Thursday, June 01, 2006
A CHANGE OF SEASONS
I've been having an internal debate about this "closet reorganization" or "spring cleaning" I'm doing. It's still very much a "closet", but at least I'm getting things rearranged and some of the dark, back corners are being dusted off and seeing the light of day for the first time in a very long time.
As I re-examine these dark corners in my life, I conclude that in many senses I'm okay with who I am. I've passed the point of self-loathing, and come to the reality that this is who I am and I'm okay with that.
I'm not one for psychobabble and have no training or knowledge in human psychology or philosophy. (Though I have a Masters Degree, obviously for some, my higher education may be lacking when it comes to these introspective searches of 'self'). But here goes...
I have always equated the concept of REPENTANCE with CHANGE. To accept the need for repentance there must also be the concept of RIGHT and WRONG. To accept the concept of right and wrong, there must also be the concept of a HIGHER LAW, and to accept the concept of a higher law, there must needs be a GOD, and per my belief system, this GOD is a loving Father who is my creator and who wants the best for me. He has a plan of JOY for me and wants me to return to be with him again and be like him eventually through his mercy, if I offer up a contrite spirit that is willing to CHANGE, or repent.
For the basic sins and transgressions of life, I have no problem with this concept and am comfortable with my belief system and have been able to repent or CHANGE to become closer to his will. My discipleship, as Elder Maxwell is known to have taught, is centered on my gift to Him of my will to be His will. I understand this. I try to embrace this.
I have made covenants with Him that I hold sacred and try to do my best to honor and sanctify. This includes my marriage covenants. I am a husband and father first and foremost. I have been true to those covenants for over twenty years! This is very much something that I am, something that I hold dear and something that I don't want to CHANGE.
Now the inevitable "but"...
I also am a gay man (though I'm just beginning to come to terms with this and what it really means). If that term means that I "love" men, then I am a gay man, for I truly "love" men. If, however, that term means that I am going to march in the Pride parade in Salt Lake City this coming Sunday, then NO, I am not a "gay" man, or at least that "type" of gay man. I don't mean to be rude... I'm just not at that point. The parade thing is much more "cultural" in my mind than just the raw, basic definition of gay = "love" men.
I don't worry about being a confused and depressed heterosexual. I don't even worry any longer (I've worried long enough) of the causes of why I "love" men. I mean, the psychobabble crowd can throw on interpretations of events in my life that "cause" me to behave or feel this way toward men, but I don't give much credence to that psychobabble. It seems all so stereotypical and generic in nature, as if I'm supposed to "fit" in a certain category... and if I don't exactly "fit" due to my unique personal experiences, then they'll force me to "fit" the mold (be it a mold of affirmation or reparative approaches).
Sure, you can say that I'm the "classic case", as one of my gay confidants has labeled me...
1. I have a very poor relationship with my father. (But so do many heterosexuals).
2. My father was not and is not very expressive to me and has been and continues to be verbally abusive (though in my adulthood, I've come to terms with this).
3. My father has, however, been very supportive and active in my life and always there for me (though distantly) at significant events (though never emotionally - he can't relate to me on an emotional level).
4. I hate most sports (though I love to watch college football) and I suck at playing basketball and was ostracized throughout my adolescence (particularly during my Mutual years) for being a sports-moron whose coordination levels never registered about a 1 on a scale from 1 to 10. I can't make a lay-up for the life of me (though I've really tried to learn - I keep leading with the wrong foot), and I throw a baseball like a girl (and have been teased unceasingly for that physical flaw). I just don't do well in games. (But so do many heterosexual guys).
5. I am envious of athletic guys. I admire their muscular lean structure and coordination, things that I don't have. And for years, I've chalked up my "attraction" to these young athletic men as a "sin of envy". (But so do many heterosexual guys).
6. I am artistic. I design for a living and love to create environments for my clients and myself and have found joy in the creative process. (But all of my associates in my career, who do the same things I do, are heterosexual).
7. I am a sensitive, tender person and good listener. I have built relationships and friendships and clientele, and magnified my spiritual callings of leadership and have had impacts on many lives for the good (here I go patting myself on the back) because of my sensitivities and willingness to become "attached" to people. (But I know many heterosexuals who aren't cavemen, who have a very sensitive and tender side to them, who are just as insightful and helpful as I).
