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, January 28, 2013

Celestial Confusion...

Yesterday I went to church. It was like any other time, insulated from Priesthood, callings, and other responsibilities of "spiritual ministering." I was content, I had drawn a line around the source of my shame, and spoke (as much as I could) truth to power - even if it was my truth. Doing so allowed me to endure, tolerate, abide, and eventually enjoy church again. In church, but out of reach of "spiritual" ministering. It was a good deal, as I still have a copy of letter of resignation on my desktop and still make a deal with God to take it one month at a time. Yet that changed yesterday.

I was asked to go to the Stake President's Office. All I could think of was, "this is it, here comes the official invitation for disciplinary measures.:" I walked in the office and was given a calling - I was asked to serve in the Stake Sunday School Presidency. I was shocked. I reviewed my past, "You know I'm a recovering sex addict? You know I'm dating, right?" And the response was simply "yes, we know." "We" here was the Stake President, the Institute Director (who is on the High Council in my stake), my current Bishop, and my former Bishop (who is also on the High Council). I was then told, "I've learned to not question inspiration. I received a very clear impression that you are to do this, I've learned not to question God's wisdom."

I sat there dumbfounded on multiple levels. In that moment, all I could think about was how clever a ploy this was. But at the same time, I could not deny this strange arrangement. There were no conditions for me receiving this calling, no "gentlemen's agreement," just simply saying yes and doing. I knew what saying could mean, I knew what saying no could mean. I took a deep breathe and a gulp and said, "Sure, whatever."

Obviously, this is sending off all sorts of "worthiness" meters. Yet, for the first time, it really has nothing to do with the shame of pleasing priesthood leaders or the church. Rather, this "worthiness" meter is going off because of my relationship with God. Being a sex addict is tiresome, I do not want to be anymore. And I look at this "calling" I can't help but think that it is an intervention of sorts.

Last night I had a long conversation with Heavenly Father about this. I talked to Him about how tender my feelings were for A - he texted me today, we have scheduled date six. I talked with Him about the meaning of this calling for my life. There was no clear resolution to the two, but simply a calming presence that indicated His love and understanding for my situation. Again, what was emphasized was the fact that He understands better than I do why I do the things I do. And while He seemed ambivalent about A, He did not say "no." At this point, I'm thoroughly confused.

I texted a fellow gay Mormon and he invited me over immediately, telling me I needed a stiff drink. I left church a little early to visit with my friend and his partner. I had a diet coke while they sipped on whiskey and vodka. They sympathized with me and simply told me that they would love me no matter what I chose to do. But I was glad to have good friends to listen. Though he did whack me on the back of the head and said whimsically  "Why are you still going to Church? I told you what they do....that Mormon love is tricksy."

I cautiously approach this calling, surprised that I even said yes, and surprised still that somehow God is not asking me to choose between A and this calling. I think this is perhaps the most confusing part - rather it's not A it's finding a person to love that God is not averse to. Regardless, I confused. Can't you tell?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Heavenly Dating Advice?

I've found a degree of peace. It's odd that the peace I feel comes places outside the reach of the church. I've realized that I love the Church and hold its doctrines close to my heart; and perhaps at some future day when I've been able to see beyond myself, I'll see the truth of all things. But at this point, my relationship with the Church is a constant negotiation.

My ward has a new Bishop, within a week of his "installation" he tried to "call" me to do something for the ward. This, of course, required a conversation. It was surprisingly easy for me to say no and to draw lines in the sand with him and other official representatives from the Church. I simply told them, I will continue to come to Church, will help strengthen the community, but I do not want (at this time in my life) contact from the Bishop, the Elder's Quorum President, Home Teachers, and so forth. I stated, "if they want to come as a friend, I will gladly welcome them into my home, but if they are representatives, I will not see them."

As I have been practicing placing boundaries around "Priesthood" my life has become easier. I enjoy Church again. I enjoy being a part of that cultural and religious community. I am thankful for my therapist in helping me set boundaries with the "priesthood." It was and is the source of my shame. To take a step away from it, my life gets better.

Dating is difficult. I've taken to talking to God about my dating life and have been quite plain and honest with Him about the men I've gone out with. My sense is that God simply wants me to be happy, He recognizes the difficulty of Church doctrine, but doesn't condemn me for what I'm doing. I think God cares about my dating, I feel He actually cares that I find someone to love, even if it is a man. What that means in the grand theology? I don't know.

I've met a very good and decent man. I'll call him A. A and I have been on five dates and planning date six soon. He is around my age, and is simply soothing to talk to and be around. We have taken things very slow; which is good for me. As a result, my addiction (or the need to use sex to self-medicate emotions) has been addressed squarely: I'm gaining traction with sobriety. My therapist says this is because I've been able to build healthy intimacy with another man. And so it is, A is remarkable. I'm not sure what the future holds, as it is moving at a snails pace, but that is good. Each date we have dinner and talk and walk after for hours. Each encounter I find I yearn for more time with him.

We finally were able to hug each other after date five. We both were too nervous in previous dates. Date four we botched the hug and simply smiled at each other and walked away. Soon after he sent me message apologizing for the botch hug.

As I reflect on this, this intimacy is what I must deny to comply with the doctrines of the Church. In the hopes that one day in the life hereafter, I will be able to experience this with a woman, and not A. But I continue with Church because it is good. I desire goodness. I desire love. I desire happiness. I desire peace. Does the Church have the monopoly over these things? I'm not sure, but I think and am certain God does.

I still talk with Him regularly. He still loves me. And I'm convinced more than ever that He understands why I continue dating A, despite my certain knowledge that His doctrines are eternal, better than I do. And there is a measure of peace and comfort in that. There is love and happiness meted out in that understanding.

Have I reconciled? I don't know. But am I at peace? Relative to last year at this time? Absolutely!