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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Retrospection: Cancer

So I was sick. When I texted Monique she let me out of our phone call that day. It was too much to take all at once. After I left the doctor’s I bought myself a burger, fries, and a coke. I deserved it, dang it.

That was a Thursday. That weekend I went with Monique to the Festival of Trees, something that I wasn’t feeling too emotionally up to it. The evening went well enough. Monique was sweet to me. And we had a fun time.

I remember that weekend I stayed at my parent’s place. I went to church with them on Sunday, and the few people that knew I was sick came and gave me hugs. Despite their concern, I felt like I still had to be the strong one. Everyone around me was trying to be sensitive, and that just made me feel like I had to bottle everything up. I didn’t need people to be sensitive. I needed them to be real. And to let me be real. And let me sob if I needed to. Or let me laugh if I needed to.

Really, that’s what I’ve needed in regards to my sexuality. Don’t tip toe around me. And don’t treat me like an angry and vicious apostate. Just be real, and let me be real.

I remember sitting in church that weekend. In gospel doctrine class a sister was giving a lesson on the armor of God. As a visual aid she had made cardboard armor and she wanted a volunteer to act as a mannequin for the armor. Gaga only knows why she thought this was a good idea for an adult class.

But because I was the visiting youth who everyone had taught in my teenage years she recruited me. I remember standing there, absolutely humiliated, wondering why I had to be part of that poor excuse for a doctrinal lesson, especially when inside I was completely devastated. I loathed Mormon culture in that moment.

If I were to relive that, I would refuse to go up. And when they pressed me, I would say, “I was diagnosed with cancer this week, and the last thing I want to do is be humiliated by taking part in a childish and demeaning object lesson for all of you.” If only I had the composition to demand my own needs back then.

Monday night my parents and younger brother drove down to Provo. My parents slept in a hotel and my brother slept in the empty bed in my room. Tuesday morning we went into the hospital and I got prepped for surgery.

Once I was ready to go I parted from my family and went with the nurses. I was lying in the bed when the surgeon came in. He gave me a brief summary of how the surgery would be. I asked him about the tumor and about the cancer in general. He said that he believed it was just the one tumor. But he wouldn’t know until after the surgery. I hadn’t considered the idea that this might not be the end of my cancer. I didn’t have much time to dwell on that, because before I knew it I was in the operating room and being hooked up to an iv. And then I was out.

I remember regaining consciousness gradually. Things were foggy, and I gained my thought before I gained my motor functions in full. As I waited for myself to wake up, the last words of the surgeon came to me. And there, with my eyes still closed in the recovery room, I wept. The walls came down, and I was allowed to be weak. I sobbed softly, letting some of the pain of my whole life out. I was aching. Not just as a cancer patient, but as a person. My life felt like it was crumbling around me. And there was no one to listen. No one to care.

I spent all that day in the hospital. The plan was for me to go home that afternoon, but the Percocet they gave me made me absolutely sick. I couldn’t even sit up without the world whirling around me and my stomach preparing to eject its contents. And my blood pressure was extremely low.

One dose of Percocet, which was only supposed to last four hours, lasted eight with me. I never take medication, and so a small dose has a strong effect on me. By early afternoon the nurse told me I needed to stay the night, just until my blood pressure went up.

My brother drove my car to my parent’s place and my folks stayed another night in the hotel. I spent the night on my own in the hospital, using morphine instead of Percocet. I can’t say that I get why people love morphine. I remember feeling pleasant on it, but it never killed the pain in my incision. It only made the ache tolerable.

I don’t know that I slept too much. I chatted with one or two of the gay people I’d met online. I chatted with one of my old mission companions who was a native of Europe. He was pretty supportive, and in a few hours he had spread the news of my surgery to the rest of my fellow missionaries. While my immediate reaction was that he was putting his nose where he had no business, later I realized that I did actually want my fellow missionaries to know. But I didn’t feel I had permission to announce something like that. So this good friend of mine did what I couldn’t. I was grateful for that.

I went home the next day. I spent the week watching movies. Monique came over and made a gingerbread house with me while we watched a bootlegged copy of “2012.”

I chatted a lot online that week. I didn’t have much to do. I found a gay dating site, Connexion, and created a profile. Through this I was able to chat with people in my own area. I actually had a couple invitations to go to parties or out to coffee that week. Of course I turned them down. I was bedridden. But at the same time there was an element of distrust in my interactions with other gay people. I just wasn’t ready to meet them.

Thursday night, a week after my diagnosis, I was online randomly chatting. A guy I’d seen several times popped up. We’d sent messages back and forth, but had never caught each other online. Finally we could talk.

We chatted for a while, and I found that I really got along with this guy. He was funny, but not crude. There was more of a personality to him. As we got to know one another better we gained some mutual trust and he told me his real name. He’d used a pseudonym online. With my expert stalking skills I found him on Facebook. He was pretty freaked out when I knew his last name. “Alex,” I told him, “I’m very good at finding out what I want to know.”

As the rest of the week went on we texted and chatted most of the day. I slowly began to like Alex. He didn’t seem as obsessed with sex as the others I had talked to. And he didn’t seem as cynical either.

As the week drew to a close we agreed to meet when I got back to Provo. Sunday night I packed up, and although I was still a bit sore, I drove down to take my finals, and to meet this new boy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Retrospection: Coming Home, the Inner Battle, and Diagnosis

School started, and I expected to fall back into the perfect slot I had fit in when I left BYU. During my freshman year, BYU was paradise. But now that I was back I found that much of what I had loved before I couldn’t stand. Church meetings were bland and felt hollow, like people were just telling stories. People seemed to be missing the point of the gospel in all their gospel-talk. And the culture was extremely appearance-based. I couldn’t believe this was the same place I had been before.

            In addition to that, my feelings were getting stronger. In the repressed state I was in they manifested themselves in unhealthy ways, often hyper-sexually. I couldn’t talk to anyone, and there were some days I would weep, pleading for help. But God never answered. Not like I expected. He never sent someone to call me when I needed it. He never took my feelings away.

            Finally, I couldn’t take it and I began chatting with other gay youth online. At least there I could gain some sense of connection. In the midst of this I began to feel the weight of the anti-gay position of the church more and more. I feared to talk to people about this, and I felt very alone.

            I made friends with a couple people online that I enjoyed talking with regularly. Looking back, however, I realize how unfulfilling these virtual relationships were.

            In November of 2009 I went with Monique and some of her friends to see New Moon, the new Twilight movie. I went, excited to be with friends. But through the entire movie I found myself drawn to Taylor Lautner. I was a repressed gay boy, and he was a hot guy on the silver screen. It was killing me inside. I couldn’t beat the emotions down, and it was making me sick.

            Monique noticed, and asked if I was okay. I lied and tried to look better, but I’ve always been a bad liar. On the drive home I stared out the window the whole time. For the first and only time in my life I truly honestly wanted to die. I’ve never been able to think seriously about suicide. But in that moment, I wanted the car to crash and I wanted to cease existing.

            A week or so later I was texting with Monique. She asked about that night, and I finally decided to tell her. “Monique, I think I’m gay,” I texted. She was shocked. She had never seen it coming. And she hit me with all the questions that tore at my soul. Did I still believe in God? Was I leaving the church? What did I feel about celestial marriage? Some of the questions hurt, because she was supposed to know me. She was my best friend. And she had to ask so much. I told her that I was the same person, with the same faith, but with this attraction. That seemed to be enough for the time being.

            The next day she wanted to talk on the phone. We set a time, and I endured the texts that came in the meantime. A couple hours before we were going to talk I had a doctor’s appointment. I was having pain in my lower abdomen, and I went to get it checked out. They thought it was an infection, but the meds hadn’t been working. So we went to get an ultrasound. The doctors sat down with me and told me that I had a tumor, and it was malignant. I was 21, and I had cancer.

I handled the news well. I called my parents and even joked about it. We set up a time for the surgery the following week. And then I left.

I sat in my car and bawled. Not only had I failed on my mission, and I was an abomination for liking guys, but now I had cancer. I felt betrayed by God, whom I had tried to serve so diligently. I bent over the steering wheel and wept.

A moment later, there was a tap on my window. Two women, one likely the mother of the other, were at my passenger window. I rolled down the window.

“Are you alright?” one asked. The tears kept coming. I told them about the tumor. I told them how the doctors thought that perhaps the conditions on my mission contributed to it. I just cried. They asked if I had family nearby. I told them no, I was an hour away from home.

They walked over to my door, pulled me out of the car and wrapped their arms around me and wept with me. I ached. I felt so alone, so abandoned by everything I had held dear. But here were two women who I’d never met, loving me, and weeping with me. Never had I had an experience where someone was sent to me at the right time and the right place. To this day I don’t know these women’s names. But that day, God sent me angels and in his own way, wrapped his arms around me.

Retrospection: Mission

This continuation has been a long time coming. I started my retrospection posts a long time ago, and I think it’s time to keep going.

I think where I last left was when I finished my freshman year of college. I had broken up with my one and only girlfriend and left for the MTC a little later.

I went into the MTC planning to be my very best. I think all missionaries do. I said goodbye to my home, my parents, and my life for the next two years.

Things went well in the beginning. I had great experiences in the MTC. But one thing that came back very quickly was the draw good looking guys had on me. There was one missionary in my district that was very attractive to me. Still to this day I think he’s very hot, in a skinny boy way.

But any time I let myself stray I would pick it back up and keep going.

