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The Key to My Peace

By Rex Goode

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I’m sad today at the passing of a friend whom I did not know well because of distance, but who impressed me beyond words with his kindness and willingness to go more than the one extra mile Jesus enjoined us. If asked, I think he would have gone a thousand extra miles, and sometimes without even being asked. Such passings always remind me of the most important aspect of my approach to life.

Another friend and I refer to it as “The ‘A’ Word” because that friend hates it when it comes up in our conversations. It is a profound thing because in order to have this in your life you have to practice it on itself. I’m trying to be mysterious here so I can have its name pop up off of this blank background in a blaze of glory.

It is the key to my peace and the basis of my theology. It embodies the Savior’s own mode of life, especially at the end. It is what I believe he calls on all of us to do and practice it as a way of life, as he did.

I speak of acceptance. In 12-step fellowships, they say, “Acceptance is the key to my recovery.” I say that it is the key to my peace.

In speaking of the Savior’s last day in mortality, his acceptance was embodied in the simple prayer, “Thy will be done.” I remember once when Elder Neal A. Maxwell said that we also need to pray, “Thy timing be done.”

I think that acceptance is so imporant to me because it is the one thing that is harder to do than any other. I’m all for justice. Sometimes I don’t know when to let go and leave justice to a higher power. I want to be the one that administers it.

Like my friend for whom I soften the impact of the idea by using only the first initial of the word, I was abused as a young boy. I can’t think of a bigger challenge to the need for acceptance than that. I also can’t think of people who need to learn it more than we do.

Staying stuck in justice mode never brought me a bit of peace. It was so hard to find any rest at all so long as justice had not been served and my abuser left unpunished. Yet, when he took his own life many years later, I was still unsettled and angry. As I thought about it, I realized that what I really wanted was not even justice. I wanted it undone! I wanted the clock turned back all the way to the day before I was first molested and the earth spin around to a different day than it did the first time. That brought me to my first full confrontation with acceptance as a principle for my life.

Could I actually accept as fact that I had been horribly treated and that nothing could make it not so? The thought hit me and it has stayed with me. What choice did I have? I could go on wishing for the impossible or I could accept it. I chose to accept it. What a difference!

I just recently finished watching all five seasons of Sliders. For anyone who doesn’t know, Sliders was a science fiction series about a young man who invented a device that took him and his friends to parallel worlds, other earths where decision points in mankind’s history produced different results. That would have really come in handy before I learned about acceptance.

If I didn’t like something that happened, I’d just slide on over to a reality where it never did. I’ve got a secret for the writers of that show. You don’t need a device. You just need something that is opposed to acceptance. You need denial. It’s not high tech, and it comes naturally to almost everyone.

Abuse is not the only challenge in my life that requires acceptance. Temptation is another thing that I struggle to accept as a fact of life. It’s right there as part of the gospel plan that we are to be tempted and tested.

Abraham, in vision, heard the Lord say about us in premortality, “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them (Abraham 3:25).”

My wife’s least favorite Mormon topic is polygamy. Mine is temptation. Most Mormons I know don’t accept temptation, not really. They think it’s something just for the weak, that once you get firmly established in your testimony, that you won’t have to deal with it anymore. I’ve learned that this is false.

I’ve told the story before of a time many years ago now when I was traveling for work on a weekly basis. I was staying days on end in a hotel and flying home for a couple of days here and there to see my family. This was at a time when I was really fighting to keep my feet on the path I chose long before, the path of faithfulness to my wife and the Church. Being away from home was poorly timed.

I went from the hotel to work and right back to the hotel everyday. I would call friends who were similarly challenged to help me get through the lonely evenings. Once in awhile I would go to a fast food place and bring back dinner. I felt I couldn’t linger in a nice restaurant. Every minute I wasn’t on a phone telling my woes to a friend I was white knuckling it through powerful temptations to go have some fun of the same-sex variety. The loneliness was overwhelming and the depression deep.

Day after day this happened. I was looking forward to being able to go home for the Fourth of July holiday. I needed a break from the hell. Something went wrong at the job and I had to volunteer to work through the holiday. That evening, I went to a Taco Bell. The thought would not quit that I could go find trouble and no one would know it back home.

I don’t know if you’ve ever prayed with a Burrito Supreme in your mouth, but it’s an interesting experience. I sat there with other customers all around me, wrestling in my mind and my heart with God over whether I was going to go back to my hotel room or go downtown.

In that prayer while I ate and watched all of the men in the room, I asked God, “How much of this do I have to put up with?”

He answered, “How much are you willing to put up with?”

I burst into tears right there in front of a lot of diners and whispered to God, “All of it.”

I hoped that everyone was thinking that it was the Fire sauce causing me to tear up. I finished my meal and went back to the hotel, still tempted but somehow feeling amazing in the midst of all of that lustful desire. I had learned acceptance where temptation is concerned. I think now that the key to dealing with temptation is to be willing to endure any amount of it. It’s when I’m no longer willing to accept the condition of being tempted that I do the most reliable thing in ending temptation–give in to it.

That includes the acceptance that same-sex attraction is something that deep and strong in myself. I look back on the things I did in former days and realized that almost every time I’ve disobeyed God, it has been a form of shaking my fist at God, and saying, “This is all your fault! I wouldn’t have to do this if you had made it easier!”

You all know the old argument. It always starts with this rationale: “How could a loving God allow…?” “How could a loving God allow the kind of abuse you suffered?” “How could a loving God allow you to have these powerful feelings and then forbid you from acting on them?”

Any argument I’ve ever used to counter that has sounded defensive. All that is left is my firm conviction of the love of God and the need I have to accept that life is hard. Most of all, I need to accept myself. I’m weak. I’m frightened. I’m struggling. I’m sad. And I’m fine with it and fine with me, for now.

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3 Responses to “The Key to My Peace”

  1. Tim B said:

    Sorry, but the image of you crying over your Burrito Supreme and hoping folks thought it was the sauce was just hilarious. I love it! What a beautiful and completely human moment. This is where you’re my hero.

    Acceptance is an area I’m struggling with. I’ll talk about it in the forums here in a minute. It seems that what you’re writing and what I’m needing right now are converging heavily.

  2. Rex Goode said:

    Thanks, Tim B. It runs in my family to cry and laugh at the same time sometimes. Either we cry so hard we laugh or we laugh so hard we cry. Either way, it’s a real spectical.

    I’ll check out your forum post.

    Rex

  3. Tim B said:

    I didn’t get over and do it yet. I had to get some work done. I’m going to have to get some more done, so it’ll be tomorrow night before I get to it.

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