Here's the latest reponse to my email. This one's from my sister-in-law. It's pretty much what I predicted she'd say:
I will love you forever. My heart breaks hearing of the struggle and
trials you have been called on to face. I do not pretend to know how you
feel but at the same time I know that everyone carries their own secret
heartache and will be tried to their very core. I do not know one person
that is not struggling for their soul in one way or another. Life is hard.
It is a test. I know the only safe way back to our Father is by keeping
your covenants. We also know that the reward will be far better than
anything we can now imagine. Please, keep your covenants.
I know of the love you have for the Lord. I also know that you know that
the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. You know it! Today in institute class
[our teacher] spoke of why the Lord doesn’t seem to answer our prayers when
we want him to. He spoke of being young and wishing he would have died when
he was 7 yrs and 364 days old. He didn’t think it was fair that they would
inherit the Celestial Kingdom and he would have to work so hard for the same
place. He struggled with these thoughts for years and when he was on his
mission a GA came and interviewed all the missionaries. He was given the
chance for one question which he asked why it was fair for children to go to
the Celestial Kingdom when he had to work so hard for the same place. The
GA tapped his knee in a loving, grandfatherly way and said, “Now don’t you
worry. Everyone in the Celestial Kingdom will deserve to be there.” (This
was no answer at all.) Years later when he was in his late 40s, he was
driving to work and thinking about the lesson he was preparing for
institute; the true way to pray. To really pray, he learned, we must pray
and ask the Lord what we should pray for. He realized he had never prayed
like this before. So as he was driving he started praying. “Lord, what
should I pray for?” The answer was immediate. “You should pray and thank
the Lord that you did not die when you were seven. Life is so beautiful
with all of the lessons you can learn. You learn what joy, happiness, pain
and sorrow are. All the life experiences you have are a gift from God.
Experience is a gift.” He realized that at 20 he did not have enough
experience to be as thankful for the gift of life as he should be, nor did
he at 30 or 40. He had to be old enough that he could look over his life,
the good and the bad. He had to be far enough away from the events of his
life that he could be an impartial judge on his actions for good or bad and
what he learned. He realized that he did not have a HOLDING SPACE for the
answer. Life had to teach him and create that holding space so the Lord
could place the answer in his heart.
Cody, what have you learned from your struggles? From the outside, I
think you have learned compassion and not to be judgmental. What else have
I think you are at hero time. What, you may ask, is hero time? It is
just at the point of the movie where the hero feels like he has nothing left
to give. He is defeated and usually ready to quit. But something deep
inside will not let him quit. It is really exciting because so much is
riding on this decision. The choice made either makes you want to stand up
and cheer or sigh. We all relate to him because we all get to this point in
our own lives. You are now at this point of time.
The confusion you face comes from the world and the worldly viewpoints. You
are a beloved son of God. He knows you and loves you and wants you to
return to him. You are not in any way a bizarre science experiment. You
are being asked the question that we all are asked, who and what do you love
the most? Our lives are the answer. We each are asked to sacrifice all that
we have for the Lord. It comes in different ways but we each are asked in
our own way. You are strong and valiant. I can’t imagine what it must be
like to be 34 and still searching for my eternal companion. I am praying for
Here's part of my response to her:
Thanks so much for your email. I appreciate your love and concern very much as well as your input and advice.
I was especially impacted by this quote from your letter: “Life is so beautiful with all of the lessons you can learn. You learn what joy, happiness, pain and sorrow are. All the life experiences you have are a gift from God.
Experience is a gift.” I know this is going to sound odd and contradictory to the gospel plan, but the more I pray about this issue, the more I feel I am supposed to have these experiences with Jonah and that perhaps I will learn something valuable about happiness and my relationship with the Lord because of it. It doesn't make sense to me in context with what I have been taught, but the message I seem to be getting from the Lord is that He just wants me to be happy and that if I feel happy with Jonah then that's what I need to do and things will work themselves out the way they're supposed to.
I also feel that no matter what kingdom I end up in in the afterlife, it's where I will belong and be happiest. I still haven't made any firm decisions yet, and I know this response may disappoint you, but it's what I'm feeling.
I know that you are very concerned for my spiritual well-being and that you don't want me to do anything I might regret (either in this life or the next), and I truly appreciate that. But, ultimately, I will be the one who has to make this decision and live with its consequences, good or bad, and right now my heart is telling me that everything is going to be okay.
You asked what I've learned from my struggles. Yes, I have learned tolerance and compassion towards others. I've learned that life is not black and white; there are shades of gray everywhere. I've learned that the Lord loves and will always love me no matter what (just like you guys seem to). I've learned to exercise faith (but I've also learned that maybe I don't have enough faith to do what is required of me). I've learned that love can be exhibited in different ways. I've learned how much my family and friends really love and care about me. I've learned that being honest is more helpful than holding things in. I've learned that life really is a test. I've learned other things, too, but those are just a few.
I love you so much, and I appreciate your thoughts and prayers more than you know. I also know that if I do make the choice to be with Jonah that it will upset and concern you, and I don't wish to do anything to cause you pain, but I do appreciate that you care for that much. I know you will always love me, and I thank you for that.
I have some hard decisions ahead, but all I can do is do my best and trust that what I've done is for the best.
Love you lots,
And here's my brother's response, which I also predicted would turn out this way:
This has been a struggle for me as well as you. First and foremost know that I love you, the Lord loves you and we always will.
I'm going to be blunt so be prepared.
It sounds to me like you already have made your choice and maybe are looking for our support in this decision. My opinion is that you are giving up a lot for what you view as happiness. In no way do I support this decision and the Lord does not condone it either. I think we have all supported you, but not this decision. I do not want to skate around the issue and hate to be preachy, but feel you need to hear it or that I need to get it off my chest.
It will break many hearts if you continue down this path and break your covenants. We will all live with the consequences and not just you. Of course the Lord wants you to be happy and so do we, but wickedness never was happiness as Alma points out.
You ask why God put you in each other’s paths. I don't believe God is necessarily responsible for everyone we meet. The environment you have chosen to put yourself in has lead to that. With your career you have made choices that allowed these paths to cross. There has been some inactivity and possibly lack of feeding your spirit. Some plays you choose to be a part of do not allow the spirit to be present and may even cause a loss of having the spirit. You have a choice to change your environment and get out of the situation. I know that could be difficult, but is an option. It saddens me that you would be willing to go to another kingdom other than the Celestial. Thankfully we still have the atonement, but it would be better if we didn't need to go down that path. I'm happy to see that you still have time to make a choice in this matter and hope it is a wise one.
President Benson said, “The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature. … Yes, Christ changes men, and changed men can change the world. Men changed for Christ will be captained by Christ. … Men captained by Christ will be consumed in Christ.”
Cody - Even the most valiant fall when they have placed themselves in the wrong situation. You can run like Joseph or linger like David.
Again, I do love you and will continue to pray for all of our struggles. I won't give up on you!
I actually appreciate my brother's response. I'm glad he's not sugar-coating anything because I do know this decision does affect everybody in my family, not just me, and I know this would be particularly difficult for him. And I know he has a very strong testimony of the gospel and is only interested in what he perceives to be my happiness. And he may very well be right.
I just know I have fought this for a very long time, and this soldier is weary of fighting. We'll see what happens.
Jonah and I went out to eat last night. We had a really nice talk. I'm feeling more comfortable with the idea of finally coming out of the closet and being with him. It won't be easy at times, I'm sure, but I'm feeling more at peace with the idea.
I held his hand while we drove home and we kissed each other on the cheek as we said our goodbye. It's nice to be in love again.