…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Jesus’ Love Is All My Theme

When We’re Not Exactly Right

By Rex Goode


Categories: Issues

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It has been a long time since I’ve written here. Yesterday, one of my neices asked me if I was writing, and the only thing I could claim to be writing lately is progress notes and technical manuals. I could’ve probably have added abuse and incident reports.

I started a new business with my best friend and have been so locked into the never-ending due dates that I don’t really even have time to think about writing other things. Today, though, I feel the need to speak out about something that has been very much in my mind and heart lately.

I always wanted to be some kind of social worker and for the last 12 years, I’ve been one. The joy of helping people who are at a disadvantage has exceeded my expectations of what it would be like. It balances out my other job as a software engineer.

I often hear people say about my job, “You must find that so fulfilling.”

It always makes me pause and think. They are right. It can be very fulfilling and it can be very heartbreaking. If all people understood what a privilege it is to be someone who helps people who need support, things would be easier for me.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of evil in the world, and not all of it is obvious. The overt stuff is easier to handle. It’s clear what to do and most people will be on your side when you have to battle for someone else.

What is not fulfilling about my work is when dealing with the sometimes subtle evil of abuse. Abuse is often committed by people who think their intentions are noble, but only on the surface. In my view, as a survivor of abuse, it is always about the desire of one person to control another.

It is hard for some of us to understand, but there are people who think that controlling others is a virtuous endeavor and they excuse it by doing what in their estimation is for the other person’s good. It is when one person thinks that their ideas about another’s life is superior to what the other person wants (D&C 121:37).

I know all about this. The one who abused me kept telling me that what he was coercing me to do was what I really wanted and he was only doing it because it would help me. He was showing me my true self and giving me what he believed me to want. That was when he was being “nice”.

Other times he outright forced me through assault and intimidation. At those times, I was afraid for my life. I often wondered if I’d ever live to be an adult. For either approach that he took, the goal was the same—control.

Some people think it would be a great feeling to know what everyone should do in all situations. They could just grab for as much power as they can and start forcing everyone to see things their way. After all, if they’re as right as they think they are, why not?

Problem is, there is right and wrong, and then there is good and evil. I think good and evil are higher and lower than right and wrong, respectively.

Right and wrong are the things we say about the choices people make. I don’t believe in moral relativism, but I do believe that most choices are more complicated than right and wrong. I believe that I can’t really know what another person should do about a dilemma that they face and that I don’t. Even if our respective dilemmas are similar, they can’t possibly be the same.

Right and wrong are necessarily dependent on all factors. I think there is a right and wrong to every question, or so the popular hymn, “Choose the Right,” says. I just don’t think I’m in a position to answer that question for other people.

I believe that there is really only one difference between good and evil. Good does not seek to control others and evil does (Moses 4:1–4). Another way of putting it, is that good lets others have their own relationship with God and evil is when someone wants to become a god to others.

Latter-day Saints understand this to be the heart of the war in heaven, a choice between being free or being controlled. More than merely admit it, I’ll assert that when we are free to choose, we also end up being bound by the consequences of our choices.

Because bad choices end up in unpleasant consequences, it’s natural to want to influence people to make good choices. Being persuasive, making a good argument, reaching out in love, and setting a good example are all things we should all do (D&C 121:41).

When someone changes because we truly ministered to them, they will experience a change of heart that will solidify their resolve to keep that change. It will become part of who they are and God will get the glory because we only pointed the way. The power of Christ does the changing.

When someone changes because we’ve manipulated, forced, pulled rank, or otherwise controlled them, the change will never last and we will have defiled ourselves in the attempt. We will want the glory and the credit. Our consequence will be to kindle the wrath of God.

I’ve always loved the poem, Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses, by Eliza R. Show that became Hymn #273 in the LDS Hymnal. She writes about judging and controlling others and the harm it does. After describing attempts to correct someone she comes to understand that she was too busy looking at the faults of another and not at her own.

