Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Peace is not the absence of conflict...


As my "inner Maurice" and "outer Clive" continue to act out their play in my mind's stage, and manifest themselves in real life, I continue to search for peace - peace between these two conflicting aspects of my being. Will my Maurice and Clive ever get together and work it out and come to terms and live at peace together?

Occasionally one hears something at Church and it registers enough to linger in the back of the mind, compartmentalized for future pondering.

One such pondering has been this:


"Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of God no matter the conflict."


As one "conflicted" as I, this thought has lingered: the peace I seek and sometimes find, is not because of the absence of conflict in my life (be that from the pain resulting from serious family issues, or the stress from living a less than authentic life), but because I still feel the presence of God and his acceptance of me, the real me, and my family.

That's what I'm most thankful for this Thanksgiving... that peace, despite or in spite of the conflict, internal or otherwise, that still comes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

13 comments:

naturgesetz said...

Interesting definition. I have heard the saying that peace is not (merely) the absence of war but the presence of justice. That's on the international and societal levels, of course. But on a personal level, the definition you heard makes sense. Hopefully, the presence of God enables us to resolve conflicts that can be resolved and to live with the tensions that cannot be removed.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Beck said...

"...resolve conflicts that can be resolved and to live with the tensions that cannot be removed...."

I like that.

Implying "to live" means not tolerating or enduring as much as coming to terms and accepting God's hand in the situation.

GMP said...

That definition of peace (which I love) reminds me of the serenity prayer, wherein we ask the Lord for the serenity to accept the things we can't change.

And your comment reminds me of something my dad says: Life isn't meant to be treated like a death sentence.

Philip said...

Beck,

I've come to think of peace as being about one's inner and outer realities being aligned. Or, in your terms, when your "inner Maurice" and "outer Clive" become one. I'm thinking the "outer Clive" has to change to become more like the "inner Maurice" for more peace to be achieved because if the "inner Maurice" could change to be like the "outer Clive" than that would have been accomplished long ago and you would be at peace now.

Regards,
Philip

Beck said...

GMP: Accepting the things we can't change is definitely a major part of finding peace / serenity.

PHILIP said: "...the "outer Clive" has to change to become more like the "inner Maurice" for more peace to be achieved because if the "inner Maurice" could change to be like the "outer Clive" than that would have been accomplished long ago and you would be at peace now."

WOW! I wish I had written that! That summarizes the point exactly - now will you (or anyone) summarize exactly how I accomplish it?

Scott N said...

The kind of peace Philip describes isn't free. It requires sacrifice. And you know exactly how to accomplish it, and have for a long time—you just haven't wanted it bad enough to make the sacrifice required.

I've said it before: You can't simply choose once to remain active in the church or to remain married to a woman. If you make those choices today, you're going to need to make them again tomorrow, and the next day.

As long as you remain in a position where you must constantly re-choose (or reaffirm or whatever) your choices, you'll not have the kind of peace Philip describes. Perhaps there are other sorts of peace for you to content yourself with... I don't know; personally I never found any kind of peace that endured until I stopped trying to be someone I wasn't.

For me, the absence of peace was too high a price to pay—the sacrifice of being true to myself was ultimately more affordable. Perhaps that's not true for you. Only you can determine that.

Philip said...

Beck,

I have to agree with Scot.

Going along with what Scot said, if you can't make your choices stick then maybe the choices you are making are not the right choices for you.

They may be the right choices for others but not for you.

By process of elimination that leaves the choices not yet tried.

Logic won't tell you which of the choices not yet tried are right for you -but- your intuition should be able to.

My intuition somehow has filled in the gaps with it's knowledge of who I am and made that determination.

So like Scot I know what the right choices are for me but unlike Scot I am not willing to make the sacrifices.

In fact, my guess is that Scot came to his realization about what he needed to do in part because of men like me who he has witnessed struggle and struggle.

I think the one sacrifice holding me back NOW (there have been different ones in the past) is the one about being the bad guy.

I don't want to be the bad guy in my marriage.

So I stay conflicted rather than become the bad guy.

In other words...I am not ready yet to make the sacrfice so I battle on.

Regards,
Philip

Beck said...

SCOTT said: "...you know exactly how to accomplish it, and have for a long time—you just haven't wanted it bad enough to make the sacrifice required...."

Yes, I do know, and yes, I do keep having to re-choose. That has been my standard mode of operation. Continuing to make that choice, however, does come with a sense of peace - maybe not the one where one no longer has to re-choose, but one where there is a "peace" in the choice made.

