I was about to write that this is another post that I didn’t want to have to write, but then, I would prefer to not have to write this blog at all, so that seemed like a superfluous statement.
I screwed up the other day. I spent the evening watching things online that I should not have been watching, and ended up masturbating. (I really hate even typing that word…) This time wasn’t like the previous times though. This time was different in a way that I find interesting.
Usually when something like this happens, I get rather depressed, pull away from contact with anyone, and become a recluse for a little while. During my brooding, I generally despair that I am never going to get over my proclivity, and that I have to start from scratch. Each time feels like a reset, as the amount of time since I last screwed up is about the only concrete measure I had of how I am doing. The longer it is, the better I’m doing.
I felt the guilt this time of having gone against the covenants that I have made to live the law of chastity. No two ways about it, I violated that covenant. The thing that was different is that I didn’t feel the despair. I didn’t feel like this was a restart. This was not going back to square one where I would have to start all over. I somehow don’t feel that this has erased the progress I have been making.
It feels more like a setback this time. It feels like I’ve slipped down the mountain I’ve been climbing, but only by a few yards, and not that I’ve fallen into a crevasse thousands of feet deep from which there is no hope of return. THe great part, is that I think I know why its different this time.
In previous instances, I had been doing very little outside of going to church and attending ward activities. While I don’t want to discount the value of doing such things, I also want to put them in their proper place. Church is 3 hours long on sunday. (4 for me since I meet with the bishop every sunday and so I show up an hour early. even with four hours, that leaves 164 hours per week that I’m not in church.
I often talk about building a wall of defense. The wall is built of individual bricks. When building, the wall is not a monolithic event. It is not simply erected and then stands to defend against the attacks that come. It is built by laying brick upon brick. No individual brick constitutes the wall. No single act provides the needed security. It is the aggregation of action that begins to build the defenses. With each brick, the wall becomes more complete.
The bricks that I’ve been laying came from a discussion that I had with my bishop a while back. He showed me a scripture from D&C 43:9 At the end of the verse, it says that “ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me.” In response to that verse, I suggested that we have a daily reporting system. I wrote out a contract that stipulated that I would read no less than two chapters of the Book of Mormon each day, and that I would pray in the morning, mid-day and in the evening. I would relay this information to the bishop each night by sending an email with the subject line “1234” each signifying one of the four actions. Each one has been a brick in the wall.
Its been a few months, and the wall has grown significantly. It is not yet sufficient. An arrow got through, and there was a casualty. The thing is, the wall that I’ve built is still there. I can simply add to the current wall, and continue to build my defenses. Instead of throwing a tantrum about how my wall was ineffective, I have decided to continue in what I know to be an effective method of building.
It’s this perspective that has allowed me to move forward without the self-doubt, the self-loathing and the debilitating depression that usually follows masturbation. I know who I am, I know how far I’ve come. I know where I need to go, and I know that sitting on the side of the road crying about a flat tire does not get you any further down the road. (Sorry for the abrupt change of metaphor.)
Most roads have bumps. In English we have a saying, to make a mountain out of a molehill. In this case, it is much more than a mole hill, but it is not insurmountable. Tomorrow, I’ll talk with the bishop, and we’ll see what needs to be done. I imagine that this will mean I will stay disfellowshipped a bit longer. So be it. I would rather stay disfellowshipped than be reinstated to full fellowship only to violate my covenants again.
If any of you out there reading pray for me, first of all, thank you so very much. Please continue to do so. I still need all the help I can get. (I suppose we all can…) Thank you for taking this journey with me. Even though I hate writing about the instances that reflect my weaker moments, I somehow feel like it is a means by which others can find hope in the realization that it is worth picking yourself up again and continuing on.
If you are despairing, please talk to me. Email me, Tweet me, chat me.