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
Friday, May 25, 2012
Being free - released from expectations - is interesting. It is still disorienting, yet, I'm finding some measure of comfort in that disorientation. I'm, as my therapist says, leaning into it and simply being present in that disorientation. I think for the first time I am coming to meet me, the real me is finally coming through. This is both exciting and frightening. For so long the real me has been covered, conditioned even, by the need to live up to the expectations I felt others had of me: friends, church, God, family, colleagues, etc...Somehow my mother saying, "If you choose to leave the church, we understand," was a resounding emancipatory declaration. It removed the need to live up to those expectations (which in reality may have never been there, but were the motives for my action).
I thought it'd be freeing in the sense, that I'd finally feel like leaving the church behind would come so much easier, that the anonymous sex would be less guilt ridden, and that I'd be able to freely engage in it without the guilt associated with it. And I did so twice since my mother told me three weeks ago. I wonder, of course about contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS - I have always been safe in my encounters, but there is always that concern in the back of my mind, and so I get tested. But this addiction is intense, and still leads me to do things I would otherwise not do or otherwise not want to do. As much as I try to abstain, the pain of life often becomes too much to bear and I use the addiction to medicate me being a full participant in reality. Yet, I know these experiences are empty, and highly risky. Despite this fact, it seems that Providential design is fully operational.
Two weeks ago a good friend of mine from my undergrad years told me he is HIV positive. We were freshman together, we served our missions at the same time, after the mission we embarked on slightly different lives: he embraced the fact that he was gay and slowly slipped away from the church, I cleaved to the church, putting myself to some very unhealthy therapy (recommended by Evergreen) and lived periods of technical worthiness. We had lost contact for some years, and recently I sought him out. We connected and had a very long discussion, laughing and crying in our reminiscing. He then asked how I was doing, I told him about my going "wild" which I'm finding out my version of "wild" is rather tame for most gay men. He then told me about his story of contracting HIV and how he has dealt with it. I was obviously saddened, but at the same time, my attention was quickened to the fact that all it takes is one "reckless" move in my addiction to put me at high risk.What I took away from my friend, who seems more grounded than me, was simply that being present and coming to embrace you is so important, the you that God knows, the you that you don't know. That you inside is covered by all the expectations, norms, etc you have about yourself and that possess you. I did not act out that night nor the next night as I reflected on my friend.
Again, in the past two days, I met someone who is charming, kind, intelligent, compassionate and causes butterflies to flutter inside, and as we chatted, he told me he is HIV positive. He shared with me his blog, as I read his blog I started to wonder and reflect again about myself and my relationship to God. This charming man and his story penetrated me, enlivening the potential consequences of my addictive behavior. As I read his story and wait to talk with him over coffee (I'll drink an herbal tea), I am struck by his deep presence, his authenticity, his submission to the will of the universe, and his humility. He noted something in his story of coming to discover him and come to know him. Coming to that required sacrificing and surrendering everything he thought he knew about himself, and allow that surrender to help him discover himself.
I thought to myself, there are very few people in the church that are that grounded, that present, they are so caught up in the requirement of technical worthiness before God that it's difficult for them to be them. I think I lived my life in the church that way for so long. And I can't believe I'm writing this, but thank God for giving me this addiction to allow me to see things as they really are.
Oh by the way, I've been tested and am negative.