Help. Hope. Healing.

Inasmuch as You Desire a Companion

By Rex Goode

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Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, Stephen Burnett was called on a mission to preach in any of the four directions. In the revelation as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants Section 80, the Lord makes reference to a desire of Stephen Burnett to have a companion. The Lord said:

…inasmuch as you desire a companion, I will give unto you my servant Eden Smith (D&C 80:2).

I don’t know much about this desire of Stephen Burnett’s from the historical perspective, but I often find myself with the same desire. I’m married to a wonderful woman and very content to be so, but there are still times when I have a desire for a male companion. This desire used to be sexual but has evolved to be something quite different.

I’m fortunate that in my lifetime, I’ve had several male companions that I would consider to have been spiritual relationships akin to brotherhood. Many of those friendships have lasted for many years. Some have been brief, but satisfying. I often feel that something is missing in my life when I’m not close to a male friend.

I’m also fortunate in my later life that I have no shortage of such friends. I’m blessed with very good friends, all of whom from time to time have been my companions in difficult times. I remember a time when I was much younger, feeling alone and like no man would want to be my friend, that I prayed for friends.

The answer to that prayer came when I, mostly against my will, was called to be a Scoutmaster. At the time, I had a very intense and unhealthy friendship happening and as I came to realize more and more than my “friend” had motives that were less than honorable. I cried out for friends that I could believe.

The answer to those prayers was to be put in a position to serve others. I had to work hard at being a Scoutmaster. I didn’t like adolescents. I thought they were rude and difficult.

I was promised by the bishopric member over the Young Men that if I would do my duty as a Scoutmaster, I would make friends that would last me the rest of my life. Now, all of the boys I served are adults with children of their own. I haven’t counted them, but about twenty of my facebook friends are former scouts from when I served as a Scoutmaster in Oregon and later as a Varsity Coach in Ohio.

The lesson I learned was that if I want a friend, a companion, then I couldn’t wait around for someone to serve me. I had to serve them. It may not seem like an important distinction, but for me it has made all of the difference.

There was a time when I thought the ultimate friend would be the man who thought only of me, whose purpose in life was to make me feel loved. I thought that the way to make it happen was to advertise my lonely state and see who took me up on my pleading to be loved. I found out you can wait a long time for something like that to happen.

Through my experience as a Scoutmaster, I found out that to get love, you have to give it. I used to think that a friend who loved me because I had served him was of less value than a friend who loved me because he served me. I don’t think that way anymore. The man I think of as my best friend is someone I was asked to help by my bishop. I was assigned as his home teacher and worked to help him and his family. That was nine years ago and today we are close. He cares about me as much as I care about him.

As I look back over the parade of men I’ve been close to, almost all of them have fallen into two categories: men I’ve served and men I’ve served with. I can’t think of any that I became close to who started out in a position to serve me.

That may seem a little sad. To me, it sometimes does. I suppose if I wasn’t so all-fired self-sufficient and too proud to accept help, it might have been different. I wish I could say that it is because I don’t need help, but it isn’t true. I just seem to always be the one that helps in the beginning of a relationship.

It’s not such a bad thing. I think the quality of my relationships is pretty high regardless of which was the helper at first and which was the helped. Some of my closest friends have been the men in my local support group. When I met them, I was the group facilitator, so I was in a position to serve. I also tried to be vulnerable, for the sake of setting an example and for the sake of getting help.

What I really think is at work is what we hear the children sing in Primary:

Jesus said love ev’ryone;
Treat them kindly, too.
When your heart is filled with love,
Others will love you .

“Jesus Said Love Everyone,” Children’s Songbook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 61

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2 Responses to “Inasmuch as You Desire a Companion”

  1. arthur said:

    Your post reminded me of a quote from Andrew Carnegie, “If you want a friend you’ve got to be a friend.”

    I like what you said. It reconnected me with my own emotional neediness to feel loved and wanted. I used to think that my neediness was a bad thing, a weakness, but I’ve learned that what it really is is what I choose to make of it, or more precisely, what I and the Lord, together, make of it.

    Thanks, Rex

  2. Rex Goode said:

    Good comment, Art. I think that I learned some of my ideas about this from Carnegie. I read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” when I was about sixteen. It radically altered the way I approached relationships. It helped me see that making friends was not going to happen by being needy. It doesn’t attract people.

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