Sunday, May 07, 2006

THE SPIRIT AND THE FLESH

I find myself weakening... I don't feel my testimony is as strong as it once was. I am beginning to doubt the Brethren more and more and I'm losing the SPIRIT.

I feel myself recently withdrawing from the "Community of Saints", or the body of the Church. I find each week and month that passes, I feel a bit more reserved, removed, and distanced from other brothers and sisters. I hate Priesthood Meeting and the "brotherhood" there that is so different from who I am, and I find myself becoming critical of them and putting up walls to isolate them from me... I guess I feel they will never understand what is going on inside of me and so I withdraw, rather than engage. I go to meetings, instead of come to worship. I sit, instead of participate. I observe, instead of embrace.

To know me previous to my "personal awakening", you would be shocked to hear me state such expressions or feelings about the "brotherhood" of the Church. As shocking as it may sound, I am beginning to feel like I don't belong.

I know it has a lot to do with me, my callings and service to others. It is so much easier to "serve" when you don't feel "wounded" or made of "damaged material". I've served faithfully in callings throughout my life, and even in my current calling where I teach, I feel great joy and service to my students and there is a spirit-to-spirit communication going on. But with the Church as a whole, there is beginning to be a distance. I know I'm the one moving away, pulling back, hesitating, and it bothers me (at least I can say it bothers me).

Maybe I'm becoming more selfish as I become more self-reflecting on things. I know when I am the least self-centered, I'm happiest and the spirit has been there to say "YES"! Maybe I just need to stop moping about it and get out there and help others.

I know how the SPIRIT works within me. I know how to read, and study and pray and fast and seek answers to questions. I get it... I know how it works from personal experience. And I know that these "feelings of the spirit" are real and I do NOT deny them or their existence or their value and purpose in my life. They have brought me to my Savior and I know that He loves me and understands me.

I have come to realize that he desires me to come to Him not perfected, but repentant! His message is for the broken heart and contrite spirit... a humbleness and repentant-ness.

I also know, however, that these "feelings of gayness" are ever as real, or "just" as real. I have come to know that He knows this and doesn't blame me for my "feelings of the flesh", but is more interested in what I choose to do about them.

So why, then does he use his apostles to speak words of confusion to my soul:

"It is a wicked, wicked world in which we live and in which our children must find their way. Challenges of pornography, gender confusion, immorality, child abuse, drug addition, and all the rest are everywhere. There is no way to escape from their influence." -- Boyd K. Packer (April 2006)

"Are you battling a demon of addiction... or the plague of pornography? Are you confused with gender identity or searching for self-esteem?" -- Jeffrey R. Holland (April 2006).

In both cases, they lump the "gender confusion" (a fancy new term) with other sins, or broken things to mend. What does this mean? And what does it have to do with what I'm feeling?

I don't feel "gender confused". I am very thankful and grateful to be MALE and I love all things MALE!!! There is no confusion on my part to desire to be a woman, or to identify myself any different than as a MAN. But, I also feel woven into my being a desire for male affection, male beauty, male companionship, male sex. Am I confused? Do I have a confused identity?

I don't feel sinful anymore for stating the above. It is what it is! Now, as -L- brought up in another blog, that doesn't give me the license to run off and be promiscuous in my behavior, just as such desires don't give the hetorosexual that same right of promiscuity. I am still a moral being and and guided my moral principles. (NOTE: I'm not declaring that those who think differently are immoral... I'm just stating my own case and belief for me!!!). I can choose what I do with these feelings of the FLESH and I can use the SPIRIT to guide me in those choices to choose wisely, with love and responsibility for my actions.

Just because I have these feelings of the FLESH doesn't make me a sinner to be lumped into all manner of this "wicked, wicked world".

I've rarely questioned the "Brethren" as I've learned from experience that for the vast majority of the time, they are right on target and through application of their teachings, I've experienced joy and felt truth.

I find myself questioning them now, at least regarding this issue... Maybe I'm allowing my confusion to get to me and make things worse. Maybe I really am slipping... I don't know. I just don't feel so wicked, and I feel like the "confusion" comes when I'm lumped into wickedness.

I've taught numerous lessons about the SPIRIT and the power it has for good within our lives. I realize that this goodness is real and has been a guide for me throughout my life. I realize one of the main purposes of these spiritual feelings is to help us "remember" who we are and our potential to become like our Father in Heaven.

