The Pursuit of Money

Chasing a winged dollar

In high school I had to take a “Careers” class. I only remember two things from that class:

  • We watched a video on sexual harassment one day. The video warned about giving “meaningful looks.” What the heck are “meaningful looks?” I was a teenage boy. And now I was terrified of being sued for looking at the girls around me.
  • Another day we took an aptitude test. My results said I should be an artist. No way. I couldn’t make money as an artist. I enjoyed writing and drawing, but I didn’t think I could support a family doing those things.

I went to college to be an engineer. That didn’t last long. Before long I was just taking the classes that sounded fun. I only went when I felt like it. My grades suffered.

I got a letter from the college. They told me to take a term off to think about my life. Then I could ask to come back.

I wasn’t going to beg to come back. Forget that!

I got a call center job. I hated it, but the money was okay. I spent the next few years bouncing from one call center job to another.

Five years later I went back to school to learn Japanese. I decided to take some other fun classes while I was at it. After a year I started getting more serious. It didn’t take long to burn out after that.

Years later I was out of work. By then I’d gotten married. I had a son. I applied at the call centers I’d worked at before. They never got back to me. I didn’t have any other experience.

My wife said I should go back to school. I’d been wanting to for a while. I majored in Computer Science. I was excited at first, but my heart wasn’t in it for long.

My grades went downhill. My adviser told me I’d have to change majors.

I left school instead. I applied to an online university. They wanted me to get a computer certification before enrolling.

I started studying for the certification tests. I couldn’t focus. I was so bored.

I went to college for six-and-a-half years. I have zero degrees. There were some fun and interesting parts, but mostly it was a waste of my time. And not just because I didn’t get that parchment.

I worked in call centers for a few more years. My last job laid me off. A few months later I was separated and living in my mom’s basement.

I’ve spent twenty years pursuing things I thought would make me money, and making myself miserable. I’d say it was a waste, but at least I’ve learned something from it:

DON’T WORK JUST FOR MONEY.

The Ultimate Man

Heavenly Father with outstretched arms

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?

Matthew 7:11

Imagine the best father ever.

Then multiply that by a billion. By Infinity.

That’s Heavenly Father.

The perfect father. The perfect man.

He knows us perfectly. Better than we know ourselves. Better than we think we know ourselves.

He loves all of us, unconditionally. No matter what we do.

He loves us all equally. Whether we’re kings or paupers.

He gives us all we need to succeed. We just have to ask.

He gave us a Savior. He was willing to watch His only begotten son suffer. Imagine only having one son who carries your genes. Then imagine watching Him suffer for the sins of everyone who ever lived. Everyone, including the people who mock Him and you. Including the people who deny either of you existed. The people who say they don’t need you. Not only does He suffer for everyone’s sins, but he feels all their sickness. Their afflictions. Sadness. Depression. Anxieties. Every negative thing ever to happen to anyone, anywhere. And all you can do is watch. Whenever one of my boys gets hurt, my first impulse is to run to them. I can’t imagine what it was like. I’m sure it was all He could do in that moment to hold Himself back.

He is infinitely patient. I’m especially grateful for that. I don’t think there’d be hope for me if He wasn’t.

He gives us agency. He lets us choose. Will we make use of the Atonement? Give up? Keep trying?

If we do keep trying, he makes sure all things work for our good.

If we keep trying he gives us strength to make it easier.

He listens to our prayers, and answers them. We just need to listen. He guides us and helps us to know what to do.

He knows all. The past. The future. The hidden. Our very thoughts.

He is understanding. Heavenly Father was once a mortal, too.

He is trustworthy. If He says something, it is so. He can’t lie or break His covenants.

He wants us to be like Him. To have everything He has. That is His purpose in life.

It’s His work. His glory.

He wants it even more than we do.

What does it mean to be a man?

mystery manA man is an adult male human. There’s more to it than that, though.

We learn what it is to be a man from the men around us. Usually our dads.

My dad died when I was three.

When I was little my favorite show was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Fred Rogers was a big role model for me.

Fortunately both my grandpas lived into my adulthood. They lived close by for most of that time. They both enjoyed teasing their grandkids.

My mom called her dad when she needed help. Whether it was the car, the plumbing, or anything else, he was the first one on the job. I held the flashlight. I went with him to the hardware store. He built my pinewood derby cars with me. He soldered the connections on my science project, a burglar alarm. He always said I could talk to him. I wish I hadn’t been so shy. I wish I could still talk to him.