She wrote, “When I saw my brother’s failing, I was not exactly right.” and “Jesus’ Love is All My Theme”. We can do the most good by making Jesus’ love the theme of our lives.

 

3 people like this post.

Copyright 2016, Inner Vessel Productions.


All is well! All is well!

Reflections on “Come Come Ye Saints”

By Eric Chaffey


Categories: Acceptance,Disability,Faith,Issues,Perseverance,Personal,Same-sex Attraction

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This hymn has been on my mind a lot lately. Somewhat intentionally to be sure. It’s a hymn that’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and was one of my father’s favorite hymns. I’m at a point in my life where it’s become even more meaningful; especially the last verse.  (more…)

2 people like this post.

Copyright 2016, Inner Vessel Productions.


Between Guys

A Tribute to My Friend and Mentor, Guy Newgren, Sr.

By Rex Goode


Categories: Gratitude,Personal,Same-sex Attraction

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Guy

Guy Newgren, Sr.

Last week, I attended a funeral for a man I first met at his son’s funeral. Guy Newgren, Jr. and Guy Newgren, Sr. both came into my life at opposite ends of a personal journey of mine. The time I have know Guy Newgren the elder spans a part of my life that represents the most growth I’ve experienced and he was a big part of it. Who I was when I met the son and who I was when the father passed away are two very different men. (more…)

3 people like this post.

Copyright 2016, Inner Vessel Productions.


Were There Not Ten?

What Groups Continue To Do for Me

By Rex Goode


Categories: Issues,Perseverance,Same-sex Attraction,Service,Support

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James Tissot The Healing of Ten Lepers

James Tissot
The Healing of Ten Lepers

I’ve been part of support groups that help men who are attracted to men since 1994. After twenty-two years, you’d think I wouldn’t need them anymore. Most people’s attitude about support groups is that, if you join one at all, you should stay just long enough to get your life back on track, and then leave.

I spent the first thirty-eight years of my life in hiding from everyone, including, in many ways, myself. Finding support groups saved me and helped me see that there was no real reason to hide, especially from myself. (See Knowing Worth and Worth Knowing: What Support Groups Did For Me.)

With the new confidence I gained from coming to understand that I was not alone and that I had great worth in the sight of God, I probably could have stopped going to support groups at some point. Many people think I should. I haven’t and I’d like to explain why. (more…)

4 people like this post.

Copyright 2016, Inner Vessel Productions.


Till the Day Christ Found Me

Reflections on “There But For You Go I”

By Eric Chaffey


Categories: Faith,Inspiration,Perseverance,Personal,Prayer,Same-sex Attraction

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In 1947, the song writing team of Lerner and Loewe created a musical called “Brigadoon.” It’s a fantasy that takes place in the highlands of Scotland in a village that only appears once every 100 years. One of the songs that I’ve always loved and always brings tears to my eyes is called “There But For You Go I.” (more…)

4 people like this post.

Copyright 2016, Inner Vessel Productions.


Knowing Worth and Worth Knowing

What Support Groups Did For Me

By Rex Goode


Categories: Family,Issues,Personal,Respect,Same-Sex Marriage,Support

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GGATEIf you knew me 22 years ago, you would have not really have known me. Who I was on the inside and who I was on the outside were two different men. There’s an old Freudian-type of idea that men with facial hair are symbolically hiding something. I don’t really buy that idea, but for me I think it was true.

It’s hard to describe the inside-man. So much time has passed since I knew him that I don’t remember him that well. 
(more…)

11 people like this post.

Copyright 2016, Inner Vessel Productions.


New and Everlasting

My Family Journey

By Rex Goode


Categories: Family,Family History,Inspiration,Marriage,Perseverance,Personal,Same-sex Attraction

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redwoodI grew up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and knew that genealogy was an important thing. When I was very little, I didn’t know why, but my mother was into it, my aunts were into it, and my grandmother was really into it. She lived in a trailer behind my aunt Jaquita’s house. We often visited there and I always spent a little time with Granny.

