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

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Forgiveness and the Bishop

Things yet again become terribly confusing. Yesterday, I met with my therapist and broke down, confusion seems to reign in my mind. The "damn it" principle is alive and well. But as I continue to practice surrender, things certainly don't become less confusing, they simply become more manageable. I've been sober now for 35 days. I want to pride myself on that, taking credit for that, but the reality is I know it's a gift from God. I thank Him for that gift.

 I've met someone, as we continue to see each other he wants to do more, but I am coming to prize my sobriety more and more. I like how I feel sexually sober. I used to tie sobriety to a commitment to honor covenants of God. This coupling caused me such distress and was terribly difficult for me to undo. But I have, or am practicing undoing, as it has enabled my sobriety.

 Well the above is simply an update...I went to church this past Sunday and while the topic was about priesthood in the home (I'll leave aside the numerous critiques of that), the sermon being preached in my head was of forgiveness. My sponsor told me that forgiveness is "letting go of the hope of a better past." I sat in the pew with such a distressed heart, not because of the weighty matters about me and my place in the church, but rather because of my un-Christlike behavior.

For whatever reason, though not quoted in any talk, the scripture, "pray for those that despitefully use you" came to mind. I sat and realized, that while I've been deeply hurt by the words of my Bishop, while there may be singular instances of certain things said, there were also consistent things said over the course of my counsel with him that were deeply painful. I sat there in the pew contemplating the words of my sponsor and felt a stirring inside of me amid the deep heaviness. I looked at my Bishop recognizing his imperfections (whatever they may be) all the while struggling to fully owning mine.

Yet, I was still not ready to act upon the spiritual stirrings. All I was reminded was of the pain caused by his words over the period of our counsel, my frame started to shake, tears of pain welled up in my eyes, and an intense fear overcame me. I put my head down to hopefully not be noticed after the service. He approached me, and in my feeble attempt to be civil, I coldly acknowledged him. I left church feeling more heavy from that interaction.

While I am not offended, I am deeply hurt. I contemplated why there was such pain, my therapist reminded me that John Bradshaw explained in Healing the Shame that Binds You, "Sexuality is the core of human selfhood. Our sex is not something we have or do; it is is who we are. It's the first thing we notice about each other. Sexuality is a basic fact in all created things...Our sexual energy (libido) is our unique incarnation of the life force itself. To have our sex drive shame is to be shame to the core." It is this that happened repeatedly in the interactions with my Bishop. While he may not be cognizant of it, it nonetheless occurred, and seeing him reminds me of that deep shaming.

My therapists affirmed that that type of shaming occurs often with gay members counseling with Priesthood leaders. He explained to me that is why I have such fear. Regardless of the fear, I knew the Christian thing to do was to ask for forgiveness for my cold reception and resistance to my Bishops attempts at friendship and fellowship. So despite how painful it was, I sent him an email to ask for forgiveness for my coldness, it was awkwardly worded. It is civil, it is Christian, and while I may still have trouble accepting his friendship for fear of more shaming, I will practice letting go. I will even practice letting go of my Bishop owning the consequences of his actions.

Doing so will enable my sobriety, and so I practice.

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