Wednesday, December 14

Ultimatum: My Conversation with God

Ul•ti•ma•tum - noun, pl. -tums
A final, uncompromising demand or set of terms issued by a party to a dispute, the rejection of which may lead to a severance of relations or to the use of force.

Throughout the less inspired portions of my life I've sometimes asked the Lord, over and over and over again, to do something that fit my demands. I wanted people to love me unconditionally. I wanted them to understand and befriend me. I wanted them to appreciate the sacrifices I was making. I wanted a happy family, the perfect life, and the ability to make my trials melt away with faith and prayer. In some of them, I found myself simply asking the Lord for help, but in others I realize that I was dictating what I would and wouldn't do, based on His involvement in my life. I was giving God ultimatums.

They all made sense to me, and, to be honest, were based on extremely poignant needs and rooted in strong faith that the Lord, in His power, could do anything for me. But with each fervent request there was a consequence I had constructed - a penalty if God did not do what I told Him I needed Him to do. I wouldn't date if I didn't have the assurance that I would someday find a wife. I wouldn't tell my priesthood leaders about past transgressions unless they, or the Lord, told me to in no uncertain terms. I wouldn't engage in life and society if society and life didn't understand me. In each case, along with the fervent prayer, was a caveat... and those caveats limited the ability of the Lord to teach me, inspire me, and help me achieve the goals I had in the first place.

An ultimatum with God tries to enforce my will, my logic, my timeframe, and my knowledge onto the ruler of the Universe... instead of humbly asking Him for help and being willing to do whatever He asks of me.

But God can give ultimatums, too.

The conversion stories of Paul, Alma the Younger, and the people of Ammon have always been intriguing to me. In a moment, these people received a personal ultimatum from God and changed a massive part of who they were, how they saw life, and how they interacted with the Lord... and never turned back. It applied to them so deeply and personally that they could never, ever forget... and it gave them the strength to resist temptation for the rest of their lives. Now I think I know, at least in part, how they felt... because it's happened to me.

A little while ago I had a dream. In the dream, I was sleeping in a bed with my siblings. I got out of bed and my mother came in the room, then clearly explained that she knew about all of my past sins. "I love you," she said, "and I understand what you are going through, perfectly. But if this (sins associated with SSA - pornography, masturbation, ...) ever happens again, you will begin to lose your ability to help them (indicating my siblings)."

The dream broke, and I woke up shaking. It was obvious to me what it meant. There's no one on earth - my mother included - who truly understands me perfectly. Only God could say that. And the consequence that He revealed - beginning to lose my ability to help my brothers and sisters here on the earth - touched me deeper than anything else could... because it was personal, because it made sense, and because I knew it was real. That was it - the Lord had drawn the line in the sand, and crossing it again, even once, would have clear, present, and lasting consequences for me... and also for others. If I ever crossed the line again, something would be lost in me - and due to my lack of faith, someone else's needs would go unmet and unnoticed.

It will take a lifetime to see what I do with the knowledge I've gained from God - whether I will value my own salvation, and my ability to help others, or whether I will trade those for the things I think I want. Whether I will make my own demands, or follow the will of God. Whether I will forget, or burn the memory in my heart. Either way, the ultimatum is down... and it's my choice from now on. I value my ability to help others, and my own eternal happiness, more than anything else, and so I plan on doing everything I can to stay faithful, no matter what the cost.


  1. "...due to my lack of faith, someone else's needs would go unmet and unnoticed." Thank you for sharing this--it hit me deeply. It's a consequence that often goes unrecognized.

  2. My father got married at the age of 39. He fasted for 2 weeks only drinking water, trying to tell the Lord he was serious and was willing to sacrifice. It worked. A little while later me met my mom. They had 7 kids. I tried it myself at the suggestion of my brother. I tried it for 2.5 days. I lost 5 lbs- water weight and I couldn't move for the need to use the bathroom. My dad didn't have that and he kept working. I don't know how he did it. I had no energy. I asked him once why 2 weeks and he said he thought that would let the Lord know he was really serious. Maybe something like that would help with the SSA or other stuff.

  3. Becky -

    When I fast appropriately, it isn't really to prove to the Lord anything. He knows my heart and my soul, and, truly, He hears every prayer - whether silently pled by a sinner or out loud in fasting by a saint.

    Fasting is for me - and when I fast, the end result, if I'm successful, is aligning my will more closely with God's... and proving to myself - not to God - that I am willing and capable of making sacrifices, choosing my life, and guiding my destiny - even to the point of giving everything to God.

