Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Utter Sorrow and Utter Joy

Jonah and I had a major misunderstanding. It started when I received an email from him on Sunday. One of the things he said in the email was that he hoped I was having a good Sunday.

Well, my Sunday was not very good. I went to church. In Sunday School they were talking about Jonathan and David. I've always wondered if Jonathan's feelings towards David ever went beyond just "brotherly love." I think David was probably straight, but I sometimes wonder about Jonathan. In any case, the lesson made me think about Saul and David, two people who had it all and lost much of it due to their transgressions.

My former bishop, who's also a very close and dear friend wanted to meet with me after church. We met, and I told him about my relationship with Jonah. This man is no longer my bishop. He's simply a good friend who's truly interested in my happiness and well-being. Well, of course, that news wasn't the best news to hear on his end, I'm sure. To his credit, he's extremely nonjudgmental and compassionate, but, of course, he's concerned about me. I told him I simply wasn't sure I could go on living my life according to the tenets of the church as far as this issue is concerned. I told him I loved the church dearly and, of course, would be very sad to leave it, but that I just didn't know what I was going to do.

Of course, he doesn't know how to help me and what he can do to make things better for me. I don't think there's much he can do. He's simply a human being doing his best to help in the best way he knows how. There was no judgment or chastising. He was simply seeing how I was doing. But as I looked at him, he looked so tired and worn down; not even by my problems, but just from being a bishop. This man, who I will call Frank, is beyond doubt probably the most Christ-like person I know. He truly cares about people, and I think he genuinely tries to love all those he comes in contact with. He goes beyond and above the call of duty and is always helping people. I actually think he's generous to a fault. But he's generous because he truly loves people. If there is an example I am in such great admiration of, it is Frank.

And Frank looked so tired and helpless as I talked to him, and it made me feel guilty. I want to stress that Frank didn't do anything to provoke my guilt. I just felt guilty. We hugged goodbye after I talked, and I just felt bad the rest of the day, and I wasn't even sure why.

In any case, when Jonah wished me a good Sunday, I explained that I was feeling guilty and that I had told my former bishop about us and that I still wasn't sure what I needed to do. Well, Jonah mistakenly took my response as my way of saying that I didn't think I could continue our relationship and that I wanted to break it off. So he sent me an email back saying that if staying true to the church was going to make me happier than being with him, then maybe that's what I should do. And I mistakenly thought his email meant that his patience was at an end (which I wouldn't blame him for) and that he wanted to break it off with me.

Well, when I read that I was so devastated and sad. I went to work and was in such a depressed and angry state, which many people noticed because it's unusual for me to get that way. It was tearing me apart to think that I wouldn't be with Jonah for the rest of my life, and it made me angry that God would put us together only to rip us apart, and it made me especially upset because I knew the faults in our relationship rested mainly with me and my inability to decide what I really want. So I was just miserable.

After work I got in my car and just sobbed, which is very unusual because I tend to be pretty stoic and unemotional about things. Well, when I got home, my mom noticed I was very depressed and asked me what was wrong, and I explained the situation and that I thought Jonah was breaking up with me and that I couldn't bear the thought of being without him and how I've spent my whole life trying to be a good person, and how according to the dictates of Mormonism, I feel in many ways that I am a failure; that I have tried so hard to "do what's right," and that the Church doesn't have the answers I seek, and how if Jonah was a woman, everyone would be overjoyed, but because he's a guy, I feel like most of the people in my religious network would be very saddened by my news.

Well, I sobbed in her arms for a bit, and she assured me that I was a very good person, and that she knew that the choices I faced were difficult, but that she only wanted me to be happy and could see I've spent much of my life trying to "do my best," and we had a very open conversation about homosexuality and my relationship with Jonah. I told her it confused me that the place I'm told to seek joy and happiness doesn't seem to be providing me with it, and the place I'm told not to go seems to be making me very happy. I told her, "It's not like I want to leave the church, but I just want to be happy, and Jonah makes me happy." She said she knew, and I even talked about wanting to marry Jonah. She says while she doesn't understand everything, she knows I'm going through a horrible ordeal and that if being with Jonah would ease my pain, then maybe that's what I needed to do. To hear that from my own mother made me feel so much better.

In any case, I wrote Jonah a long email back explaining that I was sorry if I was causing him such frustration and pain, but that I understood if he needed to break up with me for his own sanity. Well, I got an email this morning saying that he had misinterpreted my original email as my wanting to break up with him and that he was only trying to make it easier for me. Needless to say, neither one of us wants to break up with the other, and we are both very happy now. Jonah left me some wonderful words of encouragement and, in essence, says he's in this for the long haul.

In a way, though, I'm glad this miscommunication occurred because I feel I gained three valuable things from it:

1) It made me realize how deeply I really do care for and love Jonah. I am a brick wall emotionally, and the thought of us breaking up devastated me. It was good to know that I actually had feelings deeper than I could have imagined. It made me feel more alive, even if it wasn't particularly fun to experience.

