Thursday, December 30, 2010

Faking it...


Ever since the "phone call" with my missionary son on Christmas, I've been thinking a lot about what I can offer him as he struggles to know why he's really there serving full time and preaching to a people about making changes in their lives and sacrificing and committing themselves to a new plan of life, even though he doesn't fully believe in that plan for sure himself.

It's a hard dilemma. He is finding a lot of "success", and loves the people, the culture, and the connections and bonding that he's making with them, and I keep emphasising that that is a miracle in and of itself - the ability to get beyond one's self, to care so deeply about others and their needs that desires and passions are centered on serving, helping, assisting and connecting with them. That is one of the greatest miracles of life!

But when he asks me if I believe he really should be there and "fake it" to the end, and will it be worth it? And is it the right thing to do? and "why do I still feel empty inside"? I can't help but wonder what to tell him... I hesitate. I stumble. I can't utter the words that I know it is the right thing for him to do. All I can come up with is that I want him to find happiness in his service and find joy in his love for the people he is serving and to not worry about the rest. But that comes across as shallow and empty. Honestly, I don't know what to offer him. Do you?

Ned's most recent post used the term: "fake it until you make it". That clicked with me as the title to what this thought process has been as I contemplate advising my son, and then reflect on my own life. When I think about it, I've been playing the "fake it until I make it" game so long I don't know how to think or act otherwise. And that makes me sad. Yet, I'm the good and faithful father. I'm the patriarch that knows all. I need to be the guiding light, the messenger of hope, the champion of what is right and true. So, why do I feel empty inside when I should feel full of light and knowledge?

***



The other night I finally watched "Inception" and it struck me that I've been living my life in different dream states. I have layered dreams of varying realities, stages upon which I play my life... sometimes I'm a gay man fantasizing about life in an open, loving relationship with another beautiful man. Other times I'm a married man to a wonderful wife, with family and kids and everything is well and we're working together for the common goal of "perfection" through living the Gospel and experiencing that redeeming effect of the atonement. And then there is the layer where I spend most of my dream state of reality being pulled by both other dream states until I feel like I'm going to literally rip apart.

I've been playing these roles within these dream levels that I find it hard to know what is real and what is just that - a dream. So, I keep "faking it until I make it" survival mode.

If that's the case, what then is reality? Like the Leonardo di Caprio character, once one lives his life in these different dream states for so long, it becomes very difficult to even recognize what is real and what is just a dream.

***

So I feel hypocritical in telling my son that what he is doing is the best for him. I feel hypocritical in telling him to just keep "faking it" until he finally gets it and gains that conviction that he personally feels is lacking. I do have my convictions that have come at a terribly personal sacrifice and price, and I cherish them, but I don't "know" it all, and as such, I keep "faking it" until some day I might "know"...

but the idea that he's got a gay father who hides this basic truth from him, a man who pretends to be one thing on Sunday, the priesthood leader and faithful husband and devoted father and believing, never doubting, church member; and then another thing all together opposite in his mind, a conflict and battle raging inside of dream states of drastically juxtaposing worlds where love and expression and honesty and faithfulness create images and feelings of a fantasy that can only exist in a dream world, for they NEVER could be reality...

leaves me void of advice and council to give my son. Do I tell him that the only way to live this life, the only way that I know how to survive living in this life...

is to "fake it until you make it"?

Where is the wisdom in that?

When he asked me point blank what I thought he should do, and if I could even understand what he was going through as his doubts are getting the better of him, I wanted to reveal to him right then and there my "secret"... It was the first time that I thought he might be able to understand and accept me for who I really am, but with wife and daughters listening in, I couldn't do it - it wasn't the right forum for them. But the thought has resonated with me since then... I can see the day that he will be able to accept this truth about his father. Yet, I am haunted by that possibility: Will he accept the hypocrisy that has been the story of my life once he knows the truth?

Maybe none of this is real!... maybe I'm just lost in a fourth-tier dream state and there is no way of getting out without losing my mind.

42 comments:

Chester said...

God you are such a whiney bitch. You live in a perpetual dilemma and it's obvious you have no intention of doing anything about it. Drama is your food and you're perpetually hungry.

Unsubscribed.

Beck said...

I love you, too!

Beck said...

CHESTER: I guess I deserve that. I am a broken record... a perpetual dilemma, with no intentions of doing anything about it...

It should be easy, right? Just say it! Just bust loose and let it all out. Be done with it. To hell with collateral damage!

Hell, it's been nearly six years now! How long can I keep up this drama? I'm the biggest drama queen out there.

It's all about the attention from the drama right? I mean, any real person with real feelings and real intent would have moved on by now, would have made his choice and not looked back.

