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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Becoming my father

I received an email from my dad the other day. It is clearly evident he loves me. I have kept him apprised of my situation and progress (or lack thereof). His note was compassionate and caring, but also firm. I think for the first time I am having a real conversation with my dad about me, speaking undiluted truth from me to him - it's a little scary, but it feels good. I implicitly trust him; he is careful in what he says. He measures his words, thinks before he speaks, and speaks truth sharply but with great love. I've seen that repeated over and over with my brothers and sisters, with extended family who come to him for counsel and with others who approach him for advice.

I love my father and hope one day to be like him. He is intelligent, hard working, kind, loving, compassionate, creative, tender, gentle, firm, faithful, a sharp critical thinker, and empathetic. When I think of a person who is righteous, I think of my father. He has trials but pushes through them with a remarkable child-like faith in God, while still maintaining a critical eye of the institutions that shape human behavior. I admire him, love him, and miss him. I feel like I'm coming to know him (like my Father in Heaven) for the first time. For years, while I repressed my feelings and tried to live up to the normative expectations (including the heterosexual injunctions), I failed to connect to my father on a deeply personal level.

Now that I've been able to be open with him and show complete vulnerability. I am able to share with him my deficits in faith and my myopia in seeing own eternal worth and value. While he aches for me in the pain I feel, he desires that I be happy in the eternal sense of the term, though he does understand that at times getting at that perspective often requires some to wade through the mud before they realize it only makes them dirty.

He was incredibly sensitive to the extreme difficulty in the de facto path for me to remain in the church: celibacy. He simply observed that it's a difficult path for anyone to be called to live, that it takes more than simple prayer, scripture study and attending church and a superficial connection to the Atonement. Rather he noted that doing so would be an incredibly difficult daily experience knowing that I could never have what my heart desires, and knowing how difficult it is to maintain that hope in the resurrection, but that each day will be difficult, but that through consistent sincere fasting and surrender to God daily, enabled by kind people of faith who empathize with that difficulty, then perhaps I might be able to honor my covenants.

I love my father, even more now than I ever have. When I grow up I would like to be like him.

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