2)It prompted a much needed conversation with my mom. We were really open about everything, and it made me realize how much my mom loves and cares for me. Even this morning when I told her it was all a misunderstanding, she said, "I'm so glad things are going well and that you're happy again. I love you so very much," and then she gave me a hug.

3)It helped clarify for me that maybe it's time I choose Jonah instead of the church.

Anyway, I've never felt so sad and happy in the span of 24 hours.

3 comments:

Elbow said...

Wow, that is amazing. I'm really happy for you. What wonderful insights.

I love reading what you have to say.

JohnS said...

I really feel the agony you're going through. You're headed to decisions that will greatly affect the rest of your life, for better or worse.

My opinion: it sounds like you're disassociating God and Church. Perhaps that's a question that you need to answer for yourself first: Does the LDS Church, as imperfect as it is, truly represent what Heavenly Father wants for you? If it does, then your third point really is:

3)It helped clarify for me that maybe it's time I choose Jonah instead of God.

In my opinion, and according to my testimony, that's really the point you're considering.

But if the Church doesn't represent Heavenly Father, then you truly are choosing between a relationship with a man and something that's merely man-made, therefore expendable and without eternal consequences.

He has asked us to submit to all things He requires of us. And you have made covenants in that respect. I know it's hard. Sometimes it even seems cruel. But my experience indicates that neither road is perfect from our temporal perspective. Neither road will give us everything we want. But one road, over the long term, will lead to exaltation. The other road, aside from not leading to exaltation, leads to some comfort, but greater misery, even in this life.

The choice is up to you. You have your agency. I just hope that you make sure that you are framing the question correctly.

Gay LDS Actor said...

John,

I really appreciate your concern and advice. I really do. I feel it comes from a genuine place of love from somebody who understands. You're most certainly right; these are decisions that will greatly affect the rest of my life. Believe you me, I agonize daily over what the right path is for me, and these are certainly not choices that I'm taking lightly.

And yet I don't feel that I'd be choosing Jonah instead of God nor do I feel I'm abandoning my Father in Heaven by choosing another path. It's ironic because I still believe the church is true, and yet I feel that if I choose to have a relationship with Jonah, I'm still going to be okay.

I love the church. I truly do. If I could have my druthers, I'd be both an active Mormon and gay. But it doesn't appear that that will ever be a possibility.

I don't know if choosing Jonah is the right decision, but what I do know is this: I have tried really, really hard to do all the church has asked me to do (and I guess what God has asked me to do), and I just don't think I can do it anymore. Whether that means I don't have enough faith or trust in God's plan; whether that means I'm not strong enough; whether that means I'm just not destined for Celestial glory, I don't know. But I do know that I feel I have given it my best shot; I do know that God loves me and will continue to love me no matter what choice I make; I do know that Jonah makes me very happy and is probably the best relationship I've been in; I do know that he's in my life because God wanted him to be; I do know that I just don't feel I am meeting my needs continuing on the path I've been on.

The scriptures say, "Where much is given, much is required." I just feel I can't do what is required of me anymore. I'm at the end of my rope, and I'm tired of trying to be something I don't feel that I am. I know that God knows my heart and my desires, and I can only hope he will be merciful to me if it turns out that this is not a good choice.

I just know that I've been on one path for so long, and I'm just not finding what I'm looking for. I feel like I'm finding it with Jonah. The only way I'll know for sure is to make that choice. And if it turns out I made a mistake, I'll know that, too. But I don't think it will be...at least not in this life.

As for exaltation, I've never really thought I was going to the Celestial Kingdom anyway. I've always thought I'd be happier in the Terrestrial Kingdom, which is where I hope to end up (I think that's where most of my friends will be). Perhaps that sounds bad, but I've felt that way for a long time. I think we will be placed where we will be the best off.

Although it may be God's will and desire, not all of his children are destined to become Gods or receive exaltation. Maybe that's what some of us are here to learn. The scriptures say, "We will prove them herewith..." and maybe some of us are here to learn how we will truly behave outside of our Father's presence. He knew some of us would fall away. Maybe I'm just one of those people.

I don't think everything is as black and white as it appears. I think there is more to the plan than we realize. All I know is that God loves me and wants me to be happy, and this seems to be what's making me happy now.

I can't fully clarify what's in my heart, but I feel like I'm okay with it and that God understands. That's all I can really ask for right now. I'm just too tired to "endure" anymore. If God sees fit to intervene, so be it, but I have a feeling I have a lot to learn from my future experiences, and that it's what's supposed to happen for me right now.

I just feel strongly that there's another path for me right now that doesn't adhere to what I had preconceived.

But again, I do appreciate your words and concern.