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

Self-Honesty

Finding Our Way by Examining Our Motives

By Rex Goode


Categories: Change,Personal,Support

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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 2017, 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 2017, 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.

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Copyright 2017, 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 2017, 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…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Self-Imposed Ignorance

My Number One Thing

By Rex Goode


Categories: Acceptance,Faith,Marriage,Perseverance,Same-sex Attraction

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ME19Around the time I turned 16, as I have related before, I had a profound prayer experience where I promised Heavenly Father I would turn my life in a different direction. As difficult as it has been, I have kept the promises I made then. My life is everything I wanted it to be, except for financial pressures.

Recently, North Star International, an organization dedicated to serving Latter-day Saints affected by same-sex attraction, announced that their blog, NorthernLights, was reopening after about a year’s hiatus. As one of the authors there, I will have a chance to post some of my thoughts occasionally.

One of my co-authors, Greg Barnett, recently posed a question on his day. The entry is called, “10 Things,” and the question was: “List 10 things you would tell your 16-yr-old self regarding your experience with same-sex attraction if you could.” (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Light Thoughts

I Would Learn the Healer’s Art

By Rex Goode


Categories: Acceptance,Change,Inspiration,Issues,Service,Support,Tolerance

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youngsriver As the news media continues to report the events that prompted me to write “Dark Thoughts,” I’ve wondered just how much they can keep reporting the same things over and over and continuing to call them things like “breaking news” and “new information.” I suppose that is the news game, but not tactics I greatly admire.

I’ve had much more that I’ve wanted to say about the tragic shooting at Reynolds High School almost two weeks ago. I don’t have any inside knowledge; I have no new facts to reveal; I am as much in the dark about how things unfolded as anyone. Yet there is still a lot going on in side of me that pulls at my heart over it. (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Dark Thoughts

Sorrow That the Eye Can’t See

By Rex Goode


Categories: Abuse,Depression,Inspiration,Pain,Support,Tolerance

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jmpLast Tuesday morning, I heard the news of a shooting at Reynolds High School in nearby Troutdale, Oregon. I didn’t think much of it. People I knew were posting that everyone they knew got out and was safe. Because I was working, I didn’t watch the news much.

On Wednesday morning, I was with a client and happened to check Facebook to see if any other workers were doing something that might interest my client. When I opened the app on my phone, there was a picture of a young man I knew, Jared Michael Padgett, identified as the shooter. I knew from the news that the shooter was dead.

(more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Oh What Songs of the Heart

Reflections on Eternal Life

By Eric Chaffey


Categories: Faith,Gratitude,Inspiration,Prayer

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It’s been far too long since I’ve written a  blog post on here. A lot has happened in the last nine months. Some things have changed and others haven’t. In the experiences of same sex attraction, changes, anxiety etc. My love of hymns and music remains and I’m so grateful for the comfort they provide.  (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Antecedents

Finding Reasons

By Rex Goode


Categories: Acceptance,Change,Family History,Ideas,Personal

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JesseDrone

Jesse Drone

An antecedent is something that came before and had a part in causing or influencing a later thing. Our ancestors are examples of antecedents. They came before us and had a part in causing us and influencing us.  Other antecedents are events that led to other events, or ideas that gave rise to other ideas.

In grammar, an antecedent is a noun or name that tells us what pronouns mean. Consider, for example, “Jimmy picked up a toy. He gave it to his sister.” “Jimmy” is the antecedent for “He” and “a toy” is the antecedent for “it.” (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


The Platitude Attitude

Vaunted Strength

By Rex Goode


Categories: Inspiration,Personal,Poetry

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platitudeThey’re all over the internet, especially FaceBook—little sayings that have the masses nodding their heads in agreement and sharing them with others. They come in all flavors, but one kind that asserts itself a lot is the sentiment summed up in Frank Sinatra’s famous rendition of “My Way.”

