Friday, September 17, 2010

I saw, I felt, I knew...


I’m uneasy about sharing this experience, but I want to record it for my sake in order to not forget, and maybe doing so here, may help others who may read this. But, what do I know… I think in reality it just makes me out to be a pretty messed up man that doesn’t know what he wants as he continues to play the game of acting – acting the straight-arrow, straight-active, straight-loving, normal card-carrying guy. Maybe I'm just full of it... Or, maybe I’m on the road of acceptance and understanding a bit by bit – line upon line...

The other evening I found myself in the temple. I was there to be with a dear friend who was participating in temple ordinances for the first time. My thoughts were centered on her and the goodness and joyfulness of the occasion. And then…
I walked into the endowment room and there sat in the row directly in front of me was the most beautiful, cute, innocent-looking, gorgeous guy I’ve seen in a long time. He made me quiver all over as I sat quietly and reverently. At first I scolded myself for even having this mini-attraction reaction. I closed my eyes as if I were in the motions of meditation and prayer (which I was) and started talking to myself inside my head…

“What do you think you’re doing?” I exclaimed with a bit of perturbed attitude.

“I just looked at him! Did you see him? Didn’t you notice how gorgeously cute he is?” I countered.

“Yeah, I saw him… and he’s a looker all right, but for heaven’s sake, get a grip on yourself! You’re in the temple! Concentrate on why you’re here!“

“I know, I know…” I muttered out loud as I kept my eyes shut and head hung.

“It’s not like you’re ever going to see him again, so get over it and focus…"

“Focus… right!”

I opened my eyes and looked forward toward the presentation. But as I did, I couldn’t help but notice him again – after all, he was sitting right in front of me.

“You’re focusing on the wrong thing!” I said to myself.

“I know… I’m sorry. But I can’t help it. His cuteness is sitting right in front of me.”

“You’re a basketcase! Totally hopeless…”

I closed my eyes again and breathed heavily and tried again to concentrate on why I was sitting in that room.

“No you’re not hopeless,” a calm voice came over me. This time it wasn’t me talking to myself. It was another voice, maybe it was more of an idea, or thought, but nonetheless, words were tangible and I “heard” the message.

All at once, I was overcome with the desire to look and behold. I started studying his hazel eyes, the line of his young sideburns and the way the hairline at the back of his neck was cut square and true; the spikiness of his blondish brown short cropped hair, the glow in his smooth face – he radiated with a cute innocence with a strong sense of wonderment, awe, and total confusion. I noticed that it was his first time – recognizing the colored tag pinned to his white shirt, and how his father was sitting next to him trying to reassure him and comfort him and give him encouraging whispers and tender touches of the occasional shoulder squeeze. He was a new pre-missionary for sure, preparing to go preach the good word for sure.

“It’s okay to look,” the voice said. “I understand.”

“You do?” I questioned. “You heard me thinking?”

“Of course I do.“

At that moment the lights went out and the film presentation began. I was confused. But a real strong sense of calm and peace came over me. As I thought of the pre-existence and the creation, of being a spirit child and even an intelligence before that, I kept pondering on the fact that we are co-equal in our existence with God. The essence of who I am – that fundamental essence of my thoughts and my being ME – has always existed. It wasn’t created. I am ME!


My mind raced to my recent study of Joseph’s sermon at King Follet’s funeral… that:

1. The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is coequal with God himself.

2. The intelligence of spirits had no beginning; neither will it have an end.

3. God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself.

I was overcome with the feeling that the Father really does know me, and loves me for who I am, INCLUDING my attractions that are an integral part of who I am.
I started feeling a bit giddy. When the lights came up, I looked at the young missionary again and started feeling compassion for him, and empathy as I noticed his endearing confusion and questioning brow of what was going on. I, too, was there one day long ago. I, too, didn’t understand – and still don’t. But, as I looked this time – all of the feelings of guilt and shame were gone from inside me. I looked at him and felt his goodness and glory radiating. He was delicious. I had this overwhelming sensation and image of wanting to swallow him whole and consume every bit of him and feel of his spirit and innocence and excitement and sparkle.

“That is good,” the voice whispered.

I started laughing a bit. I was happy. I was sitting here in the Lord’s house, and I was having this amazing discussion of thoughts in my soul regarding my spirit and my desires and attractions, while studying this amazing young guy and wanting to consume him and taste of his goodness and beauty, all while feeling so at peace about it all.

I pondered how for the first time I felt that God personally knows and loves me for who I am even with or even because of these thoughts of attraction going on. I have always been this way. And it’s okay! All the pent up emotions of guilt and shame and disgust inside me flowed out of me. I was free of shame for being so oriented in my attractions. I was overcome with peace and tears swelled up in my eyes. Thank goodness the lights went out again and I was able to sit in the darkness again and gain my composure.

