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, June 30, 2011

Transient Thoughts

As I've participated in online SSA support groups, attended SSA support groups, and interacted with fellows from those groups I'm struck by two things:

1) Self-Hate; and,

2) Denial.

I must however qualify, there are many who are sincere in their journey toward God, many who have embraced their identity as a son of God. These I hold up as examples, sadly most of these have an attenuated presence in these groups.

Let me start with Self-Hate. By this I mean there is a recognition of the attractions to the same sex, and a hatred of those attractions or weakness as some may call it, even me. Let me add another qualifier, I am not exempt from what I'm writing about. Hatred of these attractions, as I am coming to understand, at least for me, is really a significant hatred of one's self. I am coming slowly to believe that these attractions, for whatever reason were "allowed" by God, and therefore have a useful purpose, when done within the boundaries of the Lord. Thus, this "allowance" will shape my eternal identity (at least theoretically, I am still striving to exercise the faith to believe in that eternal realm). I then wonder if God allowed me to have these attractions, they are a part of my mortal identity. It was not a part of my identity in the pre-earth life, but it will have significantly shaped my identity in the eternities to come. Therefore, should I not consider it a gift, and thank God for it? Should I continue to bemoan its presence? Should I hate it and by extension hate me? I'm not sure. But often that's what it feels like I am doing. As a result of my continued refusal to simply accept this as a part of my mortal identity, I am not able to connect to who I really am. I am not able to be authentically be a child of God. Certainly, the identity that deserves primacy is that of being a child of God; and for now I am a child of God who is gay. This I must come to accept; I must accept and surrender to its complexity, to its paradoxical nature, in reality, I must simply learn to love myself as God loves me. I think that last part is significant, because I can't come to know how God loves me, until I first come to know and love Him. I can't love Him when I continue to berate his creation (even in its seeming imperfection).

Second, Denial. This is closely related to self-hatred. I and many other continue to deny their mortal identity, clinging to a purist identity of pre-mortal life. As if mortality has no say in our continued development toward Godhood. One form of denial, as least for me is to continue to cling to the idea that the atonement will diminish the desires I have, that it will completely heal me of all my mortal defects. By heal I mean that I will no longer have these defects. I am coming to sense the atonement is much more diffuse than we think; that its enabling and healing power comes in daily strength to accept the mortal condition and endure. Last night I went to a Pornography Addiction Support Group at the Stake Center, there the focus was on the atonement. The way it was described was that I pray and read my scriptures, and then miraculously I will no longer have the addiction. Yet, I have to realize that the enabling power of the atonement comes from supportive friends who are present and willing to mourn with me, willing to comfort me when I need comforting. It is their constant unconditional friendship that is healing: this, for me, is one of the many means I have been enabled to maintain my sobriety for nearly two months. I tried praying quietly in secret, but it did not seem to work. Denial is dangerous. I am coming to realize I must acknowledge and accept and be present in all my weaknesses and strengths whatever they are, and start the process of deciding whether my weaknesses really are weaknesses. If I refuse to acknowledge and own my attractions, then I never will really know what it means to be me. I think I need to know what it means to be the real me, as that real me has buried deep within germs of Godhood. But getting there, I must acknowledge and accept the mortal me as well.

I'm not really sure what I'm saying, but I've noticed that those who seem most healthy in their relationship to God have accepted and found joy in the God's "allowance." They do not hate themselves, nor do they deny themselves. They've somehow bridged the mortal and eternal. They have found holy ground. I strive to find an stand on that terrain as well.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cheery Disposition

I envy people who have a cheery disposition. My friends tell me I have a permanent furrowed brow and that I intimidate people by my manner and probing gaze. Consequently, my friends tell me they are friends with me only because I approached them and complimented them about something. This being an indication that I'm not perpetually dissatisfied with the world.

Recently, though as I've decided to be willing to yield to God, I'm more happy and cheerful. How strange it is for me to think that, logically, taking steps in the darkness actually brings happiness and contentment. This morning I told God candidly that I have two desires: 1) a life with a man and 2) a life with The Son of Man. I told Him to teach me how to simply let go of both desires and simply focus on today; to be present in the now.

Doing so, I feel at peace again. I'm simply trusting God, despite all the uncertainty around that. I've decided that at this point I must simply be willing to believe; this goes against a lot of what I've been thinking for some time. But I submit. And what I'm learning is that cheer tends to follow.

