Help. Hope. Healing.

The Supremacy of the Internal

By Rex Goode

Ad

With all of the tools and resources that exist for dealing with difficult problems, like same-sex attraction, it can be difficult to sort out what is best and most helpful. Not all of the choices are equal, even when they all share the same goal. In The Supremacy of the Personal, I spelled out why I think that sharing in the personal sense is superior to sharing the philosophical, the political, or even the dogmatic sense (like I’m doing now).More...

As a young man, trying to deal with my sexual behavior that was outside the teachings of the Church, I usually resorted to external tools. For example, I read somewhere that someone had success with helping quit smoking by a form of aversion therapy that consisted of hooking up a smoker to a mild electric pulse, merely annoying, and then have him chain smoke until he got so sick of it he didn’t want to smoke anymore.

I thought that if it worked for smoking, it would surely work for me. I don’t want to be graphic, so I won’t give specifics, but I found ways to make my behavior annoying to myself in some way. That wasn’t working, so I added the element of the equivalent of chain smoking. What a huge mistake!

I also resorted to calendaring, putting an X through every day on the calendar that I slipped. When that didn’t work, I decided I should be more positive, so I marked off every day that I didn’t slip. I found ways to punish myself for backsliding and reward myself for not.

I decided that what I needed was a confident, strong, and reliable man to come into my life and help me deal with my problems. I asked my therapist to talk me through the process to find a man to mentor me. He told me something that changed my life. He said that he perceived me as the kind of man that could mentor others, not the kind who needed mentoring. He said that I would never get self-esteem by relying someone else. It had to come from within.

That was a little disappointing, since I had already painted a portrait in my mind of the knight in shining armor who was going to come riding into my life and make me feel good about myself. It would have been way cool for it to happen, but I began to see how unrealistic it all was.

I don’t struggle with pornography problems, but I know many, many people who do. They have all sorts of ways of dealing with itm like filters or getting rid of their internet access. These things have their place and are wise steps. However, these things are all external.

Certainly anyone having a problem with pornography on the internet should have a filter in place to make it as difficult as possible to look at pornography. We should do whatever external things make sense for whatever it is that we struggle with, but people often stop there and think the job is done.

They forget what Jesus said to the Pharisees:

Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also (Matthew 23:26).

The problem with the external is that all external aids to controlling ourselves are temporary at best. Anyone can white-knuckle good behavior for a season. However, it doesn’t really solve anything. I’ve compared this before to a man who built a fortress with the enemy inside. For lasting peace, what we need is an internal change. When we change inside, what happens outside is less and less relevant.

When we rely on external measures, we can only count on peace as long as nothing disrupts the measures. For example, if we are relying on some other person to give us our sense of self-worth, what will happen to our confidence when our mentor makes a mistake?

When I talk about these things, people think I’m saying that external measures shouldn’t be bothered with. I’m not quite that black and white about such things. By saying that the internal, or in other words, our self-imamge, is supreme, I’m not saying that we can’t be helped by someone giving us positive feedback? I’d no sooner assert that than to say that someone else can’t negatively impact our lives by saying hurtful things. A person who has made the internal effort to mentor himself will recovery much more quickly from insensitive words and won’t hopelessly depend on the kind words of another before he can feel good.

When I talk about the internal, I’m not only talking about our thought processes. I view spirituality as an internal, and that this spirituality is supreme over all other internals. A relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is internal, as the Holy Ghost works in us to bring about a might change of heart. That change of heart is stronger than anything that we can arrange externally and should be the thing we aspire to experience.

Be the first to like.

4 Responses to “The Supremacy of the Internal”

  1. urb0123 said:

    I don’t bother with external measures, of course I have no internal ones at present either.

    I think of mentors as training wheels. You eventually need to lose the training wheels and keep balance on your own. With that in mind, I wonder if your therapist had you skip the mentor so you could learn the balance on your own more quickly.

  2. Rex Goode said:

    Possibly. I think he saw me as being more competent than I believed myself to be. I also think he believed, as I do now, that people can help, but our view of ourselves comes from inside the heart where the Spirit works on us if we open ourselves to it.

  3. julie said:

    I understand this a little more after I have come back to read this blog. My internal has always been dependent on others. This has been very painful all my life as I have learned recently that my main problem with everything, is that I am extremely co-dependent. It has been harder to let the spirit work in me when I kept doing things like mb, to drive away that spirit. Also, it is harder for me to believe or trust in things that I cannot see. So my trusting and relying on God and Christ has been rarely. And yet I keep on trying to rely on humanity and end up getting hurt. So why do I not trust in someone that has greater power than humanity? Because I think I get things mixed up in my mind that those in authority here should be better, maybe not perfect, but wiser and when you find out that trusting them and doing what they say, only hurt you in the end when it was there job in the first place to mentor you. It then transfers to God and feeling like He will just hurt me and let me down in the end. So, I really don’t know how perfect and awesome God really is. For what I know, He could be just made up in people’s minds to help them feel better. I certainly hope not though and I want to believe, but wanting and doing are two different things. Anyway this is going off the subject, so I’ll just leave it at that.

  4. Rex Goode said:

    Julie,

    Other people are external, which is why relying on them is not as good as relying on yourself and God. Of course, God is only internal if you let Him in.

    Rex

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.