You're right.

I think I'll "unsubscribe" myself as well. Then, everyone can be free of this drama queen once and for all!!!

Clive Durham said...

Now, now, now. Let's not get testy boys. Beck, I can identify with your dilemma and it makes for a hard life. You have sacrificed much of yourself for your family and that is admirable. Based on my experience, there will come a time when you will realize you've given all you can give and must move on. When you hit that wall, you'll have the inspiration and courage to do what you need to do.

Chester, I get tired of drama, too, but a guy has got to vent somehow and a blog is a good place to vent. Please cut Beck a little slack, okay?

Beck said...

CLIVE: You've hit the wall. You're taking the steps to get over the wall.

I'm bumping the wall but not hitting it. I refuse to do so.

Maybe I'm happy "faking it". Maybe I'm content in being stuck in the drama.

So how can you force yourself to "hit the wall" when you know you should, but when you don't want to?

Invictus Pilgrim said...

Beck, I think what you do about your gay dilemna is one thing. But, speaking from experience with my own son, (and again leaving the "gay thing" totally aside) my counsel to you is to be honest with your son about his own doubts and yours. If you let the Church and "doing the right thing" get between you and your son, I think you will regret it. What is more important: an authentic relationship with your son, or keeping up appearances?

Neal said...

My mission president gave us this scripture:

John 7:17
"If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."


Sometimes we must exercise faith and DO the work before we gain the testimony OF the work.

MoHoHawaii said...

"Fake it 'till you make it" is a familar part of the Mormon experience for many people. I've seen this phrase used on LDS blogs that have nothing to do with homosexuality. You can check out, for example, The Case for Hypocrisy on one of the big Mormon-themed blogs, where faithful Mormons advocate doing and saying things they don't believe. In general, the one thing that people in this situation face is some kind of social context (usually family members or a true-believing spouse) that constrains them.

A question I would ask is this: If you imagine that you were not gay, how would you answer your son's question? In other words, would the conflict you feel about religious certainty still exist in any way? I know it's hard to imagine a sexual orientation other than the one you have, but give it a shot.

For what it's worth, I should also add that the Church is currently hemorrhaging its young people. Your son is absolutely not alone in his predicament. There are a number of factors involved, including the ethic of fairness that is a big part of youth culture right now. For example, the idea that gender defines your role in life doesn't play well with young people right now. It's not a good time to be an LDS young adult. Being LDS is increasingly at odds with the cultural environment. Dismissing these mismatches as evidence that we live in an increasingly fallen world is just head-in-the-sand avoidance.

I had a heart to heart talk with one of my nephews over Christmas. He's in his late twenties and is active in the Church. However, increasingly he can't see his future in it. The main issue is authenticity. He can tolerate the constraints of public Mormonism (keeping his unorthodox views a secret from other Mormons) but he says he would be unwilling to do this with the woman he would marry. As a result, he has not dated true-believing Mormons. His pool of prospective spouses is limited to unorthodox Mormons and non-Mormons. I think it's harder than ever to straddle this line. The Church requires more orthodoxy than it used to.

I laughed out loud when I read Chester's comment. Your blog gets to be your whine fest, but there's also a kernel of truth in his reproach. We make our lives, and in return our lives make us. Your life is a bundle of contradictions, and as a consequence you are becoming a bundle of contradictions. What you do with these contradictions is up to you. Maybe you don't do anything. Call me a jaded ex-mo, but I think living with the "fake 'till you make it" ethic is a lot more common than you might think in the Church.

All that said, I have a hard time lying to young people. If I were in your situation, I'd tell my son that he is not alone and that you will love him no matter what path his journey takes. I think you owe him at least that much.

MoHoHawaii said...

You might want to check out Terryl Givens's People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture. It's very relevant to this discussion.

Public Loneliness said...

Beck,

"Fake it till you make it"? Really? is that the best we can do as human beings? I feel bad for your son. I've known lots of missionaries who hated every second of their 2 years out there even if they were in the most exotic place in the world because they never were able to fit their square pegs (personalities, disbelief, etc) into the round hole of the church's assumed culture and not wanting to disappoint their families and those that supported them. Some of them stuck it out and were if nothing else more bitter at the end, some learned lessons of endurance and if nothing else being able to finish what they started.

BUT sooner or later 2 years are up and all missionaries must come home one way or another for better or worse. One thing I'd tell my kid is that there's no right or wrong, if he likes or hates it or stays or comes home early, it should make no difference to you, you love him just the same--I know you know the value of always expressing unconditional love to your kid(s)but he needs to hear that--I think that's what you may be asking and what really matters here.

