Friday, October 03, 2008

My Sister's Love

My sister was married recently. In fact, she just got back from her honeymoon a few days ago. She seems happy, if not a bit overwhelmed by the life changes marriage brings. But my mom told me something very touching about my sister that she had recently found out herself. When my sister was first dating her now husband, one of the things that she told him very early in their relationship was that I was gay, and that if he had any problems with that, the relationship wouldn’t work. Her husband is fairly conservative (as is my sister), but neither one has had anything but good vibes and thoughts when it comes to Jonah and me. My brother-in-law, upon meeting Jonah for the first time, gave him a big hug, and he seems to like both of us a lot. Jonah flew in to help alter my sister's wedding dress, and we gave her and my brother-in-law a wedding gift as well as a prank gift that my brother-in-law quite enjoyed. I like my brother-in-law, too, even if I think he’s an enormous goofball (which he, himself, would be the first to admit).

My sister has wanted to get married and have kids for a long, long time, and it touched me immensely that in spite of her conservative values and in spite of her desires for marriage and kids, that her love and support for me transcends all that; that she was willing to say goodbye to a potential relationship if this guy wasn’t willing to accept me. It made both me and my mom cry as my mom shared this with me. Certainly I shouldn’t be surprised that my sister, who is one of the kindest, most loving people I know, would feel this way, but not all people do, and it was nice to have it reinforced. And my sister and her new husband are very good for each other, I think, so all is well.

Anyway, I was extremely moved by this grand gesture from my very quiet and reserved sister.

One other thing I wanted to share that shows my rebellious streak. My mom is a worker at the temple, and for the most part, she enjoys it. One thing she is not so keen on is how rigid many of the rules are and how everything has to be done an exact way. I'm not speaking of the ceremonies or ordinances. I'm talking about how the temple clothing after it is laundered has to be folded in an exact, precise way. My mom folded some things and then somebody went in and redid everything she had done because it wasn't done the exact "right" way, and it annoyed her because she felt her hard work had been for naught. I told my mom that I think I would purposely fold things wrong just to annoy people and get a rise out of them. As I said it, I realize that rebelliousness and unwillingness to conform is strong in me. I enjoy rocking the boat and knocking people off balance sometimes. I think it's good for people. Perhaps I'm wrong, and perhaps that line of thinking isn't right, but that's my nature.


The Faithful Dissident said...

"I realize that rebelliousness and unwillingness to conform is strong in me. I enjoy rocking the boat and knocking people off balance sometimes. I think it's good for people. Perhaps I'm wrong, and perhaps that line of thinking isn't right, but that's my nature."

I see myself in this statement. I definitely enjoy rocking the boat, but it depends on who's on it and who I want to knock off balance. :) I know many Mormons who are very conservative, who would disagree with me on virtually everything, and yet are so loving, accepting, and wonderful people that I would never want to "knock them down," even if I disagree with some of the things they believe in or their reasons for them. I guess the ones that I really, really, really like to rock the boat for are those who seem so rigid and narrow-minded, to the extent that they lose sight of individuals, love, respect and tolerance, just for the sake of conformity and simply looking at the surface. I like to rock their boat and really make them work to keep their balance; that is to say to show them something else than what's in their comfort zone or "the bubble," as I like to call it. I never want to rob them of their faith, but rather look at it in a different light in order to get a greater perspective on the world and our fellow human beings. Some see the world in such a black and white way, that it drives me crazy. I wish that everyone could see "Life in Technicolour," to quote my favourite band, Coldplay. :)

Some of my greatest friends are the exact opposite to me in regards to faith and politics. It goes both ways. Some are waaaaay more conservative than me, and some are even much more liberal than me (OK, maybe not my Mormon friends. :), but I respect them when they can respect the fact that not everyone is like them, has the same experiences, insights, or strengths that they do, and when they recognize that everyone has to walk their own path and be accountable to their personal truth and conscience, whatever it may say.

I think the best Mormons are those who can stay strong in the faith and yet are able to admit that they haven't walked in your, my, or anyone else's shoes but their own, and therefore withhold passing judgment on everyone except themselves.