Three months in the MTC is a long time. And packing twelve people in a tiny room for ten hours a day can make a person crazy. I found myself very ready to leave by the time our three months were up.

When I entered the MTC I found myself going slightly numb emotionally. My creativity began to decline sharply. I think I wrote between 3-5 poems in those two years. That is unheard of for me. But I couldn’t access any of the deeper emotions. I couldn’t touch the part of me where all those colors and ideas were kept. It was difficult not to have that outlet for the next couple of years.

Finally, three months ended and we left for Europe. This new culture took me by storm. I think I went into a sort of emotional shock. For the first couple months I didn’t quite know how to relax. I am grateful for the trainer I had, because he was a strong believer that if you weren’t enjoying yourself then you were doing your mission wrong. He really helped me to loosen up and try to find some joy in the mission.

My mission was hard. Few people ever wanted to talk to us. English classes were our sanctuary. That and p-days. Winters were long. Sometimes we didn’t see the sun for a month at a time. It was a grey and lonely place in the winter.

To be quite honest, I spent a lot of my mission feeling like I wasn’t doing well enough. I felt like a failure a lot. And from the first day to the very end of my mission I had to deal with extreme anxiety. Every day as we stood next to the door to pray before going to work I would be physically ill with anxiety.

Because of all this it was difficult to get letters from friends in other missions where they couldn’t get enough of it. Where they loved their missions and never wanted to come home. There were some days that I was absolutely miserable. I didn’t want my mission to last a single day longer than it was supposed to. This added to my feeling of failure, one that still hasn’t completely gone away.

That being said, my mission changed me in ways that I would never regret. I was driven into the ground some days, sent to my knees at the end of the day pleading for peace and for help. I gained a deeper relationship with God than ever before. I am grateful for the things I experienced, the people I met, and the person it helped shape me to become.

As for my attraction to guys, my mission had its difficult points. I had a couple companions that I was attracted to. And I had to constantly battle to keep my emotions in check. It was difficult, but it was also a revolutionary time for me. I had been in the mission for about a year when I finally had to admit to myself that I was attracted to guys. I couldn't deny it anymore. It wasn’t a horrible and devastating. It was much more of “alright, I can’t lie to myself anymore. I like guys.”

Once I admitted it to myself, however, I went to work trying to get rid of it. I felt that if I could gain absolute control over my attractions and impulses it would eventually go away. I even snuck out a copy of the church’s twelve step addiction recovery program from the mission office. I spent much of the next year trying to change myself.

I remember getting the emails about Prop 8 while I was there. I remember being infuriated by the conflict going on. I especially hated the email about the protests at the temple. Looking back, I was definitely more impassioned about everything because of the skeletons in my own closet. But I still feel like the debate was vicious, on both sides. I know the members will say that the adversary was working on the side of gay rights, but in my mind all he wanted was hatred. And both sides gave it to him in abundance. 

Really, I am very grateful that I was out of the country for that awful time. I was much too fragile to be here for that. And I think God knew that. 

Regardless of how I felt about politics or my inner feelings though, I was drawn to certain guys. There was one missionary that I had served with that I thought was cute. Sometime after we had served together we were playing ultimate Frisbee at the park on p-day with a bunch of the other missionaries. I hadn’t seen him in a while, and I saw that he had lost his greenie weight and looked pretty good. As we played he and I joked, and if I didn’t know any better he even flirted with me to a degree. This made my blood run hot and I flirted a little back. I think at one point we even touched hands in between plays. Even now the memory grabs at my breathing a bit. Nothing ever happened, but it was definitely a defining moment.

By the time I finished up my mission I felt like I had gained some control over my attractions. In the last couple of weeks I even thought that they were gone. I finished my mission and came home on a high note.

America is wonderful. I love this country and I missed it like crazy. Driving home from the airport was like being thrown back into a world of vibrant colors.

Within a week it was obvious that my feelings hadn’t gone away. But I didn’t have too much time to dwell on it. I got back a week before the new semester, and in a few days I was off to Provo to reunite with happy valley.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Group Therapy and Good Friends

Last Friday I began meeting in a therapy group with eight other people. My therapist and I thought it would be a good place for me to work on owning my orientation in more public places. By doing so, I hope to defuse much of the shame that I have attached to my sexuality.

I walked in nervously, said a brief "hi" to the one girl that was already there, then sat down and busied myself with my phone. My nerves were mounting until I saw a familiar guy from the gay support club walk in. I could do this. I wasn't the only gay.

The room filled up and the two leaders came in. We began by going around the room introducing ourselves and talking a bit about why we were there. As the turn to speak came around the circle my heart began to beat into my ears. I wasn't sure if I was ready to come out. But I wanted to be able to. And what about the other guy? What if he didn't come out? If he did, I could. But what if he didn't?

As my turn crept closer I finally decided that if I didn't do it right then I would spend every session wondering if that would be the session I came out. I couldn't do that. I needed this group to help me, and it would only help if I had the courage to put myself out there.

The other guy got to speak first. He talked generally, not going into much detail, not coming out. But I needed to anyway.

"Hi. I'm Ty. A couple of years ago I began dealing with parts of my life that I had really ignored up until then, and that caused a lot of stress in my life. Basically, I'm not attracted to women. I'm more drawn to men. So I'm trying to figure out what that means for my life and where I'm going."

At that, the guy from the gay club said "Yeah, I think we met at the group on campus. I didn't want to say anything because I wasn't sure if you wanted to say that much to the group. I'm gay too," he said to the group. I smiled and breathed a sigh of relief.

Then to my surprise the guy on my left spoke up. "I'm gay too, actually." So there were three of us, and we'd sat all in a row.

A little later in the discussion another guy finally said "It may not be a surprise based on how I dress, but I'm gay too."

He brought the total up to four in the group. Half of the group was gay. We kind of chuckled at that.

Later in the session one of the group leaders mentioned that often this type of thing doesn't come out so early in group therapy. He asked me what prompted me to come out right at first.

"I've been realizing this week how much shame I still carry with this part of my life. I need to talk about it, to own it in front of others, so that I can defuse the shame and be healthier." He complimented me, and I felt a mini triumph inside. Even now, I week later, I am still only beginning to realize what a big step that was for me.

Today in our second group session we talked a bit about the large ratio in the group. We wanted to make sure that we don't take over the group time, dividing us and making it "gay time" every Friday. The rest of the group was very supportive and said they didn't feel we had, and that they would let us know if we did. One of the other gay guys who had been in previous therapy groups mentioned that at most he had ever had one other gay guy in a group, and suddenly we had four. I feel like it will give us all a chance to come to greater peace with this issue.

I am grateful this week for good friends. I have needed to talk with and rely on friends many times in the last week, and I am grateful for their love and support. There is a freedom and a strength that comes in baring your soul in front of others and feeling their love and approval. It strengthens me, builds me up, and has led me to more fulfillment.

In spite of all the unknowns in my future, it is going to be such a good life.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shame and Worthiness

Today I am absolutely exhausted. I don't think I've been in bed before 1:30am once in the last week and a half. My body is definitely trying to send me a message. I'll be lucky if I can stay awake through USGA today.

Anyway, I wanted to write a bit really quickly (no worries; it won't be as long or convoluted as yesterday's post) about some thoughts I had today.

As I have continued reading the "Gay Mormons?" book I have had many thoughts go through my head, including the concept of coming out. In addition to this book, my therapist has been talking about having me go to a group therapy session in addition to our individual sessions. That means that I would be in front of a group of fellow BYU students (not straight this time) claiming my attractions and orientation and divulging the life I've had to hide for so long. That's mildly frightening. But that doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad thing. The APA laws of confidentiality apply to that setting, so I wouldn't risk exposure at all. But still...

Anyway, as I thought about coming out, in small ways or in general, I felt the familiar tinge of fear that usually accompanies it.

These emotions were going about my head pretty chaotically until I read a bit in Brene Brown's "Gifts of Imperfection" later this afternoon. I randomly jumped to the middle of the book to a place where she is describing the concept of shame. She defines that as the "intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging." It is the fear of rejection, of being hated or despised for who we are inside, and segregates us from those around us. As we feel that fear, the threat of shame, we distance ourselves from others, and effectively isolate ourselves emotionally. Dr. Brown makes the point that every addiction, regardless of what it is, has some root in shame.

As I read through these ideas, I realized that much of the reason I still feel isolated and uncomfortable at church, the reason I fear to be completely honest with my BYU peers, and the reason I still battle over this issue in my head is because I still have quite a bit of shame about this part of my life. Of course, my parents' reactions to all this hasn't helped. But I can't blame all my problems on them. Just because they played the shame game when they forced me out of the closet doesn't mean that everyone will.

Dr. Brown makes a point earlier in the book that the only difference between those people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and those who do not is this: those with a strong sense of love and belonging believe that they're worthy of it.

Shame destroys that belief of worthiness. Really, that term is not meant in the same way we abuse it in Mormon culture. It means believing that we as the individuals we are are worth love and belonging.

Having realized this, I hope to allow myself to love myself a little more, and get rid of the shame. Because as Ru Paul says, "if you can't love yourself how the hell  are you going to love somebody else? Can I get an amen in here?!"

