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

Monday, April 25, 2011

Surrendering Fear

A wise friend once said fear stands for "F%*& Everything And Run." I think I kinda like that sentiment, given that I'm coming to realize that I'm afraid of everything. I run in so many ways, most often it takes the form of escape from my emotions or situations, either through fantasy (both sexual and nonsexual), movies (I tend to watch a lot of movies), or my work (people tell me I may be a workaholic). Rarely do I confront my emotions and say, "OK this is fear, this is sadness, this is joy," and just allow myself to feel it and let it pass. Once I have these feelings I tend to want to mask or agitate them; for me, there has been one way to do both: sex with self or others.

Being gay, I'm coming to realize, has little connection to my sexual acting out, rather the acting out is merely a symptom of me not knowing how to properly process being gay, while striving to remain faithful. There is a lot of shame involved. A lot! I ignored two phone calls from my parents yesterday (because of shame); they know about my struggle to remain faithful. I try not to think about how life would be without the possibility of a loving relationship with a man, but this often overwhelms me and so I seek an escape, or I run.

But the thing is I keep coming back to what I feel matters most. I can't deny the spiritual feelings. I can't. And so, I try with some effort to surrender my fears to God. But the reality is I've been afraid my whole life - afraid of failure, afraid of not measuring up, afraid of succeeding, afraid of mediocrity, afraid of the status quo, afraid of marriage, afraid of being alone, and so forth. These fears have shaped who I am today. I have been able to rely on them for so long, like good friends they've always been there with constancy.

As I now try to approach God, it's tremendously difficult surrendering my fears to Him. Especially the fear of being alone - this fear has given me license to justify leaving the church entirely. But sacrifices are necessary, they sanctify (at least I'm told).

So a surrendering I go.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Arms of Comfort

This past week, while filled with some great insights, has been difficult. I've been flirting with danger and disaster. I've been toying with the idea of cuddling with some guy - but the reality is I know I won't just cuddle. But I've been thinking about it.

Last weekend, I made several connections and was ready to go through, but then had this salvific thought - "If you go through with this the probability of you being excommunicated increases." This was a sobering thought. I stopped. But then decided that I'd do the "safer" thing and masturbate and look at porn. And so I did.

But the desire to be held did not leave. This week, I've been plagued with this idea, and to escape that idea, I simply reverted back to porn and sex with self. Obviously, there is something deeper going on. I realized that I don't want to visit home, see or talk with my parents. I ignore their phone calls. I'm not really sure why. I told them about being gay, and they responded in love. Yet for whatever reason that feels uncomfortable to me. I'm going to visit my brother and his family this weekend, and I feel anxious as well. Perhaps that's the stress. I'm not sure.

But the idea of being needed, the desire to be held by a man is so overwhelming. I wonder where my strength is to just deal with reality. Reality is hard. But I continue to pray; despite my travails, I know God is there.

I made several phone calls to friends this morning trying to be honest with myself and my feelings. It feels good to do so.

Perhaps I can finally focus on writing this behemoth of a dissertation!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I feel quite detached from things that matter. Lately I've been wondering why keep going. But at least I recognize this feelings of being detached from the consequences of my behavior.

This past week has been a real struggle. There has been a lot of stress and anxiety, as a result, I turned back to pornography and masturbation as a way to cope. Probably not the best thing for my spiritual development, but it may be better than seeking out an anonymous encounter as I'm prone to do.

It's amazing that even in the midst of my wrestle with obedience, that the Lord still sees fit to bless me. He truly does seek after me.

Yesterday I went back to the temple to explain to God why I was not able to keep the covenant I made a week earlier. While I reflected on my week, I realize how much grace and mercy Father extended toward me. I realize then how much God does actually love me, amid this realization I broke down and wept. Despite my trouble keeping a simple covenant the Lord continued to bless me! I was at the moment truly in awe. Truly!

While I still do want a deep and intimate connection with a man, I realized that I could not find happiness in that relationship. Unless that relationship was within the bounds the Lord set. But then again, I have resolved to sacrifice any all relationships from here on out. I suppose as I work on sacrifice and giving all I am to God, completely surrender, then perhaps in His infinite mercy he'll give me something back.

But I do know and say with confidence that God loves me. Before it was merely an acknowledged idea in my mind, as I progressively yield to God, I am coming to know with a certain clarity that He loves me. The more I feel and understand that love, perhaps the more I'll be able to trust Him.

I can only hope.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Covenant Making and Breaking

Covenants have become fragile things for me. They must be handle with care, otherwise, in my clumsy hands distracted mind I end up breaking them.

