Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Reach Out


"In the anguishing process of repentance, we may sometimes feel God has deserted us. The reality is that our behavior has isolated us from Him. Thus, while we are turning away from evil but have not yet turned fully to God, we are especially vulnerable. Yet we must not give up, but, instead, reach out to God’s awaiting arm of mercy, which is outstretched 'all the day long'"

- Neal A. Maxwell, “Repentance,” Ensign, Nov 1991, 30

Old email, 2/2/06

I feel like updating my blog but I'm still sorting a lot of things out and what I could say right now is really not the kind of stuff I want to remember in the future. I found some stuff I wrote in years past. I'll post some of that.

Part of an e-mail conversation with another blogger:

2/2/06
"I took the music video off my blog. Sad day cause I loved having that alternative way to express my feelings but it was causing technical difficulties for various readers so it's probably better. Does my blog load ok now?

I'm usually doing stuff on weekend nights and try to be in bed before 2 am on weeknights (I work at 6 am most days). I'll try to post a comment on your blog this week.

The thing that I want to say basically is that I think you are oversimplifying a little to say that all we need to do is begin to question the LDS church's doctrines on homosexuality. I have questioned Church doctrine since I understood it. Honestly, since I was like 12 or something I have openly questioned this stuff. All of my friends have similar questions. So I guess point 1 is, we do question this stuff and it bugs me that you assume that anyone who isn't opposed to the church must have that stance because they simply haven't questioned it yet.

So the problem is when I question it and get answers. I've tried to be patient with my questions and sincere in my search for answers. I've evenutally gotten satisfactory answers. There are things about the church that I am questioning today. They're different than the things I questioned when I was 12 or when I was a missionary. The church's fundamental stance on homosexuality isn't something I question anymore. I accept it. The way the church deals with that stance, especially the individual members, and why the church isn't more vocal in communicating its stance is something I still question.

I just have this impression that you imagine me and my friends as these like zombies who just sit in church meetings and kind of droll and take it all in blindly and then go and flagellate ourselves cause that's what the church says. I've seen organizations that encourage mindless discipleship. The LDS church is not one of those organizations.

I'll admit that some people do not allow themselves to question the LDS church. These are many times the same people who don't allow themselves to accept the whole truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These are the people who see the gospel as a list of things not to do. They try their darndest not to do these things. They try to make themselves perfect. Many people who are gay and LDS are also very perfectionist and have a little OCD. For these people, questioning the church is painful. Likewise, accepting the full mercy of God's love is impossible. Sadly, the ideas that cause these people so much pain and confusion is not the gospel taught by the LDS Church. These people go to Church and hear about forgiveness and hope and they don't believe it. They don't understand the Church's view on homosexuality because the refuse to understand. They don't believe that God can love us if we feel gay when the Church says again and again that He can and does. Do you see my point? They don't questions God's law and justice, but they do question his mercy. That's why they finally run away from it all. Because they can't handle the constant reminders that they sometimes aren't perfect, so they go and try to find something that they feel they can do perfectly.

The reason I stay close to the Church is because it gives me hope. Really, I wish you could see me and my friends. I wish you could see that we are happy because of the church and not in spite of it. I attend BYU. I'm surrounded by this stuff everyday. The Gospel of Jesus Christ makes people happy like nothing else in the world. I know I'm only 24 so maybe that will change, but I've been to Chile, Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong. I've lived in SoCal, NoCal, Virginia, Texas, Washington, and Utah. I've had friends from all sorts of backgrounds and ideologies. I'm just trying to say I'm not clueless. I haven't found anything that makes me happier than staying close to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I kind of want to show you a family picture or something. I wish you could see the youth at our youth activities or my dad helping the widows in my congregation or the face of the people I baptized in Chile, or me and my friends at Denny's last night at 4 a.m. talking about being Gay and Mormon and smiling like crazy. I wish you could really understand.

hmm... well I guess I that's pretty much what I wanted to say. I think I'll post that to your blog too. Thanks for listening, and again thanks for trying to understand us and help.
-The Freak :-)"

Friday, May 4, 2007

XXemoSpideyXX

Emo boys = hot
Emo super heroes = not worth staying up til 3:30 am to see on opening night.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Hang on, hope on, try on

Watching PBS's documentary The Mormons, I wondered if I might be crazy to believe the things I do. As someone who tries to follow reason and rationality, it's strange that I hold so tightly to beliefs that are in many ways unreasonable and irrational.

Nothing I saw in the program was new or faith shaking. The darker aspects of Mormon history and culture presented in the program are things I've known and dealt with since at least high school. I spent a lot of late nights during high school and my freshman year at BYU reading about Joseph's Smith life, Book of Mormon archaeology, polygamy, blacks and the Priesthood, and, probably most personal to me, homosexuality and the Church. It would have been nice to find one thing that unequivocally proved the Church was true. At the same time, part of me would have been relieved to find something to prove it a farce. Instead of providing any sort of concrete answer, most of the interpretations I read just inspired more confusion.

Through many small experiences and a couple more intense ones, understanding the answers to my questions became less and less important to me and I became more and more aware of God's undeniable influence in my life. I knew that the gospel made my life better. I knew that the Book of Mormon taught true Doctrine. I knew that Joseph Smith had been called by God to restore Christ's gospel. I knew that Gordon B. Hinckley was a modern prophet on the earth. Most profoundly, I knew that I was a child of a loving father in heaven who I could trust completely. For the first time in my life, I developed a real and personal relationship with Him.

There was an amazing power and happiness that came from being close to God.

When I left on my mission, the scripture I chose for my missionary plaque was Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

My trust in God has gone up and down recently. When my life events didn't meet my expectations I think I started to wonder if He really was directing my paths. I've been especially concerned the last few years about being gay and Mormon. I think I always imagined that if I read my scriptures and went to church and did everything I was supposed to that a wonderful life would magically roll out before me. Things have honestly been hard though and despite praying and searching, the path before me is increasingly obscure and a little more intense than I expected. It's like being lost in a jungle and your guide keeps telling you to walk deeper and deeper into the bushes. When the night starts to set in and you start to hear strange animals around you it's hard not to want to run back the way you came or just at least stop walking and hunker down and cry.

I have wandered a little bit, but never too far and I always come back. In spite of logic and intense emotional and physical pulls, I've stayed close to the Lord and his path.

Am I crazy? A couple times while watching The Mormons, I thought I might be. It didn't take long to remember though, that despite all the questions and things I don't understand, I still trust God. I still trust that He leads this church and I still trust Him to lead me. For now, I'll stick with Him.

I love what Elder Holland said in his interview with PBS as quoted on the PBS.org website:

"I have spent a significant portion of the last few years of my ministry pleading to give help to those who don't practice [homosexuality] but who are struggling with the impressions and the feelings and the attractions and the gender confusion. Or if they do practice or are trying to deal with it, ...if nothing else, just saying: 'Hang on, hope on, try on. ... Get through the night; get to the light.' ... I believe in that light, and I believe in that hope, and I believe in that peace."