Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mistakes and Fiddler on the Roof

I seem to have a musical theme running through my blogs now.

I was in dance class today, and we had a guest instructor. He asked the question, “How many of you beat yourself up when you make mistakes?” I raised my hand high because I tend to do that, especially in dance class (I wouldn’t call dancing my forte). He said something I already knew, but it was nice to be reminded. He asked what happens when we make a mistake. What does it do? And one girl said, “It helps us know what we did wrong, thereby allowing us to figure out how to do it right,” and the instructor said, “Yes, exactly. So often we view mistakes as these terrible things. We view them as our enemy, when in fact they are our friends. By making mistakes, we realize how not to do something, which helps us better understand how to do it correctly (or more correctly) next time. So from this day forward, think of mistakes as your friends.” Again, something I know, but it’s always nice to have it reinforced.

I think we were put on this earth to make mistakes and learn from them. After all, if life is indeed a test, don’t we need to make mistakes? You can’t really test whether something works or not unless you are able to use trial and error. So for all of you out there who, like me, berate yourselves and punish yourselves for making mistakes (even if it’s the same mistake over and over again), calm down and allow mistakes to be made. It’s how we learn and grow.

Today in one of my classes we discussed the musical, Fiddler on the Roof. One of the women in the class was talking about the song, “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and was saying how she really loved the song because it reminded her of her own search for love. She was pointing out several mutual friends in the class who had a significant other in their lives and how she was envious and was just hoping one day she would find her “Mr. Right.” And I thought to myself how fortunate I really am to have Jonah in my life. He really is just about everything I’ve been looking for in a significant other.

Then the woman talked about “Miracle of Miracles” and said that song touched her, too, because it reminded her that life really is a miracle and of all the miracles in her life that she is grateful for. And that reminded me what a miracle Jonah is in my life and blessed I am that he is a part of my life.

We listened to a song from another musical, Fiorello, called, “I’ll Marry the Very Next Man.” The song itself basically tells the story of a woman who just doesn’t want to be alone anymore, in spite of the cost. And I thought to myself, “I just don’t feel like being alone anymore, and I’ve found this great guy, so why do I need to be?”

Another point was brought up about Fiddler on the Roof where someone brought up the point that these people had to go through so many trials and talked about what good might have come after so much bad. What blessings and rewards come after so much misery and heartache? And I thought that even if taking my relationship with Jonah to a higher level turned out to be a mistake, I would still learn something valuable from that experience, and if it isn’t a mistake then I have a valuable, fulfilling relationship in my life, so don’t I still win either way?

Foxx wrote a nice thought-provoking comment (my favorite kind) to my last post. The basic gist, as I understood it, was that in order to figure out what's true for me, I have to be willing to give up what I think might be true and compare it with the new truth I'm testing in my life and see which one works better for me or makes me happier. Like he said, "saying it doesn't make it easier, but free thinking is all about making decisions for yourself based on your own experience and morality."

The LDS Church has provided me with a lot of joy, and I had the most life-changing, profound spiritual experience I have ever had, either before or since, back in 1991, which is even too personal to post on this anonymous blog. But it is the most real experience I've had in my life, and I was left with the knowledge that the LDS Church was true and that homosexuality was not the path I should follow. There is a cliche phrase used in our testimony meetings that says we know something is true "with every fiber of our being," and back in 1991 I really felt I was able to say that regarding my testimony of the LDS Church. It literally changed my life from night to day, and I have spent my life since then trying to live according to that knowledge. Now things don't seem so clear, but that doesn't mean I believe that truth has changed. There is a famous line from the play Inherit the Wind where one character asks another, "Why is it, my old friend, that you have moved so far away from me?" and the other character responds, "All motion is relative. Perhaps it is you who have moved away - by standing still." I sometimes wonder if it is me who has moved away from what is true or if I have failed to progress to new truths because I have stood still.

I remember a couple of years back a friend of mine, whose son had come out of the closet, and I were talking about my situation, and she suggested that maybe this revelation I had back in 1991 was true for where I was in my life at that time, but that it wasn't necessarily true for me now. At the time, I didn't agree, but I have wondered of late if that might not be the case.