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ramblings, Truth, and truth

In an attempt to keep a regular blog schedule, here I am yet again, sitting down to write. The only problem is that I'm not quite sure what I want to talk about. I've had a number of different topics go through my mind in the last week, but at this point I feel tired enough that none of them seem worth pursuing. So, in classic Ty fashion, I will ramble until something coherent comes out. ;)

I've been reading the ebook "Gay Mormons?" which was edited by Brent Kirby. It's been an interesting read, and it has really opened up my mind to how diversely other gay men and women, LDS and not, have experienced and come to terms with their sexuality. Even though I had to break my stereotypical understandings to allow myself to accept my orientation, I have still gone about looking for commonalities in everyone's coming out process, as if I can validate my own experiences by matching them with others. That way my feelings will be real and legitimate, not just a bout of confusion over which sex I like more.

But I've been realizing that even among those who are "gay" there are so many people with different experiences, different ranges of emotions and attractions, and so perhaps even the label "gay" is a bit of a generalization. It leads me to wonder what kind of world it would be if instead of trying to fit everyone into a little box with a label on it, saying "This is Ty. He's gay." we were able to simply say to ourselves "This is Ty. He loves Steve."

Reading through these stories has led me to review my own past and really take a good look at it. It has surprised me how obvious my attraction to guys was, at least from this perspective. I can't believe I didn't see it earlier. There was one guy in junior high that I really liked, and now I can see that it was a total crush. Today I still share the same opinion of the guy: totally cute and a very sweet guy. But now I can see it for what it is.

People have written in this book that when they came out, many people knew and were simply waiting for them to do so. It makes me wonder how many people know about me. Do the cousins I grew up with have any idea? Or were they all just as blinded as my parents to see what they wanted to see?

Another thing that has really been sinking in these past few weeks is the understanding of what other guys truly feel for girls. Growing up, I really never questioned if I liked girls or not, because I had no idea how other guys felt. Sure, I liked them, but I never really got why we kept having to have talks in priesthood lessons about respecting women. What I assumed was my more natural self-control and spirituality was in fact simply a lack of attraction. It wasn't hard for me to respect women, because I had no desires pushing me to do otherwise. It has been an entirely new experience trying to learn to respect men the way my friends were taught to respect women.

But it has really been dawning on me how strongly other guys must feel for girls. Really, they must feel the same powerful urges that I feel for men, but toward girls. I examine them, sometimes, looking to see what it is what guys must really be drawn to. Certainly I can respect and appreciate their beauty, but I just don't feel the same draw that I feel toward the many gorgeous guys on campus.

Another thing that has been on my mind lately as I have read these experiences of others is the legitimacy, or supposed legitimacy, that nearly everyone seems to feel they have to their own views and claims. Let me elaborate. In one chapter of this book, a man tells about his journey through different religions, eventually arriving at the LDS church, before coming to terms with his attractions. He writes an official coming out letter to his mother, which is returned by an emotionless declaration against his life situation, and ultimately, against him if he doesn't change like she wants him to.

At one point, though, she talks about how he "walked away from God" when he left their baptist faith and eventually joined the LDS church. From a mormon view, we find this to be pure lack of understanding. She is in a degree of ignorance, we would say. But the terms she uses to describe it are exactly those that someone in the LDS faith would use to describe their own child leaving the path planned for him or her.

Ultimately, they both believe they are on the side of Truth, with a capital T. They have God's knowledge, and their child walked away from it. In the world of religion, politics, philosophy, science, psychology, and many other realms this battles of "Truths" can be found. The ironic part is that to each and every one of those people, their "Truth" is legitimate, and feels that way. So how can true Truth be found?

This is where my psychology class comes into play again. I wrote on the ideas from this class a bit last week, and it continues to be a real brain-tingling course. My professor introduced the idea of dualism to the class this week, explaining that it is the primary view of the world right now. Dualism as it pertains to this context is the idea that there are two distinct sides of the world that never merge: a subjective view, which is the personal opinionated (and thus "imperfect") view we each have of the world, and an objective view, which is truth as it really is. In our modern society, we tend to cling to objective truth, which we often think we have, or we swing the other way, believing that because we each view the world through our own personal lenses we can never find objective truth, and thus the only truth we have is the truth we see, and thus truth is completely relative.

My professor then described another view, stressing that both these are purely views, and neither is necessarily the way things actually are. This other view is an experiential view, which includes objectivity and subjectivity, but stresses that they can never be separated. They believe in a subjective objectivity. So perhaps there is an ultimate truth, but it cannot be separated from our subjective views on the world. Thus our subjectivity is based on objectivity. They are one. Never can we have pure objective truth. It won't happen. But ultimately, for those favoring experientialism, it doesn't matter. What matters is the union between the subjective and objective worlds.

I thought about this in reference to religion, faith, God, and sexuality. Ironically, my professor explained all this in the context of view of "time" (linear time is actually only a point of view of time, not reality), but the ideas translate across topics seamlessly.

Ultimately, there can be an ultimate truth. God's truth, if you will (but considering the similarities LDS doctrine places between man and God, even God's objectivity could be called into question. But once again, that's not necessarily a bad thing.). God gives this truth to man, but immediately upon reception by an individual, a people, or a prophet for the church, that truth is placed in a subjectively objective light. We see only a subjective (think personal interpretation or "lens") view of the objective truth. Complete and objectively true obedience to that truth then becomes impossible.

This led me to think that the only obedience God can expect is obedience to the truths we subjectively see. But that leads pretty quickly into a "truth is relative" realm that is purely dualism. So I tried to back out of that. When I approached my professor to discuss this with him, he really stressed that ultimately I kept falling into the trap of separating objectivity and subjectivity. But according to the experiential view, they are one.

As we discussed the implications for religious truth, he led my terminology toward the term interpretation, which is all we have to go off of here in this world. These interpretations can differ widely from person to person. But he cited Einstein and his theory of relativity, in which two people with two literal points of view (one in motion and one not) view the same event differently, but are actually both correct. Translating that across to our lives, two points of view can then actually be correct. But once again, we are leading ourselves toward relative truth.

His point was that, in the case of Einstein's theory, two people have differing points of view of an actual event that happens, but both views are actually legitimate. Both interpretations are actually legitimate. It's not that they have two subjective views of an objective occurance that can never actually be known. They have two different interpretations of an event, both of which are accurate descriptions of what happened. They are both truth, just different interpretations of it. But ultimately, for an experientialist, it's the meaning behind it that really matters.

I hope some of this is making sense. If not, I truly apologize. But this led me to a few conclusions. 1) No one can claim "God's Truth," as we defined it earlier, because they are not God, and have only personal interpretations.

2) Talking with my professor, we came to the conclusion that the best thing we can do is to gather as many different interpretations from different people as we can, sifting through them and trying to garnish what knowledge we can, and then making our decisions based on what we can find. Ultimately, we must search for truth where ever it may be found, examining many different interpretations, even those who disagree with us, to see what we can find.

3) This includes, as my professor noted and I readily agreed, that we maintain a healthy skepticism about our own churches and our own faiths. To get into a position of "I have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" is surely a set up for our own fall and hinders us from investigating all the interpretations that are out there in the world, actually keeping us from gaining the knowledge we need to make educated choices.

And 4) ultimately, none of us will ever grasp pure, objective truth. And even if we could, we would fail in living it. Thus enters the vital role of a Savior, one who knows us, our thoughts, our interpretations, and the choices that came from them. Judgment, then, will be done by One who knows us intimately, and can truly know where our hearts lie.

Perhaps I am mistaken, but this leads me to believe that it is severely wrong to say that I in my situation must abandon any truth (note the little t) that I have found through my examination of other's interpretations, and cling once again to the "Ultimate Truth" that someone claims they have. To stop questioning is to stop gaining truth, to stop learning, and to cease nearing the throne of God.

In my search I have found that the things I was taught about homosexuality were not reality, at least, they were not consistent with others' interpretations of the world, especially my own. The ideas set forth by the cultural mormonism on God, faith, and human sexuality appear to me to be rigid and unwilling to consider anything else that may shed greater light on the reality of things. I cannot claim ever again that I have Truth. I have none. No one has any. But I can get close to the truths that really matter.

I had a professor freshman year that said the human obsession with big-T Truth was a recent thing. In the past, humans have been more concerned with little-t truth, which deals with meaning, more than accurate fact. It seems to me, then, that when we talk of truth, we actually talk of the meanings that resonate with our souls. It is truth, rather than Truth, that has the power to change human beings, to heal broken hearts, and to bring one closer to God. What good is Ultimate Truth if it does not connect with the human soul? It has no purpose, being devoid of meaning. It is the little-t truths that rest next to our hearts that have true power, and that will bring us back to the throne of God.

It is with this understanding, then, that I endeavor to consider all the interpretations of as many people as I can find, both liberal and conservative, atheist and zealot, both gay and straight. By listening to these interpretations, gathering knowledge and finding consistencies, especially the ones that ring true to my soul, I hope to base my life on experiential truths that may be near to the truths that reside at the throne of God. It is my hope that if I do this sincerely enough, with an open heart and an open mind, I will be guided by a force greater than myself, and will eventually be led home.

And that is, I believe, what God was hoping for from the beginning.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Legitimacy of Choice

Determinism is everywhere. Whether it be in the scientific world or the social world we live in, much of our focus as a people is on things that happen to us. The economy is falling apart - out of our control. Politics are a mess and the government is even messier - out of our control. Can't pay my bills, health is declining, relationship is ending -- the list goes on and on.