In the Celestial Room, I continued to observe him with his family now encircling him in love with hugs and squeezes of support. His eyes still were so cutely confused. I learned that indeed he was a newly called missionary and that he was going soon to Norway on his mission. I wanted to reach out and shake his hand and congratulate him or say something, but then my friends came into the room, and that opportunity passed.

As I focused on my friend, I hugged her and saw her confused but radiant expression, I brought her ear close to me and whispered: “Line upon line, precept upon precept”. She knew what I meant and smiled.

“But there were no angelic visitations,” she sarcastically replied.

“All in time…” I responded, and then added, “As I look at you, I see an angelic visitation.”

She beamed with delightfulness and holiness.

She wasn’t the only angelic visitation that I saw, felt and knew that evening. I saw an angelic young man that was delicious to devour. I felt a peace and comfort from a voice inside me, and I knew that God personally knows me, is co-equal with me, and loves me.

If He knows me, if I am co-equal with Him, and if He loves me AS I AM, then the same thing applies to you, too!

Now I need to go tell my wife...

22 comments:

Adon said...

Thanks for the post. I've had very similar experiences. It's reassuring to hear it from someone else.

Beck said...

ADON: You really have had similar experiences? I am finding that amazing to believe. I feel at times that my discussions with myself and especially over my attractions and reasoning why I am so attracted, particularly juxtaposed in places like the temple, are so crazy and unique that no one would ever be able to relate with me.

At times I feel like I'm the only one. At the temple, I looked around the room and tried to imagine if anyone else would even begin to understand what was going on inside me, or even come close to being able to embrace the "revelation" that I was having. Yet, it was a revelation of sorts for me which was the point. I wasn't alone. God understood me! That was the point.

And it is comforting to know we are not alone. Thanks for understanding and not thinking I'm totally crazy.

MoHoHawaii said...

At times I feel like I'm the only one.

Ha ha. This reminds me of
this classic article in The Onion.

Repression is a close cousin to wantonness. Although treated as opposites by religion they are actually two peas in a pod. Both focus the mind on the carnal like nothing else can.

Most religions spend their energy on enforcing either orthodoxy (prescribed beliefs) or orthopraxy (prescribed actions). Most Christian sects focus on orthodoxy. Judaism is clearly centered on orthopraxy (you can believe what you want as long as you follow the rules). I am increasingly coming to believe that Mormonism is solidly in the orthoprax column and does not require orthodoxy. The Catch-22 of Mormonism is that it takes the idea of orthopraxy and extends it to thoughts, dress and even patterns of speech. In Mormonism you can sin merely by having unauthorized thoughts. Mormonism does not stigmatize unorthodox beliefs as long as those beliefs are not spoken publicly.

In the example you give, you have an interesting solution-- you use the Mormonism's flexibility about privately held beliefs to relieve pressure from one of its sins of thought. This works because your violation of community standards can't be observed by other Mormons.

Blah, blah, blah. I'll shut up now. :- )

I hope you can let humor, grace and love smooth out these rough edges. Like the kid in the Onion article, you're not the only one.

Beck said...

MOHOH: It is pretty amazing how lonely one can feel surrounded by all-believing temple-goers. It is pretty amazing how one can feel love and acceptance, not from those sitting around me, but by some other source.

Call it my justification or rationalization of enjoying the "view". Call it using my own beliefs to satisfy my self-acceptance of my attractions. Call it what you will, but I felt a self-awareness and self-acceptance at that moment - free of self-loathing and "why me?" attitudes that felt pretty good.
Maybe I'm justifying my feelings, and because they are within my head, I'm safe in the overall confines of the Mormon orthopraxy (thanks for the new word).

But, hey, these are rough edges I'm working on and I appreciate your not laughing too hard at me as you shake your head in disbelief.

I do feel it was pretty funny that I wanted to devour him. I kept thinking of him as being "delicious to the taste and very desireable"... not too different from other forbidden fruit. Hahaha!

MoHoHawaii said...

There's nothing you have described here that I didn't do myself before I came out. So I get this, and I'm not making fun of you in any way.

Giving yourself maximum freedom of thought is a good coping strategy in your otherwise highly constrained situation. If you understand that what the Church and LDS culture really want from you is just orthopraxy, it can take a lot of pressure off you. You can give them adherence to social norms and rituals. What you can't give them is your fabulous, naked, man-loving soul, your internal Wyatt. That is for you to keep and cherish.

Beck said...