I may not need to have surgery to fix my permanent furrowed brow, but I can be cheerful, even a-midst uncertainty.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Intrepid Steps, I think

So I have a confession.

I've been meeting this guy regularly for about two months now, going out once or so a week. I've not done anything with him except hold his hand, once while watching a movie. But I keep going back to him. So last time we met (last Saturday), he came over to my home and we watched "True Grit." I received a text from him the next day, "Can I ask you why u didn't cuddle last time I was with you? I thought that was what you wanted....just wonderin." After receiving this text I paused for a long moment and reflected on what I was doing in more ways than one, I seemed to be asking myself the question Father asked Adam, "where art thou?"

Truth is, I pay to hangout with this guy. Crazy! I know. But the intrigue around the potentiality of something happening has me hooked. I ruminated on my predicament and then texted back "Sorry, felt a bit awkward paying for something like that...that's all." Once I sent the text, I realized I was telling the truth. This was an epiphanous moment, I finally feel awkward and ill at the thought of paying for physical touch. Maybe this is progress.

Yet, I am still addicted to the intrigue, the potentiality of something happening. I told the kid (he's 22, I think), that I couldn't meet him anymore. He reacted in a defeated and rejected manner, seeing that I felt bad. But decided for my own sanity and for the sake of repenting completely, it had to come to an end. He simply said, "I understand."

I thought I was over with this phase, then I received a text on Monday asking again why I was not physical with him, I responded in a similar manner, and he responded, "U stress like its a big deal and its not worry too much," I somewhat balked at the reply. I wanted to stop, but again the intrigue. Then he surprises me by shifting the conversation from him to porn, "Well I can help, u wanna pick up a movie? ill put one in a case for you, u can do whatever u want wit it...i wont think anything of you. bud its natural to feel what your feeling...and I understand."

I suppose over the course of the two months and the last time, he picked up on all the energy I was feeling around those visits, he finally came out with it and basically said, "you need a release." True, I do. But not of the sexual kind.

Yesterday, I took a break from my work to go for a walk to clear my head, somehow I ended up in the Institute Director's Office. I talked with him, feeling a little down as to how weak I am. During the course of the conversation he shared with a different take on the Joseph Smith first vision, focusing on the events leading up to the theophany.

The Prophet describes his situation as a "thick darkness" gathering around him, and "at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction...I saw a...light...which descended gradually..."

I felt and continue to feel the darkness gathered around me, those texts are simply illustrative of the thickness of the dark. Yet, I feel strangely hopeful and optimistic that while I don't see much light, it will gradually descend. So I move forward taking small steps into the dark, first by collecting the courage to completely end the bizarre relationship I have with this guy, and second by simply trusting God, even though I can't see farther than the next five minutes. Making this resolve, I feel encouraged and oddly at peace.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Being driven to my knees

So I'm verging on unemployment and my meager savings run out mid-August. Being a grad student can be financially burdensome; especially when potential employers tell you "we are impressed by your experience, the caliber of your expertise, and education; however, this job maybe a bit routine for you." In other words, "you're overqualified." Thus has been my luck. So I get to work on my research, analyzing the data as a means to distract me from portending events that will arise in August.

Interesting that it took this to drive me to my knees. Lately I've been coming to terms with and trying to figure out, as give some meaning to the thoughts I have of being angry with Father. Because of this anger, I have not prayed much, nor have I studied the scriptures. But realizing that I may be homeless come mid-August, I've been driven to my knees. I received an impression to apply for several jobs, and I did, and each one came back with "sorry." At this point I begin to wonder aloud what Father was doing; perhaps he is training me how to trust Him, as I once did.

Last night as I candidly expressed my anger and frustration I received a faint thought: "pay your tithing." I've regularly paid my tithing, but recently since I knew I may not have the finances to sustain myself, I decided to put off paying tithing until after I found a job. But Father is now asking me to pay tithing - if I do this, I will have nothing.

This I can do; it doesn't feel like a sacrifice. And frankly once I felt resolved to do so a strange peace and reassurance overcame me. While I certainly don't know if I will get a job, I know at least Father is with me.

This begs the question in my mind as to why I find it easy to trust God in many of these situations, but I somehow am unable to trust God in His promise of peace and joy in sacrificing my desires to Him. The pattern is there for me to learn from, yet, I find myself still unwilling to trust God with my desires for men. Does trusting Him imply that I will be healed or made straight? Absolutely not. rather for me trusting Him in this matter means never experiencing a healthy relationship with a man. This is a desire I seem unwillingly to give up, somehow thinking that the fulfillment from that relationship is something that God cannot offer. Silly, I know. But still I insist on my distrust.

