Saturday, March 30, 2013

Is there still room to hope?

It's been a confusing few weeks... I have not been able to lose the thought of the "what ifs" about my life. In particular, I've been struggling with the notion bouncing around in my head that "what if all that I believe to know to be true really isn't, then what?" I consider doubting a way of confirming my faith. I liked the line in "Life of Pi" that portrayed that principle of belief so beautifully. And I consider this bout with doubt as something of that nature.

I went to the temple this week, more out of commitment and obligation, but still out of a sense of contemplation and worship. In the temple I felt a void come over me, but I felt promptings to reach out to others in need, to be kinder to family and extended family, to write grateful thoughts to those I've neglected, and to reach out in love by not being afraid to touch. But, despite that inspriation, I was consumed with the thought of what if all of this plan, of the eternities, of "families forever" of "celestial rooms" filled with loved ones, etc. all were just a nice made-up wishful fantasy? What if? And how does that affect my life choices today, here and now, as a gay man in a mixed-oriented, sometimes difficult marriage? What if the Plan of Happiness that I have come to love and believe in so much really isn't the Truth at all? What if it's all a delusion? Then what? These thoughts have consumed me and my questioning to the Lord have come up empty. All I get is to stop worrying about it and go be kind and loving and thoughtful of others. What a cop-out answer!

My biggest concern seems to be centered around the idea that if this isn't true, then nothing is, and if nothing is, then what's the point? Where's the purpose in life? What's the deal with even trying to be kind and loving and thoughtful? Where is the grand scope and meaning? If all that I have taught others through decades of teaching the Plan is a lie, then everything is a lie. So where does that leave me? If this is it, then why try to stay married? Why not give it all up, throw away the shackles of belief, the burden of family, the lies of relationships, the hiding of self, and run off into the sunset with a beautiful boyfriend, imaginary or otherwise? Why fight the good fight? Why even try?

I woke up this morning early and went outside and took in the beautiful sunrise and the sense of newness around me, where the apricot trees are nearly swelling with the anticipation of "popcorn popping" and the hillside busrting with small signs of wanting so hard to turn green with new life beginning under winter-smashed, snow-burned grass. And I was overcome with a feeling of joy in life, in spring, in renewal, in the cycle of life, in rebirth, and was overcome with the sense of an Easter Sunday maybe 15 years ago where I found myself looking out over a Tuscan hillside, bursting with green new life, catching those warm rays on a crisp, clear Italian morning. I remember so vividly the sensations of that morning that overwhelmed me with the beauty and magic of being there in that place, on that deck, leaning on that railing, knowing that God knew me, understood me and loved me. And this morning, it was like I was instantly transported to that magical Tuscan spot in my mind... and my soul was touched to feel that the Savior is still my Savior and the blessings of the atonement personally in my life are still undeniably real to me, enough to keep hanging on with this path I'm on, and hoping in the future.

My "if not this, then what?" question is still hanging over me, and my doubts are still checking my faith, and I can't help but think again of the "Life of Pi" , that the "great story of God" is better to believe than the alternate story of emptiness. Is this foolish to still believe? Is there really no truth? And if the Gospel is a fantasy, then what fills the void? Is there still room to hope?

Happy Easter!


naturgesetz said...

Let me give you another what if. What if the Plan is not a lie, but only a glimpse of the truth? What if there is way more and far better in store than what you have been taught and believed and in your turn taught others?

Dean said...

The concept of only one true church made sense to me when I was younger. I have since seen grasped the concept that there are multiple ways to achieve salvation. I have seen people who were helped by Mormon teachings. I have seen others, including myself, who were deeply harmed by Mormon teachings.

The Mormon church has a consistently poor history when it comes to LGBTQ issues. I do not pound that history into my believing friends and family. I have shared it with the few who have wanted to know what I learned once I began looking into the church's past teachings and practices.

I am grateful that I was already divorced when I started my gay journey. You and your family have my thoughts and prayers.

MoHoHawaii said...

This post strikes close to home for me, since at a point in my life my faith shattered on the floor. I've actually had to deal with the what ifs that you raise.

I came out on the other side ok. People do. I don't think I'm special. The odd thing is, the much feared nihilist terror never comes. If you lose your faith, you just start focusing on the life you have, not the life hereafter. You still love, and you still want to leave this world a better place. Paradoxically, I found that after I lost my faith (i.e., after I began to expect less), I had more to give.

Whether you have faith or not is neutral. It's possible to live a good life with or without it. Life without faith is not something to be feared.

I will say that staying in an unhappy situation solely because of promises about the afterlife is a bad thing to do. (I'm not saying that this is your situation.) One's faith is supposed to bring the abundant life, not emotional poverty. It's supposed to do this NOW, IN THIS LIFE.

Miguel said...

What if all of it is just part of what makes you a great, caring and loving person and you're a great, caring, loving person in spite of what might and might not be true? Sounds to me like you're asking yourself a lot of interesting questions that most people never do or at least are too scared to contemplate since we're so used to having all the answers already written directly or indirectly in a manual or a book or a talk--it is far more fun to make your own answers, scary? maybe but way more fun...

Adrian said...

Recall the spiritual moments in the Temple when you felt the Lord confirm some things to your heart that you dearly needed to know....Adon

Beck said...

NATURGESETZ: Nice thought. I know that what I believe to be the truth is, if anything, a very limited view of the full truth.

DEAN: Grasping different concepts is what I'm doing here as I explore the "What ifs" of my choices. But it isn't easy, even with considering the church's past teachings and practices. It isn't easy to do this as an active member, married, with family etc. Thank yoy for your thoughts and prayers. That means a lot to me!

Beck said...

MOHOH: I don't see how coming out on the other side "ok" is even possible! I can't get my head around that possibility. It just doesn't ring true for me. Call it fear, insecurity, doubt, call me a coward, whatever, I just can't seem to get my head around not having faith. I don't know how that happens even though I've seen many do it. To me, there would be no meaning for me to exist without faith. I don't see the purpose of existing, let alone thriving or striving for an abundant life if there is no other point.

That said, I agree with you that my faith needs to work for here and now, making me the best I can be NOW and not living in misery longing for some future "reward". I appreciate that you can see that I do not subsribe to this belief. I want and do seek a rich and abundant life HERE AND NOW, but still, having that life without faith just seems so impossible for me to get my head around...

Beck said...

MIGUEL: Thanks for the encouragement of taking the scary path. I agree that this is really about being the best, caring and loving person we can be. But you see, my friend wants me to question whether the church is what is holding me back from the life I would be more comfortable living verses staying just because the church says to. I am asking myself these questions to challenge my faith, to make sure that what I am doing is what I want to do. And part of that is asking myself if what I believe is really true. That said, I do want to be the best, caring and loving person I can be, and I appreciate that you have proven it can be done!

ADRIAN: I have not forgotten that temple experience or many, many other such experiences of spiritual confirmation to my soul! I am not throwing those away! Indeed, the remembrance of these experiences is key to why I can't so easily dismiss my faith. Thanks for reminding me to remember!