I met with my Bishop and Stake President this past weekend; it was in those visits that Father made something very clear to me. But I don't think I would've been ready for it had I not been attentive during General Conference, there Father reminded me that I can only be healed through Priesthood Keys. So as I sat with my Bishop, he told me that I should go to the Temple and absorb the ineffable spirit that attends the place (for me it has always just been a nice place, not ineffable...but then again, I realize I don't know much, so the things of God appear foolish to the neophyte...or something to that effect.) I later met with the Stake President, in his counsel to me, much was incoherent gibberish, but then he stated with clarity, even sharpness, "go to the temple and let it serve you." He said the temple is a template for our lives.

When I heard this, the message was clear: God wanted me to go to the temple, for what, well I think I'm coming to understand. My prayers with God have been going well, I just have to trust that He's there and He's listening compassionately. While I don't quite feel like I know Him, at least, the communication line is open, really for the first time, and it feels good. So I went to the temple yesterday and just sat in my car with full view of the temple and its grounds. In my impatience, I blurted out, "OK Father, I'm here! Now what?"

As I sat there, I had a very distinct impression to make a covenant. It was a simple covenant. And so I did, I covenanted that I would not get on Craigslist for any reason for a week. I was on Craigslist the day before and got tickets for Cut Copy for me and a friend. While on Craigslist, my addict started up wanting to cruise the ads, but I didn't. So in the shadow of the temple, I covenanted with God that I would not get onto Craigslist for any reason. I felt good about it.

As I have had time to reflect on this, Father recognizes how clumsy I am with covenants. In the presence of the temple, He is teaching me how to make and keep covenants. I'm grateful for a tutoring, mentoring, loving Father. I will continue to talk with Him as I do my very best friend!

Friday, April 8, 2011

A fresh view about God

Are ye stripped of pride? I told Father this morning that a desire remains to be with a man: emotionally, spiritually, and physically. The desire remains. For years I oft pretended I knew who God was; I read the scriptures, really I did. I prayed and fasted, really! I studied church publications, searching to understand God. But I was looking for a God that would conform to my expectations! The desire of wanting to be with a man hindered my full view of God. I saw God through the lens of that desire.

It was not until recently that I have recognized that I don't really know God. I know He's there, but I don't really know Him. Acknowledging that I do not know Him is humbling, I had to put away everything I thought I knew, all the theories of His character I could recite, I had to put away. As I do, I continually feel vulnerable, but I am able to speak to God again, for the first time.

As I have talked with Father, I simply trust that as I continue to talk with Him, I will come to know Him. This is the fresh view about God. I trust that as I continue to talk with Him, and study the scriptures that in some way the balm of gilead will be applied. Does that mean I will not have the desires to be with a man? I don't know.

All I know is I can step into the dark, trusting God knows what's there.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Running the Race

My conversations with Heavenly Father are getting better. For the longest time, I always approached prayer in a very formal way, using the proper "holy" pronouns (thee, thou, thine), while this does bring a degree of reverence and respect to prayers, it somehow got in the way of building a personal relationship with Father.

Yesterday morning, I climbed out of bed and dropped to my knees and said "Heavenly Father, Good Morning!" While it felt somewhat out of place, it also felt I was able to connect to Father at a more personal level.

Last night I talked with Father as I would a dear friend, fumbling over my words, having half baked ideas trailing off to nothing. I recall once someone tell me their relationship with Father was like that of an old "buddy." That intrigued me. My relationship with God has either been predicated on a belief of his exacting and demanding nature or on nothing at all. Approaching Him as a Father of love who I can be a buddy with is hope filled. I am coming to know God for the first time.

This morning I talked about how difficult it will be for me to know that I will not ever have a relationship with a man (in terms of loving companionship), but that I place my trust in Him, hoping that it will work out.

I think of Abraham and his sacrifice, I think of the sacrifice of so many, then I think of the simple and profound faith of Adam: "Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me."

While I certainly don't know the range of reasons (or any really) as to why Father allows some of His children to experience homosexual attractions, the reality is at the core it is a question of faith.

I arrive at this same conclusion eleven years after my mission, but this time, with a new perspective of God, not a God constructed by intellectual study, but rather a God I don't know, but trust. Adam's faith was so simple and so profound, I strive for this level of trust in God. I hope to one day say, "I know not, save the Lord commanded me" in all things He asks of me. I do not need to know the "why" to receive the blessings of obedience.

I did tell Father this morning, that walking away from a life with a man, feels like grieving the death of an old friend. I yearn to be with at old friend, but know it can't be.