MOHOH: I read your words and I break into tears! As I respond I'm weeping. Why is this making me fall apart? How long can I do this?

Quiet Song said...

I don't know if it helps or not, but I've had a witness in the Temple about how Heavenly Father loves one of his gay children, my friend John. This long before I ever really spent much time thinking all of this through. This happened when he took out his endowments. There was no occassion for any wishful thinking or trying to have any kind elasticizing thought process to accomodate anything. This was an immediate prompting of the spirit.


Also, although I think the best description of me is a heterosexual with noticeable homosexual inclinations (BTW, not a coping strategy or a cop out-a person can be something more than straight but not "gay"), my Patriarchial blessing spoke pretty clearly to the later understanding I developed of my own sexuality.

Beck-You are not alone.

recover and thrive said...

what a peaceful experience -isn't the temple the greatest!

and young hot guys the greatest too :)

MoHoHawaii said...

I meant to console not provoke tears. You can do this.

Beck said...

QUIET SONG: Thanks for confirming that others receive promptings of similar nature in the temple regarding our sexuality and God's individual love for us. Yes, even though I know it, it is still good to hear it from others and to know that I am not alone.

R&T: I was touched by your recent blog post of a temple experience of yours and thank you for that. And yes, even with the irony of the situation, it is fun to appreciate "young hot guys" even in the temple (or maybe especially in the temple!)

Beck said...

MOHOH said: "... what you can't give them is your fabulous, naked, your man-loving soul, your internal Wyatt. That is for you to keep and cherish..."

These words have hit me profoundly. I have thought about them now for a couple of days. Some things we may relenquish to others, many things I sacrifice at the altar of religion and belief, and I do so willingly. But, the essense of who I am, what I think, how I am attracted; the fundamental foundation of my being, my true nakedness, my "internal Wyatt" cannot be given away, or offered up, because these things are mine to keep - they are me. What I choose to do with them is within my power, but to sacrifice them would be extinguishing my own soul.

At times it feels as if I should be extinguishing my own self. But then I would cease to exist.

We are here to exist! I don't know why the tears come, but I am grateful for your words that trigger thoughts and feelings inside me and reconfirm my base self-worth. I do feel consoled.

Thank you.

Rex said...

Beck, I used to do these mental self-conversations a lot. I don't do them so much anymore. I see a good looking man, catch my breath, enjoy the view, and move on without any self-recrimination.

I used to think that the whole verse about lusting after someone is the same as committing adultery with them int he heart as being an indictment of me. When I really accepted that unless I was slavering over them filled with lust, I was not doing anything wrong, it was much easier. It's the self-hatred that motivated those conversations. I don't have much of that left, no more than anyone else I think.

Beck said...

REX: I can see the self-hatred angle of these self-conversations. And I must say that the "lust / adultery" argument of thoughts is definitely one of "lingering on and on verses enjoying the view.

I do feel I'm progressing. I blogged a couple of years ago of seeing the most beautiful ripped guy wrapped in a towel coming out of the shower in the temple baptistry and I got so freaked out that I hid in the locker stall for quite a while beating up on myself.

This time, I still had the self-conversation, but I came away with a confirmation that nothing was wrong with me, and I'm okay and am going to enjoy the view and have God laughing with me as I find humor in the juxtaposition of it all.

To some, I might be delusional to talk to myself about such things. To others, I might seem to be going off the deep end into apostasy. But to me, I'm making progress!

Adon said...

I've never told anyone of my experience in the temple that was almost identical to yours. Mainly because I knew that most people would not “get it”. It was a sacred spiritual experience to me. And as with most spiritual experiences, they are special to us, the ones that receive them but not to those we might share it with. I have found that to be the case over the years where I would share something especially poignant to me but found that the person I was sharing it with didn't understand what I saw and felt. I am especially grateful that you posted your experience.

Hold it close to your heart. Don't let anyone change your original perception of what you felt took place. Only someone would understand what you experienced only because they had the same thing happen to them. I personally wouldn’t share it with anyone unless I had an idea that it would be accepted in a positive light.

I also have made the "forbidden fruit" analogy many times.

And you aren't alone when having emotional responses to others comments if they hit something tender within you. I had a similar response that I related to you in a recent correspondence. I've always felt that my sensitive nature can be attributed to being gay. That, to me, is a blessing.

Beck said...

ADON: It is hard to express properly personal experiences of a spiritual nature, especially through a generic medium of blogging.

I am mindful that not everyone will react the same way to what I felt, and may come to different conclusions. No matter. I like receiving the various responses as they help me to revalidate my own understanding.