Now how you feel about your own life, well we've known that and it is real to you, who cares about how the rest of us feel. The question here is are you going to "fake it till you make it"? Make it to what? By now you know that your square peg doesn't fit into the round hole, lots of us have been there, have lost it all--the perfect family, the perfect home, the perfect church career---and we're still alive, we have dusted ourselves, licked our wounds and have been held in the arms of those who've cared enough to take the time to hold us, allowed us to cry but have also helped us move forward and I can tell you that none of us have regretted the blood sweat and tears we've shed. Yeah life sucks when you're finally out and have to face real life, but then again it already sucks when we just sit there and just hope to fake it... Just my two not-so-humble two cents.
hugs,Miguel

Beck said...

VIC; I agree that this is the biggest dilemma I have. It isn't the gay thing as it is the "keeping up appearances" thing. However, the gay thing - once it comes out - and it will come out - will complicate the other if not handled honestly.

I appreciate your example with your son and am seeking to not place "appearances" before my relationship with him.

NEAL: There isn't a great difference in my mind between "faith" in the message and planting the seed and doing what needs to be done to nurish it and see that it grows, and "faking it" for the sake of doing the expected and "right" thing to do, even for the wrong reasons. It's a fine line!

Certainly faith requires doing, and there is work and effort involved to "prove Him herewith", but what if he doesn't get over this? What if he tries and tries and tries and it doesn't get better? Then what? Again, like Invictus said, I don't want that to destroy the relationship.

Public Loneliness said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beck said...

MOHOH: Yes, it's a hard time for young adults to grow up in the church faced by the realities of the world they are in.

I have told my son that I don't "KNOW" everything and I have huge doubts. I've communicated that I have "conflicts" in my life and I don't know how to resolve them. I have not portrayed that he doesn't have a perfect-faith father. And I have told him that I will love him no matter what.

It's just seeing his struggles with his reality and facing the ideas and philosophies and cultures and religions of an amazing land and history has thrown him to doubt what faith he may have, is making me question my own uncertainty... and it IS COMPLICATED by my sexuality and keeping it secret from him... and that hypocritical approach to this discussion (where I'm "faking" my certainty in who I am) is making this all that much more pertinent.

I need to explore your links, but I appreciate your comments and challenging ideas. They help me to think outside my "fake" box.

And, I'm glad you saw humor in Chester's chastisement. I am trying to see the humor. Truth cuts to the core and leaves you naked!

If I'm not going to do anything about it, then maybe it is best that I shut up and sit down and get off the stage!

Invictus Pilgrim said...

Beck, you have been blessed with some very articulate, thoughtful and caring responses to your post. I would like to just add one more thought to my previous comment.

As I wrote in the post on my blog concerning my relationship with my son, I had pondered long and hard over the costs and benefits to families of being active in the Church. I used the phrase "Forever Family" as a basis for framing my thoughts and came to the conclusion that there is far too much emphasis in the Church on the "Forever" part (i.e., complying with a gazillion requirements, e.g., holding family home evening, having family scripture study, going to the temple, going to mutual, scouting, etc., etc., etc.!) of that phrase, and not nearly enough on the "Family" - i.e., authentic relationships between children and parents that celebrate the authentic love that can flow back and forth between and among parents, children and siblings. The relationships are what are important. What good does it do to have a "forever family" if there are no authentic relationshps there between and among the family members? I think the answer is obvious - or at least it was to me.

Beck said...

PL: I had a discussion with a friend yesterday about his son who got a girl pregnant, married her, and now is divorcing her and the "mess" that has become his life and now he doesn't "fit" into the church's mold and where will he go from here - already feeling isolated from the church for his situation.

I told this friend that all that mattered was his love for his son, and that he knew that his son has a "good heart" and that's all that matters.

My friend was grateful for that insight that he found to be "mature" and different from what he expected to hear from me. I felt what I was saying to be true.

And then, it turned to my own son, and maybe coming home or at least lasting out of duress and will it be worth it and will his life be ruined because he did follow the prescribed path?

I theoretically know that I will love him no matter what he decides. I want to think that I can live up to that theory.

Beck said...

VIC: Thanks for the follow-up. Yes, the answer is obvious. If you know me, you know that I feel strongly that relationships are the most important thing we can develop in this life... the rules, the regulations, the manuals and procedures, meetings and merit badges are not. And what relationships are more important than family.

That's where it makes this all the more poignant. I'm not wanting to lose my son because of my own hidden secrets and hypocritical team playing.

Clive Durham said...

Beck,

The hard thing for us to accept is that, as the Chinese say, one foot cannot stand on two boats. Someday the stress from living a life trying to do so may become too much and then you will "hit the wall" and realize you have but one option--to obliterate it and be free of its oppressive boundary.