There seems to be an unspoken understanding about the determined events in our lives. If they are out of our control, and unchangeable, then they are real, legitimate, and we deserve help or adjustment in dealing with it. If someone loses their house because they were laid off, we have sympathy for them. But for many the image of a homeless man on the street does not evoke enough sympathy to provoke us to action. The assumption is that his situation is his own fault. He chose it. And because it was not involuntarily inflicted upon him, his suffering doesn't gain the same sympathy as the man who lost his house. It's almost as if society doesn't even see his situation as legitimate, and thus unworthy of help.

A professor of mine was discussing the idea of determinism vs agency in class yesterday. He raised the question: "How many of you would say that everything you are, your personality, your likes, dislikes, everything that you are is determined by your genetics and your environment?" There were a few hands.

"How many of you," he continued, "would say that your own choices have made you who you are?" Many more hands went up. The professor grinned. "You're an unusual sample. In any of the other universities I taught in most the students would have agreed with determinism."

That stuck with me, and I thought about how this applies to the modern social issue of homosexuality. Much of the battle today, whether politically, socially, or individually, focuses on the why of being gay. The nature vs nurture debate is still raging, with neither side conceding. Thinking of my own discussions with my parents, much of the argument was simply over whether or not I was actually gay. There is this pervasive underlying belief that if I had no choice, if my genes made me this way, or if it is unchangeable, then it should be seen as a legitimate state of human sexuality, should receive social recognition, as well as state recognition as official familial unions.

But what about choice?

My first thought was, no, I didn't choose these feelings, but I have chosen how to respond to them, how to express them, and how much I allow them to direct my life. And so, yes, whether we like it or not, choice is involved.

But why do we as a society lean away from the agency side of things in favor of the deterministic position? Well, first of all it's easy. It removes the responsibility from our shoulders, should anything go wrong. It takes accountability out of our hands. If I can't control it, I can't be blamed. It takes away the risk that is inherently involved in choice. And we hate risk, because risk is uncertain. And uncertainty scares the hell out of us.

But what would an argument for homosexuality based on choice look like?

Let's imagine that in ten years I am married, with a husband and a couple kids. Rather than saying, I lived this life because that's what I was dealt, I can say I lived this life because I chose it, based on the knowledge I have, and based on my beliefs of what would make me happy. Maybe I could have made a marriage work with a woman, but I chose this, and thus put my energy and focus into making this marriage and this family work. My success and my happiness is of my own doing, not some freak accident. Yes, my sorrow was mine as well, but mistakes and disappointments don't change my worth as a human being, or the legitimacy of my choice.

In this marriage and family, I deserve rights not because mother nature made me this way, but because I have lived my life cultivating virtuous qualities into my life and contributing to society. I deserve to have the law fight for me, because I fight for me, and a fight for me is a fight for others' rights as well. My husband and I deserve to be married and share healthcare plans because we've made the sacrifices to build a strong and faithful relationship. We've chosen the commitment that requires all the work we've put into it, and we have chosen the love that qualifies us to be joined together. Our choice makes us legitimate, not our DNA.

And what of a spiritual view?

Yes, I have chosen to enter a relationship, and to commit myself heart mind and body to a man that I love. I have done so, believing that God honors that commitment and approves of the love we share. I have made a choice and committed to it, using every opportunity within that choice to better myself, my spouse, and to spread the light of God abroad. I have chosen that.

But what if I'm wrong? What if at the last day, I placed my bet on the wrong horse? Rather than claiming the part of a victim, which determinism will allow us to do, I can claim my choice, knowing full well that I did so with the highest of intentions, working to bring myself and those around me closer to God. Because I chose it, I can be satisfied that I did all I could. And even if that is not enough in the final count, it will count in the final self-evaluation.

I find it hard to believe, however, that even were I to chose incorrectly that it would not make a difference, had I dedicated my heart and soul. Would not my husband and I, who worked and sacrificed to raise a righteous family, be seen in a different light than the straight couple who neglected one another emotionally, and were less than diligent in loving and caring for their children? Even if I had chosen incorrectly, I could claim the success and joys of my life as my own.

And even the sorrows make a difference, if I were to choose the things that led there. Because if I can own them, they can mold me and shape me. If I am a victim, they can only maim and torment, a perpetual thorn in my side that I have no power to remove. Owning the sorrows makes them ours. And that changes us.

Ultimately, the whole issue comes down to this: What matters more, what is more real? That I am made this way and thus am stuck here? Or that I chose the life I personally felt was best, based on my thoughts, my knowledge, my heart? Which of these deserves respect? Which deserves recognition? Which enables us to move and grow? Which empowers us to be in control of our lives?

I am finished trying to prove my existence. I am done debating nurture vs nature. Attempting to prove my sexuality, my identity, and my feelings through deterministic means gets no where, and leaves me feeling lost and empty. I am making the choices that I see fit to make. I have listened and examined, studied and learned, prayed and secretly searched. And I am doing what I believe to be the best decision for me.

I am open to change. A willingness to reexamine and reevaluate is vital to a life of choice. But this is where I am now. I have chosen the path that has led me here. And both the heartache and the brilliant joy are mine, because I chose them.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Power in Being Still

I recently read a post by another blogger commenting on a rather biased article written by a member of NARTH on the causes of homosexuality. This article, found here at Invictus Pilgrim's blog, made a few sweeping accusations as to the general attitude of those who do not believe in a "defect-oriented" theory of the development of homosexuality.

I'll admit, my first reaction was to get my feathers ruffled somewhat. Part of me wanted to rush over to the blog and start writing about how closed minded people can be, and how ultimately, the cause of homosexuality makes no difference, only where we go from here.

But I decided against that route. A few moments to breathe deeply made quite the difference. Not to mention that as I randomly opened the ebook "Why Theology Can't Save Us" by John Gustav-Wrathall the next chapter for me to read was on how we react to angry and cutting accusations, particularly on the internet. Such beautiful synchronicity surely suggests divine reminder.

This made me think somewhat on the things I've been taught lately on my own personal journey. I wrote recently on a dream that I had that contained a valuable lesson for me. But almost as recently, my therapist and I deconstructed another dream. The meaning behind it was powerful for me. Though I won't recount the dream or its complexities here, I'll suffice it to say that the primary message was this: When those with angry accusations or judgments come, who claim to know what I should be doing, I should neither retreat nor attack in retaliation. It is best to stand, calm and unyielding, and eventually the attacker will break down.

I realize that this may sound disjointed or convoluted, but it makes sense to me, which is probably why I'm the one who had the dream. And it has done a lot for me, helping me to deal both with external attacks on my current life situation, as well as internal doubts that come, suggesting that my instincts are leading me astray. It seems to be that there is great power in "being still". It reminds me of the words spoken by Moses to the fearing children of Israel at the Red Sea. Finding themselves trapped between angry Egyptians and a wet place they turned to Moses, who responded "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord" (Exodus 14:13).

This last week I watched a mini-series on Netflix about the Kennedy family, particularly JFK and his time in office (It's called "The Kennedys" and I highly recommend it). In one episode JFK has to deal with extreme racial issues going on in Missouri. The state has been ordered by the courts to allow an African American student to enroll in the public university, but the governor and the mob outside the university disagree. The US Marshals are called in to escort the young student, and he enters the campus, surrounded by swarms of furious protesters spewing profanities and spitting at his feet. But this young student stands firm and silent, walking stoically to the administration building.

Truly, it was the most powerful thing he could have done. Other such cases occurred around the country at that time. The Little Rock Nine also faced extreme hatred as they fought for equality. I remember seeing this picture in a textbook when I was in High School. I remember feeling so angry at the woman in the back, for all her unfounded hatred. But once again, Elizabeth Eckford walks calm and steady.

When people respond this way, there is nothing that the angry oppressor can do to bring them down. The calm but unyielding resolve of such people can be an impenetrable wall.

To be quite honest, I feel like sometimes in our own situation people can become impatient and angry, losing this calm and sure exterior. Simply looking at how Prop 8 was handled, by both sides, illustrates my point. While I wasn't in the country for this (thankfully!) I have seen clips of the types of angry protest/battles that took place over this issue. I truly don't think this is how we need to win this battle. Confidence is quiet. It doesn't need to be shouted into some ultra-conservative's face. But it does need to be harbored deep in the soul. Imagine what a crowd of hundreds of LGBT protesting like this would look like:

Such silent solidity is difficult to ignore. And not only does it fight for rights without contesting other people, it also leaves the protester untarnished from anger or hate.

I've digressed somewhat. I didn't really want to comment on political activism.

Ultimately what I am trying to get across is this: I don't have all the answers over this issue. I don't know why I'm gay. And I don't believe I have to give a reason. Nor do I have to prove to another that I have the right to be treated like a human being. When those furious attacks come, I have resolved to stand still, fearing not, and waiting as the tidal wave of anger falls away. It cannot last. Hatred cannot survive if others do not receive it. It wastes away.

I feel like the strongest statement I can make comes from living day to day, building my confidence, my happiness, and my spirituality. What effect can a storm have on a solidly planted stone? And what effect can those protesting against my rights have if I live strong, a whole and complete human being? Their arguments will crumble, simply because I am. Prejudice will die, and misconceptions will be forgotten.

Lies cannot outlast the truth that lives in me.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Claiming It

So, some time ago a guy from my mission contacted me through facebook. He asked me quite upfront if I "struggled with same-gender attraction," because he did, and was hoping to find friends to relate to.

I wrote him back, explaining that while I would have said that at one point, I had come to a place of peace over my "non-traditional" attractions.

As we began to converse back and forth it was clear to me that he is definitely in a different place than me concerning his sexuality. And while I didn't feel the need to open up to him too much, it's always nice to have another friend.

