Remembering details from my past has never been my strength.
I like to think it’s because I’m always looking forward to the future, but my mamma blames it on some of my concussions from playing tackle football as a teenager.
I grew up in a cul-de-sac in Orem, Utah until my family built a new home at the top of Center St. in Lindon, Utah (just a mile or two north).
Just after we moved, I met some new friends that were playing “super league baseball” (it’s basically baseball for kids who think they are too good to play in city leagues) and I found out that they got to travel all over the Western United States to play in tournaments. I begged my dad to let me play.
At the time, his physical therapy practice had their own softball team and he told me that one of his teammates was coaching a team called the Avalanche. With enough pestering, I was finally able to convince my dad to get me a tryout with the team.
The head coach invited me to play in my first tournament at the Indoor Practice Facility (IPF) at Brigham Young University. I ended up with the highest batting average on the team for that tournament and not only made the team, but was awarded a new wood bat and batting gloves!
My dreams were coming true.
Super League Baseball
We played so much baseball.
I remember we would have practice nearly every weekday and play “doubleheaders” (that’s just a fancy way of saying back-to-back baseball games) every Saturday at Burgess Park in Alpine, Utah.
I would always drive down with my buddy, Sawyer, and his dad who was one of the coaches.
Sometimes he would let us sit in the back of his truck and one time he even let Sawyer try to shift gears (he drove a stick-shift truck) while we were on the freeway.
We would always eat sunflower seeds on the drive and spit them out the back window. We would try to spit the cracked shells as hard as we could to see if we could hit other cars. 😂
We were troublemakers.
During the season, it seemed like we were traveling at least once a month to play in different tournaments throughout the Western United States: St. George, Utah; Pocatello, Idaho; Phoenix, Arizona; Steamboat, Colorado; Las Vegas, Nevada; etc.
But my favorite tournament was when we played in Omaha, Nebraska during the College World Series.
In between games we would go watch our favorite teams. My dad went to Arizona State University so we always made it a point to catch their games and we hoped that they would make it to the championship.
Sawyer and his dad drove down to Omaha with us and Sawyer brought his PlayStation Portable. We would take turns playing MLB Baseball and Star Wars Battlefront.
When I got home from that tournament, I begged my mom and dad to let me get a PlayStation Portable and, again, with enough pestering, I was finally able to convince them to let me get one.
My dreams were coming true.
EA Sports NCAA Football ’09
The only game that I remember playing (it may have even been the only game that I owned) was NCAA Football ’09.
I always played with West Virginia because their fullback, Owen Schmitt, was on the cover of the game so I assumed they were the best team (and of course I was going to play with the best team).
I remember I found this one play that literally could not be defended. It was a play-action pass (meaning the quarterback fakes a handoff to the running back before rolling out to the right) and I would either throw it to the slot receiver on a corner route (this is too difficult to simplify with words and not important enough to diagram) or I would just run it with the quarterback.
None of the games I ever played were ever competitive so my goal was always to see how many points I could score on the opposing team. I don’t remember my best score, but I know it was over 100 points.
Ha, too bad I have nothing to show for all of the hours I put into that.
No More Fun and Games
One day I found out that my PlayStation Portable had its own browser.
I started surfing the web and soon enough my curiosity got the best of me—I wanted to see girls.
Initially my intentions were not to see pornography, but eventually I came across images that I knew had crossed the line.
I began to panic.
I remember I was literally shaking because I was so scared of what I had done. I started crying and prayed to God for forgiveness.
I remember feeling the Holy Ghost so strongly during that prayer, but this experience weighed on my conscience for months and months.
But I was too afraid to tell anybody.
I had never done anything like this before (I was 13 years old) and the thought of having to tell somebody that I had seen a naked body was just too embarrassing.
Ha, I remember one day I was preparing the sacrament and I told myself that if I grabbed the exact number of cups as there were in the sacrament tray, that I would schedule an appointment with the bishop. I remember feeling so relieved when I was one cup too many.
Ha, I can’t believe I did that. 😂
My Uncle Matt passed away of cancer shortly afterwards and I remember being worried that he knew what I had done.
Especially for Youth
That summer I went to EFY with one of my best friends, Jaxon.
I remember on the last day we had a testimony meeting and I felt like I needed to share my testimony. As soon as I started talking I remember feeling one of the most overwhelming emotions that I had ever felt in my life.
The only way I can think to describe it is how Nephi describes his feelings in 2 Nephi 4:21 when he says:
21 [God] hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.
I came home that night and knew that I needed to talk with my bishop.
I called him directly one Sunday morning as I was walking to church because I was too embarrassed to talk with his secretary. I didn’t want anybody to know what I had done.
We got an appointment scheduled and I was one step closer to repenting of my sins (so I thought).
Confessing and Forsaking
In Doctrine and Covenants 58:43 it says:
43 By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect from my appointment with the bishop, but I knew that I needed to confess to him what I had done.
I don’t remember what the specifics were of that meeting, but the result was him asking me to no longer take the sacrament and he also asked me to tell my parents what I had done.
My heart sank.
I honestly felt like those were the two hardest things he could have asked me to do.
I came home that day and asked my mom if I could talk with her and my dad that night. Then, I laid on the couch like a dead man for the rest of the day.
After my siblings all went to bed, my mom and dad met with me in our family living room and I made my opening statement, “You guys are going to kill me.”
The tears started flowing as I explained what I had done. I remember we all hugged each other and my mom and dad reassured me that they weren’t going to kill me.
I remember feeling comforted in that moment, but the reality of the situation didn’t start to sink in until that next Sunday when I couldn’t take the sacrament.
Fear and Shame
As I came into the chapel, my number one concern was if one of the teachers in my quorum was going to ask me to help pass the sacrament because I knew I was going to have to tell them that I couldn’t.
When the sacrament tray came down our pew that Sunday, my mom was crying as it passed by me.
About four weeks passed and the bishop hadn’t called me back into his office and one of the teachers did ask if I could help pass the sacrament. I was afraid to tell them that I couldn’t so I said that I would.
I remember feeling so worried that I wasn’t worthy to help pass. I looked up at the bishop as we were all standing next to the sacrament table and he smiled and winked at me so I assumed that meant that everything was okay.
I was able to stay clean from pornography for the next three to four years until serving as a full-time missionary in Dallas, Texas from June 2013 to June 2015.
When I got home from my mission, I started school two days later at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
About six months to a year after being home, I came across inappropriate content on Instagram and started seeking it out fairly regularly (probably about once or twice a week) once I knew how to find it.
I decided I should talk with my bishop before it became a more serious problem.
My bishop encouraged me to continue to pray, read my scriptures, and attend the temple to be strengthened against temptation.
I did these things, but I didn’t seem to receive the strength that I was hoping for. I continued to struggle.
The Struggle is Real
I won’t get into details, but despite my prayers, scripture study, and temple attendance, my struggle with lust seem to get worse, not better.
I started to feel really confused.
“If I am confessing my sins to my bishop and following his counsel, why is my problem getting worse rather than better?”
I decided that I needed to look for solutions outside of praying, reading my scriptures, and attending the temple.
I read books on overcoming pornography and healthy sexuality.
I tried clean browsing and accountability software.
I attended 12-step programs.
I worked with therapists.
I even got rid of my smartphone.