Hitting the wall is not something you can force. It just happens. And when it does, you'll know you've done the right thing because you will feel as though the chains of hell have fallen from your shoulders.

Until I hit the wall and tore it from its foundation, all I could do was survive one day to the next. In contrast to my peaceful facade, my heart was a cauldron of drama, anger, and disappointment.

After the wall fell and the dust and smoke cleared, the sun shone through, bright and plain and clean.

Maybe you'll hit the wall one day. Maybe you won't. For me John Newton's lyrics now have even more poignancy, "I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see."

Beck said...

CLIVE: So, at the rate that I'm progressing (as Chester so adequately described as "perpetual dilemma") I don't see the wall being hit and torn from its foundations... unless something catestrophic happens... me being forced to come "out" to my kids, my son in particular. As this post has noted, I sense the day will come that that will happen, and sooner than later.

Maybe it will happen if I allow myself into a relationship, but I've put up so many boundaries around my gay friends that I don't see that happening either.

I've so carefully balanced myself between the two boats that unless one takes off or I slip from its deck, I don't know that I have the strength to pull down the wall.

I am anxious to follow your next steps as you step through the rubble of your town-down wall.

MoHoHawaii said...

I don't know that everyone will hit the wall eventually even though I certainly know the experience from my own life and have seen it often enough in others.

I have an uncle who I think is probably same-sex attracted. He is in his 80s. He has been married to my aunt for close to 65 years. I have never spoken to him about this subject, but my guess is that he might have some Beck-like stories to tell.

There are a lot of ways to get through this life. All of us are just winging it. I think the moral of the story is to examine one's life realistically and make the best possible decisions in each moment. One's direction may change over time, or it may not. It's something we all reassess day by day as we go through life.

Bror said...

Beck, you can be a whiney bitch all you want, I don't mind. The rules are different for us. We have more than boyfriend of the month in our lives. Keep on posting and I will always listen.

J G-W said...

Beck - I just finished reading Kiley's post about doubt, and now this one...

I have a couple of thoughts about the nature of doubt. First of all, in the last 100 years doubt has come to be a pervasive aspect of modern existence. By the way, I believe fundamentalisms of all kinds (Protestant, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Mormon, whatever fundamentalism you pick) to be manifestations of profound doubt and insecurity. The sea of doubt humanity is drowning in right now I believe to be the result of the messed up civilization we've built that is grinding the poor on every continent and trashing the planet.

My second thought about doubt is that I have come to understand faith purely in terms of my relationship with God. Prayer and scripture study become a kind of Urim and Thummim through which I can see and understand the world around me. From that vantage point, it is the doubt that feels unreal to me. I realize that faith is about living into ever deeper levels of love and commitment. I am literally willing to give my life for true faith, hope and love.

When I was in the MTC, I had a vision. It was literally a vision. It happened while we were singing a hymn at a devotional and I saw the heavens open. It was literally like the ceiling of the assembly hall just opened up like a curtain. And I saw the earth purified from sin and free of hate, oppression and slavery. And I had some sense of my whole purpose as a missionary being about bringing people into relationship with a living God which would enable us to achieve that world of pure love and justice. And I think of that as still being my mission now more than ever. I'm not working and sacrificing for somebody else's narrow-minded dogma. But to plant true faith, to help others enter into a living relationship with God... There's no sacrifice that isn't worth that.

Doubt can become fertilizer for profound, powerful sorts of faith. Or it can just stifle us and make life unbearable with its stink, until we abandon whatever faith quest we're on in order to eliminate the cognitive dissonance. So no one's in a position to tell you either to keep "faking it" till you "make it" or to give up and try something new... Only you can figure that out...

Beck said...

BROR: I'm not so sure you want to stand to close to a "whiney bitch" like me. You might become one, too! :)

JGW: This post isn't about my personal faith... it's about the hypocrisy I feel juxtaposed against the doubt my son is expressing which makes him feel hypocritical as a missionary who is testifying that he believes. That juxtaposition of doubting myself for my reasons against doubting himself for his reasons.

I know that if used properly doubt can be a "fertilizer" for faith. I know I've used my doubts and gained strength in my belief. I know my son has, too, to an extent. My faith, my convictions, as I stated in my post have "come at a terribly personal sacrifice and price, and I cherish them"...

What this is about is my conflict in how to tell him that... that despite everything, despite the pains of a double life and all the inconsistencies, inconveniences, and inadequacies that come with it, I still believe! How do I tell him that? How do I tell him that and not come across as the biggest hypocrite of all?

Rob said...

Beck, here's what I think.

