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

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mourning with those that mourn

Yesterday a dear (straight) friend of mine came over and made dinner for me (it was delicious!). After dinner, we sat for a while on the couch talking. He told me of his problems and fear and anxiety of his future with the church, in a moment of need, he leaned into me and asked me to hold him. I held my friend as he wept, and expressed his fears of life, and fears of himself. I held him. He then looked at me and said, "I thank God for you; you are a good friend!" I continued to run my fingers through his hair and he kept weeping. I held him until he wept out his sorrow. I soothed his weeping by injecting my own sorrowful story and simply expressed to him, "the sun will rise." And indeed it does.

As I drove him back home the next morning, he held my hand and said again, "Thank you for your faith - you give me hope."

As I left him, I wondered what he meant. Faith is a principle of action - faith in Jesus Christ is certainly lacking, but faith in the Goodness of God is clear. Faith that Jesus Christ will change me? Sure, but changed into what? But faith that God's goodness will never condemn me, but rather continue to nudge me in rightness?

There are a lot of questions that remain. The central question is ultimately one about the heart. one reading of my hesitancy  to "repent" is that I choose men over God - that I fear the arm of flesh more than the arm of God. This would indicate that I lack faith in Christ, that I was never fully converted or never converted at all. Yet, another reading is simply that I'm confused. It is OK to be confused, it is OK to express doubt, it is OK to be angry. Yet, even another reading is simply that I'm OK and not confused. I prefer for individuals to be OK with me in thinking I'm confused; this is far more tenable than the self-righteous attitude I encounter consistently that my hesitancy is a result of incomplete conversion or lack of faith.

But I'm in a problematic position. I can't deny the reality of God the Father and His Son. I can't. I try. But I can't. There is a part of me that so desperately wants to, I simply can't forget the "Lord, my God." And it is this knowledge that causes me the most concern and frustration. The implications of that knowledge are vast. And so for me now the right thing to do is simply be a good person and mourn with those that mourn and focus on today, the now - without making decisions on not dating. The potential of that options ameliorates the sense of loneliness and despair in a way that a relationship with Jesus (I have heretofore experienced and which has been theorized for me) does not. But does that mean I necessarily need to have a partner? No. What it does is provides me the same dream and vision and hope that a potential partner can give to my straight single Mormon friends!

Excuse the rambling thoughts today. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Speak Blessings

As I worked on my fourth step yesterday  - the moral inventory - I realized a theme emerge: I am afraid of being me. I am afraid of embracing my potential. I am afraid of embracing love, happiness, truth, my career, my failures, my successes, my strengths, my weaknesses. I am afraid of embracing my own sullied expectations of myself. I am afraid of seeing myself.

As I worked through this step, I talked with my sponsor who told me to balance this out and focus on my strengths. I realized that while I am afraid of embracing myself, I do. That, my sponsor, noted is courage. Courage to be myself, despite all emotional warnings to the opposite.

This got me thinking about the nature of happiness - happiness defined as the subjective enjoyment of one's life as-a-whole. In other words, I am happy as a queer man. I am happy because I have connected and embraced my queerness; I have embraced it as a part of my identity, as a part of my life -  as component that necessarily shapes my eternal identity. Certainly this raises a series of theological questions.

As I think about my life, I like the life that I'm leading (well maybe the addiction piece not so much). But I am happy as a queer man. I no longer feel I am hiding from myself. However much I want to not embrace me, there is much happiness in so doing. Does embracing me necessarily mean I must position myself for or against the church? I don't think so. Does it mean I can occupy two spaces at one time? I don't know.

I am happy and content not having to know the answer to that question. I am happy and still like my life in spite of uncertainty. I no longer allow the answer or potential answers to control me, I no longer give them power. And it is precisely in the ceding of power - the divesting of power - unhappiness comes.

I am a powerful happy queer Mormon man.

And it is from that position that I can speak blessings and not curses about myself and others.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Added Measure of Grace

Yesterday, I was set apart as a member of the Stake Sunday School Presidency. Which is still odd to me; up until last week, I was happy occupying the margins of the Church, I was happy with my relationship with the Church. I had accepted my secondary status in the Church - estranged from the rights and privileges associated with technical worthiness. Further, I accepted that I would continue in Church, but openly accept and live a life open to the possibilities of a healthy monogamous long-term relationship with a man. I had settled this. I talked with God about this. I had settled that the only way for me to continue attending Church was to take my membership in it one month at a time. And so I had.

I attended my first meeting with the Stake Sunday School Presidency and was set apart by the Stake High Councilman (who is also the Stake Sunday School President) - he knows my history, too. I walked in, and the first order of business was setting apart. I walked into the Stake High Council Room with a heaviness about me, consternation, really, about this calling - what it would mean, how it might frustrate my settled plans, how it might complicate the picture of the future I painted for myself. But more importantly, I fixed on my "sinful" past - my anonymous sexual encounters with men, the times I paid individuals for sex, and so on. This was weighing on my mind, yet, the men who approved this calling knew this. There was no church discipline, there was no "repentance" set out by Priesthood leaders.

As the High Councilman laid his hands on my head, I was filled with anxiety, fear, a feeling of inadequacy - unworthiness, even - I felt that in the blessing, God would expose the lie and call me to repentance. Yet, something else happened. I sat there and in a voice and feeling of love, "Your Heavenly Father is fully aware of your situation and circumstances, and has called you specifically, He is blessing you with an added measure of grace to work through the challenges you face and the help you see His hand." As soon as this was uttered, the feelings of anxiety, fear, consternation, and so forth dissipated and dissolved - all that remained was a feeling that God is indeed Love.

While I do not know what Father is doing, nor can I peer into eternity, I am comforted that Father is using this calling to rescue me from my addiction. And for that I am grateful and humbled by the movings of heaven. Does this mean I stop dating? I don't know. How I see it, it does not change my intended course of being open to a healthy relationship, but it is a means to help me remain sober and manage my addiction. Any further reflection on other possibilities and implications cause me grave stress. But for the moment I am humbled by the stirrings of heaven.