I don’t know how much I will be able to blog in the near future. School has started up again, and I expect to be pretty busy pretty soon, so the free time I use to blog will be not be as readily available as it has been recently. But I will blog when I can.
I wanted to talk about my older sister. We’ve generally been close through the years we’ve been alive. She was one of my best friends in 1990, when I was first coming to terms with my feelings before I gained my testimony of the LDS Church and was the first family member I ever told about my sexual attractions. She did not handle it well at all, and we became estranged for a time. Eventually, I decided not to pursue my homosexual attractions and became active in the church, and eventually, we reconciled and all was forgiven and forgotten. I wouldn’t say we’re as close as we were once upon a time, but we’re still quite close and tell each other just about everything.
I recently wrote her to tell her of my predicament regarding my feelings towards the church and Jonah. She responded with the following two emails, which I am just quoting parts of:
I've made more than my share of mistakes concerning our relationship - I am not willing to blow it again. And if there is more that comes between you and Jonah - well, good for you - to a degree. No, I don't support your decision, but if it's the way to happiness than go for it - though we both know that the happiness will only be temporary. There's other issues that will arise - does in every relationship - ours [hers and her husband’s] happens to be finances and spending time with the children - all six of them. Nothings perfect. And as we know the eternal rewards are not what we personally seek after . . . I don't know what to tell you. But I'm not mad at you…[and] I would rather see you happy in a relationship that makes you comfortable than a false front. I love you. I wish I was a better help than I have been.
I want you to be happy, Cody. It's hard to be battling with yourself all the time. And perhaps the battle will continue either way you go. Sometimes life would be so much easier if we were more ignorant.
I've heard it said that the loneliest people are generally the ones that are spiritually in tune - or was it the other way around? I don't want you to be lonely. Loneliness sucks! Even more so than problems in a relationship - those can generally be resolved.
I thought it was interesting how different her response is than what it was several years ago. Of course, she’s also had several years to sit with my issues.
I also wrote the following email to my immediate family and my former bishop, who is a very close friend:
This is an extremely difficult letter for me to write. I don't know how to express what I'm feeling right now, but I will try. I first off want to let all of you know that I love you very much and the last thing I ever want to do is upset or hurt or disappoint any of you. You are my family, and I love you so much.
You all know that I struggle with homosexual feelings and have for most of my life. Just like you, I do not understand why these feelings are mine and why this is my lot in life, but they are, and it is. I have tried for so much of my life to do the right thing, and I have tried ardently to live as I felt the Lord commanded me to. Yet no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, no matter how eagerly I fight, I cannot seem to win this battle. In fact, the battle just gets harder and harder as each year of my life passes, and I am exhausted. I have read my scriptures, magnified my callings, paid my tithing, attended my meetings, applied lessons I've heard into my life, counseled with my church leaders, gone to counseling, tried to stay away from things that might negatively influenced me, attended the temple, fasted, and done all the things I have been taught and advised to do. I've tried to apply the atonement in my life to the best of my ability. Furthermore, I have suppressed my feelings, hidden my desires, and pretended to be someone I feel I've never really been. And it's exhausting. The war that wages in my heart is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. It's so wearing when you're battling yourself.
I am not a bad person. I'm the same person I've always been; the person that you love as a son, brother, or friend. I try so hard to do the best I can to be the best person I can be and because I'm constantly told by the Church (and I guess the Lord) that acting on my feelings that seem so natural to me is sinful, I wonder how I can deal with it anymore. I'm told that marriage and an eternal family is God's plan for me, and yet it doesn't compute in my wiring, and I wonder where I fit in this glorious plan of happiness.
The fact is, I do love the Church (and I even believe it's true). But I sometimes wonder if I have the faith and endurance to do what I've been commanded to do. So much doesn't make sense to me anymore, and it is no longer clear to me what the right thing to do is.
My friend, Jonah, and I have become close, and I felt impressed to share my feelings about how I really feel about him. I never meant to fall in love with Jonah, but the fact of the matter is that I have. I know it's hard for all of you to understand, but we are in love with each other. And I don't understand why God has put us on each other's paths or why so many things have happened in our relationship to bring us so close together or why we have to have so much in common or why we have to make each other so happy when we're around each other or why it's so wrong for two people of the same sex to love each other, but all these things exist. I feel like my soul is being torn because I have such love for both my family and the Church but an equally deep love for my friend, Jonah.
The last thing I want to do is displease or upset anyone. Not you. Not Jonah. Not God. But I really don't know what to do anymore. I've been hiding so long behind this facade of who I ought to be rather than who I actually feel that I am. I've pretended publicly to not have feelings that I have privately.
Telling Jonah how I felt was so liberating and felt right. Being with him feels right. Why? Can someone explain that to me? Why do I feel giddy and happy when I'm with him? Why do I feel such a connection with him? And why is it such a sin for two people who love each other to be together? It's never made sense to me. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting mixed messages from the Lord; that I'm in some sort of bizarre science experiment. And I don't know what God wants from me anymore. I try so hard to be righteous in the eyes of my religion, but my heart pulls me in other places.
Rest assured, Jonah and I haven't done anything contrary to the Lord' commandments. And, in fact, Jonah, who is a very spiritual and Christian person himself, wants me to take all the time I need to think about what I really want in life.
All I know is that I deeply love both my religion and this guy and all of you. And I feel very conflicted because Jonah makes me very happy, and the religion I deeply love, which has given me some of my greatest attributes, doesn't seem to be meeting my needs the way I wish it would, and I don't understand why.
I guess the main point of this email is that I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't know what the future holds for me or what the right decision is anymore. I pray about it constantly, and I'm still thinking and mulling. I don't expect you to understand or agree with me if I make a choice that is contrary to the Church's teachings nor do I expect you to support that decision, but I hope you'll still love and support me no matter what choice I make. I just wanted you to know that I'm at a really weird crossroads in my life, and in many ways it feels like exactly where I'm supposed to be. I don't know what I'm going to do, and I'm sorry if that upsets you, and I hope you can forgive me for that. Believe you me, this is not a choice that I will make lightly or quickly, nor is it a choice that hasn't already been a part of my life for many years (the only difference is now I have a reason to make it).
I truly am sorry to upset you (and I'm sure I have), but I wanted you to know where I currently am and what I'm facing. These last couple of years at [college] have been among the happiest I've had in some time. I love you all so much.
Pray for me.
Jonah wrote a very lovely email to me last night which I won’t put here because I don’t want to embarrass him (not that he’d be embarrassed; after all, you are just a bunch of strangers); at least, not without his permission. But it was a very sweet declaration of love. I liked it very much.