You like being where you are. Or at least you're most comfortable living with the contradictions even though you fully recognize them and the stress they cause. If you wanted or valued some other circumstances or life more than your current "dilemma", you would already have taken steps to change things. This is a very natural thing for people to do; everybody wants comfort and security.

But you didn't plan on confronting your son's doubts. They are the unpredictable factor now disturbing your carefully balanced personal DADT with yourself. And now you're going to have to decide whether preserving your own sense of comfort and security can survive the feeling of hypocrisy it seems you are already feeling if you don't tell him about yourself and your orientation as the reason for your own doubts.

I'm not you. I don't know all your circumstances and won't presume to judge what you do. If there's one thing I've learned from coming out, it's to never presume I know what's in somebody else's heart or head sufficiently that I can judge them.

That said, my own experience mirrors that of others: honesty is best in the long run. You and I met in person once, and that was the day that I told my own kids. And they said "okay, so what?" My fears of their reaction proved totally unjustified, and we have been closer as a family ever since because I know I don't have to hide from them.

So based on that experience I would strongly urge you to be totally honest with your son. Imagine how much comfort he could take from knowing his own dad truly understands, even if the circumstances giving rise to that understanding differ a bit from his own. How much more respected would he feel by you if you did that for him. And if he comes home early, so what? Sure there may be some social opprobrium, but personal integrity should be worth it. And far easier for him if he knows that you completely understand and support him. I don't have much patience with "fake it till you make it" anymore. Authenticity is far better.

FWIW.

Quiet Song said...

Experiencing doubt is the risk that humble human beings take as they walk the path of faith, I do not agree with the fake it until you make it people who contribute to the widespread blight of Mormon Status disorder within the Church. You can easily find general authorities relating stories of doubt they experienced, including some relating experiences of doubt on their mission. Your son will have to work through this on his own and with his mission president. If he then has to come home, well love him, love him, love him. It is ok to doubt, to wonder and to question, how on earth will we truly grow if we do not? We took the risk of falling into sin, experiencing doubt, and every single aspect of the human condition when we came here. Our congregations should and are filled with people experiencing doubt as well they should be, and, we should acknowledge that and move on.

Beck said...

ROB: I hear you! Yes, I remember the day I met you and your kids, and the snowball fight thereafter. They are brilliant adorable gifts for sure! I knew of your anxiety in telling them. Thank you for your example in honestly dealing with them.

No, you don't know all the circumstances and yes, my balanced DADT world is teetereing, and the Beck house of cards may begin to fall. I appreciate that my son will respect the honesty of my confession, but I don't want that to be a source of his own undoing. Shouldn't I want to encourage him to be the best he can be (even if he comes home) and let that be based on his decisions and choices and not based on a conflicted father in a double life? I would hate to have my issues influence him for the worse at his own critical moment.

Maybe I should... maybe this is the 'wall' or "critical moment" I've been waiting for...

QUIET SONG: Thanks so much for commenting. Doubt it part of the plan and we've accepted it as part of finding discipleship. In the end, it all comes down to love... no matter what, I will love him, love him, love him...

and my hope is that when he understands me, he will also love me in turn.

Mister Curie said...

You have received some great advice. I agree that you should foster your relationship with your son rather than pushing a "fake it until you make it" attitude. The journey of doubt is very similar, in many ways, to the journey of coming out for a gay man. That your son has confided in you speaks volumes. Just show your love and let him know your love won't change with his adherence to the Mormon path of finishing his mission.

I understand your hesitancy at coming out to your son and how it may complicate the issues. I agree that this discussion should be about your son's doubts and not your homosexuality. Let him make his decision, show you love, and there will be another opportunity to share this with him. This is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship and it will help ensure that later coming out will be met with love on his part.

GeckoMan said...

Beck,
Happy New Year to you! I hope 2011 will be a year of meaningful events for you.

A couple of thoughts: first, a reflection on your words--

"All I can come up with is that I want him to find happiness in his service and find joy in his love for the people he is serving and to not worry about the rest. But that comes across as shallow and empty."

Oh really? Why would you discount such advice as trite? These are the universal and true sentiments of a thoughtful friend and parent. Maybe because we say these sorts of things all the time, that it's just considered 'Lip Service.' However, I would assert that this, if it is tendered along with the authenticity that others have aptly counseled, is precisely the right message. It's part of what's really needed in doing the right things for the right reasons. Your son shouldn't have to testify of anything he doesn't know for sure; hopefully he feels and knows of the power of God's love and can center on that.

