Monday, February 14, 2011

The need for a miracle...

Last week I somehow (I don't remember the link) came across a discussion at "Times and Seasons" that discussed whether the church still believed in miracles as described in the four Gospels as performed by Christ, or whether for some reason we have become a church of cessationists - meaning we confirm that such miracles no longer occur, even in the restored church. It was a good read in preparation for this week's Gospel Doctrine discussion on miracles.

What I describe next concerns me that I might be trampling on sacred ground - but in the hope that it will be received in the spirit it is given, I feel it is worth the risk:

What put this in perspective was last week's Fast and Testimony Meeting. In this meeting a brother from the ward appeared in the chapel after a six week absence. Six weeks ago, he suffered a spinal chord injury that paralyzed him from his shoulders down. The doctors were baffled as to what to do. A priesthood blessing was given and IMMEDIATELY, his right toe began to wiggle. Six weeks later, he walks to the podium, gingerly, but under his own power and stands before us bearing his testimony of the power of the priesthood and that miracles have not ceased. With tears flowing off the faces of the congregation, absolute silence filled the space and the spirit bore witness that something special was being witnessed of epic proportions.

Fast forward to yesterday's, SS class, and there was a discussion on the IMMEDIACY of Christ's miracles, and an interesting note was made that this IMMEDIATE recovery of the sick and afflicted bore testimony of the power and divinity of Christ to the Jews. There was a discussion about whether such "immediacy" was a requirement of a healing to be considered a "miracle" in today's church. Most concluded that it did not, though many feel that a miracle that took six weeks wouldn't have the "wow factor" of some to believe, but the "wow factor" of seeing this brother in last week's Fast and Testimony meeting was, nonetheless, a full-out miracle again of New Testament proportions.

Then, quietly, a humble man stood in the back of the room and began to speak. Heads turn and all discussion stops. He spoke in a way that everyone became silent again and the spirit bore witness that something special was happening. This brother reminded us that last year he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, his body overcome with the disease and tumors that filled his body, deemed inoperable, and they sent him home to die giving him three days to live. Several priesthood blessings followed, faith was exercised, and today this brother is healthy and whole, despite medical science remaining baffled at his recovery.

Both of these brothers I personally know very well. They have blessed my life as I have had the chance to offer blessings to them. Have miracles ceased? Does the restored church still believe in the gift of healing? Is God involved in our lives beyond helping us to find our missing keys in the snow or under the tire (the typical miracle quoted in our meetings)? I can only stand witness to what I saw, felt and understood.

As great as these miracles of healing are to build our faith and to strengthen our testimonies of the divinity of Christ and the power of faith in Him, the greatest miracle remains the one where our souls are healed...

Fast forward again to now: My heart is really heavy today. The foundations of my "house of cards" that I've built through the years is cracking and crumbling. I ache knowing the pain and confusion I've caused dear loved ones due to my own pain and confusion of who I am as a man attracted to other men. I do not deny who I have become by accepting this fact. Yet, I am pained at the suffering my hidden world has caused.

Is there a miracle big enough to put my house back together and heal our cracked and aching souls? If one kind of miracle is indisputably manifested before me that He is real and this is real, can there be hope for this other type of miracle to strengthen and "heal" my own foundations? And can such a miracle be deemed less miraculous?

WOW... sorry... this post is pretty heavy for Valentine's Day... but hey, I didn't pick the day this earthquake occurred in my life. More to come... (maybe)...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Don't pity me! We are our best together!

Lately I've blogged less, as I wait for something to happen that may be worth blogging about - and thus, I concentrate maybe too much on the perplexities (and therefore the implied miserable and pathetic existence) from my life's choices as a closeted gay man. In my last post I received one comment that called me a "liar"! And another who "cries for my situation"!

There is a pitied implication that I am a sad, frustrated, angry man. I am not! Just because my blog concentrates on this one aspect of my life in a direct way with often frustrating overtones does not imply that I am unhappy. I am full of gratitude for the goodness that has touched and continues to touch my life in so many wonderful dimensions.