Both options require sacrifice.

PHILIP: I don't want to be the "bad guy" in my marriage either. Thus, the "conflict" remains, but as noted in the quote of this post, there can still be peace with conflict. Peace is not the absence of conflict (or re-choosing).

Philip said...

Beck,

For me the steps to peace have come in stages.

The first stage was the most difficult and had to do with accepting being gay. I fought my gay feelings for years and didn't find any kind of peace until I finally surrendered in defeat to my homosexuality. Defeat turned to victory as self-hatred turned to self-acceptance and finally I started experiencing some peace and no longer felt that I was somehow broken.

The second stage was the journey of self-discovery I underwent after accepting I was gay and starting to allow myself to interact openly and honestly with other gay people. Confusion turned to understanding as self-ignorance was replaced with self-awareness. My sense of peace increased as finally I started to feel normal.

The third stage was coming out to the larger straight world. I found straight people could love me and accept me just as I am. Mistrust of the straight world was replaced with trust. My sense of peace further increased as finally I started to feel I belonged and began to feel equal to straight people.

The fourth stage was integrating my sexuality into my life. This is where I am still conflicted. My sense is that the peace that comes with this stage has to do with personal freedom.

I don't know if there is a fifth or even more stages but I wouldn't be surprised if there were.

What I am trying to say in my own wordy way is that I have made great strides in peace with each stage but each time peace was not achieved until I was ready.

Each time I eventually knew what needed to be done but each time I did it only with great difficulty.

And each time I found the more authentic life lead to greater inner peace.

I think you have already made great strides in peace (stages one through two probably and maybe even stage three or maybe stages different than my own) but I think you and I have both been stuck in the same stage for a long time (me longer than you) because we are just not emotionally ready to take the necessary steps.

For me, each time I was not emotionally ready until the pain of staying conflicted grew greater than the fear of unknown consequences.

I know that is true of this latest stage as well.

Regards,
Philip

Anonymous said...

Beck I've been reading your blog for the last week - starting at the beginning (your 2006 posts) and reading every post until now. I have not been absolutely glued to every word and amazed at your story. I want you to know I am so glad that you exist, that you blog, and that you have remained committed. I am also a gay married mormon, I've been married nearly 15 years, have children, etc. I told my wife of my SSA before we married but we both naively thought we would be over this trial by now. I am absolutely amazed by how well you seem to articulate exact emotions, thoughts, questions, etc. that I have felt but never have verbalized or written. I have questioned whether I made the right decision to marry and I still question that, but reading your blog has inspired me to live with my decision regardless of whether it was "right or wrong" and to continue to press forward and do my best. Thank you so much for publishing this journey of yours, it has had a tremendous impact on me. I am posting this anonymously, but someday maybe I'll get the nerve to be a little more open.

Anonymous said...

Correction: I have been glued to every word..... Sorry. Typo. Perhaps an indication of why I don't blog.... :)

Philip said...

Beck,

The answer to your question is that you already know how to change your "outer Clive" to become more like the "inner Maurice" to achieve more peace because you have already done it.

Regards,
Philip

Philip said...

Beck,

Yikes, this post has got me thinking and thinking. That's why I keep posting.

I've concluded that my life long struggle and the resulting peace I have found is all about freedom; the freedom to be who I really am.

My "inner Maurice" is the man struggling to break free of his chains and be who he was meant to be and my "outer Clive" is the jailer struggling to manage the stigma pervasive in the world towards gay people the best he can and at the same time keep the people I love and myself safe from the havoc my "inner Maurice" might bring into our lives.

Maurice worries about family but is primarily focused on himself out of necessity not selfishness. Clive worries about Maurice but is primarily focused on keeping everyone safe and he worries constantly about the unknown especially of the conequences should Maurice get the freedom he seeks.

The struggle goes back and forth between the two men but slowly Maurice is winning and little by little Maurice gains the freedom he seeks.

First, Maurice freed his heart then discovered that was not enough. Then he took steps to free his outer world. Each step Clive throws roadblocks in the way to keep Maurice from advancing but slowly and surely Maurice expands the territory where he is free. But with each new expansion, he disocvers other areas that need conquering.

It is like freedom has many layers like an onion. I peel the first layer (freeing my heart) and soon found another layer. I peeled that layer away (freeing myself to other gay people) and soon found another layer. I keep peeling away layers; each time expecting this latest layer to be the last one.

Isn't it strange that until your post that it never occurred to me that it was all about freedom or the lack thereof.

Regards,
Philip