Steven Don — and it’s proper etiquette to use middle names when you have 400 first cousins running around the wilderness like smurfs. Steven Don, I think I like Lisa. Do you think she might like me back?
“No, I already claimed her. I called dibs.”
But, you called dibs on Sarah, last week.
“Yeah, so? We’re polygamists.”
Oh. Can you imagine how competitive that world might be? Polygamy? Once a girl began to mature, not only did you like her, but your brothers, your cousins, your uncles — Heck! Even your dad, theoretically, is your competition. And you’re all playing for keeps. Because the founders of the Mormon faith did declare, you need at least two wives to get to the highest degree of glory in heaven.
My fear and anxiety around girls is only exacerbated by how difficult it was for me to hear them, as they speak on a higher register, and I was also very self conscious about how I talked. And I know you don’t really hear it now, but I was in speech therapy till I was 15 years old. I’m going to show you a video, of me speaking at the age of 11. Mind you, I’ve been in speech therapy for nine years up to this point.
I’ve watched this video over 300 times, and I still have no idea what the hell I am saying.
The greatest challenge of a disability is not the actual disability itself. But rather the perceived limitations that everyone around you, and eventually yourself, begin to believe are true. Maybe that is your polygamy.
Or like me, it was impressed upon you as a five-year-old boy by your Sunday school teacher, that God had made you deaf as a form of punishment. That you have done something wrong in the pre-life. And so, for as long as you can remember, really, you always believed you had to earn God’s love.
Well, after I escaped polygamy for years, I believed, deep down, somewhere in here, that I had to be the first deaf player in NBA history, and then God would be proud of me. Then I’ll be worthy of His love.
But not only His love, but the love of a woman as well. This was my polygamy. For years, all throughout my 20s, I avoided relationships, sabotaged them, and my first real relationship occurred when I turned 30, and that would turn into a marriage. And can you imagine the baggage I brought into it?
But I choose clarity now. I choose to shine a light on the mental prison that is my polygamy. If I do not, then I will have lost my marriage for nothing. I choose clarity.
I choose to empower myself with the accountability of choice. We spend our lives giving away our power by how we speak. “I have to go pick up my kids from school.” “I need to turn in my quarterly reports.”
9What if — what if we began speaking like this? “I choose to go pick up my kids from school.” “I choose to turn in my quarterly reports tomorrow.” “I choose not to color coordinate family photos this year, mom. Sorry.”
This is far more difficult than it sounds when you try it, because we have been so conditioned to give away our will and our choice by how we speak — “I have to, I need to, I want to, I could, I should.” I choose.
I choose to empower myself with the accountability of choice. I choose to ask myself: with these thoughts, is this Lance thinking? Or is it my polygamous thought patterns thinking? Thought patterns that no longer serve me.
I choose to no longer be a martyr like my grandfather. I choose the clarity, that it is mental gymnastics, to believe that my self-worth is ever in question.
I choose the clarity, that love is either unconditional or it is not love at all.
I choose to be a leader of my own life. I choose, it is my choice, it has always been my choice, just as it has always been your choice.
This is how you escape your polygamy. Empower yourself with the accountability of choice. Be a leader of your own life.
And now, as I say goodbye, on behalf of the five-year-old boy from rural Montana, who could not hear, nor speak very well, who spent thousands of hours in speech therapy, practicing and practicing, with the hope that one day he might, just might, become one of the greatest communicators in the world.
On behalf of that five-year-old boy: Thank you for allowing him to be heard.