I do not feel that I am a liar. I admit that I have been. I've made a lifelong career of hiding the truth of who I am from everyone, including myself. But whether I am "totally out, partially out, or not out at all" is not so important to me as being honest with and accepting of myself.

I am content with my choices. Whether you think I'm "settling" for something less than true joy is not for you to say or judge. I have not revealed, nor discussed all aspects of my life, situations that affect my decisions of what may be viewed as "settling". I want you to be content that I'm content with my choices.

Who are you to tell me that I would be better off making better choices? Or how can you say that I would be happier if I were, for example, to leave my wife and kids and family situation? Or church affiliation? Caspita'! Or more in a more appropriate Italian exclamation: Porca miseria! (Pig misery!)

Don't pity me! I don't need your pity! I'm neither seeking it nor requiring it, especially from this readership that I would hope would have a better understanding. And don't "cry for my situation"! I am happy in my situation. With every choice there are pros and cons, compromises to be made, and I've had well enough time to weigh those choices before me. I am thrilled with my life and count myself blessed.

If my choices are more reserved, less inclusive of what you may feel would be my "full potential" if I were only to... (fill in the blank), then I ask, instead, that you see the good in what I am doing and the steps I'm taking as I journey along this selected path. Celebrate with me this journey as I try to celebrate yours.

Maybe I'm feeling a twinge of jealousy as I observe you moving on with your lives?. Maybe an inkling of envy? Maybe, but I hope there remains room in this MOHO community for one like me who, against others hopes that the misery factor of a MOM will finally bring me to my proper senses. Not all MOMS are miserable existences! Mine certainly is not! I have found great joy and passion and love. Obviously my wife has, too. We are best together than apart. She makes me better, even my best, with her at my side. She is my better-half. She compliments and completes me. It takes work, it isn't easy, it isn't even preferred, but it is still wonderful. And as long as we create that miraculous romance-movie "magic" for each other, then don't judge our MOM to be some kind of torture chamber filled prison sentence - the only reason for enduring such a marriage is that false hope of some eternal exaltation.

Don't shake your head in pity or disdain for my continued devotion to my family, my marriage, and my beliefs. Instead, let's work together to lift, motivate, encourage, love.

Maybe I'm over-reacting. I tend to do that, so I'm sure I am. It's another characteristic of mine that needs a lot of improvement. I feel more and more challenged in my decisions as I fail to deviate from my path as I've witnessed others doing. Maybe that is more implied inside my head by my lack of assurance that what I'm doing is completely right for me? Maybe...

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Do you really need to drape yourself on everyone?

Bravone, among others, can testify that I am an indiscriminate hugger. I have been this way ever since my mission. (NOTE: If you've followed this blog over the last five years, you may remember the story from where I acquired this propensity to hug). I have mentioned in the past that if I find myself holding back, extinguishing my sense of touch and natural affection, then I feel like something inside of me is dying, describing it like a wrinkled last leaf on a withered vine. I told myself, after sensing this "dying" affect, that I wouldn't be that way anymore. I would have to be the way that I naturally am and that this is just the way it has to be for me to find some sense of balance as a man in my situation.

A few weeks ago, an anonymous person commented on my blog and got all over me about me "hitting" on men in church, particularly young men, and essentially called me a pervert, accusing me of using my position of authority to get close to them and get my kicks from them in church settings in a predatory sense. I was very concerned about this reaction to my blog. This person expressed how she would hate to be in my ward and would want to be sure to keep her young boys away from the likes of me. This person obviously didn't follow that the "young men" that I was describing as my friends are in their mid to late twenties now, and married, and very much adults, choosing to be affectionate with me as a sign of a straight-friendship and brotherhood. It makes me wonder though, how I must come across to others... Am I putting myself out there too much? Do I unknowingly drape myself on others whether they want to be recipients of my signs of affection or not?