The other day he sent me a recording he'd made for another friend, explaining where he is and how he got to that point. Tonight I finally got around to listening to it.

His is a familiar. He feels so many things that so many people feel. But the way he talked was so distant from it. He used phrases like "someone of the same gender" or "attraction to males." The way he said "males" made it sound like it was a scientific discussion.

I don't intend to insult or demean his approach to this. He has just as much a right to handle his life in his way as I do to live mine as I see fit. It simply fascinated me how it seemed he was still so afraid to claim it. That part of him was still holding this whole issue at arm's length.

I guess what it ultimately made me feel was grateful for my own journey. Grateful that I've reached a point in my life where I can say "I think boys are gorgeous, and that's just fine."

I feel so much more complete as a human being when I can accept this and claim this as a part of myself. I feel more honest with myself, and more sincere with others.

Sure, I still struggle with social norms, religious implications, and family conflicts. Just tonight I was skyping with Monique, my best friend from high school. She's come a long way in the last year and a half, and we can talk a little about some of this stuff. But I one thing I felt was that I didn't want to be seen as less masculine. And I didn't want to feel less masculine. I know this is something I still need to resolve within myself. But even in spite of some of these struggles currently unresolved, I am grateful to be able to claim this part of myself.

On Friday night I was chatting with some of the wonderful folk at the gay fhe I mentioned how remarkable it was to me that once I accepted this part of myself, learned to appreciate and even love it, and give it some sort of expression in my life, these feelings stopped feeling like they were overpowering me. They stopped feeling like they were going to explode out of my chest like an alien from a 1980's movie. Now that I own them, I can control them.

And I am more complete because of it.

Faith and Certainty

I'm supposed to be in bed.
I have church at 9:30. I'm teaching the lesson in Priesthood, something I'm actually excited to do.

Yet here I am, blogging.

Last night  I went to a gay family home evening with people I'd known through the blog world, but never in person. Despite my initial anxiety, it was a wonderful experience. I spent hours talking there, finally leaving at 2 am. It was wonderful.

Today, after 10 days with his family in Arizona, my boyfriend returned to Provo. Walking into his room and seeing him again was like finding a lost part of my soul. We spent all evening together, and by the time he went home I knew even deeper how much I truly love him.

Tonight, I worked on my lesson. I read through scriptures and looked up references online. Finally, I got to a point that was sufficient for tonight. I set everything aside, turned off my laptop, texted my boyfriend goodnight, and was on my way to turn off the light when my phone buzzed.

My brother texted me. And not just a simple, "hey, what's up" text. A looong text.

He and I have never talked about my sexuality, though I'm sure he knows. Well, tonight's text removes all doubt. And while I've developed a thicker skin in discussing this issue with my parents, it kind of stung to hear what my brother had to say.

He talked about temple worthiness, my previous example to him. He spoke of the devastation it would cause my youngest brother and sister if they knew. Even now I can't bring myself to read the text again, because despite the multiplicity of words, I hear one message:

You're not good enough.

Regardless of his intended message, this is what I hear. It's what I always hear. And it's the message I've heard for the past 23 years. This is my ultimate tender spot. My Achilles heel. The fear that regardless of how hard I try, I am not good enough.

When I finished the text I set my phone aside. The psychologist in me leaped into action, trying to piece apart my emotions so that they didn't overwhelm me.

And then I booted up my laptop.

I need to be fair. My brother has no idea what this issue looks like from the inside. He has no idea what my life has been like. He has no knowledge of the tears and the ache and the shame that I've carried. He doesn't know of the sheer hell I've been through, the valley of shadow and death that I descended into when all logical sense and faith crumbled. He doesn't know.

He also doesn't know of the peace that God has granted me. He doesn't know the freedom of a soul who has been caged for so long. He doesn't know the sheer glory of being able to see yourself, your complete self, and love it. He doesn't know of the pure tenderness of being wrapped up in the person you love. Of feeling your heart connect with another's. Of becoming whole.

But perhaps the greatest reason that the weight fell back onto my shoulders after that text was because it threw my doubt back into my hands. My questions and fears and "what if I'm wrong"s came rushing back to me. The shadow of that dreaded uncertainty fell upon me once more.

This seems to be a popular topic lately. Faith and doubt. Certainty and uncertainty. John Gustav-Wrathall blogged about it this morning here.

As I prepared my lesson tonight I watched a youtube video on faith. The video showed a clip of President Monson speaking at General Conference. "Remember," he said, "that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same place at the same time, for one will dispel the other." I heard that, thought for a moment, and then said "I don't think that's right."

In her book The Gifts of Imperfection and in her TED talk Brene Brown discusses faith. Faith, she says, used to be something used to explain the unknown. It was a belief in mystery, the unexplained. But it's become a safety net and a weapon: 'I'm right, you're wrong. Shut up.'  She goes on in the book about how doubt is not the opposite of faith. Rather, certainty is the opposite of faith.

She writes:
"Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty."

She then quotes the theologian Richard Rohr:
"My scientist friends have come up with things like 'principles of uncertainty' and dark holes. They're willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories. But many religious folk insist on answers that are always true. We love closure, resolution and clarity, while thinking that we are people of 'faith'! How strange that the very word 'faith' has come to mean its exact opposite."

Uncertainty scares the hell out of me. It strikes me deep in my center with a fear of being wrong, of failing, of being rejected, and yes, of not being good enough. But certainty isn't faith. And without faith, we can do nothing.

I have been trying to learn to live with uncertainty. Sometimes I do very well with it, like last night at the FHE gathering or today with my boyfriend. But sometimes, like tonight with this text message, that fear gets to me and leaves me scrambling to get back to the sure shores of certainty.

But ironically, that "certainty" only comes from the approval of others. It's almost as if I can get enough people to agree on a point, then that must be the truth. And, among those people at least, I will be "certain." I will be sure.

But were I to retreat back into the world of certainty, of being validated by others, I would not be satisfied. Because deep within me, something would be dying.

I had a dream a few nights ago. I didn't understand it, but as I have been studying jungian dream analysis for a class project I believe that I'm beginning to gain some meaning from it.

I was being instructed by someone. Someone older and wiser. The person reminded me of Master Yoda from Star Wars. Small and simple, yet full of eternal wisdom. He was teaching me, among others, of fidelity. Of complete faithfulness. It was clear by what he taught that faithfulness was vital.

The dream shifted. I was in a tuxedo. Somewhere nearby was a bride. But she wasn't the focus of this part. Although it was clear that I had just been married, the focus was not on to whom, but rather what to do now. I recall looking down at my left hand and seeing a vivid golden band on my ring finger. I loved that ring. It symbolized my union, my completion, my wholeness.

As I look at the ring, Yoda came again. Once again he told me of the vital nature of fidelity. Of faithfulness.

And then I awoke.

I pondered over this dream. Especially the part with the bride, and how the point wasn't that I had married a woman. I couldn't make much sense of this dream.

Earlier today I was reading a book on jungian dream analysis, and the author commented on the archetype of marriage, both in dreams and in life.

"The syzygy (married couple) represents the union of paired opposites. Thus, this archetype governs the process of achieving wholeness in the personalty through formation of conscious polarities."

The whole goal of jungian psychology is the individuation of an individual. To put it another way, it is to become that person that we are truly, deeply, intended to be. This requires not a smothering or casting away of aspects of ourselves, but rather complete assimilation of everything, even those things we fear or hide. True individuation, true wholeness, is a union of opposites.

Thus, the marriage in my dream was not a sign of "find a woman," but rather, a symbol of my gaining further wholeness by integrating all parts of myself into one. Perhaps the most difficult part of myself to work with has been my sexuality, that so completely seems to contradict my faith. Yet, true wholeness is a union of opposites.

Fear would have me bury my shadow, lock away anything that wasn't comfortable, easy, or socially endorsed. Fear would have me bury fear itself. It would have me run from vulnerability. It would have me cling to certainty.

Yoda's words to continue faithful to that union, to that search for wholeness, is an directive to stay the course, in spite of fear. To listen to myself, and to God. And even if I have no explanation, no answers, no certainty, to move forward.

I cannot deny that these feelings are a part of my life. I cannot deny the deep desire to be connected to a wonderful man in every way. I cannot deny the love I feel with my boyfriend, the completion, the absolute serenity.

I have no choice but to claim uncertainty, to claim faith. It is the only ground I have to stand on.

I have no answers. I don't know why or how I came to feel as I do. I don't know what my God will say on that final day. I don't know that this relationship, these hopes and dreams and feelings that I have, aren't all a massive mistake. But I don't know that they are, either.

But one thing I do know. That my God sees the intents of my heart. He knows my desires. That my Savior felt each and every one of these emotions that I now feel. That my Lord has been watching, working, and whispering to me. He has been guiding me, and the journey's not yet over.

And when I have the sense to quiet my fears, to settle the panicked urge to find certainty, I feel his voice: "They don't know you. I know you. Listen to me."

And with Him, who needs certainty?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Midnight's Grace

Sleep slightly fades,
and for a moment I gain foggy consciousness.
Darkness consumes me.
Then, I feel your touch.
Trusted arms enwrap me,
pull me into complete safety,
claim me from the night.
Your breath on my neck sends me drifting back to bliss.

There, hidden in midnight's grace,
I am whole.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I spent the weekend at home. Parts of it were really nice. Parts of it were not.

If my parents make me feel awful every time I am around them, eventually I'm going to stop coming home. I wish they would just get that. But they don't.

