Saturday, September 17, 2016

I haven't written in so long that I actually forgot my password and the steps to get into writing a post on this blog..  Because of my silence for so long, I am sure it would be safe to think that no one will really read this anyway, so maybe it doesn't matter.

So what has drawn me out?  I stumbled across a video of "Jacob" and his story of being sent home early from his mission as a result of his incidents of "cuddling" with a fellow missionary. 

So why has this impacted me so hard?  I don't really know... I thought I was over this, but obviously I'm not.  I am extremely disturbed by this as I interpret what transpired with Jacob being sent home.  You see, if you know me at all, or if you have read any of this blog, you will know that I am a HUGE cuddler - a skill that I proudly perfected particularly in the last quarter of my mission.  This cuddling and affection between two young men became the most essential learning experience of my mission.  It drew me out.  It brought me to the brink of love.  It filled my heart with brotherly passion and affection.  It enlivened me in ways that are impossible to put in words, but so profoundly that I will never forget the amazing spiritual and physical bonding that took place.

Unlike Jacob, I never told my mission president.  I didn't even think what I had done was wrong.  I was so na├»ve and innocent to my predicament that I couldn't even fathom the idea that this affectionate love between two men was any way, shape or form a sin that needed confessing.  I was in love!  I was filled with love!  I was passionately born anew into an amazing world bursting forth out of my cocoon of innocence and self-denial. 

I was so convinced that this was nothing unholy... in fact, I thought just the opposite, that it was very holy, indeed, to the point of equating it with the love, the affection, the kisses between Old Testament heroes of mine:  Jonathan and David.

So here I am 35 years later and I am sitting here wondering "what if"...

What if I had been discovered and reported by someone to have been caught cuddling with another missionary or young man?

What if I had reported my non-sexual behavior as some kind of sexual offense?

What if I had been sent home early (at this point it was toward the end of my mission anyway)?

What if I had been placed on probation of disfellowshipped from the church I loved?  Would I have remained faithful to the church?  Would I have chosen to leave?

What if I had the course of my life totally altered from that experience?

What if that course would have thrown me into a different path all together?  Would I have married? Or more likely, would I have returned to my mission area and continued my "brotherly" relationships? Where would that have led me?

Would I ever have become a father and had children and watched them grow and develop through their struggles and trials?

So many thoughts have flooded my mind to the point that I'm thrown back into a funk of sorts... 

This was long ago... probably before some that might read this were even born.  It was a different time and place.  All the more frustrating today that "cuddling" is deemed a grave enough incident to return one home from missionary service in dishonor, permanently altering the course of a life over such a beautiful thing.  I am discouraged that we have not progressed much in the last 35 years.  I am frustrated that this injustice is still occurring.

Or is it injustice? It seems that Jacob has awakened to a new reality of happiness and bliss, one of self-worth and confidence and radiance that is hard to resist.  Could I have been him?  Would I have come to a self-awakening so much sooner had I "confessed my sin"?  Would I have remained for another 25 years in self-denial and self-loathing? 

I know playing the "what if" game is pointless.  It isn't possible to go back and recreate the situation and learn anew.  It isn't helpful to dwell on the past.  And yet, I feel torn apart today... I ache for the missionary that has found the beautiful art of "cuddling", and yet may find also a lost family, a lost culture, a lost faith...  I am torn in what to do, what to say, how to help, how to encourage.  I find my timidity of coming out and sharing my experience is still weak, with many powerful forces keeping me hidden - destined to live out my life as an actor in a play in a strange and unnatural world.

I think Jacob is better off where he is now.  I want to think that I am better off for the choices I've made as well.  I ask the reader to not judge me too harshly for my choices.  I have been truly blessed and I'm grateful for those priceless blessings that have come into my life because of those choices.

But I still ache... ache for the "what if" existence... ache to know how fears of failure and disgrace would be over-exaggerated, and ultimately just as blessed I would have been had my mission turned out like Jacob's.

Where's my old DVD of "Latter Days"???... I think that would help my funk...