Secondly, I align with JGW and others that doubt is an element of genuine faith and integrity. There needs to be uncertainty, humility and not knowing it all, in order for us to pray and seek answers. I think when we don't doubt, don't endeavor to question and resolve, that we live in shallow and apathetic faith. Living with doubt is something any honest person has to learn how to cultivate. We can do this when it is coupled with hope. That is, we can have faith in promised blessings and eventual outcomes, and be willing to let the Lord reveal to us his mind and will in his time frame, and not necessarily according to our demand for answers. I would encourage your son to embrace doubt, and when appropriate, he can teach others from his own experience, the power of doubt in deepening our need to honestly search and ponder on how one feels about the Lord and to prepare for the personal revelation that the scriptures promise comes to all who diligently seek.

The 'fake it until you make it' approach is counterfeit to the very real process that is driven and maintained by love and uncertainty.

Whatever the outcome of your son's struggle to be true to himself, I believe that you will love him and support him throughout his journey of discovery, just as our kind Father in Heaven does with each of us. Of that, I have no doubt.

GeckoMan said...

Beck,
Happy New Year to you! I hope 2011 will be a year of meaningful events for you.

A couple of thoughts: first, a reflection on your words--

"All I can come up with is that I want him to find happiness in his service and find joy in his love for the people he is serving and to not worry about the rest. But that comes across as shallow and empty."

Oh really? Why would you discount such advice as trite? These are universal and true sentiments of a thoughtful friend and parent. Maybe because we often hear these sorts of things, that it's just considered 'Lip Service.' However, if this is tendered along with the authenticity that others have aptly counseled, it is precisely the right message. It's the meat of doing the right things for the right reasons. Hopefully your son feels and knows of the power of God's love and he can center on that in his testimony of what is true.

Secondly, I align with JGW and others that doubt is an element of genuine faith and integrity. There needs to be uncertainty, humility and not knowing it all, in order for us to pray and seek answers. I think when we don't doubt, don't endeavor to question and resolve, that we live in shallow and apathetic faith. Living with doubt is something any honest person has to learn how to cultivate. We can do this when it is coupled with hope. That is, we can have faith in promised blessings and eventual outcomes, and be willing to let the Lord reveal to us his mind and will in his time frame. I would encourage your son to embrace doubt, and when appropriate, he can teach others from his own experience, the power of doubt in deepening our honest search for the Lord and personal inspiration.

The 'fake it until you make it' approach is the cop-out counterfeit to the very real process that is driven and maintained by love and uncertainty.

Whatever the outcome of your son's struggle to be true to himself, I believe that you will love him and support him throughout his journey of discovery, just as our kind Father in Heaven does with each of us. Of that, I have no doubt.

GeckoMan said...

Beck,
Happy New Year to you! I hope 2011 will be a year of meaningful events for you.

A couple of thoughts: first, a reflection on your words--

"All I can come up with is that I want him to find happiness in his service and find joy in his love for the people he is serving and to not worry about the rest. But that comes across as shallow and empty."

Oh really? Why would you discount such advice as trite? These are universal and true sentiments of a thoughtful friend and parent. Maybe because we often hear these sorts of things, that it's just considered 'Lip Service.' However, if this is tendered along with the authenticity that others have aptly counseled, it is precisely the right message. It's the meat of doing the right things for the right reasons. Hopefully your son feels and knows of the power of God's love and he can center on that in his testimony of what is true.

Secondly, I align with JGW and others that doubt is an element of genuine faith and integrity. There needs to be uncertainty, humility and not knowing it all, in order for us to pray and seek answers. I think when we don't doubt, don't endeavor to question and resolve, that we live in shallow and apathetic faith. Living with doubt is something any honest person has to learn how to cultivate. We can do this when it is coupled with hope. That is, we can have faith in promised blessings and eventual outcomes, and be willing to let the Lord reveal to us his mind and will in his time frame. I would encourage your son to embrace doubt, and when appropriate, he can teach others from his own experience, the power of doubt in deepening our honest search for the Lord and personal inspiration.

The 'fake it until you make it' approach is the cop-out counterfeit to the very real process that is driven and maintained by love and uncertainty.

Whatever the outcome of your son's struggle to be true to himself, I believe that you will love him and support him throughout his journey of discovery, just as our kind Father in Heaven does with each of us. Of that, I have no doubt.

GeckoMan said...

Beck,
Happy New Year to you! I hope 2011 will be a year of meaningful events for you.

A couple of thoughts: first, a reflection on your words--

"All I can come up with is that I want him to find happiness in his service and find joy in his love for the people he is serving and to not worry about the rest. But that comes across as shallow and empty."

Oh really? Why would you discount such advice as trite? Maybe because we often hear these sorts of things, that it's just considered 'Lip Service.' However, if this is tendered along with the authenticity that others have aptly counseled, it is precisely the right message. It's the meat of doing the right things for the right reasons. Hopefully your son feels and knows of the power of God's love and he can center on that in his testimony of what is true.

