23 October 2007

Don't Think I Haven't Desired the Grave

There's quite a bit of talk in the blog world about dealing with our same-sex attractions in light of the doctrines and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and finding a place in the kingdom and feeling welcome in church culture. Sometimes, it seems like an inordinate amount of that discussion is whining and bemoaning. At times, it is easy to want to tell people to "simply" determine their priorities and move on. But I remind myself of a few things:

I am OK with the possibility of not getting married because I've already been through depression over it and mourned that loss. I'm OK with the possibility of never choosing to find a same-sex romantic partner because I've already been through depression over it and mourned that loss. I'm OK with the possibility of never being able to raise my own children because....you get the picture.

Maybe some of these grand reasons I come up with for being happy and moving on with life are little more than a basic coping mechanism to deal with that which life has denied me. Maybe I'm fooling myself a little in imagining something more wonderful than having a partner (who happens to be the same sex) in whose arms the rest of the universe seems to melt away. Maybe. I acknowledge that possibility.

Still, I choose my path.

But don't think that because I talk about the importance of making your own decisions and not whining about your terrible plight incessantly, I've never been depressed and cried daily over those decisions. I have. It was scary, it was wrenching, it was bleak, and over time I accepted what it is. But it's taken time. And I am trying to move on still. To be fair, I have wondered, at times, whether I'm just fooling myself, convincing myself I'm happy with a lesser existence for the sake of clinging to the comfort of my beliefs and to validate my own decisions. I think it's an honest question, a fair one. For whatever reason, it doesn't feel that way now, but I've been there. I understand that feeling of uncertainty, wondering which way to go. And it's hard, at those particularly trying times, to make any solid determination.

I vented to a good friend the other night about my irritation that there seemed to be so many LDS gay men who wallow in self-pity endlessly without owning their situation, and I felt bad but wanted to slap them at the same time and tell them to stop crying, get on their feet, and "act like men" and stop being so ridiculously melodramatic as to grandstand their misery. But their situation is not mine. And their understanding is not mine. And perhaps they are simply looking more closely, right now, at things I have chosen to gloss over, for now. Who knows? But remembering how painful it used to be softens my irritation and stays my sharper words.

So be careful about reading my preachings--or anyone else's--and proclaiming, "See?! He's dealing with it just fine. He's happy and moving on with life. All you others should just take a lesson and get over it and stop whining." When tempted to say that, and I'm speaking to myself as much as or more than anyone else, just remember: even though right now I feel good about life, come what may, there were nights I dozed, sobbing quietly into a tear-soaked pillow, when I could think of no sweeter release than to sleep and never wake up.

18 October 2007


I've heard several people say they've felt the hand of God or the love of Christ while engaging in activities that were decidedly against church standards or frowned upon by church policy. Some take it to mean God reaching out to bring them home, while others (many) have either felt confused or have interpreted it as divine approval of their decision to, for example, pursue a same-sex relationship. I will not dispute anyone's specific, personal experience in which they felt a spiritual outpouring at a particular moment that only makes sense to them as a confirmation of the rightness of what they were doing. Those are sacred to each person. I cannot know how God deals with anyone else.

But in a general sense, and assuming these feelings are, in fact, divine manifestations and not one's own emotions, I wonder: feeling the love of God, even in the midst of sin, may not be an acceptance or confirmation of correctness of the deviation from the path laid out by doctrine as much as a beautiful example and sampling of the unconditional nature of that love. I have wondered, at times, why it is that we sometimes reject love offered (from family or friends who reach out) or refuse to let it into our hearts, and I think it's often because of the strings that are perceived to be attached to that love. While divine approbation of behavior or decisions typically comes from obedience to eternal truth, and forgiveness comes freely and without merit but with a contract, the "pure love of Christ" which people feel is hard to reject because the love itself is offered with no strings attached. "I love you, just as you are." No need, in the moment, to correct behavior, or to inflict poignant consequence of transgression. The important message, possibly the only one in that moment which will fully sink in and leave an indelible impression, is that radiant love without qualifications or caveats.

17 October 2007

Why Do People Like Me?

Sometimes I wonder. I mean, there are plenty of people out there who don't like me very much. There are some who thoroughly dislike me. I'm not really concerned about those.

What is harder for me is those who act like they like me, but I'm never really sure. Or I'm not sure how much, or if they're trustworthy, or if they'd try to drag my name through the mud if they, one day, decided I was deserving of such.

Sometimes I wonder why some people like me, and though I don't fancy myself the best-looking kid on the block, or the funniest, I wonder if people often take an interest in me for entirely superficial reasons. I'm in a situation amidst people who are part of a relatively new subculture for me (mohodom), so I occasionally find some old questions coming back in slightly different forms: who likes me because of who I know? Who likes me because they're attracted? Who likes me because I say things on my blog they think are funny?

I just had this feeling, recently, that the majority of the people with whom I associate are missing out on the truly valuable parts of my personality and what I have to offer. They miss the point. They don't get it. They don't get me.

I was thinking about all of this a couple of days ago when I remembered:

a) Everyone is attracted to other people on some (usually superficial) level to begin with. It's how friendships begin. There's something you like about someone, so you explore to see what else there is to them. It's OK.

b) If nobody is seeing those parts of me I feel are most precious, perhaps it's because I am, in fact, not portraying them. Maybe I am actually becoming a more shallow version of myself, so of course fewer people will see through what I, in fact, am displaying: my more distracting traits which inhibit the deeper, more meaningful aspects of my personality from being seen.