The idea has its roots in secularism and bias against religion, asserting the supremacy of individuals over all external forces, even God. The problem with most platitudes is that they have a ring of truth to them and may even seem profoundly religious.

They seem to be consistent with scripture and religious doctrine, but the main flaw is that they leave out of morality anything that God has revealed. I remember one Sunday when I was a youth. I had come across and memorized the poem, “Invictus,” by William Ernest Henley. I was supposed to give a talk on “free agency” as understood by Latter-day Saints. (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Because He Lives

I, Too, Shall Live

By Rex Goode


Categories: Acceptance,Gratitude,Inspiration,Perseverance,Personal

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jesusartI take my title and subtitle from a favorite Christian anthem of mine, “Open the Gates of the Temple.” It is an invitation for all people to open their hearts to the Savior, comparing our bodies to the temple. The end section borrows from the Handel’s Messiah aria, “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.”

The final line of “Open the Gates of the Temple” declares, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and because He lives, I, too shall live!” On this Easter morning, I want to declare my faith in that same promise, but with a twist.

Often, Christian faith is about the promise of heaven, salvation in the life to come. As thoroughly and completely as I believe in this, I would find life too discouraging to think only about that eventual benefit of faith. (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


In Nameless Ways Be Good and Kind

The Core of Latter-Day Saint Theology

By Rex Goode


Categories: Doctrinal,Faith,Gratitude,Prayer

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A few days ago, I had a conversation with one of my morning swim buddies. He’s a Ph.D. in biochemistry, a thoroughly scientific fellow. He’s not so scientific as to rule out the existence of God, but is often critical of organized religion. He doesn’t really reveal much about his own view of God and spirituality, but is always inquisitive and respectful about mine, when we talk about it. He also happens to be a client of mine for whom I do contract software engineering, so we have gotten to know each other pretty well.

On that morning, he began a conversation with me asking if I communicate with God. I replied that I did and he wanted to know how I do that. I talked about kneeling in prayer, which he interrupted right away and made the statement that he thought that was unnecessary. I explained to him that I realized that God would hear me regardless of my position, but that it creates an attitude in me that I find makes my prayers more effective. I also admitted that I’ve taken to sitting for prayers because my knees just can’t handle kneeling anymore.

(more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Why Should We Mourn?

Or Think Our Lot Is Hard?

By Rex Goode


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

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I’m not Mormon Pioneer stock like a lot of Latter-day Saints. My grandmother was the earliest convert, although one ancestor before her was married to a Mormon. Yet, as all Latter-day Saints, I owe gratitude to the pioneers who fled persecution in the east to settle in the Salt Lake valley and establish a refuge for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to allow it to gather strength and become the beacon of faith it now is.

Like most of my faith and generation, I grew up hearing and singing the great anthem of the Church, “Come, Come, Ye Saints.” Out here in Oregon, at least in my area, it doesn’t get sung that much, but I remember it very well.

Obviously, there is much that attracts me about the Mormon faith, else I wouldn’t have made such a great effort to remain faithful to it. Even though I am not the descendant of Mormon pioneers, I have a deep admiration and respect for pioneers. My wife is the descendant of Oregon pioneers and I have done a fair amount of reading about them.

(more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Memories

By Rex Goode


Categories: Abuse,Change,Inspiration,Personal

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ME6In the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is show some of the Christmas times of his past in an effort to soften his curmudgeonly attitude towards Christmas. Depending on whether you read the story or watch the multitude of dramatizations of it, you begin to see how the old miser got the way he is. He suffered from neglect by his family, perhaps even abuse at the hands of a cruel father, and many setbacks related to his own poor choices.

I’ll say right up front that my childhood wasn’t all rosy. I suffered from abuse and emotional neglect. It was hard being in the Church back then, in the sixties. There were no doubt many broken homes and blended families in America, but there weren’t that many at church. Every child I knew at church came from a fully intact, no divorce involved, family. Naturally, I couldn’t know if they were being treated like I was, but they all seemed so secure and safe. (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.