    I've fasted for extended periods, and they helped my faith and hope. And as my faith grows, I become more able to receive the gifts the Lord already has waiting to bless me. But fasting, and other acts of faith, aren't really best used as selective medications for life's problems. Fasting for freedom from SSA may or may not actually be in line with God's will - and if it isn't, then it won't have the result I think I want. For that reason, I suggest fasting when people are facing difficult situations, but unless it is a question (which is a different type of fast in my thoughts), the topic - or how the fast will help them - I leave between them and God. Fasting may or may not have a direct impact on any given trial in life. But fasting as a part of a healthy spiritual lifestyle, including prayer, scripture study, and sharing the gospel, will improve my faith and bring greater blessings in my life. Fasting is only really truly powerful when it's combined with prayer and directed by the Lord - when He gives me guidance and direction on what to fast for... and when He opens my eyes to see the purpose behind the struggles I face in life.

    Thanks for your comment.

  4. I am thinking about what you've said about fasting. I think God knows our heart, but fasting might prove to me that i am serious.

  5. This post helped me to realize that I can be way too demanding of the Lord sometimes, I will sometimes demand that the burden be lifted, and even thought it's righteous desire and even thought he Lord has the power to do so the burden stays. I think that even though SSA is a huge struggle, there is a reason why some of us struggle with it, it's part of our learning process here on earth. We just got to learn to deal with it and maybe if we are lucky we'll someday have the burden lifted.

  6. I totally agree with unknown….at least for me. This is a hard trial to experience, but I have learned so much because of it. Apparently some of us need to learn the hard way. I can see myself in the pre-existence saying “Give me something tough Father, bring it on, I want to prove myself to you.” But who knows how that all worked out. It’s humbling, can be lonely, but it makes you realize how important our relationship with the Savior is. And that I’m eternally grateful for.

  7. I think you should tell your parents. You need your loved ones support, and if you don’t think they will understand, than they need to check their beliefs and faith. Anyone who believes in God and His Son Jesus Christ, believes in unconditional love. I believe with all my heart, life would be happier for you.

  8. Anonymous:

    My parents already know. Look up the post "I Told Them" to read more about it.

  9. I want to thank you so much for your post, I find some of myself in your writing. This post really did help me with some of my burning questions I've been struggling. So Thank you.

  10. I couldn't find "I told them." I found "To tell them..or not"

  11. Link to "I Told Them"

    The best way to fInd posts - the way I use Instead of looking through the index - is actually to just google them, using the search bar at the right or just google in general. I just use a normal google engine, and googled: mormon guy I told them

  12. I don't think I have ever commented here before, but I wanted to tell you that I appreciate your blog. We all struggle with the daily battle to put off the natural man, the natural man that pushes us to be lazy and selfish, and do whatever is fun and easy. For each of us the temptations are different, but we all face it. For some it is SSA, for others drugs and/or alcohol, and for some it is DLKASDJHMIG (that's "disliking little kids, and some days just hating motherhood in general", which is a big no-no for a mormon gal). We are blessed in the gospel to be surrounded (hopefully) by others that are all fighting the same battle, and with the same goal. It is a beautiful network of support, and I am very grateful for the strength I draw from your journey. Thank you for sharing! And my final thought, and I am sure your least favorite comment: I know this girl that I'd sure love to introduce to you to! ;)

  13. I don't comment very often, but I often read. Your words and heart felt thoughts are inspiring.

  14. Occasionally I read your posts. This one caught my attention and I'd like to comment.

    I married at 37 after years earlier "telling" God I would not date, and would only marry if I met someone in the process of living my life. Well, I met her and decided that my challenge had been answered.

    We have beautiful, smart children. My wife and I are the best of friends. Yet, in the end I am still a gay man who married a woman. Both of us have sacrificed a part of ourselves to keep our marriage and our family together. I know sacrifice is a part of every marriage, but I also know it is especially difficult for those in our situation.

    Also, don't set yourself up for failure. I am impressed by how you strive to live your life, but to say that crossing the line in the sand again "even once" is putting an unrealistic exepectation on yourself. It is not the falling down that is so damaging, though we should all strive for such, it is the way we get back up when we do fall. I belive the journey really is the meat and meaning of existence.

  15. Wonderfully said. And so true! Thanks for this.

  16. I like this because, like in the scriptures you mentioned, Alma and Paul go on to help hundreds and thousands of people (even hundreds of years into the future). So, in a way, an ultimatum from God can be an opportunity for you to bless many, many of your brothers and sisters. Just through this blog you are helping so many of us better understand the challenges homosexuality presents all of us as human beings. Thank you for standing up for your call from God and teaching us so much about this challenge.


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