By the time I started to get to know her, the ravages of health problems, including diabetes, had already made her seem older to me than anyone else I knew. There was a woman in my congregation back in California who was almost 100 and Granny looked older than she did. She always wanted a kiss on the cheek and I reluctantly complied. (more…)

4 people like this post.

Copyright 2016, Inner Vessel Productions.


It Takes Two, Baby

Me and You

By Rex Goode


Categories: Faith,Family,Perseverance

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TakesTwo

Overlooking the Columbia River

It has been a long time since I’ve posted. I’ve been working on a new business with my best friend, Drew Stinson, as my partner. It’s amazing how much time it takes and I’ve never known a lot about things like employees, payroll, taxes, and accounting.

One of the main reasons for doing that is that my wife, Barbara Goode, and I, are getting on in years and without much in the way of prospects for a good retirement. We both need to slow down and spend some time looking after our health.

I wanted her to have at least one day a week that she could take off and do things that are less stressful than what our jobs are. We love taking care and helping developmentally disabled adults. It can be very rewarding, but it can also be very difficult in terms of stress on body and emotions. (more…)

2 people like this post.

Copyright 2016, Inner Vessel Productions.


Christ is My Lord

Then Ever, Ever Praise We

By Rex Goode


Categories: Christmas

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new-testament-stories-591822-galleryI have had the privilege and joy of serving every Friday morning in the Portland Oregon Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My responsibility there is to administer and officiate in the ordinances for the living and the dead. In particular, my duty is to do everything I can to make those who come to the temple feel comfortable and welcome in the House of the Lord.

To accomplish this, I have to prepare myself spiritually. It requires a certain amount of memorizing the ordinances. It is less distracting if I can do it without stumbling over the words. It also requires my thoughts to be focused on the Savior and understand where he fits in the ordinances of the temple. (more…)

4 people like this post.

Copyright 2016, Inner Vessel Productions.


When God Thinks We Are Brilliant

Spiritual Self-Honesty

By Rex Goode


Categories: Faith,Inspiration,Personal,Prayer

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first-vision-128369-tabletAbout eight years ago, I was interviewed by Helen Whitney, a documentary filmmaker for her upcoming piece on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) which aired on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) as The Mormons. My interview was cut from the final documentary, but I remember the interview.

I was asked many questions, mostly about what it was like to be a man in the Church who experiences same-sex attraction. One question I was asked stood out for me more than the others and it wasn’t specifically about homosexuality. (more…)

2 people like this post.

Copyright 2016, Inner Vessel Productions.


Self-Honesty

Finding Our Way by Examining Our Motives

By Rex Goode


Categories: Change,Personal,Support

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Spruce Run Campground

Spruce Run Campground

I firmly believe that in order to solve any personal problem, we need to look at it honestly and fearlessly. In 12-step programs, they refer to this as a “searching and fearless moral inventory.” Any exercise of denial leads to an incomplete solution. In my life, as I’ve tried to grow closer and closer to the Lord and more and more in line with the truths of the gospel, I’ve had to frequently ask myself, “What is my real motive?”

This is the simplest form of the question. It takes many forms as I strive to be aware, not only of my own motives, but also of what the truth is and what the Savior would do. As I’ve said before, I think that an even more important question than the old favorite, “What would Jesus do?” is the deeper, more difficult question, “What would I do if the person I’m dealing with was Jesus?”

However you ask the questions, there are some key aspects of our behavior and motives we want to examine. Here’s an incomplete list. Maybe you can think of more.

