Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Over the weekend I had the occasion to get together with one of my dearest friends and his family. It was fun to break bread together and get caught up - what a treasure to have friendships that seem to last through the ups and downs of decades.
James was my roommate at BYU right after my mission. We hit it off immediately and became very, very close. After our year together in school, we both ended the spring term and got married (not to each other but to great women). We were "best man" to each other and got married within 5 days of each other.
As it turns out, James has a gay son, whose name this blog honors and shares. In our conversations this weekend, I was able to get James alone (out of the earshot of the spouses) to discuss how his son was doing. For the first time, James really opened up and discussed his fears and dashed hopes about his son. I could tell that he loved him very much and has remained close to him as he has "come out" and now lives proudly as a gay man. It became immediately obvious that my friend is very proud of his son and the wonderful person he has become.
But, that said, there was a tone of confusion and hurt and doubt and pain associated with the discussion of "his eternal future". That was when I kicked it into high gear and threw caution to the wind and let it come out...
I told him that as much as I believe in the Plan and the eternal view that Joseph Smith saw and taught, I testified that I was convinced that we really only see such a limited view of what really is "eternal life". I told him that the Church doesn't have all the answers and that to think they do is wrong. I told him that we don't know so many things about how these eternal family relationships will work out and that I wasn't about to believe that his son was "lost" or "wasted" or "better off that he never be born" etc, but that instead, he is his son, and to love that relationship fully here and now! I went on to bear witness that I knew that his son was a wonderful, amazing young man, and that he should get over worrying about "his eternal future" and start celebrating the wonder that is his son! Celebrate his life! Celebrate his creative spirit! Celebrate his love for people! Celebrate him!
At this point, James fell into my arms and wept. I just held him. I held him and we shared a great moment of compassion together. I was tempted to come out to him myself right then, but instead whispered in his ear: "I know from whence I speak!" James looked at me with a cocked head of surprise, but with tears and said "Thank you for these words. I needed to hear them. I needed to have them spoken. I can't tell you what this means to me to know that you feel this way."
It was a pretty amazing moment. It was brief but significant and then we were back with the rest of the family.
As I ponder this, I can't help but realize that maybe I am stronger and a bit more wise and at peace with this. I don't believe that a few years ago when I was in denial of my true attractions I could have been so strong and powerful and encouraging in sharing my "witness" to him as I did. But now, it just flowed out and it felt really good to be there and say those words with conviction.
I consider this just the beginning. I know he wants to believe as I believe. I know he wants to have hope - hope that has been taken from him from obvious talks and discussions with other members of the Church. I feel a need, as time creates the occasion, to continue this discussion in the future. If ever there were a person who really knows me as James does, who isn't a fellow MOHO or doesn't live in Italy, if ever there were a person to whom I would "out" myself, it would be him.