Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thorn in the Flesh

"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthi ans 12:7-10)

Paul's words strike me with both beuty and despair, ugliness and comfort. I've often felt that my ssa was a part of who I am. Do our sins define us? I would hope not, however the struggles that result from sin and temptation do define us. Our hopes and desires define who we are, but even mor than these our actions define us. I've never really been a man of great action. As an introvert, I prefer to watch and listen and then act in more subtle ways. In some ways, non-action can be a very powerful action in and of itself. Choosing not to participate, not to respond, not to give in, not to follow the crowd, not to jump at every beckoning call can be more challenging than taking action.

I am who I am, a married Mormon who is attracted to other men. But I am also so many other things. How much of the ssa plays a part of me, is really up to me. There is a group of thought in the field of psychology called "Parts Theory" that breaks a person down into various individual persons. For example, a person could have a distinct personality of an artist, as well as a businessman and a father. It's helpful to identify our various parts and give them place within us, without letting one part dominate the others. There are times when we have to negotiate between our parts, to make peace with each of them when internal conflicts arise. For me this understanding has helped a great deal with ssa. Yes, it's a part of me, but it does not define the complete me. Someday, I may find no further use of this part of me and I will be able to lay it or him to rest, but for now, he is there. A thorn in my side. I no longer ask for it to be removed, and believe me, I have asked more than "thrice". Instead, I ask for help, patience, understanding and mercy.

3 comments:

Beck said...

Beautiful sentiment... beautifully written.

Thanks.

Mormon Enigma said...

Amen!

Abby said...

I've read some of your previous posts and have just a thought or two. I'm on the other side of this scenario. My eternal companion struggles the way you do. You are farther along a healing path than he was at your age, which is good. He reached a point where "just keeping things under control" exploded in our faces. Even though I had always "known" about his struggle, the things that he didn't share with me were enough to nearly bring him down. Lose yourself in love and service for them and keep your self miles and miles, like not even shouting distance, from anyone who could come between you and your family. You cannot imagine to yourself, at any time, that a little bit of experimentation would be okay. You can't even assume that you can help anyone else because so often that is the beginning of an infatuation. You can't allow anyone to ever be anything to you that your wife should be, anything at all, and that is the bottom line. Take up your cross and follow Christ. We all deny ourselves something, that is the whole point of following Christ. He denied himself more that we will ever know or could ever understand. He is the only hope for all of us, not just you. In the meantime, recognize that in not telling her, you are not being honest with her and there will most likely be a sense of betrayal when you finally do. Might I suggest that when the Lord tells you it's time to be more honest in your dealings with your wife, that you ask her to fast with you, letting her know that you have something very important to tell her. Get a babysitter overnight for your children, and take her to the temple. When you get home, pray together and then when the spirit is very strong tell her that you love her and nothing will change that - and then describe the things you struggle with. The spirit is your ally as long as you are clean, and faithful to your covenants. You will know when that time is. Be worthy of the strength of the Spirit that you will need to ADD to her conficence in you as her husband. Don't dabble in the adversary's territory, ever. Be worthy of her and she will love you. I know, because that's all I want. I want him to be worthy. I want the Spirit to confirm his worthiness to me, and know that we can return to the temple together. Don't ever put your sweet companion in this place that I am in. That is the ONE thing that you NEVER want to do, no matter HOW CURIOUS YOU ARE. You don't want her to be looking at you, full of pain, knowing that you have been in unseemly places with unworthy companions. Deny yourself, and follow Christ. God be with you, and her. This road isn't easy, and I believe it says a great deal about the two of you that this is your road.

Since July 15, 2007