I am a novice runner, while I've been going to the gym for some time, the running portion is new. I committed some time ago to run a half-marathon. I feel like my life toward Heaven is a race (I know this is an old over-used metaphor, but indulge me, since I'm new to running, it makes even more sense). I had my first long run on Saturday, I nearly gave up the last quarter-mile. But I focused, and it took every ounce of strength I had to put one leg in front of the other, without losing momentum. I finished the run with a new best for minutes per mile. I felt great, but the last quarter-mile was so arduous, but I continued, trusting I could finish. So I trust the process of repentance, though I don't really know God, all I know of Him now is that I can trust Him. This is sufficient for me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Being Made Straight

For the past ten or so years I've avoided directly gazing my attractions to men in the eyes; for better or worse, avoiding that gaze kept me "safe." But I've come to realize that to move forward, I must look my attractions in the eyes and accept that I am gay.

In the ten years or so, I've come across all sorts of tenuous research that suggests people can be made straight (or that their sexual attractions to men diminish and then cease to exist); others tell me they no longer have those attractions; others tell me that it's behavior that can be un-learned or un-conditioned. While I do not doubt their claims, their experience is not generalizable, and frankly seems absurd.

I have learned that for me, I will always be sexually attracted to me, that my desires for love will be for love with another man. Yet, I can still be healed. Not healed in the sense that some organizations suggest, that my attractions will diminish, if I but make friends with other straight men. That by so doing, I de-mystify the masculine (this sounds ridiculous, at least to me). But I suppose for others, it works.

This weekend, I was reminded what healing looks like for me: "Sometimes a 'healing' cures our illness or lifts our burden. But sometimes we are 'healed' by being given strength or understanding or patience to bear the burdens placed upon us."

If I am to be healed, I believe the healing comes from being given the strength to endure my life in the church without fulfilling the desires of my heart (a life with a man); my healing will come from being endowed with an understanding of blessings that come from sacrifice, from an understanding of my role in God's plan; my healing will come from patience from heaven in the midst of struggles of doubt and uncertainty, and indeed in the midst of overwhelming lust.

While I believe in a God of miracles, I think the miracle for me, will be God endowing me with power to endure faithfully the moments of uncertainty and doubt. While I don't doubt God could make me heterosexual, I don't think He will; rather He will come to my aid in other ways.

I am gay and that experience will shape my eternal identity.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Strengthening the Feeble Knees

The past few weeks have been transformative (I think...). General Conference was a chance to feel God's chastisement and reminders of who I am. While it was painful, I was nonetheless grateful. Heavenly Father told me that I have more faith than I think I have; that if I want to know Him more, then love Him and serve others. I suppose, while it's hard to do so, I will allow myself to serve others and find ways to be obedient! Obedience certainly is difficult, but I will do even though I don't understand. I think I'm coming to understand what simple faith looks like.

I talked my Bishop about where I'm at today, and he responded by telling me that I've made progress, even though I can't see it myself. I am still working on submitting myself to the process of repentance, I realize going to Gethsemane and back is simply not about abstaining from behavior, but rather about touching the pain of the Savior and trudging the lonely path of suffering. I think I'm ready. Gethsemane will change me, but I'm still filled with trepidation about journeying the path to Gethsemane; but I know it's the only way to "come unto the Jesus." My Bishop was pleased and asked to meet on Sunday. I'm looking forward to it. I will be meeting with the Stake President on Sunday as well. Priesthood power will make me happy and usefully whole, at least I trust it will.

Yesterday, I received a blessing from a guy from my Elder's Quorum. I felt I could share my struggle with him and did so. I met him at church after the Sunday morning session yesterday, we found an empty room and I offered a prayer, before the blessing. After the prayer, he put his hands on my head and gave me a powerful blessing. He communicated to me the following words from Heaven: "hang on a little longer." I felt comforted and felt the desire of Heaven on my behalf. After the blessing, he hugged me and pulled me tight against him and wept, I wanted to pull away. Afterward we talked a bit, then he gave me another hug. This time, I pulled him closer to me and wept tears of gratitude and felt a release of doubt; I felt at that moment that I was embracing the Savior. He held me tight and told me he loved me. I felt complete in that moment (however fleeting it was). After the blessing he put his arm around me and walked me out of the building. I appreciated that and am grateful for his worthiness and love.

It's a relief to know others are concerned about me and are willing to serve me.

On a different note, I'm training for a half marathon and it's killing me....

Saturday, April 2, 2011

General Conference and Battefields

I woke up this morning, with a degree of trepidation. I went to my morning meeting, came home and made breakfast. I turned on General Conference, not really knowing what it was I was seeking for. But I started to listen, there was then an overwhelming feeling of wanting to start trolling Craigslist for some anonymous connection, which I insist will fill a deep and intimate void and need.

As I continued to listen, it occured to me that the old (or recently old) feeling of being inadequate, a failure, and not worthy of reaching an ideal I imposed on myself and projected onto the General Authorities came back. As I listened to the Apostle speak, I could not help but feel that I would never live up to the ideal he spoke of, and that feeling of inadequacy and worthlessness needed to be medicated. It was this that led to thoughts of wanting to find an anonymous encounter to numb the pain; somehow I was thinking that an empty cuddling, kissing, and oral sex would give me the fulfillment I needed, or felt I needed.