  • Do I think that my motives are completely pure? If I’m thinking that I’m nothing but virtuous, then I’m not thinking hard enough. I’m human and I usually have multiple motives and they are all in flux. Self-honesty requires that I examine myself carefully enough to know all the reasons I’m doing something. If there isn’t at least some admission of selfishness in my pondering, I’m rationalizing.
  • Have I considered how my actions will affect others? If I’m thinking that I’ve weighed all of the potential consequences and I haven’t come up with any negatives, I’m not looking at it truthfully. Everything we do has the potential to hurt someone’s feelings or make life for difficult for them. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do a thing, but if we’ve talked ourselves into believing that “this is going to be good for everyone”, someone is going to get hurt in unintended ways.
  • Are my choices way out of the realm of what most people think of as normal? Some people think you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. There’s some truth to that, but I disagree when it comes to measuring choices. We don’t want to do things just because everyone else is, but if we are acting much differently than most people, it’s something that can’t be ignored.
  • Do I think I have special knowledge? If I think that the reason I get to choose differently than others is because I’m smarter, more in tune, or that others just can’t possibly understand why I do what I do, we run the risk of completely separating ourselves from reality. In that honest look at my motives I try to do, for really important things, I ask someone else what they think. Rather than assuming I have some special knowledge, I prefer to think that I need someone else’s perspective.
  • Is it someone else’s fault that things aren’t going according to my design? I often find myself thinking that I did the perfect thing and someone else ruined it. It may sometimes be true that I did everything right but it still didn’t work. That’s life. Everyone has their agency whether to cooperate with our ideas or not. I try to remind myself that I’m doing something because I feel it is right, rather than doing something because I can’t fathom how anyone could possibly disagree with me or fail to get on board.
  • Do I think I operate from a higher level of spirituality? I don’t think anyone, including myself, is on a permanently higher spiritual plane. Our spirituality needs constant checking and true spirituality works on humility, not pride. There’s a pretty sure way to know whether you’re operating on a higher spiritual plane when you deal with others. If their response to our plans is to not cooperate and it knocks us off of our spiritual center, we were probably not as high and in tune as we thought.

There was a time when I asked myself none of these questions and I was always sure I was right. I found it impossible to be happy in my relationships because I was basing my happiness on how well everyone recognized how awesome I am. The truth is, doing right is often a lonely and thankless path. We may be able to get a few people to travel along with us, but it leads to nowhere.

Please, also see, When God Thinks We’re Brilliant.

1 person likes this post.

Copyright 2016, Inner Vessel Productions.


Invisibility

And Other Supernatural Powers

By Rex Goode


Categories: Change,Respect,Tolerance

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Me, Invisible, In Front of Lovejoy Fountain in Portland, Oregon

Me, Invisible, In Front of Lovejoy Fountain in Portland, Oregon

One little know fact about Mormons is that we have certain supernatural powers. We can do things a lot of other people can’t do. One of these abilities is the power of invisibility. We can not only disappear ourselves when we want, but we can make others disappear as well. Don’t believe me? Read on… (more…)

2 people like this post.

Copyright 2016, Inner Vessel Productions.


Jesus’ Love

My Reaction to the Supreme Court Decision Regarding Same-Sex Marriage

By Rex Goode


Categories: Issues,Same-sex Attraction,Same-Sex Marriage,Tolerance

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Jesus_ChristThose who have read me before won’t need this introduction, but I think that before I write about something that is going to be this controversial, I ought to give some background so you know where this comes from.

I’m a member in good standing of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which makes me in popular vernacular, a Mormon. I am married to a wonderful wife and have numerous and precious posterity. I am also, again in popular vernacular, gay. Yes, I know that some of you will think that these two statements can’t go together, and that is part of the point I want to make.

First, let me say that “gay” is about as useful a word to describe me as “Mormon”, because neither of them say much about the more complex feelings I experience about sexuality and faith. Yet, since people like neat little labels so much, think of me as a gay Mormon who is maybe a little off center of both parts of that name.

Indeed, it puts me into a little world of my own and keeps me from fitting squarely into any known convention. There are people in both the gay community and the Mormon community that wish I would shut up and/or go away.

