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, 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!

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