Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Stake President

My stake president finally got back to me regarding the letter I wrote him after I was excommunicated (which you can read about here if you want). He actually tried to meet with me right after I sent it, but our schedules didn't mesh. Anyway, he had left me a phone message today saying that he appreciated my letter very much and that it was a "wonderful letter" and that he's been very touched by some of the things I said. He also said he felt embarrassed that he'd been slow getting back to me, which I didn't mind at all. After all, I know he is a very busy man, and he did, after all try to set up an appointment with me right after he received the letter.

Anyway, I was able to call him back, and we had a good chat. We're also going to try to meet on August 8th just to catch up and because he wants to see how I'm doing. We also discussed a matter I put in my original letter, but did not include in my post, which was that I wanted to know if it was permissible for me to read scriptures or from the manual out loud in Sunday School or Priesthood if called on to do so. He said to me today that he had discussed the matter with his counselors right after getting my letter, and they agreed that this would be all right, and he also said if I was ever asked to make a comment in relation to what I read that I could go ahead and do so. I asked if it was permissible for me to volunteer to read scriptures in class. He said he didn't see any problem with that, either. I then asked him if I needed to clear that with the bishop as well. He said he would take care of that as it would be more proper for it to come through him.

This news makes me happy. Even though I am prohibited from doing certain things such as bearing public testimony, giving public prayers, wearing my garments, taking the sacrament, commenting in class, and paying tithing, it does make me feel like I still belong if I can do the things I'm allowed to do, such as participating in the choir, singing hymns, reading scriptures, and being able to listen and learn from those around me who are allowed to do the things I am not. I like that.

My stake president also asked how my job was going and just how I was generally. As I've said before, I consider my stake president a friend, not just a stake president, and I do feel and have always felt for some time now that he really is genuinely concerned for me as a friend.

My former bishop, who is also a good friend and who knows I was excommunicated, is good about asking how I'm doing and seems happy that I am happy.

I am very blessed.

5 comments:

J G-W said...

I am glad to hear about this... When I read some of your earlier posts, I was wondering about this because my bishop does permit me to participate in class discussions by reading scriptures or sections out of the manual, and making comments. That came gradually though. I spent probably my first year or so of activity in the church dead silent in classes, just listening to what others had to say. I've had teachers (and classmates) frequently thank me for my contributions.

Like you, I am also permitted to sing in the choir and even sang a solo once. I'm always invited (encouraged) to participate in various service projects as well. My bishop has been clear with me that I am not allowed to pray, and he has asked me to help (and I have agreed) to remind teachers of that if they forget.

I don't know if you saw the post on my blog where I described bearing my testimony during fast and testimony meeting in April of this year. I did so with my bishop's permission, and the circumstances surrounding that experience were pretty miraculous. My bishop told me that perhaps I could be permitted to bear my testimony again next April. He promised me that next Spring we will both fast and pray about that. I can't tell you what a blessing that was, and how blessed I feel that my bishop is trying to work with me like this.

After I read some of your earlier posts, I wondered what would happen if my bishop told me I couldn't participate in classes in any way except to attend in silence. I think it would be difficult, perhaps even painful after having been allowed to do so for so long. But the reason I kept attending, even in the days when I was completely silent, is because I felt the Spirit so powerfully and I learned so much -- from my teachers and classmates, but ESPECIALLY from the Spirit.

There have often been times when I have experienced pain or sadness at not being able to participate in the same way as everybody else. But the Spirit has always been present in extra measure, reminding me of God's love for me. I was never that spiritually blessed when I was an active member of the Church. So I have never really felt "disadvantaged" in any way. The Lord's care and love for me and the powerful sense of the Spirit's presence I have felt have more than compensated for whatever I've missed by not being able to be a full member.

Silus Grok said...

Wonderful news … absolutely wonderful.

:)

I'm rooting for you!

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks, guys, for the comments. I appreciate them.

John, thanks, too, for sharing your experiences.

I mostly listen right now and am content. I am glad to know I am permitted to read, though, as I enjoyed doing that, and I know other people have commented that because I put inflection in my readings (probably because I am an actor), they sometimes get more out of it, so I'm glad I will be able to contribute in that way.

I don't mind not being able to pray publicly. I love saying private prayers, but never have really enjoyed giving public prayers, so I feel no great loss on that front.

