For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

- Mosiah 3:19

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Authentic Being

A wise Maori Scholar observed, "A truly educated person is not one who knows a bit about everything, or everything about something, but one who is truly in touch with his centre. He will be in no doubt about his convictions, about his view on the meaning and purpose of life, and his own life will show a sureness of touch that stems from inner clarity. This is true wisdom." This constitutes the "authentic being."

I have come to realize lately that I have lost touch with my center. As a matter of fact, I don't think I ever was in touch with it. As a result, my life has been one of in-authenticity; I am in inauthentic being.

Recent events in my life have suggested to me how helpless I really am. The prophet Mormon notes, "O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth." (Helaman 12:7) It turns out for me to be authentic, to be on touch with my center, I had to be humbled; such that I had to see that I am nothing - and in that state of nothingness, I am completely powerless without God.

I had been working on curbing my sexual desires; yet, the deeper yearnings of fulfillment and need called loudly. I struggled with allowing the feelings to pass. Yet, how do you allow a deep natural feeling to be intimately connected with a man pass? This deep need for fulfillment called loudly. Naturally, my brain assumed I could find that connection in random hook-ups. I gave in to two things on Saturday: 1) I gave in to my deep need for emotional connection (yet I looked for it in unholy places), 2) I gave into the carnal desires. The satiation of my carnality, I told myself, would bring the fulfillment I longed for. That experience was empty.

After that experience I talked with my Bishop and he explained to me that it changes how he will approach me. But he also told me to build up my defenses. The strange thing is, I did not feel the remorse, shame, or pain. I knew that I intellectually violated an eternal law, but I did not feel the weight of that violation on my moral senses. I struggled with church on Sunday, but I adopted a happy and cheery demeanor; I tried to be happy I was in church - truth is, it was torturous. But I endured. My body desired again to feel the warm of man's touch, the safety of his arms. After all, the spiritual arms of Heaven are so fleeting and in my state not comforting, as least to my physical senses.

Tuesday afternoon, I struggled again. I yearned deeply for that connection. I went back and gave in the carnal touch of man. Again, it was not fulfilling. Somehow, I tell myself I can find that connection in my behavior. I can't. It wasn't until then, that I came to realize how deeply and utterly powerless I am over my own carnal lust (in all its forms). It was then that I realized how distant I was from God.

Today, as I reflected on where I'm at, I had to be honest with myself and admit that I may not really know who God is. I have to face the painful reality that my struggled has hindered my ability to come to know God. I asked myself who do I think God wants me to be, this is opposed to who God wants me to be. In this exercise I discovered I have a very unhealthy relationships with God:

I think God wants me to be perfect. God wants me to have this experience so I can tell others about it. But He wants me perfect, to be successful, to be wealthy, to be kind, to be giving. He wants me to completely overcome my addictions and my attractions to men – He doesn’t expect me to be healed, but He expects me to become rigidly obedient and completely submissive to His will. He expects me to sacrifice everything to Him. He expects me to blindly follow the guidance of my church leaders, even when I feel they are clueless. He wants me to conform to the societal norm prevalent in the church. God wants me stop being me and become Him.

It’s hard for me to stop being me, first because I don’t even really know who I am, and then he wants me to give that up? I suppose in this I’ve been harboring resentment toward God. I’ve been resenting this for so long. Why would God create me as I am then never allow me to experience the real me and then tell me to give that up and become Him? I don’t even know who I am. I never experienced me, so how am I even give that up? I want to experience me. I want to know me. Yet he’s asking me to be Him. He’s asking me to stop being gay, to stop having these feelings of attractions, He’s asking me to stop acting out, He’s asking me to start loving, to start serving. He sees my flaws and insists on pointing them out to me. God wants me to be like Him because he’s flawless, and I am flawed. But He continually reminds me that I’m flawed. God tells me that I’m flawed everyday. God wants me to be like the Elder's Quorum President,to be like my Bishop, to be like the successful guys my age, with families, faith, and success. But I look to these men and constantly falling short. As a result, I feel God continually asks me to be someone I’m not.

But I’m coming to realize I don’t even know who I am. I feel God is distant from me, that He’s not interested in my life. That He’s taken a back seat to watch the “Enduring Show.” I think God wants me to someone I’m not, I think he wants me to be like Bishop, the other guys in the Elder's Quorum with families and kids, the Stake President. I feel like God wants me to be them and not me. Perhaps God wants me to be white middle-class, conservative, and pro-capitalist.

I am coming to realize I don’t know what God wants of me, I don’t know what God wants me to be. I suppose I think God wants me to be like the other guys, He wants me to be married and accept that my life is awful, but be happy about it. He wants me to accept the fact that I’m gay, but live like I’m not. He wants me to deny my experience and cultural background and be like a white-middle class Utah guy. He wants me to be smart but not too smart, He wants me to be happy, but His idea of happiness is the Utah notion of happiness. I suppose in the end, I really don’t know what God wants me to be. This is what I think He wants me to be. Because I can’t be the Elder's Quorum President or the Bishop, I feel like a failure. Because I’m attracted to the same sex and do not have children and am not married, I feel like I’ve failed God. I feel like I have not lived up to what He thinks I should be. This is making me forlorn, bereft, helpless really. What have I done to myself. All my life I’ve compared myself to others, holding others up as what God wants me to be.

I carry the shame of not living up to what I think God wants me to be. How do I heal this shame. Perhaps part of it is adopting a correct view of God. I continue acting out because I have a false relationship with God. When I do not live up to those expectations I feel shame, and thus I want to act out to cover that shame and not feel the pain that comes from that shame. I don’t want to tell people that this is how I see God, because it’s shameful.

These are my thoughts of God. It was sobering to realize how bereft of God I really am, how I have this intellectual and theological understanding of who God is, as kind, loving, patient, compassionate. Yet, the real notion of God is what I've described. I do not know God. In my knowledge of God I am helpless, no wonder it took so long for me know how to admit my powerlessness and my own nothingness. Because admitting I am nothing presumes that I have faith in God. I am beginning to develop faith, this faith comes from a correct view of God, not only in my mind, but in my core. Understanding and knowing God in my core produces an authentic life, the authentic being. I have distanced myself from my center. Now comes the hard work of realigning my center to God.

1 comment:

  1. Profound feelings. Simply writing out these thoughts is hopefully therapeutic. We need to begin with accepting ourselves and understanding that God loves us even when we fall short of what we perceive he would have us do. As a father myself, I don't know that I've ever been disappointed or ashamed of my kids. I just hurt for them when they hurt. I think God must feel somewhat similarly. He sometimes must hurt to see how we suffer and how hard we are on ourselves.