Friday, May 17, 2013

Enduring My Cross

I was studying in the Book of Mormon recently and came across this verse:
But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever. (2 Nephi 9:18)
This verse struck me in a new light when I read it this time. I had always thought of the crosses of the world as the scoffing and ridicule that are endured by the humble followers of Christ. This time, I realized that there is so much more to the crosses of the world. The crosses of the world are the burdens that we must face as a necessary piece of our mortal existence. We all have our burdens to carry. One of my crosses happens to be sexual addiction, but that is by no means the only cross I must endure.

The next phrase is of particular interest to those of us who happen to be enduring a cross of addiction. It is not enough just to bear the cross; we must also despise the shame of it. We are all aware that shame is a huge component of addiction. It is the shame that drives us to secrecy and seclusion. It is the shame that leads to the lies and concealment. It is the shame that keeps us trying to fight on our own. It is the shame that keeps us from reaching out to those who may be able to help. It is the shame that leads us from a slip to a full-blown relapse.

So what does it mean to despise the shame of our cross? The word despise means to regard with contempt,  distaste, disgust, or disdain; scorn; loathe. When we despise the shame of our cross, we turn our backs on the shame. We become open and honest with ourselves and others about the true nature of our cross. This does not mean we necessarily have to tell everyone about our addictions, but we do need to be honest with those who have a right to know (spouse, bishop, etc.).

How do we get to the point of despising our shame? Honestly, I don't know. I'm sure it is different for each person. I do know that learning to despise the shame is an important part of my recovery.

The final piece of this verse is the blessings reserved for those who do learn this lesson, "...they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world..." This is a concept that I am still having difficulty grasping. The kingdom of God was prepared for me. The kingdom is not being prepared for me, that's already done. I'm just trying to prove myself worthy to inherit it.

The next blessing is also important for me, "...their joy shall be full forever." I have already tasted of the joy that came when I first started to despise the shame of my cross. The load that was lifted as I made a full confession to my wife and then to my bishop brought even more joy. I want to continue to feel of that joy. I can only imagine what a fullness of joy might be, and to experience that forever is beyond my comprehension at this time.

Until the time when I am able to fully understand the joy that is available to me, I will continue to endure my cross. I will continue to learn to despise the shame of it. I will continue to experience the joy that is available to me now, and I will continue to express my gratitude to my Father and my Savior for allowing me to make this journey.

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