So go fig, I'm feeling boxed in by my shallow, self-crafted persona. Shoot. Well, I guess this gives you all free license to psychoanalyze me and any apparently related posts.

This entry may have a slightly whiny tone, but I assure you that's not my intent. I'm voicing this because I've talked with friends who feel similar doubts in their relationships, and I just thought I'd vocalize a couple of my thoughts in relation and attest that I, for one, am not totally immune to these concerns.

07 October 2007

Conference Translations

I would like to hear General Authorities of other nationalities give their talks in their own languages and have it translated for English-speakers. Everyone else has to have conference translated, why not us now and then?

I understand English is probably the most universal language in the church (and in the world), but having been a missionary speaking another language, I know there is something about teaching in your native language... The spirit of the message flows more freely in a language you are truly comfortable with. Isn't it about time to give the saints in other countries the opportunity to hear General Authorities from their own countries speak in their native languages and thereby feel that much more integrated into and connected with the church as a whole? Let them hear just one or two talks every conference in their own language, not through a translator?

01 October 2007

A Reason to Cry

OK, so I wasn't sure when or if to post this, but this evening's fireside at the Matises' home got me thinking, along with a really good conversation with a fellow I drove home, and I'm just feeling the desire to share it. It was a time when I had a rough night and ended up regaining a little perspective on life in general and, most importantly, learning to simplify my thoughts a little. It's a journal entry I wrote a few months ago:

13 June 2007 (a little after midnight)

I'm sitting--laying, rather, in the grass outside a church building near the condo, trying to calm down and use up some energy. A roommate invited some friends over to watch a horrific movie full of violence and terror. I couldn't go to sleep with that wretchedness seeping through the door, the graphic noises of death with women and children screaming. I abhor senseless violence and cannot abide it. My other roommate seems to have slept through the terrible noises but woke up when I turned on some quiet, soothing music to mask the noise and gruffly asked me to turn it off. This is when my own room would be nice.

So now I'm left to think alone in the darkness. Dangerous.

I just saw a meteorite. It was beautiful.

Reflecting on what's next. Something has to give. [Here I named some projects I was working on, work, educational goals, people in my life.] What am I doing? Nothing I want fully works. No job works. No school works. I have no money, no prospects, no home. Surrounded by friends who know me but don't stay, family who are permanent but don't know me like they used to. I don't practice my hobbies anymore. No passion left. The passion I discovered had to be extinguished for the gospel's sake.

Is life sucking me dry? Or am I doing something to myself? Am I killing myself slowly again? I'm bored with life. And yet unmotivated to make it harder on myself again and therefore more interesting or challenging. So now what?

Two meteorites. How do people make it through life without ever seeing one?

[At this point, I stopped writing and just laid on my back, looking up at the stars, with my hands behind my head. I wrote about it afterwards:]

Laying in the grass, I just felt like I needed to cry. I thought about all I have to cry about. It seemed like it should be enough to get the tears flowing, to let it all out. But that didn't cut it.

I thought about a co-worker and the difficulty of her life, and her low self-esteem, linked to her years of neglect and abuse by those who should have nurtured her. I thought of victims of cruelty. Children without love in their lives. Friends who are struggling far more than I with the conflict between their attractions and desires and their beliefs. The hatred and violence in the world. The deceit and dishonesty.

I found something to cry about.

The Dark Side of Obedience

I made a note during some meeting a while back about an analogy someone drew regarding obedience. They used a story of a free-spirited dog who disregarded its master's counsel as it ran out into the street to chase what it wanted and was struck by a car and killed. This was supposed to serve as a none-too-subtle lesson on the hazards of living life my own way and not responding unquestioningly to the commands of the Lord...or rather, the commands given by those who are supposed to be his messengers (including, or especially in this case, local church leaders). As I understood it, being plastered by a car was meant to signify spiritual destruction.

Immediately, another canine analogy came to my mind from an artist whose music I thoroughly enjoy: Beady Belle. This analogy had not sat well with me when I first heard it in her song, "Drawback". I thought it sounded a bit too subversive and dangerously unyielding in attitude, as I had just returned from my mission, where I was notorious for being a 100% obedience missionary. The lyrics are as follows:

When somebody tied my poor dog up
I found that I was totally stuck

I trained him not to let out a yelp
That's why he didn't get any help

Nobody came to help in October
Nobody came to help in November
My dog was praiseworthy, quiet and sober
So nobody came to help in December

So he laid down now on the doorstep and died
And I'm still sitting here all tied up inside

That's the dark side of obedience
That's the dark side of obedience

Now I believe the truth is found somewhere between these two analogies. Not just regarding religious principles or the "mormon experience", but for life in general. I'm not sure I favor one over the other. They're both true, yet they're both incomplete, and my mind jumped into gear with thoughts and questions sparked when the two were suddenly juxtaposed.

Isn't it interesting how we oversimplify life to draw analogies that fit our own perspective? In many cases, I think life is, indeed, simpler than we care to make it out to be. In other cases, I think we oversimplify to defend our own narrow perspectives, especially when trying to force everyone into the same tunnel vision.

Don't get me wrong, simple analogies can have their place, but there's most often simply more to it.