I'm so tired of being guilted and shamed. It gets even harder, because when I feel like crap like that I can't tell if it is because of what they're doing, or if it is because this really is the wrong thing for me. But being with my boyfriend tonight felt wonderful. Entirely calm and peaceful.

I want so much to make peace with my parents, but they seem entirely keen on continually pounding me. I'm not a child! Release your iron grips on my wrists and let me stand on my own! And if I need to completely fall on my face, then let me!

I'm so sick of the anger and the hurt. I'm so tired of the inner conflict and the frustration. Why can't they let me heal? Why can't they let me become strong? My fear and submission to them binds me. I'm so tired of being chained.

I want freedom.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The One Who Holds, and the One Who is Held

The slump that began Sunday night got worse. Yesterday was a long and numbing day. I felt like I was being crushed, like the very air was pressing against my chest and against my soul. I found myself lying in bed and simply staring at the wall a couple of times. I felt awful, like my spirit was sick.

I went to the gym, but that didn't help. Later, my boyfriend asked what was up and I told him that I the past two days had been difficult. He was frustrated. He said it seemed like something always had to be wrong with me, and that he was frustrated that I still hadn't learned how to deal with such slumps. I told him it seemed that way to me as well, but it really was more like the same thing was still wrong. It just kept flaring up from time to time.

Later, he was at my place using my internet. I was lying on the bed, completely at a loss as to how to break free from the misery I felt. After a while my boyfriend got up, laid in bed next to me, and pulled me close to him. I have to say, he's getting pretty good. He knows that when I'm like that, what I need most is to be held.

I turned to look at him and said "Sometimes you need to remove the poison from the wound before you can stitch it up and start rehabilitating the leg."

He nodded, then said "But it seems more like you keep pouring more poison onto the wound."

"No," I said. "It's more like the poison keeps spreading, because it is never fully removed."

Then he understood. This problem with my parents has never been resolved, and because of that the pain and longing flares up from time to time. This was just a very extreme case.

But now that we were talking, I could get it out of my system. I talked about how lonely I felt, about how the walls I had put up to protect myself were now separating me from everyone else, and it was beginning to suffocate me. I told him how much I needed to feel part of a family again, how much I needed to be able to trust my family with my heart, but how difficult such a thing was.

I wept. Okay, more like I bawled. But the tears were cleansing tears. They were healing the hurt. He listened, and held me close. And when everything was finally done I could breathe again. I could feel again. I could smile again.

The experience reminded me of something my boyfriend and I talked about when we first started dating a year and a half ago. He was my first date with a guy, and my first boyfriend, and moving out into this world was very scary for me. Early on there was a night when it all was too much and I broke down. He put my head in his lap and stroked my hair, assuring me that it would all be alright. Then he said "See, this is the wonderful thing about our kind of relationship. Sometimes we can be the one who holds, and sometimes we can be the one who is held."

That has stuck with me ever since then. Now, perhaps I just don't understand the way straight relationships work, but it seems to me that there is a cultural expectation that men cannot be the one who is held. They have to be strong, and always be the protector. But with a relationship like mine, I can be the protector, but I can also be the protected. And there are few things a comforting as the strong and loving arms of my boyfriend when I'm feeling weak.

It is a beautiful thing. And it's in moments like last night that I know that what I feel for him is not evil. It reminds me of a beautiful verse, with which I'd like to end.

Love is patient and kind, it is never jealous, love is never boastful or conceited, it is never rude or selfish, it does not take offence, nor is it resentful. Love takes no pleasure in others’ sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Connection and the Kardashians

I'm tired today, but I need to write. It's been a long day, so the blog is going to be my therapy today.

This past week I was introduced to the TV show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians." To be quite honest, I am not a huge fan of reality TV, especially when it's a bunch of immature girls screaming and pulling hair for half an hour. So I wasn't expecting much from this, especially since as far as I knew, Kim Kardashian was just a brunette Paris Hilton. I was very wrong.

Yes, there is still some fighting. It's a family of five girls, it's bound to happen. But I found a depth there that I didn't expect. I realized that these girls weren't just nasty skanks. They had soft candy centers as well.

In the last episode I watched last night the mother, Kris Kardashian, is trying to come to terms with the death of her first husband five years previously. She had left him over ten years before he died, but she never stopped caring about him. Five years after he passed, she still bore the guilt of not being there for him when he got sick.

Her whole family still struggles with unresolved grief. And when Kris said she wanted to visit her first husband's grave, some of the daughters were supportive, and some were especially antagonistic. They had an argument, and Kris left. She visited the grave and had a very emotional moment there. But when she got back home the girls that had been harsh to her had a bouquet of flowers for her, telling her they were sorry. They embraced, and it was all very sweet.

This episode struck me, down in my soft candy center. As superficial as they sometimes were, these people still were very real. They hurt. They cried. They had fears and worries and doubts. But they also had love. And they were there for each other.

As the night ended last night I felt very alone. Since I began to deal with my sexuality ,and especially since my parents forced me out of the closet (something I still haven't blogged about. Sorry!), I have felt very shut off from the world. Being around my family, immediate or extended, I automatically put up walls to protect myself from rejection. At school I constantly put forward an image to hide the deeper parts of myself. And it's gotten to the point where I avoid being with people, just because I can't take the vulnerability.

The isolation is a defense mechanism, an attempt to hide from the pain. But it also causes pain. It locks me away, and keeps me from connecting with anyone else. And last night, it stung.

I tried to go to bed, but I couldn't sleep. I felt hurt and anger, especially toward my parents. I wanted to scream at them. I felt the urge to hurt them, as much as I feel hurt. But I know what that wound really needs is reconciliation. It needs the salve of love and healing.

But that in and of itself requires vulnerability. It requires risk. And that risk terrifies me. How can I trust these people with my innermost soul, when they've treated me like they have? I'm not ready, to be frank.

The intense longing I felt while watching the Kardashians makes it quite clear that I long for connection. I need to feel my heart touch another human being's. I need to love, and be loved unconditionally in return.

As inconclusive as it is, I don't have an answer yet. And as simple as it will likely end up being, I need to reach it on my own, in my own time.

I'm going to my parents' place this weekend. It's father's day. And maybe if I'm not ready to reconnect with my parents, it will be nice to be with my siblings. I have a feeling that they would be more universally loving if they knew everything. So I'll cling to their love for a bit, and see where that takes me.

It may be cheesy, but the old song is right: "All you need is love." But love is a risk that requires a leap of faith.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Dilemma of the Questioning

He was young when the preachers came. About 14 or so years old. In almost no time at all they had the city riled up in such a state of religious and spiritual fervor that none could ignore. People could hardly speak of things others than faith and works and the judgment of God. In a flurry, people flocked to separate congregations to hear what they considered to be the true word of God.

In this great religious meat market the clergy were the true fueling force. They cried to one and all to come and partake of the waters of life. Let each come and find faith in Jesus; which faith was of no consequence, just come.

Yet, as soon as people filed away from one congregation or the other, such brotherly invitations to Christ fell to contention and condemnation. Priest contended against priest, and convert against convert. In the blink of an eye the Christians didn't seem so christian anymore. Words became weapons, and scripture became deadly.

It was in the midst of this war of words and contest of opinions that he found himself, a young boy so unaware of the ways of the world, seeking to find faith. The tide of religious excitement took him along in its current, and young as he was he couldn't help but feel the same deep and pressing desire to unite himself to God and be one of His people. 

But which congregation was God's, he didn't know. And all the people in town disagreed. Even his family was divided on the issue, maintaining a peaceful truce between the converts and those who kept themselves apart from it all. 

He went to the revival meetings as often as he could. He would sit and listen, eyes and ears ablaze as the latest sermon on the way and will of God was trumpeted forth with great charisma and enthusiasm. The words of the preacher would strike a fire of excitement in his heart, and he would think, "yes, this has to be the one." Though as soon as he left that congregation and joined another, that certainty was fading and being replaced by different orchestra of "be thou"s and "thou shalt"s and "thus saith the Lord"s. As that sermon rolled forth he would feel the excitement again, and feel the logic of it, and think "oh, yes! This one, this has to be it."

But, alas, the fervor never lasted. For as soon as another sect began debating the points of the first or the second, the logic, the reasoning, and the scripture would all be lost in a massive heap of rubble. 

Often he spent his evenings walking the dusty roads pondering the words and ideas of the latest meeting. What they said made so much sense. But so had what the last preacher said. And his sermon contradicted the first. How could they all make so much sense, yet refute each other so completely?

Sometimes, the weight of it would get so heavy that it was all he could do to not cry out in frustration. In moments of fleeting sleep he would stare at the stars and wonder: "what am I to do? Who out of all these is right? If any of them are right, which is it? And how can I know?"

But the even the answer to this question eluded him, and he would eventually fall into an uneasy sleep in the early hours of the morning. 

And so time went on. Preachers preached, converts testified, and the fire of faith seemed to have claimed almost everyone to a congregation. But no matter how many times the boy visited a congregation, he never found any more clarity than he had before. He was going in circles. And even though he felt more partial to some sects over the others, never could he bring himself to throw himself into the waters of baptism and relentless loyalty. 

He listened. And he pondered. And he listened again. He read the Bible, trying to find the answers the preachers weren't giving him, but couldn't find any solidity. However, he did not relent in his search. He couldn't. There was too much at stake.