But the reality is, my memory is so short. Those actions deaden the soul, as I heard from someone else. How quickly I forget. However, I'm grateful, I did not forget the battlefield.

When I sought out an anonymous encounter about two weeks ago, a precursor to that was getting on Gay news sites, and Craigslist. I recognize that these websites, and other activities are my battlefields. If i get on the battlefield, I will lose - always!

Since the last fall, I have not opened any gay news sites, or Craigslist. Even now, thinking of them brings a rush of emotions, and chemicals I'm sure that excite me - a pavolian response, I'm sure. But I recognize that I will eventually lose the battle, if I dabble, even if I think I'm strong enough - I'm not!

While it's not about avoiding these things, it's about not fighting against it. I am learning how to let these emotions that would naturally elicit a desire for an anonymous connection, just stew and pass through me. This is reality I'm experiencing for the first time. I'm not fighting, I'm now just experiencing.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My name is Enduring and I'm a sex addict

The first time I uttered that expression was hard. Every part of me resisted its utterance. But I did. At some level I always knew that. My attractions to men and the shame I attached to those attractions (growing up in the church), contributed my sex addiction.

My sex addiction did not cause my attractions, and my attractions did not cause my addictions, though they are correlated. One brings shame, pain, and loneliness; the other tries to medicate that pain, to cover the shame, and fill the void of loneliness.

I am completely and utterly powerless over lust in all its forms. I became painfully aware of this fact a week ago when I last sought out anonymous sex. A week prior, my brother was coming to visit to ordain my nephew to the Melchizedek Priesthood. I was started to feel stress because I knew I could not participate. The last my brother knew, I was a Temple Worker. I fretted over the visit and schemed of how I could get out of it, without having to tell him.

He came with his family, I spent the day with them, but was stressing over this the entire day. They left me alone in the afternoon, so I could work. I couldn't I nerved over what to do, it was a feeling of being alone, a feeling of being ostracized, a feeling of being abandoned, a feeling of despair. In the those feelings, I got online and started to view harmless images of men. The last I had engaged in anything sexual was a month and half before. The images are harmless to most people, but not to me. I realized I went there to escape from my feelings, to allow myself to fantasize of a life with a man, and how much better my life would be...

I did not stop this feeling, it continued to gain momentum. The next day (Sunday), I tried my best to be late to church so I would miss the ordination, but they waited for me. I unfortunately participated, because of my ego. This produced more shame and guilt. That night I started viewing youtube movies of images that were trigerring for me only. I realize I was doing this to cover my guilt, to escape from it. I stopped and went to bed. That whole week was one escalation after another. On Friday, I had made contact with people on Craigslist and was setting up appointments. But I called people in my program who helped talk me back to sanity. The next day (a week after my brother's visit), I made contact with a guy. After it happened I called people to tell them what I did, as part of trying to not do it again.

I sought out this encounter to numb the pain, to feel the warmth of a man's touch (thinking somehow that would be fulfilling - it wasn't). However, shaking the lust within was hard. On Tuesday I sought out another encounter. It was this encounter that allowed me to see how powerless I really was, but also how much shame I had about being attracted to me. My distorted view of God represented much of that shame, my distorted view of others and myself represented more of that shame.

I have made contact with this person and set up a time to meet. After that email was finished, I called people in my program telling them what i was going to do. As I was driving, I was telling them "I'm on the road" "I'm pulling in to the parking lot." Yet, I was completely powerless. My ability to choose on my own seem paralyzed, I had tunnel vision, I was desperately seeking some help or intervention, but I had lost my ability to think rationally, logically, and my ability to choose was severely weakened.

I ended that encounter realizing that I was defeated completely and utterly. I realized how I had used these encounters to fill the void of loneliness, to cover my pain, resentment, anger, frustration, lack of confidence, and so forth. I had never allowed myself to feel. That sounds odd, but I never allowed myself to feel pain and to allow it pass through me. I was always searching for a means to escape from pain - my way, however, has been through masturbation, pornography, webcamming, and now anonymous encounters.

It is painful to admit how powerless and unmanageable my life has become. Yet, in all this I was searching for love, for someone to love me completely and deeply in profound and intimate ways. Yet, I sought this out in my compulsive behavior. Allowing myself to feel for the first time has taught me that I am not really who I thought I was for the past 32 years.

I am coming to know God again for the first time. It's scary and painful, but extremely hopeful.

While I know my attractions to men will probably never leave, I'm excited by the prospect of accepting the fact my yearnings for fulfillment can be filled in healthy and holy ways.