Case in point, last Sunday: After church, I was in the foyer greeting and saluting folks as they departed for home, and as I am wont to do, I hugged indiscriminately... young men, old men, widows and elderly sister, and wives of my "young men" mentioned above. I must have hugged a dozen or so, when my wife caught me hugging one of these young-straight-married-late-twenties friends in what she thought was a full-body groin-grinding hug. She called me on it and said she didn't like what I was doing, and that it made her feel like I was being unfaithful to her. She left a bit upset. Her reaction made me a bit upset as well. I had to stay behind to take care of things, one of which was giving someone a blessing... I was very confused and befuddled inside wondering how mad she was going to be of me, and whether this was going to spiral out of control, and I started to doubt myself and wonder whether I was fooling myself for believing that this was all as innocent as I meant it and portrayed it to be... It was difficult to feel the spirit as there was a confusion inside me.

When I finally came home nothing was said. Yet, I could sense the coolness in the room. The proverbial elephant had returned and taken up residence in the parlor. The more I thought about it, the more assured I was of myself. I am an affectionate person. I, as a gay man in a straight lifestyle, am needing to express that to others. I do so as a natural extension of myself and this is the way I've got to be. Choosing to not be in a gay relationship, but staying committed to my marriage, has been tough, but I am okay with this decision, but I'm not okay with holding back the natural tendencies of affection.

But, that night she brought it up again as we were getting ready for bed. She wondered why I did it. Why did I have to hug everyone? And why, especially, did I have to hug young adult men to whom she knows I'm attracted. And why, knowing that this is hurtful to her, do I continue to do this.

I decided it was time to talk... I told her that I had to be the natural person that I was and that if I couldn't be who I was then I might as well die. I explained that I was hugging all sorts of people, not singling out or isolating myself to special "men" that I am attracted to... In fact, I honestly told her that my attractions for this particular friend has diminished substantially since he moved back into the ward, that seeing him every week was actually better than not seeing him for a long time.

She still didn't appreciate the fact that I had to be so affectionate, and particularly in long hugs. (It's interesting to note that I heard on the radio this last week that a hug longer than 3 seconds is too long for most people... I'm just getting going at 3 seconds!). I told her that I wasn't going to stop, that I couldn't stop and that I needed her to not request me to stop, and to try to accept that this is the way I am. I tried to be sensitive to her feeling, but asked her to be sensitive to mine and realize that I'm not trying to inflict pain on her as I do this particular questionable behavior. She felt like I was betraying her or being unfaithful to her and I told her that I am not doing it for anything but brotherly love (which is true - it hasn't always been the case, far from it, but that was when I was still figuring out who I was / am). Yet, right here and now it is where it is - I'm extending myself and my brotherly love for my brothers AND sisters - evenly and universally).

I explained to her how I've tried to re-earn her trust, how I have been FAITHFUL to her and tried to show her that I only want to be with her. She admitted that she felt that way, that I was being faithful and that my devotion to her has increased and that I have been affectionate to her... but she still didn't like it.

She's going through a vulnerable and stressful time right now, and I can see and understand that these expressions of affection I make, particularly to some, triggers past pain and deep hurt. So, I understand her feelings of uneasiness and jealousy. That said, I can't stop. I'm not a pervert and I'm not getting my kicks in church.

Finally, yesterday, she was particularly upset and I came and gave her a full-body hug, grabbing her tight to me, pulling her into me from below. We full-body hugged and kissed each other for quite some time (maybe 20 times the legal limit of 3 second hug comfort of most) and then she softly asked if I hugged anyone else this way... and I said no. I showed her that when my arms are up over the shoulders of the huggee, I am pulling my shoulders and head to mine, but not our groins. It was such a simple gesture - something so obvious to me, but finally she got the difference.

As I held her, she whispered: "I trust you. I want you to be you. I want you to be free to be yourself. I will try not to be jealous of the attention and affection you shower freely on others. I will believe you and trust you when you say that you are not feeling unfaithful or that your attractions aren't getting in the way of your affection for me. Just remember to pay attention to me, too!"

I smiled and gave her a big hug and kiss... so much for another baby step...


Am I really just an unfaithful, insensitive husband, as well as a confused pervert, getting my thrills where I can, and church is full of easy targets?