Sometimes it's risky to send such personal experiences and cast them out there. Yet, I know what I know and I know what I felt, and I also know that I don't know everything.

At that moment, I felt a peace, and almost a friendly jovial moment with diety... where God was laughing with me at the irony of the situation, not laughing at me, or even pitying me. All I felt was his love for me, and an understanding and confirmation that I was "okay". At that moment, that was all I needed... and no one can take that away from me.

The comments that make me tender inside show how raw and fresh my emotions and self-acceptance still are. I am grateful to still care enough to feel.

Thank you for "getting" me. Sometimes it is pretty lonely. Your sensitivity to me is gratefully appeciated.

Active Gay Mormon said...

Beck:

I have had a very similar experience while in the temple. Thank you for sharing yours with your readers. I think that is awesome. I have wanted to jump for joy -- as I began to understand that my attractions are just a part of who I am (pre-existence, mortal state, and after death, etc.) I too, first began to undertand that concept in the temple. This is the best post I've read on your blog. Thanks again!

Warren

Beck said...

Thank you Warren for reading and commenting... It is good to know that others, as you have, have received similar profound revelation in the temple regarding this fundamental matter.

Read on with my additional thoughts in a follow-up post...

J G-W said...

Beck - I too have had similar experiences, though not in the temple. I crashed/burned/almost committed suicide, then left the Church before I could have had such experiences in the temple. But I have had numerous profound spiritual experiences, in places both sacred and profane, of the fundamental message you received... That we are this way, that God knows it, and loves and accepts us as we are. This isn't a defect that needs to be fixed. This is part of who we are, an important part of our divine/human natures.

I can also relate to your description of sitting in a room full of people and feeling terribly alone -- yet not alone, because of a divine, reassuring presence. They don't call him "the Comforter" for nothing.

This is a very sacred, powerful experience, and I'm glad you shared it. I don't share all of my experiences, but on occasion I do when I feel it might be of benefit to others. Thanks for sharing this...

Beck said...

JGW: I know from where you speak. And I know that you get what I'm trying to describe here. It's risky business to share this kind of stuff in this format, for fear of being misunderstood - hearing voices in my head? What's that all about?

But, it happened, and I can't tell you how it has lifted my spirit.

Remember how I said I was "dying inside"? Well, I now feel alive again, rejuvenated, more passionate than ever! I'm not going to dwell on the angst. It doesn't do any good. I'm going to dwell on being the best I can be, and know with confidence that He gets me!

Thank you for responding. I was hungering for your comforting and understanding words.

Anonymous said...

If I could get into my work program, I wouldn't be reading these blogs. They actually are very difficult in many ways to read--but I just can't help myself.

I, myself, have had the same type of experience in terms of knowing my ex is perfect just as he is. I've had moments when looking at him (and his partner) and thinking, "All I ever wanted was for him to be happy, for him to love himself, for him to be at peace--and he is."

I am an exmormon--I read one day on exmormon about a Native-American gay who said that the LDS church taught him to despise two parts of himself. It was at that moment I realized (even though I had come to accept my ex as he is) that to ask my ex to CHANGE was to ask him to disappear. Gay is part of him--part of what makes him so unique. If I ask him to change, I ask him to disappear--not cease to exist.

I found your post extremely moving--and what I wish I could convey to every gay is what you felt in the temple--that God loves you just as you are--gay.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say, "Cease to exist," NOT "not cease to exist." (Sorry.)

Invictus Pilgrim said...

Okay, here goes … I am taking a huge step. This is my first post anywhere about my SGA. But when I read this post, I felt I had to. I have weighed very carefully whether to share the experience described below, but in the end, I feel compelled to do so.

A bit of background. I am Mormon, I am married, and I have struggled with an attraction to men all my life. I told my wife about this before we got married, believing that I had to be honest with her. “It” then went into deep background. “It” was and has always been there, but pushed way, way back into the closet.

Fast-forwarding, something happened to me when I heard President Packer’s talk a few weeks ago. Rather than pushing “it” even further away, however, I did just the opposite: His comments made me want to reach way back in the closet and embrace my same gender attraction. I felt that President Packer was wrong in what he said, and subsequent events bolstered that belief. I decided that I was going to try to affirm who I was and am, even if to no one but myself.

This began a process of trying to discover who the man is who has been hiding behind his extremely carefully maintained mask (false persona) all these years. This exploratory process led me online to a new world of blogs, including yours, and prompted me to start my own blog as a means of giving vent to thoughts and feelings I have never shared with anyone. The rest of my comment (which was too long to be accepted here) can be read here: http://invictuspilgrim.blogspot.com/2010/10/my-inaugural-post-i-had-dream.html.