them what he may. (More of my discussion on the talk is given here, but do yourself a favor and watch the 45-minute talk. It's much better than I am at discussing the subject.)

I don't use grace like I'm supposed to. I try too much to white-knuckle my way into Heaven, bloodily crawling across the rocks rather than using the rope and lifesaver thrown to me from the shore to swim there with His help.  I don't know how to change that, though.  I'm not fishing for praise here; I'm being realistic and acknowledging my feeling that I am not worthy of love or grace until somehow I am. I don't understand its purpose and the thought of being given a gift I can never repay is at best uncomfortable to me.

The same Brad let me know today of an event in his life that left him feeling like a bad person. I spouted the same rhetoric he gave me on Sunday, that he was precious beyond measure and that God loved him the same as He always had and always will.  And I meant every word.  But I can't say that to myself, although I desperately wish I could believe that I'm not being held to a higher standard for some reason.

I saw a view of myself I rarely acknowledge Sunday night. I saw a man that God loves in spite of his sins, a man that God believes in and a man that has near-infinite potential to do good and to save lives and to help others. I knew that vision was coming from God Himself. And yet I dared to reject it. I know He's right, but I don't believe He's right.  And I don't know how to change that.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons


  1. Funny how the Church should go on and on about getting out of debt while at the same time admitting that there is one debt that can never be re-payed, at least not with anything of equal value. Sorta sucky feeling. Ever love someone who doesn't return the love? Ever love, someone who doesn't know it? Does it change the feeling? Still sucks. I'd try throwing the rhetoric in your face, but you have done a better job than I ever would. You are loved regardless. Still, I guess I should thank you, you often write things close to my heart and have helped me, I wish I had the courage to be as open as you have. Well, thank you all the same.

  2. I feel so sad for how you are feeling right now. I wish that you had someone with whom you could sit, with hers or his arms around you, neither of you saying anything, and let the warmth of those compassionate arms and that unconditional love warm you, wash over you, wipe away your tears and settle deep into your heart, thus dispelling the darkness, the loneliness, the anger, and sadness you are feeling. I want that for you. I love you. I do not even know you. Heavenly Father knows you. Because He knows you, He loves you. I feel and know this as I write. You are loved. Heaven loves you.

    1. Hey Duck, thanks for the encouragement. As you probably know, this isn't really something that someone can tell you, you have to believe it yourself. So that's what this post is about: a realistic acknowledgement that I don't believe I'm ready for God's love and hopefully a first step into letting Him love me better.

      Love you too. Hope things are well in the teaching world :P

  3. And, I was just trying to add the thought that sometimes, when we least expect it, or don't even know we want it, God reveals His love to us. I remember one of my missionary companions telling me some of the same things you have written here. She said she was at the movies one night, thinking about the Savior, if He really cared about her, etc. She said He revealed His love to her right there in the movie. She said she was SO mad at Him, that she told him, "Get the hell out of here." That was part of her process.

    See you. :)

  4. Hey GMP,

    I just came across your blog last week, and have gained so much from reading it. It tore me up to read this post though, because I've been exactly where you are and experienced a fairly similar situation.

    I hope you're feeling a little better as time has passed.
    Just remember, faith and hope start with just wanting to have it. You're on the right track- hang in there. You're not alone, and have a lot of people praying for you and cheering you on.

  5. Oh GMP, how my heart aches for you. Having compassion for ourselves is never an easy task.


Be nice, mmmmkay? I allow anonymous comments, but not anonymous (or even attributed) douchebaggery. The Gay Mormon Pioneer's tolerance for hate and venom are incredibly low, but his love of communication and debate are high, so have an opinion, but be kind and gentle when you share it.

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