Secondly, I align with JGW and others that doubt is an element of genuine faith and integrity. There needs to be uncertainty, humility and not knowing it all, in order for us to seek answers. I think when we don't doubt, don't endeavor to question and resolve, that we live in shallow and apathetic faith. Living with doubt is something any honest person has to learn how to cultivate. We can do this when it is coupled with hope. That is, to have faith in promised blessings and eventual outcomes, and be willing to let the Lord reveal to us his mind and will in his time frame.

The 'fake it until you make it' approach is the cop-out counterfeit to the very real process that is driven and maintained by love and uncertainty.

Whatever the outcome of your son's struggle to be true to himself, I believe that you will love him and support him throughout his journey of discovery, just as our kind Father in Heaven does with each of us. Of that, I have no doubt.

GeckoMan said...

Beck,
Happy New Year to you! I hope 2011 will be a year of meaningful events for you.

A couple of thoughts: first, a reflection on your words--"All I can come up with is that I want him to find happiness in his service and find joy in his love for the people he is serving and to not worry about the rest. But that comes across as shallow and empty." Really? Why would you discount such advice as trite? These are universal and true sentiments of a thoughtful friend and parent. Maybe because we often hear these sorts of things, that it's just considered 'Lip Service.' However, if this is tendered along with the authenticity that others have aptly counseled, it is precisely the right message. It's the meat of doing the right things for the right reasons. Hopefully your son feels and knows of the power of God's love and he can center on that in his testimony of what is true.

Secondly, I align with JGW and others that doubt is an element of genuine faith and integrity. There needs to be uncertainty, humility and not knowing it all, in order for us to pray and seek answers. I think when we don't doubt, don't endeavor to question and resolve, that we live in shallow and apathetic faith. Living with doubt is something any honest person has to learn how to cultivate. We can do this when it is coupled with hope. That is, we can have faith in promised blessings and eventual outcomes, and be willing to let the Lord reveal to us his mind and will in his time frame. I would encourage your son to embrace doubt, and when appropriate, he can teach others from his own experience, the power of doubt in deepening our honest search for the Lord and personal inspiration.

The 'fake it until you make it' approach is the cop-out counterfeit to the very real process that is driven and maintained by love and uncertainty.

Whatever the outcome of your son's struggle to be true to himself, I believe that you will love him and support him throughout his journey of discovery, just as our kind Father in Heaven does with each of us. Of that, I have no doubt.

GeckoMan said...

Beck, please forgive the multiple postings--Blogger was giving me an error message that my comment was too large, so I kept trimming it down and refining it until I finally gave up! Please keep the version you like best and delete the extras!

Libellule said...

Beck, If I may say something based on my own experience:
1) you are in conflict based on 1. how to answer your son who needs your advice seeing his doubts 2. knowing that the answer you could give would be hypocritical seeing the doubts you have

I guess that I would say that it would only be hypocritical if you feel that you have to TELL him one way or another. Do you?

When I was on my mission, I felt torn and fake (you can see poems on my blog about this). I finally told my mission president that I couldn't do it any more. I didn't want to wear a badge and be associated with the church; who was I to tell people that I was right and they were wrong which was against every fiber of my being. I want to share this story with you in case it may give you some ideas. My point is, I guess, to talk with your son and see why he would want to stay and how he could envision staying, and why he would be reluctant to go home and how he could envision returning. In the end, you cannot tell your son one thing or another because it is his decision, but maybe you can help him think through the process and understand his doubts. Someone very dear to me returned from a mission and it was the best thing that this person and their family together could have decided.

In my case: My mission president gave me the option to stay but to do it my way: basically he was allowing me to be the rebel but still love people. My first project was to investigate some information at a wonderful university center of archives to understand the local culture's religion. I then was able to develop a questionnaire that I distributed to a theology class at the local university to know what OTHERS thought about their relationship with God, I visited members, "inactives", helped where I could. When I was transferred to my last area, I regularly visited an inactive lady and did things with her, helped with the Red Cross' activities in a home for blind people ... this was my way of "finishing". When I came home I left the church.

I agree, that your gay issues and doubts are a side note. But if anything, perhaps your issues and doubts can enable you to be a better sounding board for your son and to help him through this hard time.

Good luck!

Libellule said...

Beck, If I may say something based on my own experience:
1) you are in conflict based on 1. how to answer your son who needs your advice seeing his doubts 2. knowing that the answer you could give would be hypocritical seeing the doubts you have

I guess that I would say that it would only be hypocritical if you feel that you have to TELL him one way or another. Do you?