However, this experience of unemployment has driven me to my knees, and allowed me to approach Father in a more humble fashion (though I'm still angry), but, at least, I am talking with Him. In ten days I will decide again whether or not I will choose to remain in the church, but for now I am doing my best to be committed.

Oh yeah, one last thing, I run my first half marathon on Saturday - 13.1 miles here I come. I decided today that I will run a full marathon before June 2012.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


So I'm obsessed with Abraham. Yesterday, I took the missionaries out to lunch, they think I'm this worthy, wise, spiritual guy. I try to tell them I'm not, but they tell me how modest and humble I am, I can't win. So I tried another tactic and told them about my struggles and thoughts I've had for months about leaving the church, they didn't believe me.

So during lunch, the missionaries as they tend to do, ask me doctrinal questions, crazy questions really, like "when did Jesus get ordained to the Priesthood?" I simply remind them, the point of their mission is to bring people to Christ, not to speculate. Anyhow, one missionary asked in a serious and somber tone, "Brother X, how do you deal with people who don't believe in God?"

I sat back and pondered for a moment and decided to share with them my own journey to discover God. As I related the story, I felt a confirmation that God was real; it was a good reminder. Later one asked about obedience, and I related to them the story of Abraham. Abraham has become my hero of late. I feel, at times, obedience is like giving up something really great for something really miserable. Certainly, Abraham may have felt so, but I think he didn't. He knew God: be knew he was real, but also had faith in his character, timing, mercy, grace, love, etc... He had 120 years of developing that faith, I've only had 32 (plus or minus a few).

Abraham. At the moment he was willing to sacrifice all, God gave it all back. I'm trying to be willing to sacrifice. I suppose now I need to pray.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Being Present in the Loneliness...

So I've heard it said more than three times in the last month and a half. First from my therapist, then from a friend about two weeks after, then two days ago from another friend: step in to and be present in the loneliness. My therapists added, "no matter how shitty it feels..."

Indeed. Today is shitty. I've decided to step into the loneliness. Before any inkling of feeling lonely, I'd seek out pornography, escape to the movies, cruise Craigslist, or any number of other things. But not this week.

I've repeatedly told myself today and yesterday, just experience the loneliness, be present in it. It's a fine line not slipping into despair; my thoughts have ranged from thinking this is how it'll be for the rest of my mortal like if I remain in the church to "if I only endure it well..".

But I tend to dwell more on the fact that this may be a precursor to my life in the church, learning to endure well my lonely life. My Bishop wants me to pray for a vision of my future, he thinks I don't have the proper desires to have a family and wife. That if I could just capture a glimpse of a my future life with a wife and kids, I'd have a desire to change and stay in the church.

I think he's missing the point. It's not that I don't have a desire for these things, I do, but there's pain connected to the reality of that coming to past. It's better for me to simply accept a single life in the church than to build up any sense of hope for things that may never be.

But I try not to dwell on that, right now, I simply have to remind myself that this intense loneliness I feel is temporary and "it too shall pass."

And so I wait, being present in shitty-ness.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Moving Forward

As I sat in my therapist's office, I unloaded about my Bishop and how I feel I've become a "cautionary tale," a story of what not to do. But I suppose this is the consequence of my behavior. There is still no word on a Disciplinary Council, it has now been almost a year and still nothing.

My Bishop called the other day, I looked at the phone and thought about ignoring the call, but answered. He asked how I was doing, I told him "OK." He seemed content with that, but I did not let him off that easy. I told him that I had not been reading the scriptures or praying for about a week, to which he quickly responded, "So you're not feeling the spirit." I replied, "Well honestly, I feel quite happy and content. I'm not sure I can tell the difference between how happy I feel now and the times when I had the spirit." He did not have a quick reply. I then added, "not to suggest there's a correlation to not reading the scriptures and feeling happy." He seemed to agree with that sentiment.

But I've decided that I can be single and celibate for a month, July 1st, I can decide if I would like to do that again. My therapist told me to break it down in to manageable time periods. Before, I thought "the only way I know how to stay in the church is to choose to be celibate for the rest of my life." My therapist agreed with the underlying logic, but said to break it down. And so for the month on June, I am single, celibate, and choose to be happy.

Now if I can just muster up the strength to read the scriptures.