I did read your post about bearing your testimony, although I do think I will reread it just to refresh my memory. That's cool that your bishop gave you permission to bear your testimony. I don't necessarily see that happening any time soon for me since I am basically "unrepentant."

As for my general circumstances, I'm pretty happy the way things are. I, too, have felt an abundance of the Lord's spirit, perhaps even more so than when I was an active member on record. I don't feel disadvantaged either.

Thanks for sharing. It's nice to know what others are going through, too.





There have often been times when I have experienced pain or sadness at not being able to participate in the same way as everybody else. But the Spirit has always been present in extra measure, reminding me of God's love for me. I was never that spiritually blessed when I was an active member of the Church. So I have never really felt "disadvantaged" in any way. The Lord's care and love for me and the powerful sense of the Spirit's presence I have felt have more than compensated for whatever I've missed by not being able to be a full member.

Cathleen said...

I visit your blog from time to time and never fail to be uplifted by what I read. Thank you so much for sharing your testimony continually and reminding some of us to be grateful for things we take for granted.
I am in awe at your strength and perseverance.
I am a 41 year old happily married mother of 9. I am active LDS too, but have never had much skill in sharing my testimony and speaking the words of my heart. I get tongue-tied when it comes to expressing my feelings about that which is most important to me. You have an eloquence in speaking that doesn't fail to touch me each time.
Your Mom sounds like an awesome lady and I love to read about your love for her. I hope my children will always know how much I love them and accept them for who they are are.
My oldest son is not currently active in church. I think his biggest barrier is being receptive to the spirit. He is pretty determined not to let the church get to him. I wish I could get him to read some of your blog posts. He is very upset with the stand the church has taken with Gays. He is straight, but uses this as one of his arguments against the church. I am in awe of your continued attitude towards the church in spite of what you are going through. I too would have a very hard time turning my back on my testimony and the things that the spirit has taught me over the years. The gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect but the church and the people in it are not. Sometimes people have a hard time separating the two.
I appreciate your words (and those of J G-W too). I wish you all the best.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks, Cathleen, for your comments. It's always nice to know that my posts are uplifting or helpful to others.

You know, I sometimes get very tongue-tied when expressing my thoughts orally, but writing them gives me a chance to reflect and edit, and so I think I am a more eloquent writer than I am a speaker (although people have told me I speak well, too, so who knows?) In my life, though, I've learned that it doesn't matter how eloquent we are; it matters more than the Spirit is present. In fact, sometimes the eloquence gets in the way. A simple heartfelt testimony can often be much more powerful than an eloquent one. But I am very grateful to know that my words have touched you.

My mom is an awesome lady. I love her dearly, and I know she feels the same about me.

As for your son, just be patient with him and love him unconditionally (which it sounds like you're already doing), and things will be as they should be. And, of course, never lose hope (but also don't let that hope determine your love for your son). When I went inactive in my early 20s the best thing my mom ever did was give me space and not push me even when I was making choices she did not feel were in my best interest. And, of course, she kept praying for my well-being and happiness.

What I have learned, too, in my own journey is that happiness is not always found where we're told it will be found. I think happiness is found in the pure love of Christ, and sometimes, ironically, that isn't always achieved by "following all the rules," so to speak. I think God's love transcends religion (even the LDS Church, which I still believe is God's true church here on earth). I don't know if that makes any sense at all, but I hope it does.

I hope you are able to get your son to read some of my posts. Maybe it would prove helpful to him in some way.

As I've said repeatedly, the Church has taught me many things that have provided me with some of my best traits and values. I owe it a lot, I feel. I also know that I am an imperfect human being and do not understand all things. And I know I still have a testimony. These things are what help me maintain a positive attitude towards the LDS Church. Besides, it doesn't help anyone to get angry and bitter about things. I just take what I am able and leave behind the things that are not useful for me at this time, and thus far, it seems to be working for me.

The important thing to remember is that we are on a continual journey. God sees are path from beginning to end whereas we can only see a miniscule portion of that path. I know that no matter what is happening in my life that if I just put my trust in God, things will be okay, and that's what I am doing.

It's true that the gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect but the church and the people in it are not, and maybe that's what I mean when I say, "God's love transcends religion."

Thank you so much for your kind words and comments. I deeply appreciate them. And, again, I hope things go well concerning your son. Just continue loving him, and things will be okay.