I’m also a card-carrying Republican, a political and economic conservative, but with a more-than-slight libertarian leaning. I think the government intrudes in all the wrong ways, is not helpful, and regulates our lives too closely. In all of my political thoughts, I occasionally discover a liberal idea that appeals to me. See. I don’t exactly fit any convential political movements either.

Not fitting in is something I do well, and that includes in my reactions to the recent Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage. I have never wavered in my belief that marriage is and ought to be between a man and a woman, in the eyes of God. I have always supported the doctrine of the Church to which I belong regarding the meaning and place of marriage in mortal life and eternity. Not only have I supported it conceptually, but wanted with all my heart to conform to it personally. My desire to be husband, father, grandfather, and ancestor has always been strong and it is the life I’ve followed.

I’ve been writing about my life for many years coinciding with the movement to legalize same-sex marriage, and although it has always seemed a natural thing for me to comment on, my relative silence on the subject has not been accidental. It has not been out of fear of what others may think or how friends might react, in either direction. It has mostly been because I have been fairly ambivalent about it.

On the one hand, I haven’t seen why so many people have wanted it. On the other hand, I haven’t seen why so many people are opposed to it. I’m sure that right now, in response to this, I could get some pretty strong arguments for either point of view. Feel free. I don’t mind the discussion, but the liberal in me says “why not?”, the libertarian in me thinks the government shouldn’t have anything to do with regulating marriage, and the conservative says that we shouldn’t let nine unelected people in black robes make laws for us.

It isn’t what I think about it that concerns me. I have always worked things out my own way and have done my best to stand up for what I believe in. I’ve done this without particularly caring whether it made me popular.

What does concern me is how people treat each other and how things in the news divide people. I have noticed a growing trend over the years, not just on the subject of same-sex marriage, for people to erupt in anger and otherwise good friends to turn against each other over disagreements. Not to say that issues aren’t important, but I’ve always felt that love and friendship are greater than disagreements.

I know it can be hard when people mock and cast stones at the things you hold sacred. I’ve had to put up with people I’ve considered good friends who think nothing of using ridicule and sarcasm to criticize things I believe in. I’ve had to hold firm to my beliefs in the face of people who think that unkindness makes them right.

Just because you can say something in a clever way doesn’t stamp your point of view with the seal of truth. Being good at slinging profanity doesn’t make you a genius, but there are many people that will give your words more credence if you dirty up your language a little.

I especially hate empty and overused platitudes and slogans that are thrown around as if they have any substance to them at all. All they really mean are, “Shut up. You’re wrong. Don’t talk to me.”

A long time ago, before I “came out” to a lot of people, I told a supervisor at work that I’m basically and almost exclusively attracted to men, but that I had decided to follow my conscience and live according to the tenets of my faith. She was a nice woman and I know she meant well, but her response was, “Well, you can’t help who you love.”

That’s one of those slogans I’ve heard over the years, and it is empty and overused. Of course I can help who I love. In fact, I make conscious decisions every day to love people. It is more than just some automatic and goofy feeling that comes over you and you can’t do anything about. It is a choice and requires action to make it come alive. I think it’s because I’ve made it an active practice in my life, but loving people, even those that most people think of as unloveable, is a fairly natural thing to me. I’ve never made a conscious decision to hate someone, and anyone I find myself hating, I go to great pains to learn to love them.

I tried again to share with that supervisor, to let her know a little more about what I felt inside, and all she could do was repeat her slogan. It doesn’t take any thought or effort to wrap people up in a platitude and call it your gift to them. It’s a lot harder to listen and consider things that might expand your thoughts and open your mind a little.

I know it seems like I’m picking on the liberal side of questions here, and I have to say that I see it in its more overt forms when socially liberal people are picking at conservative ideals. I also see it when the non-religious are opposing people of faith. It’s very popular to say mean things about religious people, to defame and insult religious leaders, and mock the faith of others.