Gay LDS Actor said...

I am in complete agreement with everything you said. I, too, only like rocking the boat to put the narrow-minded, rigid, "black-and-white" views of life crowd off balance; and certainly I don't do it to diminish anyone's faith in any way. But, like you, I also see the world in "technicolor," and so the times I rock the boat are simply when I feel it would do somebody some good to see the life from a different angle and realize that not everyone's life experiences are the same.

I, too, have many great friends both in and out of my faith. I don't expect everyone to agree with me on all issues. That would be just as dangerous as people who are absolutely rigid in beliefs I don't hold. What I do expect is for people (including myself) to be able to talk and explore things from many different angles, and even if we don't agree with each other, to at least respect each other and try not to judge one another.

I just try, overall, not to judge people just as I would hope they don't judge me. But I do like to give people (and myself) opportunities to see things from many perspectives. I think it's useful.

I agree with your statement about who the "best Mormons" are. Like I said at the beginning, I don't believe there's anything in your comment that I don't agree with.

Thanks for sharing.

The Faithful Dissident said...

"But I do like to give people (and myself) opportunities to see things from many perspectives. I think it's useful."

I agree, I think it's extremely useful. I think that many are afraid to expand their horizons because they assume that if they know more, their faith will weaken. I don't think it always has to be that way. Without feeling compelled to abandon my faith or my standards, I find it fascinating and enlightening to explore different points of view. When I think back to the narrow perspective that I had just a few years ago, compared to what I have now, it feels like when I got glasses for the first time. I couldn't believe what I had been missing out on for so long!

It's strange because in some ways, I perhaps walk a very fine line when it comes to exploring and challenging my faith. I ask a lot of questions, expect a lot of answers (which we can't always get), and I have to often fight off feelings of negativity and frustration about the Church. It could easily go the wrong way if I let it. But at the same time, this journey has been (and continues to be) very empowering because I feel that I am learning to see the Church for what it is, and not necessarily what I thought it was or wanted it to be, and still I feel at home in it and have no intentions of leaving. It feels like if I can get through all this negativty and confusion and find my niche (which feels like a very heavy burden at times) and still remain a faithful member, then nothing will ever pull me away. At least that's my hope. Call it spiritual weight training, if you will. :)

I often think of Joseph Smith. Besides all the troubling aspects of his story, such as polygamy, his theological style seems so much more liberal and keen on asking/exploring than what many Mormons believe. The man is an enigma to me in many ways, but his style speaks to me like no other prophet after him. I would like to think that if Joseph were alive today, he'd have his own blog too. :)

Gay LDS Actor said...

"I think that many are afraid to expand their horizons because they assume that if they know more, their faith will weaken."

I completely agree with this statement. I do agree there is a danger to questioning too much and challenging our faith, but I think it can be just a dangerous to become complacent and adhere to every doctrine we're taught without exploring for ourselves whether it is true or not or whether it works or not. I think God created us to have questioning, inquistive minds, and while I certainly don't think he wants us to do anything that's going to take us off the path that leads to him, I also don't think he expects us to be all-conforming robots who take everything we hear as gospel truth without examining, pondering, and experimenting on it.

I, too, feel very at home in the church and have no intention of leaving it, either, but I also know what is working for me and bringing me happiness in spite of what I'm taught. And I realize that I will have to take responsibility for all choices I make in that regard.

Captain Midnight said...

That's so amazing. That's how I hope my family can be some day. Right now my parent's are hoping that I'll never act on my homosexuality, but I hope eventually my parents and my sisters and brother can accept me and my boyfriend. It's my biggest wish right now to be an accepted couple with the rest of the family. I'm really happy for you that your sister is so awesome like that.

Gay LDS Actor said...

I hope, too, that your family will come to accept your realtionship with your boyfriend the way mine has. No matter how they feel about homosexuality, my family has been amazingly supportive and accepting. They really treat Jonah like he's part of the family (it does help that Jonah is so utterly awesome!). I wish Jonah's family could come to that place as well. I guess every family is dfferent. Good luck to you.