When I was on my mission, I felt torn and fake (you can see poems on my blog about this). I finally told my mission president that I couldn't do it any more. I didn't want to wear a badge and be associated with the church; who was I to tell people that I was right and they were wrong which was against every fiber of my being. I want to share this story with you in case it may give you some ideas. My point is, I guess, to talk with your son and see why he would want to stay and how he could envision staying, and why he would be reluctant to go home and how he could envision returning. In the end, you cannot tell your son one thing or another because it is his decision, but maybe you can help him think through the process and understand his doubts. Someone very dear to me returned from a mission and it was the best thing that this person and their family together could have decided.

I agree, that your gay issues and doubts are a side note. But if anything, perhaps your issues and doubts can enable you to be a better sounding board for your son and to help him through this hard time.

Good luck!

Libellule said...

and in my case (could this be an option for your son?):

My mission president gave me the option to stay but to do it my way: basically he was allowing me to be the rebel but still love people. My first project was to investigate some information at a wonderful university center of archives to understand the local culture's religion. I then was able to develop a questionnaire that I distributed to a theology class at the local university to know what OTHERS thought about their relationship with God, I visited members, "inactives", helped where I could. When I was transferred to my last area, I regularly visited an inactive lady and did things with her, helped with the Red Cross' activities in a home for blind people ... this was my way of "finishing". When I came home I left the church.

robert said...

Wow alot of interesting and honest commentary here. I want to say that the phrase "fake it till you make it" was co opted from AA. Very ironic.

In AA, the phrase is meant toencourage newly sober alcoholics to follow the AA principles and attend meetings "as if" they believed everything even if they didn't. In time, they would come to see the truth about their addictions and "pull the cotton out of their ears" and start to heal.

I think it works for hard core addicts who cannot "get with a program" that could literally save their lives. In any other context, I think it sounds ridiculous. This phrase is for damaged folks only! Never intended to be used as a mantra for religious persuasion. Just another insight.

Beck said...

GECKO: Thanks for your multiple posts. I hope you understand I was rhetorical in my approach. Of course I feel that this love and bonding with a people he is serving is the most important part of his service. I know it was for me and it's that connectivity that I have taken with me from my mission.

I agree that doubt can be good, and can be used to find personal truth. I feel this has been my slow by steady journey in facing my own reality. It takes doubt to question and those questions lead to answers. I don't mind the questioning, but I need to be able to help him (and me) see a way through the questioning to a result that is sustainable and not self-destructive.

LIBELLULE: I know he's looking for an option that involves more service and more genuine welfare help and assistance verses raw teaching. He's always been more service oriented... and I seek ways to help me to do just that. I hope his mission president will sense that and be as understanding and flexible as yours was.

ROBERT: I didn't know that the phrase came from AA. So thanks for the enlightenment. I took it from another blog... the concept is still there, that shouldn't be used in religious belief in its literal sense...

but there is a concept of taking action and putting faith to work before real believing comes and discipleship follows.

Beck said...

MISTER CURIE: I love your comment. I want this to be about him and his timing and his seeking for his truth, and not about mine. All in due time and season... and that isn't a cop out. It is the way I feel it should go - I need to concentrate on him and not on me right now... and the message of unconditional love is at the foundation of it all.

Thanks.

The Lead Singer said...

“The spectrum of choice is always around you. There’s always the selection of excitement/love or panic/fear. How you define every situation that emerges tells you of your vibration. Be true to your own self to see how divine you are within that will project without."
— Brad Johnson

Beck said...

WYATT: Glad to see you're still around! I love and will never, ever tire of reading your encouragement for me to live life more fully and learn to vibrate.

Charlotte J said...

First, I love your blog. You are insightful, honest, and a rather good writer. As a writer I have always thought that you don't have to tell the truth to be honest. If having an alias sets you free to be the "real you" while the other you keeps your life stable for your family, then so be it. I do the same thing.

My husband turned out to be gay and I set him "free." I was the one that decided to leave and he has embraced the new lifestyle whole-heartedly although he says he still "loves" me. It makes me ache although I do not hate him. In fact I still love him and always will, but we both know that we were cheating ourselves and each other out of being loved "fully". I am so glad to hear some perspective from the other side of this story. Thank you!

Beck said...

CHARLOTTE: Thank you for reading and I appreciate your complement. It means a lot. Sometimes I wonder if my ramblings are well written or just mindless gibberish nonsense. As Chester stated at the beginning of this comment trail, I may come acros as a "whiney bitch". I need to work on that.

But as you point out, I'm trying to accomplish something on a perspective on "the other side of this story". To do so, I hide in order to be truly honest. I thank you for being able to see through this and understand my motives, and I appreciate your willingness to take a peek at this "other perspective".