Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sucking Hind Teat

The process of recovery from addiction and other weakness was once described to me as "peeling off  the layers of an onion."  As soon as I get some semblance of recovery from one character weakness and peel it away, I become exposed to another.  The deeper I go the more fundamental the problem.  As in onions this process usually brings a few tears.

I am grateful for this awareness, because I'm finally learning what to do as the next layer of weakness gets exposed.  I am finally able to believe that even this new problem is surmountable.

Ether 12:27 states:   
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
Thank Heaven I can discover my weakness one layer at a time!  The current layer is overwhelming enough by it's self.  I'd hate to have to deal with it and all the others at the same time.

The current layer seems pretty complex and very deeply rooted in my personality and nature.  I'm just beginning to discover what it is.  I discovered it last week when, while speaking in Sacrament Meeting on the Atonement, I felt my message was being rejected by the audience.  Perhaps not all of them, but a large number.  When I speak in Church I always prepare my remarks so I can look into the eyes of the congregation rather than at a paper lying upon the pulpit.  It enables me to interact with the audience and to gage their reception of my message.  Normally, I get good interaction from a goodly number of attentive participants.  This time was different.  Few would make eye contact with me.  Those who did, seemed wearied by my words.  I came away feeling rejected and dejected.  I had been pleased with my message and with the preparation I had done.  I had gone into the meeting with the confidence of having received the assurance of the Spirit that my message had the approbation of the Lord.  So I was very troubled by the reception the message received.  Though I felt my message was correct and approved of the Lord, I felt an overwhelming urge to apologize for it.

Later in the week, I attended my Grandson's Pinewood Derby contest at Cub Scout Pack Meeting.  He lost and was miserable.  I was miserable too.  It was my first Pinewood Derby since my own Cub Scout days.  Back then, my Dad, being a traveling salesman, was unable to help me with my car.  I lost and added another failure to what was already becoming a long list of failures.  I could see the same dejection through my grandson's tears.  I stood there feeling helpless and wondered if it was just our family's lot to (please pardon the expression) suck hind teat.  I was already certain that it was my lot and I grieved that yet another generation might be relegated to the same status.

For you who didn't grow up on a farm, may I explain the expression.  Hogs have large liters of pigs.  Each sow has two long rows of teats from which the piglets suckle.  The the fore teats are larger, easier to use and yield more volume and nutrition.  The piglets vie for the best positions and the weaker are pushed and driven to settle for what they can get at the hind teat.

That seemed to always be where I found myself in life's pecking order.  I was chosen last for the ball games we played and never seemed to be victorious or fully successful at anything.  I may have mentioned this before.  In fact I thought I had dealt with this before.  There is however an aspect that never occurred to me until this week.

My father had an older brother who went off to California and became a millionaire.  His younger brother did much the same.  Those two families seemed to have everything we did not.  We did without, while they enjoyed a great abundance.  Dad never dissed on the younger brother for reasons I can only guess.  Quite often though, he would point out that the the older brother had lots of family problems that ended in divorce from his wife and estrangement from his children.  Dad would always say, referring to his present and embraced family, "I am far richer than Gerry will ever be."  I believed him then, and I believe him now.

Trouble is, I began to see settling for less of what the world has to offer as being more righteous.  I didn't envy those who had more abundance and success than I; rather, I felt sorry for them.  Further, every time I approached my own success, I subconsciously sabotaged it.  None, of this was ever consciously analysed, or deliberately accomplished, but subconsciously I have persuaded myself that I must not succeed.  The apparent consequence in my life is that I seldom finish anything.  I dropped out of college after three and a half years.  I quit job after job just as I was making head way.  My one attempt at business failed miserably.  I have written several books to near completion.  But I have never finished a single one.  I even quit trying on the last one feeling myself to be unworthy if I did.

I was now just consoling myself by saying, "You finished Sweetie's sewing room."  But I didn't.  It still needs paint on the door and a door knob.  "Okay, but you finished her study."  Nope there's a cupboard that needs paint on the frame and a door.  "How about your study?"  No again.  There's one whole shelf that is left undone.  I think I would feel guilty if I finished it, or the greater project that is the rest of our unfinished house.  After all success is wickedness and failure is righteousness, or as Katie just put it, "Being a Weirdo, is good."

Over all these years as I processed sucking on the hind teat; I first concluded that I was getting by just fine on the hind teat of life. Additionally, I promised I would never be the ignorant pig who would shove someone weaker than myself to the back of the line.  Pretty soon, that led to voluntarily giving up my place in line to someone weaker in addition to the "pathetic" strong ones.  That led to a sense of self-righteousness; which made me feel good about my lot in life.  I was proud to be sucking the hind teat!  I not only pitied those who got more, I rejected more when it was offered to me.  I still do.

Now, while I have a long way to go in overcoming this nature, this weakness; I thank God that I am mature and experienced enough to understand a few things.  First, life is not a competition!  There is abundance in the world even now.  My success doesn't have to preclude someone else's.  Second, not everyone who has succeeded in life has done it by shoving me or anyone else down to a lower station.  Third, Lehi promised that keeping the commandments would lead to prosperity.  There is no sin in success and....there is no righteousness in settling for less than the abundant prosperity the Lord has offered to those who love Him; be that success physical or spiritual.

Understanding this and being aware of the false beliefs that have informed my life is a great first step.  Awareness is a big key to making changes.  Still, I am certain that I am going to need the Lord's help.  Steps six and seven of the 12 Steps as listed in the LDS Addiction Recovery Manual are as follows:

Step 6 - Become entirely ready to have the Lord remove all your character weaknesses.
Step 7 - Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings.
I believe in these principles.  As Moroni explained in Ether 12:27, God has shown me some more of my character weaknesses.  I am becoming willing and ready to have them removed.  It is God who removes them.  It is remarkable to me that the word here is shortcomings.  I have come up short all of my life and not known that it has been a result of my own erroneous belief systems.  This kind of thinking is certainly a shortcoming and coming short is the result.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...