One evening, while searching the Bible for answers, he fell upon a verse. "If any of you lack wisdom," he read, "let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him." His blood seemed to burn as he read those words, slamming his heart against his ribcage. Every fiber of his being shook. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.

He couldn't shake those words from his mind. Through the following days they echoed inside of him, bouncing off of every question he asked himself. If any of you lack wisdom. They seemed to whisper in his ear as he listened to the clergy declare their fiery sermons. Let him ask of God. They pulsed with every beat of his heart as he heard converts testify and contradict and argue with one another. And it shall be given him.

He needed to know. He had to know. And from the word of God itself told him to ask God. Don't ask the preacher. Don't ask the converts. Don't ask religious scholars, or miracle workers, or even the Bible itself. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.

The words burned within his chest day in and day out, urging him on. They roused excitement within him, not like the preachers with their emotional intonations, but a deeper excitement, as if his very bones were shaking. 

But part of him also hid itself from those words. He couldn't ask. What if God didn't answer? What then? He'd be right back where he started. And even worse, what if he did? What if God gave him an answer, and it wasn't what he expected, what if it was the opposite of what he wanted? Could he handle receiving such an answer? Would he be strong enough? Or would it simply crush him?

These two halves battled it out within him, and all the while he continued to listen, to read, and to ponder, hoping something would sway the fight one way or the other. 

He was in bed one night, feeling the same familiar tension in his stomach as the two sides debated in his head. He tried to shut up the noise and fall asleep, but the battle was beyond him now. 

Finally, he let go, and just listened to the sound of the silence. The tension fell somewhat, though the root was still there in his stomach. He turned and looked out the window in resignation. He couldn't handle the conflict anymore. The indecision was just too much. He looked past the road and toward the woods on the other side of their property. That's where he had decided to go to ask, if he did go. The space between the trees was dark as pitch, despite the bright moonlight pouring across the nearby fields. The contrast was so sharp. All one would have to do to be able to move out of the darkness was take a step. Just one step. And suddenly, everything would be bathed in light. 

That same choice was his.

He didn't sleep much. The battle tried to reignite itself throughout the night, but he knew what he had to do. When the first shreds of twilight broke over the fields, he got up and got dressed. In the deep silence he slipped outside, stopping by the barrel on the side of the house to splash water across his face. Then he turned, faced the woods across the road, and walked.

When the light finally faded from his eyes, he blinked, trying to focus. He was on his back, and morning light was pouring through the trees from the east. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, feeling every inch of his body relax. The tension was gone. The battle was gone. The words and arguments and the questions were gone. Well, maybe not all the questions. But they didn't eat at him the way they had before. 

He listened, this time hearing the silence on a whole new level. It seemed to come from within him. It was the sound of perfect reconciliation. It was calm. Every inhibition had fled. Every doubt was gone. He knew. Wellness and euphoria filled his chest. And for the first time in a long time, he laughed, simply, because it felt good.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Black Notebook #3

This one needed its own.

What more do you want from me?!
What more can I give?
I stand on the shore and scream
at your endless expanse.
You rock back and forth on the sand,
innocence denying inner greed.
    You lie to everyone.
Your mellow show makes me the villain.
How can I not comply,
seeing you ask so little?
You simply want a shore to dance on.
Is that so much?

But others don't see,
see the lust with which you storm my door.
When eyes are turned,
when day has fallen,
you attack me,
demand of me,
command to me,
strip me of all but a saline aftertaste.

Billowing waves have stolen
my home,
my childhood,
my pride.
Your hurricane fury has even struck my
health and heart,
leaving me broken in flesh,
and failing in faith.

By day I try to hide my shattered form,
covering my worn and torn visage.
Few who could see me as I am
would offer me unselfish mercy.
     Thus even in your passive slumber
you take from me.

What else do you want?!
What can satiate the hunger
that everything else has failed to satisfy?
What else,
you miserable wretch?

I will not concede.
I will not stay broken.
I will not be defeated.
I will fight.
I will destroy you.
And one day the rage that fuels you
will dry the ocean from your bones.
And I will stand on the rocks
and laugh.

Black Notebook #2

Another couple of entries from this last semester.


Finality is false.
Tomorrow is promise.
Today is possibility.
And self-awareness is power.

Deep within,
infinite potential awaits.
The light that breaks the seal is
the light that shines within us.
And that light shines
when we finally accept that
we have always been enough.

I shouldn't look.
I should lower my eyes and avoid you.
You are not like me.
You do not share my passion.
And you are spoken for.
     So a simply look does no harm, right?
I'll just look for a moment.
     My god, you're beautiful.

But of course you are.
Because while your visage emanates pleasure,
Your soul is to me a blank slate.
And I can paint whatever I want in you.
     So I make you perfect.
And you become perfect sensuality.

I'll never touch you.
Never speak.
For the moment I do you'll shatter.
What I've made of you will be in shambles.
For perfection is best left to dreams and fantasies.
And you're best seen from a distance.


Like a moth to light, I am drawn to you.
I have a need, a thirst! to look and be near you.
You seem to shine, all of you,
and I wonder how it would be to be yours,
 Each in turn.

I imagine waking up in your arms,
Looking into your eyes as morning breaks,
Kissing your cheek.
I look from one to the next,
living a lifetime in a glance.

Why do I look?
Why do I wonder?
I have arms and eyes and cheeks all my own.
And I love those eyes, arms, and cheeks.
So why do I look,
and watch,
and wonder?
Why do fiery passions of "what if"
flood my veins?
Why do I feel this desire clawing at my skin,
trying to tear from within its fleshy prison?

What is the master emotion?
Is it fury?
Perhaps sorrow.
Or joy.
Does anger's power make all exempt?
what a foolish question.
Humanity echoes from ages past and present
that love is the master emotion.
For love contains all the rest.

But what kind of love is king?
Does lucid infatuation rule?
Or does pleasure?
Perhaps passion owns all the rest.
Or romance.
Or is it yet contentment?

I have comfort.
It sleeps next to me,
wraps itself around me,
pulls me close.
Kisses me when only crickets see.

I wake up next to comfort,
I rest on its chest as sleep starts to fade.
Comfort is mine,
and I am comfort's.
I do not fear its loss.

Then why does the beast within me
yearn to break free?

What love pulls me?
What do I truly want?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Inner Battle

Last night I watched an LGBT movie that I'd never heard of before. It's called Dorian Blues, and it follows the coming out story of a boy in his senior year of high school. While the premise was nothing new, the execution was fresh and entertaining. It had a light comic feel as it followed this cynical 18-year old through his journey of dealing with his sexuality.

At the heart of the movie was Dorian's conflict with his strong-minded, authoritarian father. His father is ruthless, judgmental, and condescending, leading Dorian to become rather bitter toward him. And in the end, the thing that sets him free is dealing with his anger, rather than his father. 

He has a moment of realization at the end, when it hits him how much of an effect his father's judgment has had on him, and how much the resulting anger has made him miserable.

Speaking about his father, he says something to the effect of: "You know the one worst thing my father did to me? He convinced me it mattered what people think of you. And truth is, they never think quite enough."

This hit close to home. The anger and resentment that he talked about was all too familiar. And it's for the same reason. I care way too much what people think of me. And because I do, I even project what I think people would think of me, if they knew the whole truth about me. The result is anger and lashing out in order to protect my vulnerability.

And I'm tired of it.

I'm tired of being frustrated and angry at people. I'm tired of yelling at people on the road, emotionally separating myself from people in class. And most of all, I'm tired of keeping myself away from any and all family to protect myself. Because I have a right to a family, and I shouldn't have to put on the armor to go to a family party.

I know where this stems from. I was talking with my therapist over a month ago when we finally pierced through the shell I'd spent months forming around myself. I broke down. I wept. And it felt wonderful. At the end of the session, I knew that I had not resolved my issues with my parents as well as I had thought. 

A couple weeks ago, I went on a vacation to San Diego with my parents and siblings. Having realized my need for resolution and peacemaking with my parents, I looked forward to the trip. I also hoped to meet up with a friend who has been there for me so much as I have been dealing with my sexuality. 

It was Easter Sunday, and out first full day in San Diego. My friend and I planned to attend the Easter program at a cathedral downtown and then see the sights. I mentioned this to my mother the night before, but in the chaos of the evening not much attention was paid to it. In the morning as I was getting ready, she interrogated me, and found out the details: it wasn't an LDS service, my friend was gay, we'd met at a Moho Party. I could see the irritation fall onto her face just before she said "I don't agree with it, but it's your life."

I went anyway, because I needed to get away from them. I had a very nice time. The service was beautiful. San Diego was warm and bright. And spending time in the company of such a good friend was refreshing. And I even made it back to the hotel room before my family got back from their service. So, all was good, and like usual, we didn't discuss it.

Later in the week, I wanted to meet up with this friend for dinner. I found an evening when my family was doing nothing other than relaxing in the hotel room after a day at the beach. It was perfect: I would get to see my friend, and  wouldn't be robbing them of family vacation time. 

I told my mother that I wanted to go out that night with the same friend. I saw that same irritated face as she said "Talk to your father."

I finished getting ready and met my mother and father on the couch. I could feel that familiar tension in my stomach as I sat down. This wasn't going to be good. I told my dad that I wanted to go out with this friend, and asked if he had any objections. He turned his gaze from the tv, but didn't bring it all the way around to me. "Ty, I really don't feel good about this," he said. A serious, almost bishop-like tone filled the place in his voice where it was normally light hearted and joking.

I explained. I trusted this guy. I'd met him before. Nothing bad is going to happen. 

