Friday, October 17, 2008

Who I Was Then

I attended my nephew’s choral concert at his high school a few nights ago (ironically the same group of students I substitute taught the week before), and as I was watching this group of high school students singing in their various choirs, I thought, “My gosh! That was me nearly 20 years ago!” It is almost unfathomable to me that it’s been almost 20 years since I graduated from high school (I imagine my reunion will be next summer). First of all, I don’t feel it. I feel quite young. And second, I just can’t believe that much time has passed.

I was sitting on the row with my mom, my brother and sister-in-law, and their children, and I thought how even though it didn’t seem so much time had passed that at the same time it also seemed like a lifetime ago. I thought to myself, none of my brother’s kids even existed in mortality 20 years ago; my dad was still alive; my brother and his wife were just newlyweds; I was working at an ice cream shop for minimum wage; I was very much struggling with my homosexuality in a very negative way at that time; and I was starting to lose my faith in God. In fact, just a year or so after my graduation, I was completely inactive in my church, very bitter towards God for my perceived troubles, and slightly estranged from my family. And I thought to myself, “What if I had stayed that person? Where would I be now?” I actually shudder at the thought.

I was a different person then; much more self-centered than I feel I am now, and I was losing faith that God even cared about me. But one night I was praying, and a whole new world was opened up to me where I saw that not only did I matter to God, but that he knew me individually and very much loved and cared about me. I also felt that the LDS Church was God's true church on earth, and I felt very compelled to serve a mission and felt compelled to not give in to my homosexual feelings at that time. As I sat at the concert last night I thought, “Why would God tell me to fight those feelings then, and yet, several years later would I feel that same God telling me it was okay to let go and come out of the closet?” Of course, the obvious argument was that it wasn't God that told me it was okay to come out, but I do believe it was. I'm not even saying that I believe God necessarily condones my choice, but that He knew it would be better for my emotional health to do so. I do also very strongly believe that Jonah and I are supposed to be together, and as I've stated many times before, I certainly feel happier and more at peace having made the decision to be with him. What has been affirmed to be time and time again is that God loves me regardless of my choices and that things will be okay for me.

As I was at this concert, it occurred to me that if I had come out at an earlier age or if I had chosen not to follow the promptings I had to serve a mission or be active in the church, then my relationship with God would be different today and perhaps negative or even nonexistent, and I don’t think I ever would have met Jonah, or if I had, I don’t know that I would have been as emotionally or spiritually attracted to him like I am. I also think I might have done some things I would have regretted later on.

I’m not sure if my thoughts are coming across the way I am intending or why I even feel compelled to write about it, but it was just interesting to think about the path I am on in life compared to the path I was on and how different my life is in some ways than it was when I was 17 and yet there were also aspects that remained the same as well. I guess what really hit me was that God sees my life all at once, unlike me who experiences the present and remembers fragments of my past. He sees my past, present, and future all at once (at least that is what I believe), and so I believe the revelations he gives me are based on what he knows about me throughout my life and not just now. Perhaps that is why He has made me to feel that being with Jonah is a good thing and that it is appropriate for this time in my life to have made the decisions I've made. I am simply trusting him. I wish I could clarify what I really felt at the concert, but it is not coming out in this post the way I am intending. Perhaps someone can help me better articulate what I am trying to say (or perhaps I need to dwell on it a bit more. Anyway, part of the point I am trying to make is that it was an unusual experience just having different memories and realizations flood into my mind while this concert was going on. The concert was enjoyable, too, by the way. Quite good for a high school choir, I thought.

Sorry if this post is confusing.


The Faithful Dissident said...

I never realized that you served a mission. How was it for you, especially since you were struggling with your sexuality? Any regrets, or was your experience as wonderful for you as it seems it is for every other missionary?

Gay LDS Actor said...

No regrets at all. I loved my mission. I did not go at 19 because I was inactive and not feeling very favorable toward the Church at that time. When I did go (at 21) my heart was right with God and I knew exactly why I was going and thoroughly wanted to be there.

I served in Belgium and France, which was a wonderful experience, and I still keep in touch with many people from my mission (companions, investigators, members, etc.). It was a wonderful experience, and I learned much and had many great experiences and a lot of success, I felt. So no regrets at all.

As far as my struggles with homosexuality, they were still a bother, but I was very focused on what I was doing as a missionary, so they became almost secondary, and I felt I served a good, honorable mission. It's something I am very proud of and wouldn't take back at all.

I was glad to come home, though. I did feel a bit repressed by all the mission rules sometimes, and because I am such an independent individual, it was very nice to come back home and be able to do my own thing.

My father also died while I was on my mission. I could have come home if I had wanted to, but I knew my father would have wanted me to stay, and more importantly, I wanted to stay. The way I figured it, the people in France and Belgium needed me more at that time than my father or family did.

adorned with life said...

I think what you may be trying to say is that if it's a choice between being so miserable that you want to die and even think about killing yourself, or giving into your desires, God would rather you chose the latter because he has your whole life to work with you on that. And the spirit world too, maybe.


Gay LDS Actor said...

Yep, I think that's true.