Sunday, January 29, 2012

Taking A Break

I always said I would continue attending my LDS wards as long as I felt it was working for me. I'm not sure that it is anymore. Surprisingly, it has less to do with the fact that my participation is limited (although that does play into it) and more to do with the fact that I just don't feel as inspired or engaged or connected as I would hope to be when attending worship services.

As I've been "outside the box" Mormon-wise, so to speak, these past two and a half years it's allowed me to see the religion in which I grew up with different eyes. While some meetings and classes I've attended since my excommunication have spiritually uplifted me, I find the majority of the time I feel bored and unengaged. Whether this is the fault of the speakers and teachers in the meetings or whether it's my own fault (or whether it's a combination of the two), I do not know, but it's how I've been feeling.

Admittedly, the ward I attend when I'm in Utah is one I feel more connected to and inspired by, probably because it's the ward I grew up in. My ward here at home has left me feeling a little cold. The people have been nice and welcoming, but I have found the meetings and classes unbearably uninspiring since I've been back.

It truly doesn't help that I can't comment in class. I miss sharing thoughts, and frankly, I'm tired of just listening. I've done it very diligently for two and a half years now, and it's just not enough for me anymore. And as welcoming as everyone is, I just don't feel as involved as I would like to be.

This doesn't mean I won't still attend my Mormon wards. I think I would miss it if I didn't. But I don't think I will be attending as regularly as I have been.

I recently read something on In These Gay Mormon Shoes that kind of expressed some of my feelings:

"...I have come to the realization over time that I am part of two worlds that cannot coexist. One must prevail over the other. This is not something I would have accepted as I began this journey of mine. I had to discover it on my own. But the truth is, I cannot have both. I can either build a life and family with a man I truly love, or I can be an active, participating member of the church. I have experienced some of both in my life.

"I grew up in the church. I was someone members would speak of fondly and praise. I served a 2 year mission... The Church has been the bulk of my life experiences. I have many fond memories. I have also fallen in love...

"I would never give up the chance to love and be loved the way that I have experienced for anything. And I have only had a glimpse of what this life could be like. I would never forfeit love for a religion that would have me deny it. And so my choice is clear. I choose love over Mormonism. And if I am to be punished by some invisible being for loving someone, shame on that being for crushing something so beautiful. I do not wish to be part of an organization that actively fights to deny me my happiness. I will not support a church that attacks my family."

His thoughts are not exactly my thoughts, but he does express much of what I feel. I love Jonah. I still love and even respect the religion I grew up in. It is still and will always be an important part of my life. And I am not abandoning it. But I feel like I need to step away from it a bit.

I don't feel the need to attend another religion, either. And I know I will still attend my LDS wards when I feel the need. But I just am not feeling as fulfilled by attending church as I feel I should be. And, yes, it's true that no matter how welcome specific individuals make me feel, it's hard to feel welcome and supported in an organization that won't let me speak my truth and which doesn't approve of the relationship that brings me such happiness and joy.

There are some that may feel disappointed by my decision and I'm sure others who will think, "It's about time! What took him so long?"

I wanted it to work. I wanted to be both Mormon and gay. I wanted the two worlds to coexist in peace and harmony. But like In These Gay Mormon Shoes says, they really can't. That ideal doesn't exist. I thought I could make it work for me, and for a while I did, but it just doesn't feel like it's working anymore, so I'm taking a break.


Miguel said...

Wow, about time!!

Just kidding... :-)

I know this is not a light decision for you to make but I'm glad that you've got to a point where you feel you need to make a choice that works for you and you alone one way or another. That's what we all do, day in and day out mostly without realizing it.

Here's to celebrating new beginnings and possibly even forging new paths, even if that path eventually leads you back to where you started.


jen said...

Good luck to you on your journey. I think it's exciting to watch you figure out what works for you right now, and then go for it... and to just keep on figuring it out and going for it.

Thanks for sharing your journey!

ControllerOne said...

I'm stunned. You really can't participate in class discussions if you have been excommunicated? I had no idea.

Good luck friend. Making the decision is the hardest part. No go have a great life.

J G-W said...

For whatever reason, I have been allowed to make comments in Sunday School and Priesthood meeting.

Though for the first couple of years I attended I didn't... I was quieter than an church mouse.

It's a shame you've been told you can't... But less a shame for you than for your fellow Saints. I'm sure thoughts you might share, when you're so inspired to share, would be things they could benefit from richly.

I have to say, though... I don't attend Church because Church inspires me... I attend because the Spirit has prompted me to, and when I go, I receive revelation/inspiration from God. Sometimes a teacher/speaker does touch me in a positive way. But it also happens fairly often that something a speaker/teacher says strikes me the wrong way, and that provokes me to pray or reflect or understand more deeply, and that benefits me too. Sometimes I am just deeply in need of personal understanding about something, and I get answers to prayers that have nothing to do with what is going on in Church...

Sara said...

Interesting post (also the one about the new possible job). I'm a little surprised. It has been interesting to follow your journey all this time; it is very human and decent. I will be interested to read how this goes on, whether you go back, or explore a different spiritual path.

Anyway, I guess I'm just saying I've enjoyed reading you for a long time.

Gay LDS Actor said...

J G-W, I think if I could comment in classes like you, that would help. But I'm just not getting much out of church lately, and like you, I'm following what the Spirit seems to be telling me: "take a break." I don't expect it to be permanent. But it feels needed right now.

Sara, thanks for your comments. It will be interesting to see where I go from here. I'm glad you've enjoyed my blog. There are some days when I wonder if anybody even reads it anymore. It's good to know that there are people who have enjoyed my journey.

Miguel, Jen, and ControllerOne, thanks for your comments as well.

J G-W said...

I took a break... For 19 years. And I felt prompted to do so by the Spirit. As hard as that is for many faithful members of the Church to believe, I am convinced of it.

The other evening, I spent several hours listening to John Dehlin's interview with the McLays, a couple who were employed by CES for many years, who recently left the Church.

What I came away from that with is the sense that God can only be approached "in spirit and in truth," and that any residue of legalism or authoritarianism or perfectionism blocks that connection with God. And sometimes, it is almost impossible for us to sort out what is human-inspired and what is God-inspired in religious institutions until we have taken some time away... Given religion a rest.

I'm not saying we can "do it on our own," or that we can find salvation without the Church. I honestly believe we can't. True religion will always, eventually, drive us back to the Church. But sometimes we need to clear out the toxins before we can do that in a way that's constructive.

You've never taken a break as far as I can tell... And I'm not saying anybody needs to take a break. But you haven't, and if the Spirit is pushing you to consider taking one, I'm the last to say you should resist that kind of prompting... I hope it won't be as long as 19 years. :-) But it should be as long as you need it to be to find the level of hope and love in your faith that you need to sustain you.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks for your support, John.

Wasn't that interview with the McLays interesting?

J G-W said...

It was fascinating... The proof of it being that I listened to every minute of it... And it was LONG.

I found it so moving, inspirational even.

Gay LDS Actor said...

As did I. I listened to all of it, too.