So my point is... Just because I'm emotionally damaged from my father, just because I am a sports-moron, just because I'm envious of athletic guys, just because I'm artistic and creative, just because I'm sensitive, doesn't mean I'm heterosexually suppressed or unmistakeably homosexual. I may be some of both. I JUST AM!
And this senstive, creative, non-athletic, envious guy, that I JUST AM, "loves" to be around 20-something good looking guys, being one of them, associating with them, emotionally bonding with them, physically embracing them, spiritually connecting with them. And I've come to the conclusion that I don't feel guilty anymore for feeling this way. And with no guilt, I feel NO NEED TO CHANGE!
I want the FREEDOM or JUSTIFICATION from someone, from God?, from Satan? from myself?, to be free to express these emotions and attractions, to feel justified in doing so without feeling "sinful". That sounds hypocritical to me. It sounds counter-intuitive. It feels wrong when I say it, but it also feels true. I'm just referring to these "connections" I've been having. They really aren't right in the context of marriage, and so deep down there is guilt and I know I'm asking for the justification of something that is wrong and I should want to change... But I feel so GOOD when I'm "connecting" and I don't want to lose those good feelings, those spiritual bondings, those moments that make me feel whole and helpful and better than myself.
It sounds like I'm seeking the PERMISSION to sin.
Now, I recognize that I'm not talking about sexual relations here. Because of my covenants, I cannot cross that line. And yet, as my gay confidant friend has so forcefully admonished, I am playing with "fire" when I allow these feelings of attraction to go too far, or get too close to the edge...
But, deep down, I don't want to CHANGE. I don't feel guilty any more for "being this way". Have I moved into the realm of Laman and Lemuel who were "past feeling", who even with numerous encounters with spiritual beings, couldn't "feel" the spirit working in them anymore? Am I moving beyond the bounds of the Holy Ghost? Have I been converted as Alma counsels his brethren in his infamous address of Alma Chapter 5, and yet I can't "feel" the powerful influence of the Holy Ghost in my life anymore and thus I must ask "Am I still converted now?"...
I don't know. I am not saying that I doubt the spiritual witnesses I have had and continue to have in my life. I am not saying that I don't have a testimony, or that my spiritual reservoir is empty. I am not saying that I no longer KNOW or BELIEVE in the Gospel. For I do! I truly do! I do stand as a witness of these things. I am NOT denying the spirit.
But... (and here we go with another "but")
I also want to understand, embrace, and live my life fully with the beautiful feelings of attachment I feel with other guys. And I don't want this to CHANGE!
Of course, if I didn't really have any guilt feelings about this "issue" and I wasn't "ashamed" of what I feel, then WHY am I still hiding this blog from my wife? Why am I secretive in my anonymity? Why am I not willing to come out of the closet?
I'm delusional, I'm sure. I'm psychotic. I'm anxious. But I'm beyond desiring to "fast and pray" these feelings away. Now is the time to embrace! (Yet, I want to delusionally embrace without hurting those around me that I hold dear).
I know that Christ understands me. I am not asking for a "pass". I know my WILL must become His WILL if I am to be His disciple. To offer the personal sacrifice of my will at the altar, I need to understand me as Christ understands me!
Somehow there's got to be a way. I am desiring too much, aren't I? I want the proverbial cake and eat it too. I have a hunger, a yearning, a profound desire for these "attachments" and I want them fulfilled. THIS THING I DO NOT DESIRE TO CHANGE! Does that mean I really don't want my will to be His will?
I don't know... As I reread this... nothing makes sense!!! ARRGGHH!!
This past weekend was stormy. I love late spring storms. The foothills and valleys
of Utah are at their greenest at the end of May. The wild grasses and wild flowers are bursting with vibrant life. When the clouds lifted on Monday, the mountaintops were covered with a fresh blanket of snow. The snow lowered to the green foothills and you could draw a line between green and white. The same thing happens in the fall, but the mountains and foothills are brown and golden. There just is something magical about the line of green and white of a spring snow, that change of seasons.
I need to have this black cloud of dispair and confusion lift off of my life, the weight off my shoulders, so I can be as beautiful and vibrant and crisp and clear of a person that I can be, just as the mountains were on Monday out my window.
I've taken this gaggy image too far... I do feel, nevertheless, a different season of "change".