One of my angsts is the fact that I do remember how it feels to have the spirit with me, to be prompted to do good and to have testifying truth burn in my soul. Maybe that's why it bothers me so much now that my current "issues" are fogging up that burning image, and making me "hazy" or scrambled a bit in my memory banks. If I truly felt that the spirit wasn't real, but just a bunch of bunk, then I guess I wouldn't feel so disturbed by it feeling hazy lately.

The point is, I still do "remember" those feelings of joy, the communications of spirit to spirit, the witnessing of testimony.

"When a man has the manifestation from the Holy Ghost, it leaves an indelible impression on his soul, one that is not easily erased. It is Spirit speaking to spirit, and it comes with convincing force. A manifestation of an angel, or even the Son of God himself, would impress the eye and mind, and eventually become dimmed, but the impressions of the Holy Ghost sink deeper into the soul and are more difficult to erase... Through the Holy Ghost the truth is woven into the very fiber and sinews of the body so that it cannot be forgotten."

-- Joseph Fielding Smith

If I didn't remember, then I guess I would be "passed feeling". I have been woven into the very fiber and sinews of my body! I cannot forget! I can still feel both the SPIRIT and the FLESH.

That is why it is so hard to walk away and give it up (Mormonism)... Because I do remember!

That is why it is so hard to relate and fit in any more (being gay in a heterosexual Church)... Because I do feel gay!

That is why it is so hard to find my way... I care too much to leave what I know to be true. I hurt too much because I feel myself slipping away from it...

Slipping to that place where : "They lose hope. The adversary harvests his crop and binds them down." -- Boyd K. Packer (April 2006)

Satan's plan is to destroy our hopes! Despite this angst, internal, eating at me from inside out, I still have hope that my Lord is there to understand, and wants me repentant, not perfect.

It really comes down to selfishness... I need to hit myself in the head, forget about it, and go do something good for somebody!

Happy Sabbath!

4 comments:

AttemptingthePath said...

with the whole gender confusion, i just brush it off. I don't deal with gender identity issues. and I'm not going to vain enough to think that they're talking to me because I deal with SSA. (okay, maybe i am just delusional and they ARE talking about me ;-) ) The church will soon become more and more clear on the situation many of the saints are in. We will soon see them define the terms for themselves. And then, after they define the terms and test the water a little more things will get better.

And I my bishop said they issued my call on friday, so I should know on wednesday where I'm going.

-L- said...

Happy Sabbath to you, buddy. Although much of what I have written recently seems to show uncharacteristic staunchness, I acutely feel your conflict. I consider myself to be VERY mormon--the kind that can't walk away because I know it's true (like you). But I also consider myself to be VERY gay. Steeped in gayness, to borrow George Castanza's phrase. I want what I want with incredible clarity--and I want the opposite too.

Thanks for your insightful posts.

I hope you can find the support you need to make it through these difficult times. If your wife is open to it, you are always welcome to put her in touch with my wife. I think once your wife is more familiar with the issues it may be easier and easier for her to be supportive. You can also find support from enlightened bishops (unfortunately, not all are quite there yet), COUNSELORS (note the emphasis), the scriptures, and prayer. Preachy, but too true not to say.

Dave Walter said...

It really comes down to selfishness...

Beck, it's not about selfishness. If having sex with guys was all you wanted to do, then I'd agree.

What you're struggling with is really the hugely difficult question of whether to live fully, according to who you are at your core. Nothing selfish in that.

Beck said...

Path: Congrats on your call! Let me know where you're going.

-L-: Your kind words and offering of linking up our wives is intriguing. I've got to get to a comfortable place with her before I can really do this. It's still very hard for us to talk about it, though we know it is always there.

DW: I know it would be only "selfish" if gay sex was ALL that I desire. But, I struggle with the feelings of selfishness when I think of abandoning my family by coming out and even leaving them. I struggle with my feelings of selfishness when I want something (a gay relationship) that is just for ME and not something for THEM! That still bothers me... Maybe the selfishness is that I want BOTH a gay relationship and my family relationship.

I know there is nothing selfish in who I am at the core and trying to live the best I can. That really is all I'm trying to do here.