The Problem Is Me

I’m frustrated. Entirely, absolutely, unequivocally frustrated.

There are all these triggers. I react every time. It is like some anti-PTSD. “Anti” because I know of no traumatic event at the source. Rather, there is a lifetime of being highly tuned to see problems and issues, to play out a variety of responses, and get stuck in that imaginary world of reliving, readdressing, and otherwise wallowing in things that should simply be let go. As a result, there is a dark pall painted over my entire existence. I don’t think it is depression, though there is probably some of that. This is more angry.

Example: this last Sunday in gospel doctrine class we were discussing the “purpose of life.” In the course of the discussion, during a lesson about “the plan of happiness”, the teacher asked what the objectives were for mortality. After most of the usual suspects were listed on the board, he wrote a large “$” and asked, what about this? What followed was about a 10 to 15 minute discussion of how it was important to put G*d first, before [fill in the blank]. I was simmering inside. In a very polite way, I mentioned that the discussion was firing all kinds of warning lights. I asked if we were saying that worshiping all these idols is okay as long as we worship G*d first. There where many emphatic denials and rationalizations as to why these were not idols. Closing this off was a comment by one sister who said (pretty close to): “we know that money isn’t an idol, because there are many church leaders that are very wealthy.” General agreement. I never said, “so, it’s okay to idolize church leaders?”

Well, it’s three days later and this, and many derivatives (similar, prior experiences) have plagued me constantly since. Here is the important point. It is as if I am a one man group further polarizing an “in-group bias.” With each minute that passes, I can feel myself pushing further away from and thus being alienated from (including, somewhat, “by”) the “out-groups.”

Naturally I see their JERCs (Justifications, Excuses, Rationalizations, and Chicanery). But, consistent with Romans 2:1, I also see my own JERCs. This further increases my frustrations. It is self feeding, like some kind of controlled nuclear reaction. In this case, I wonder if it is approaching a meltdown.

This needs to be kept in the larger context. I am looking back at 40-plus years of wasted spiritual growth. I joined the church as an adult with less than a kindergartner’s spiritual maturity. By the time I was on a mission four years later, I had advanced, maybe, to 2nd grade (not good enough for a mission). Over the next five or ten years I eventually made it to 6th grade and with what seems to be the entirety of the LDS community repeated that grade ever since. Someone more optimistic would say, ah, you’re progressing; you have eternity to get it right. I hate those sickeningly sweet donuts, but this one has a thick layer of icing on top. So, it’s good. Right? [Oy. There, I’m doing it again. An imaginary argument with a hypothetical person who is cluelessly supporting procrastination of the day of repentance. Oy vey. ]

Here’s the bottom line. At 62 years of age, I am finding the ability to change my nature (nearly?) impossible. The need was never more obvious. The desire was never greater. So much effort. No discernible ROI. The earlier posted story about having my eye fixed upon the chaos of a river flowing in parallel to my path couldn’t be more valid. “You go where you look.” I would like to shut down this reactor and walk away (the house, the church, American culture, me). Instead, I find myself trying to save it, vacillating between frantically and despondently working the controls with virtually no influence, in hopes of keeping it from melting down. It’s a war. I’m losing. Perhaps this is what decent looks like. Dear G*d, I pray, let there be more than a “dead cat bounce.”

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