"Try to think about this, Ty. We planned this trip around your schedule so that you could come with us. Then you skip church on Easter Sunday to be with a friend instead of your family. And the fact that this friend is a part of the lifestyle you're choosing doesn't please us either." 

I understood about the family time, thing. That would be the case no matter who the friend was. And passing on church with the family. That probably didn't feel good for them, seeing the empty spot on the sacrament bench and imagining it as an empty spot in heaven. 

But then the "lifestyle" I'm choosing. I thought it pretty ironic, because in terms of gay mindset, I think myself extremely conservative. I want a home, a marriage, a family. I want a career. I want to be a part of a church community and to serve within that community. I don't care for gay bars or clubs. I'm so completely not "A" list that I barely even know what that means. Essentially, I want the same life I wanted before I came to terms with my attraction. Just, switch the sex of the person I'm with. 

I tried explaining that to some degree, but to no avail. I could feel the disapproval weighing down on my chest, making it difficult to breathe. And it began clouding my logic so I could barely even defend my point of view. It was the shaming powers my parents have had all my life, even if they don't realize they have it. Their disapproval crushes me, and robs my self-worth.

Even so, I tried to stand my ground, defend my position, weakly though it may have been. This just raised the temperature of the room, until my dear mother snapped.

Hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn. And for a woman who only knows how to react to vulnerability by bottling up or getting angry, that scorn is especially fierce. 

I'll spare you the details of it, partially because it's besides the point, and partially because I don't think I've un-repressed the memory enough to completely remember what she said. But the just of it was this:
  • through prayer, she'd received the answer that sin is sin, and that she cannot tolerate it.
  • my attraction is not legitimate; I apparently had a hard time on my mission, had my heart broken, and sought companionship elsewhere because it hurt too much. (I fought back on that one, pointing out that she could never feel comfortable in the arms of a woman, no matter how hurt she was. It isn't about heartbreak.)
  • I cannot be saved if I keep pursuing this lifestyle
  • eventually the gays will persecute the church
Don't ask me where that last one came from. It was just as random and out of the blue as it sounds.

She said I couldn't argue with her, because she's read a lot of books on this. I asked which ones. She couldn't think of titles off the top of her head. I asked if she read the one I sent her (No More Goodbyes). An expression of control crossed her face as she said "Yes, and it was awful." 

That one hurt. In all the loneliness, in all the isolation and self-hatred, no one had been there to wrap their arms around me and tell me they loved me. But through that book I could almost feel loving and protecting arms around me. It wasn't a book of "you're not good enough." It was simply "I love you." And my mother thought it was awful.

My father made the point to tell her here that Carol Lynn's first book was different, and that diffused my mother to a degree. Still, she thought it awful that all these families were changing their beliefs in order to excuse their child's behavior. But I never asked her to change her beliefs. In fact, I want her to retain her faith as much as possible. I just wanted her to love me.

The conversation went on, that crushing weight bringing me low in my seat. I couldn't look at them. I felt the misery building in me, but the shame wouldn't let me cry. They told me that they couldn't sleep because of this. That this was the most awful trial they'd ever had to go through. Even my brother, whose kidneys are failing, who goes to dialysis three times a week in order to live, who is waiting for a kidney transplant and will have health implications from it for the rest of his life doesn't compare to this, they said. We make jokes about his kidney problems, they said. 

That one hurt, too. I am the most painful thing they've ever experienced. I tried to speak of my own pain. Of the misery I felt. Of the trials I had experienced, but they were usually brushed aside. I told my mother, who thinks she knows my entire psychological persona through prayer, that I have never felt I could trust them with personal and emotional parts of myself, and so how would she know who I was, or what I'd been through? I don't tell her anything, and she knows nothing. 

A knock at the door was my salvation. My mother's old friend from San Diego was here, and I could escape her presence. My dad took me into his bedroom while my mom opened the door to greet her friend. 

As soon as the door was closed he turned to me and said, "let me diffuse a little of the emotion. I didn't want to get into all this tonight. But you know your mother." He came up to me and wrapped his arms around me. And then the tears came. To say that I wept would be a gross understatement. I bawled. My entire body shook and my tears came out in massive sobs. I felt my legs get weak, and had he not been holding me, I would have fallen to the floor. I was being crushed to death by my own parents.

When I regained my composure to a small degree we talked. My father tends to be the more emotionally in-tune out of my parents, and thus doesn't feel compelled to resort to anger when he feels vulnerable. Never once did he raise his voice. Neither was he prone to attacking or condemning accusations. That said, his disapproval is more subtle as well, which makes it difficult to sort from truth.

We talked about a lot. I was able to express myself a bit better. He still didn't budge on the issue. Though, at one point he said "if it weren't for the eternal ramifications of this I would have dropped it long ago." So it seems his only concern is God's disapproval. While I find definitive evidence of this disapproval hard to come by, I can accept his position. It's better than any other stance he could take.

We talked of life choices, of the possibility of being celibate. We talked of my boyfriend and the part he had played in all this. I told my father with strong resolution that if it were not for my boyfriend, my life would have been ruined by now. I was too weak in the early days to have resisted things that would have destroyed me.

My dad told me of the anger he felt toward my boyfriend. Though in all fairness, I don't think he realizes the degree to which it takes two people to make a relationship. If my boyfriend has any blame, then I have just as much.

I told him about the awful night when they drove down to Provo to force me out of the closet, and how it is the one event I wish I could erase from my life. (Though this experience pulls a close second). 

He still doesn't budge much doctrinally. He defended President Packer in his infamous talk last October. He defended President Kimball in his recommendation to hundreds of young gay men to marry women and they'd be fixed ("I seriously doubt that's the only instruction he gave them"). And he defends the concept of man/woman salvation as if there were no possible other way. The thought doesn't even occur to him that if God said it was so, there's be a perfectly logical explanation. The Doctrine and Covenants doesn't hold the entirety of the plan of salvation, and I cannot help but believe just because I don't see how something could be, that He can't.

It's funny. The way he and my mom talk to me about this, it's as if they're trying to get me to change before it's too late. As if there's a point of no return, or an expiration date on my potential straightness. But their attitude of "you need to do it now" irritates me. This life is the time to prepare to meet God, and I need to learn and grow and experience to figure out just what that preparation entails. And right now, that means being in a relationship. 

So, while my talk with my dad didn't change his view much, at least he listened. And he expressed a desire to listen more. I told him that if he wanted to be there for me, he needed to be more available, and he needed to shut up and listen. We'll see how things go in the future.

After we finished talking he went out to greet my mother's friend, and I talked to both my friend from San Diego, and my boyfriend on the phone. My friend was very consoling and helpful, (as his blog ever continues to be) and from the conversation with him I knew even more that I just wasn't going to get direction or answers on this issue from the church. It's not going to happen. Not in the time frame that I need them. The culminating point in all this was that I need to ask God.

But I have a hard time with that. I ask, but I haven't asked while really wanting to know the answer. Because I'm afraid of the answer. As my friend put it, "part of you is going to have to be sacrificed." And that's going to hurt. 

I'm trying to be ready to ask and mean it. And I'm trying to let the shame and rejection from my parents heal. The entire day following that fiasco with my parents was a numb day. I was just there, floating from place to place with my family. I felt little emotion over anything. It improved as the vacation drew to a close. My mother came up both that night and the following morning and hugged me and apologized for how she had acted. That was a start. But the hurt isn't gone.

When I got home, my boyfriend came over. It was so surreal to see him, to have those arms again. I had to step back and just look at him for a bit, to make sure he was real. I had to break through the numbness, but it took time. 

I remember laying with his arms around me that evening. It felt so wonderful to have his warm body wrapped around mine. I just had to ask myself, why? Why is this so wrong? I do not understand, and no one has been able to explain it to me, especially in a calm and unhateful way. 

I saw my family again on mother's day. I went up to my aunt's house for the big family dinner. I found myself nervous as I walked up the driveway, and when I walked in I was suddenly very aware of the walls I was protecting myself with. My parents were there, and they were sweet. Things were like they were before, as they always are on the surface. But beneath it all I could feel the hidden wound, still fresh from our vacation. I love my parents. But I find myself pulling away from them, because I don't want to get hurt. But even the pulling away hurts, because I miss them. I miss being a part of a family.

When I pray I have made a point lately to ask for healing and for greater love for others. I'm tired of the anger and the resentment. It's like an infection in the wound, keeping me in pain and keeping it from healing. I'm trying to learn to forgive, but it can be so difficult. But I'm reminded of the sermon I heard Easter morning in a beautiful cathedral. The sermon was on the atonement in our lives. The preacher said that as we face the seemingly insurmountable difficulties in our lives, we need to tell ourselves "I can't. God can. I'll let him." 

And I really can't carry this anymore. I'm getting too weary. So I'm trying to let God carry it for me. Sometimes the unaccepting judgmental God of my youth creeps in, making it harder to open my heart to him. But in those sweet moments, when mortal opinion falls away, I feel the reality of his all-loving nature. It's then that I can let go of the pain and the anger. It's then that I can lay down with peace and truly rest. And it's then that I can find a loving haven in this chaotic world. 

I am so incredibly grateful for those moments. Even more, I am grateful that out of all the people that have been affected by this aspect of my life, my God is the one who has never left or abandoned me. He is merciful to me, even when others would limit his mercy. He is loving, when others would limit his love. And he is changing me as he sees wise, when others would define what his design is for me.

I love him. And I trust him