I am extremely grateful for the knowledge I received back then. Had I not, I know my relationship with God would be very strained today, if even existent at all, and I would have made choices that would have taken me down a much more dangerous and unhappy path than the one I have been on. I also would very likely not have met Jonah at all and would certainly have a much different character than the one I have today. So it was good, and I in no way regret where that knowledge has led me.

And I even still believe the LDS Church is true. I really do. This experience I had would make it very difficult for me to feel otherwise. But I also feel like I'm learning that I belong in a certain place in God's plan and that maybe it isn't necessarily the place other members of my church assume I should be in.

There are no easy answers. I mean if I do indeed believe my church is true, then I have to believe that my prophet is an inspired man whom the Lord speaks through and that acting on my homosexual feelings is wrong and that following the precepts of my religion is the way to happiness. Of course, that involves an enormous amount of faith; faith which I'm not always sure I have enough in. I don't expect everyone to understand this, but I have to wonder if it's better to rely on my faith for a religion I've always tried to exercise faith in even if it means I don't get what I think I want right now. Still thinking about that one.


Elbow said...

AMEN. Your remarks speak volumes to me. I appreciate everything you said, and as far as your questions about the Church and how it relates to your life...I completely understand and feel the same way.
Thank you.

Foxx said...

As a missionary, I had this strange experience that may relate to your post.

I had been working in a more remote area in Denmark for what seemed like a long time. I had pretty much taken senior companion at 4 months and it was a scary but effective experience. I felt a real ownership of the work in that area, and I was looking forward to hearing how our investigators did after I left, which I expected would be soon.

Word came from the mission president that both of us would be transferred and a brand new set of couple missionaries would take over. We were very troubled about this, as it would give us no time to train them on anything in the new area. So we got our area organized and our apartment ready for the change.

The day came for us to leave, and we said our goodbyes to our hard-earned investigators. We were packing up to leave when we both suddenly felt like we should stay in the way that only revelation feels. We didn't understand the feeling, and then we found out that the senior couple were going to be delayed a few days. We decided to stay at the apartment until we heard more from our mission president.

Suddenly, we both felt very urgently that we needed to leave. Right now. We needed to get in the car and go to our new area no matter what it took, but we had to leave now. We were confused at the conflicting revelations, but we took off. We nearly missed the ferry to the island, and by the time we reached our destination all the way across the tiny country, it was past curfew.

I'll never know why the revelations came so strongly and so conflictingly, but my companion and I understood that something outside our agency had changed, causing a spiritual chain reaction that affected our actions directly.

Ultimately, you must search your soul for the answer. From my experience, I know that two seemingly polar revelations can both be true.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks for your comments.
Thanks for sharing the story, Foxx. I needed to hear that.

-L- said...

I love Fiddler on the Roof! I love Inherit the Wind! :)

Plus, remember that part in Fiddler where they sing "Do You Love Me?"? I like that song. It makes me think of what is essential about love.

The trick about learning from mistakes is that it necessarily means moving past them, not making the same ones indefinitely. Otherwise, you didn't really learn from them and they were, after all, just regrettable mistakes. It does take time though. Patience. Setbacks.

Thanks for your thoughtful posts. Your blog needs a soundtrack! :)

Kengo Biddles said...

okay, so it's a little late, but I thought I'd share this, since we're talking about different revelations at different times.

When I was married to Helga Bjørnsdatter, my ex-wife, it felt right to propose, but I felt wrong (as did my gramma, but anyway). It ended up being 18 months of hell. Through the whole time I was praying to leave her, not to leave her, for some piece of information so I could make it work, somehow...and for months and months, I got the answer to stay, to try something new, and it would work. For a time.

And then at the bitter end, I went to the temple, and I felt that I had done enough, it was her turn, and if she didn't change, then I was to leave and end the marriage.

She didn't change. I left. I was told by God to divorce Helga.

So, yes, conflicting messages at different times, precipitated by different events out of my control.