I had great scout leaders. One was the Assistant Scout Master. Assistant in name only. He loved Scouting. He was really Gung-ho for it. The Scout Master seemed content to let him take charge. He was outgoing, friendly, and full of energy. He became the Explorer Leader around the time I became an Explorer. I wouldn’t have gotten very far in scouting without him. He died too young. I named my youngest son after him.

I didn’t get serious about my Eagle until I was sixteen-and-a-half. Another great leader helped me get it. I had a ton of merit badges I had to earn. He acted as counselor for almost all of them. He was also on my Eagle Board of Review. Another member of the board tried to persuade the others I hadn’t satisfied the requirements. He persuaded them I had. We were both active in the Order of the Arrow. I believe he was the one who nominated me for the Vigil Honor.

I’ve had a lot of good bishops. One was bishop of a singles ward I attended. Whenever he needed inspiration he would sit back and close his eyes and wait. He was always kind, never harsh or judgemental. I never felt like I couldn’t talk to him.

Then there are the action movie star types. John Wayne. Clint Eastwood. Bruce Willis. Harrison Ford. Arnold. Sometimes I wish I was more like them. Tougher. Less emotional.

The Ultimate Man, though, is our Heavenly Father.

He’s who we came here to be like.

Porn addiction

XXX

She knew I’d had problems with it before.

She asked me about it directly .

I was ashamed. I didn’t want to admit I’d done it AGAIN.

So I lied.

Eventually the truth came out. She could accept that I’d slipped again. She couldn’t accept my dishonesty. That’s why she left me.

My addiction started years before I met her. Someone had shown me some dirty magazines, then suggested I get some of my own. At first I said no. Eventually my curiosity got the better of me.

It became a cycle. I’d buy a few magazines. Hold on to them for a while. Then throw them out in disgust. What had I become?

I’d be good for a while. Eventually I’d be drawn back in.

After several years I went back to church. I tried to stay invisible. Eventually the Bishop asked to meet with me. I told him everything.

I started checking in with him once a week. That seemed to do the trick. Eventually I got a Temple recommend. I did baptisms for the dead a few times.

After a while I stopped going to church. I fell back into old habits. Then I met her.

After we got married it was easier not to indulge. At least at first. Life became stressful, and I wasn’t good at communicating. I started acting out when she wasn’t around.

We moved. I resolved to quit once and for all. I went to the Bishop and confessed. He wanted me to get counseling, and said he would pay for it. He also said I needed to confess to my wife.

Confessing to her that first time was hard. I was sure she would leave me. She was hurt. But my confession helped us grow closer. I promised not to lie to her again.

I was good for three years after that. It didn’t seem hard.

We moved a few more times. Life got more stressful. I gave in to my urges. I was so ashamed.

Then she asked. I forgot my promise. I lied.

I confessed to the Bishop, but not to her.

We started marriage counseling. We became closer than ever. But something was in the way. So I told her.

I thought it would be like before. Our marriage would be stronger than ever. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

For six months she struggled. Eventually she decided to separate.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m not the only one. A LOT of men in the Church have this problem. My guess is around half. You’re not alone. Far from it.

There are a lot of single brethren out there who are addicted to pornography. Get it out of your lives. Do whatever you have to in order to be clean.

Then there are the married brethren. I’m not singling you out to shame you. I’m singling you out to warn you. You could lose everything. You don’t want that. Be open with your wives. Do whatever you need to do to save your marriages. I hope it’s not too late for you.

Ask Heavenly Father for help. Meet with your Bishop as often as you need to. Get marriage counseling. Go to addiction recovery meetings. Do what must be done.

If you slip, BE HONEST.

You may think you’re sparing her feelings, but you’re really betraying her trust.

Point of Origin

Pin in a mapMy starting point:

I’m 41 years old.

I’ve been separated from my wife for a year and a half.

She lives in her parent’s basement. Our two boys live with her.

I live in my mom’s basement.

I weigh 400 pounds.

I’m unemployed.

I’m a porn addict.

That’s the bad news.

The good news:

I get to see my boys almost every day.

I go to church.

I pray morning and night (most days).

I read my scriptures every day.

I read lots of other books.

I have a car.

I have my freedom.

I have a Savior.

I have more blessings than I can count.

I know I can improve myself.

It’s just going to take a lot of work.

Hello, World!

Drawing of Earth from SpaceHey, it works for a first programming project, so why not for a first post?

Welcome to my blog.  I’m so excited to get this blog up and running.  I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.