Thursday, September 02, 2010
The Good and the Bad...
WHAT THE "EVIL" CHURCH HAS DONE FOR ME AND HOW IT CONTINUES TO AFFECT ME FOR GOOD AND BAD…
(NOTE: I didn’t say the “Gospel of Jesus Christ”! I have a firm commitment to Christ and his teachings and I have faith in him, believe in his atonement and its real and everlasting influence on me. In this there is little doubt and abundant hope!)
1. Because of the church, I have accepted callings and opportunities to serve that have made me a better person that I would have been otherwise. I have gained leadership skills and put in positions of leadership to reach out and help many that I would not have done without the church’s influence.
2. Because of the church, I have shed much of my shy exterior and become a pretty good public speaker, no longer fearing crowds or addressing the public in presentations. This has benefitted me in numerous ways in my business life and helped me to be a better man in my profession as well.
3. Because of the church, I have discovered my love for teaching and have been able to cultivate that seed planted years ago and have seen those skills of being able to teach grow and grow. I’m not saying I’m God’s gift to teaching, but I’ve been able to be put in many teaching situations, both privately and publicly and have been able to thrive in ways that would be highly unlikely to have happened otherwise.
4. Because of the church, I have become more compassionate and caring. I may have a compassionate spirit, but that fundamental characteristic has blossomed through the church's influence on me. I believe I am a caring person in general, but the church has taught me, trained me and helped me to focus that caring attitude in uniquely personal ways. I have learned to connect with people and love and have a passion for those connections that come by bonding through the church.
5. Because of the church, I served a mission that changed my life, taught me to speak a foreign language fluently, and welded in my soul a bond of unyielding love for a people, a culture, a country, a brotherhood, a home. That missionary service literally brought me out of my shell and helped me to discover who I was and what I could really do.
6. Because of the church,
that brotherhood made me connect to others and feel things and understand things about myself and where I knew I needed to be and who I really was deep down inside. I found my passion and I don’t ever want to lose it. I directly learned to touch and be affectionate and open and unafraid to express myself with the power of touch.
7. Because of the church, I was taught of the spirit and felt God’s influence in my life and recognized it as the miracle it really is.
8. Because of the church, I was taught to pray and communicate with God. I am still learning what that really means, and I know I need a lot more practice before I really understand it.
9. Because of the church, I married my wife because I was “in love” with her, but because the church instructed me that this was the right plan and path to take. I believed that and still do. I have no regrets and feel this was and is a good thing for me.
10. Because of the church, I have created a unique family. My children came into our lives directly because of the church. My family and my children (and all of the subsequent blessings that come with them) literally would not exist without the church in my life.
11. Because of the church, I rediscovered lessons learned in my past and relearned who I really was, and finally came to terms with my attractions as being just that – undeniable attractions for men.
12. Because of the church, I have a testimony of the Plan and the purpose for my life. I have been able to feel the optimism of the future, the hope in the Plan and the assurance of God’s love for each of us. I have a profound HOPE!
1. Because of the church, I learned early on that I was different, and that different wasn’t good and that I didn’t belong or fit with the rest of the guys.
2. Because of the church, I learned that “brotherhood” meant if you played basketball then you were welcome in the quorum, if you didn’t then you were expendable. Because I was no good at sports, because I was uncoordinated, had no body mass or muscles, I was of no use.
My self-esteem was shot. It took me a very long time before I learned another meaning of the word “brotherhood” (see above).
3. Because of the church, I learned the power of “expectation” and “obligation”. I became an eagle scout despite hating the program, and being physically abused and harassed in excess by boys in the troop. But you know… boys will be boys.
4. Because of the church, I hid myself and my desires and attractions, even to and especially with myself… to the point that it took me decades of denial and refusal of accepting myself. The church put me in a delayed development of self-awareness. I may have grown in other areas, but I regressed in others.
5. Because of the church, I was a good boy. As a good boy, I didn’t look at porn or think evil thoughts of women – I barely thought of them at all). As a good boy I never ever touched myself… yes, I never masturbated… and I never allowed anyone ever to touch me in that way. This may seem to be a good thing, but it is bad, because it delayed me sexually in exponential ways. No one was more naïve on his wedding night than I was. Confusion. Doubt. Pain. It was all there from the beginning and I put that at the feet of the church. It was not intentional, I’m sure, but wanting to be a “perfect boy” in so many ways became a huge negative once marriage was to be consummated. Oh how I wish that I weren’t so perfect.
6. Because of the church, I have been in a perpetual state of adolescent immaturity when it comes to sexuality. And as I became more aware of being “different”, I hid it away and refused to face reality and I regressed and became asexual in many ways that remain with me to this day.
7. Because of the church, I didn’t run off with my first real love… a man that truly loved me. I gave up that chance of potential happiness for something better, right?
8. Because of the church, I married a woman. Yes, I mentioned it as a positive and huge fountain of blessings above, but had I been able to face myself more honestly and not felt so “different” and not made to “fit in” and “do the right thing” and
“be perfect” I probably never should have married. The pain that has come from this reality years later, suffered through each decade by not just me but my wife as well, and all that goes with her self-esteem and self-worth being shot is a huge legacy of what some call “evil”.
9. Because of the church, I still live in the shadows. I cannot come out, not at this time. I’m too intertwined in all the tentacles of the church’s hold on me. I am in higher and higher leadership and deeper and deeper in the commitments. So, I can’t see a way out - not that I’m seeking a way out of the church – but a way out of the darkness and shadows of the closet, a way out of the dishonesty and double life living, a way out of the inauthenticity of self.
10. Because of the church, I still cannot face my wife straight out and with directness and honesty. Though she knows I’m gay, she really doesn’t KNOW me. And I don't let her KNOW the REAL ME. I want to take responsibility for this, but the fear put in my head from the church is always there in my mind. There is a real fear of doing so, being truly honest and authentic with my wife, and everyone else for that matter, and what it might do to our marriage and my association with the church (socially, culturally, emotionally, etc.) that has a hold on me that feels overpowering.
11. Because of the church’s stance on homosexuality, as I come more and more to terms with who I am, I am becoming more and more unsettled and confused by the Brethren. It is causing conflict and doubt that didn’t exist there before. I don’t want doubt. I want assurance.
So where does that put me?
And is the church a bounteous blessing or an evil curse?