For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

- Mosiah 3:19

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chapter 1 - Flaxen Cords

Joseph Smith the Prophet is noted to have said, “ A man does not comprehend himself, until he comprehends the nature of God.”

My life has been one of not comprehending who I am. I am told I am a child of God. While that rings true, I do not comprehend its meaning.

I received an email this morning from my Bishop telling me that giving my life over to Christ is a process; it takes time, it is not a singular moment. I have wondered recently how I give my life over to Christ. Perhaps this line of questioning should be indicative of me giving my life over. I am not sure.

All I know is that I have this spiritual wound, it hurts, it brings anguish, it makes me feel lost, and estranged from all things good. Intellectually I comprehend, at least I think I do, that giving my life over to Jesus Christ will heal my wound. I suppose I trust that if I do, it will happen, or at least I hope it will happen.

That night, four weeks ago, continues to weigh me down. It was nearly 1 am when I asked the stranger to leave, covered in sin I fell to my knees knowing I had offended Heaven. I prayed mightily, but to no avail. I rationalized that I could simply ignore it and pretend it didn't happen and continue as if it didn't. I told myself, time will heal this wound and you will be feeling like your old self. I almost believed.

When I was traveling in Europe some years ago, I got off the train at my destination. Near the train station was an Adult video store. Instinctively, I walked toward it. I walked there with the intent of using a private video viewing booth. However, before I got to the booth, I went to the restroom and there a young man, my age exposed himself to me and said "I am ready. $30 for one hour."

I looked at him and whatever spiritual guidance I had told me to leave. I froze, overcome with such strong emotion. A person came into the restroom, this was my moment to run.

I ran.

The young guy came after me and in a persuasive manner convinced me to purchase his "services." I followed him into a private booth and there I promised myself I would only watch. I did not just watch, I gave into to temptation.

I left that filthy place feeling filthy. I found a quiet place and wept. The next day I attended church with old friends, I refused the sacrament, I was overcome with guilt and fear. This guilt stayed with me for the next three years. I did not confess my sin, I did not repent. I continued attending church, continued partaking of the sacrament, continued attending the temple, all the while feeling burdened by fear, estrangement, and guilt. I did all of these unworthily. When I think of it, I fear for my salvation.

I attended BYU and lied to myself and my church leaders about my worthiness. I cared more about what people thought of me than what Father thought of me. At the end of my time at BYU I mustered up the courage and confessed to my Bishop. I talked with the Stake President who told me enough time had passed and no Disciplinary Council was needed, that my Bishop could decide what to do. My Bishop gave me my recommend. I felt exonerated, the guilt had left. But my nature was not changed. From that time to that night four weeks ago, I did not repent. I simply abstained. However, other practices soon returned. I was not repenting. I failed to grasp what it means to repent. My nature was not changed.

I thought this that night, four weeks ago, when the stranger left my apartment. I refused the temptations of the natural man to rationalize. I wrote an email detailing my debacle to the Bishop. I felt a burden lift. I thought that would be sufficient.

I learned quickly and am continually learning now that I did not comprehend God. I believed in Him, but I failed to believe Him. I did not comprehend, and still don't, His character. I learned that my repentance at BYU was incomplete, my nature was never changed, I simply learned to stop doing. My heart was not changed, my desires were not changed.

As I now embark on this process of repentance, I am coming to know that I never really knew God.

At one time, I felt His love; I came to know that He is real. But I did not seek after Him. I sought the appearance of holiness for the benefit of others and not for the salvation of my soul or the glory of God. If I truly did seek after Him, I would draw close to Him and come to comprehend Him, then I would have known who I was. I did not do this. As such, God while intellectually embedded in my thoughts remains a stranger to my Spirit.

I now seek after this God who allowed me to feel the arms of His love, in hopes that my very desires and nature will be changed and that I might come to know who I really am.

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