As a person of deep faith, it does hurt, but it doesn’t shaken. I’ve heard a lot of it and it still happens, and I’m still as firm in my faith as ever.

In spite of all of that, there is something I hate more than meanness from left-leaning people and that is meanness and lack of compassion from people who claim to be disciples of Jesus. Believe you me, I’ve heard that too, like when someone remarked to me as I came into the temple, “I didn’t know they let your kind in here.”

I might be showing some bias here, but I believe that disciples of Christ ought live up to a higher ideal. A Christian ought to share the attributes of Christ, who had no problem associating with people who are different, those whose standards and values were not equal to his, and even people who didn’t agree with him. His life and death were all centered in love for people who didn’t measure up to him, which includes us all, even his most ardent followers. I hope I am one of them.

According to Jesus, there are two great commandments. The first is to love God with all our hearts. The second, which he said is like the first, is to love our neighbor as ourselves. He also made it clear that our neighbor is anyone who needs our help.

To be a follower of Jesus, we must be loving in our conversations with others, even if we think they’re wrong. It is possible to hold true to a belief without being unkind to people who don’t. It is our duty to be as willing to love and support an unbeliever as it is a believer, perhaps even more.

A Christian can maintain a belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman and still love and support people of the same sex who have married each other. If they can’t accept you unless you change your mind, that is their choice, but the teachings of Jesus have left you no choice but to love even neighbors like them as yourself.

Charity and love are healing;
These will give the clearest sight;
When I saw my brother’s failing,
I was not exactly right.
Now I’ll take no further trouble;
Jesus’ love is all my theme;
Little motes are but a bubble
When I think upon the beam.

(Eliza R. Show, “Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses”)

Why should a follower of Christ care about being reviled and rejected a little? It comes with the territory. It is your calling to endure trials. It is the source of your blessings. Jesus said that “great is your reward in heaven” if you endure such things. We can’t return hate for hate. Jesus commanded us to return love for hate. Remember the question Jesus asked, “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?” (Matthew 5:46)

Our language must be all about the love of God. As the great LDS author penned, “Jesus’ love is all my theme!”

Most of all, we must take care that “love they neighbor as thyself” doesn’t become one of those empty and overused slogans.

8 people like this post.

Copyright 2016, Inner Vessel Productions.


Some Things Are Bigger Than We Are

And Some Things Are Not

By Rex Goode


Categories: Abuse,Acceptance,Issues,Perseverance,Personal

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Northern Pacific Class A Locomotive (1938)

Life is often about dealing with things that we didn’t plan. No matter how carefully you do plan, you can always count on some kind of opposition. In Latter-day Saint theology, this is a fundamental part of how we view life. We often quote from one of our scriptures that says, “There must needs be an opposition in all things (2 Nephi 2:11)…”

We believe it strongly because we can all attest that nothing ever seems to be easy. We are constantly battling forces that seem intent on destroying or hindering our plans. It is one of the most annoying things about being human. I frequently find myself asking, “Why can’t something be easy for a change?” (more…)

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Copyright 2016, Inner Vessel Productions.


That Lonely, Unfrequented Way

Comfortable versus Comfort

By Rex Goode


Categories: Doctrinal,Faith,Inspiration,Perseverance,Personal,Prayer

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I’ve never been very methodical in choosing my way through life. An acquaintance of mine, an author of self-help books, once told me he thought of me as a flow-finder, someone who doesn’t need to think things through at a minute level. Instead, I get in touch with the way things flow in my life and let that flow carry me to the things I most want and need.

Another acquaintance, also an author of self-help books asked me to come visit him at the Portland Airport while he waited for a connecting flight. He gave me a copy of his book and told me that I was epitome of the kind of person he was writing about, someone who bases the progress of life on principles rather than analysis. (more…)

4 people like this post.

Copyright 2016, Inner Vessel Productions.