Friday, December 31

A New Year's Prayer: the 6th Day of Christmas

From the darkness of my sorrow, dearest Father, bring me light.
Help me change and become better as I try to choose the right.
Dry my tears and ease my pain when I am crying in the night and feel alone; please help me feel Thy love.

In the place of hatred, give me love.
For sadness, give me peace.
And from my trials and temptations give me hope to find release...
While I toil through affliction help me never, ever cease to turn to Thee, and follow in Thy way.

Give me strength to choose the right and live throughout the day
Give me courage to extend my hand, helping others find the way
Give me patience to accept Thy will and see the shining ray... of peace that comes to all those who obey.

Give me love to be a friend to those who stand along life's path.
Give me friends who stand beside me though they may not understand.
Give me faith that I may always see the presence of Thy hand
in this New Year...

Happy New Year. May God be with you.

Mormon Guy

Thursday, December 30

Golden Rings: the 5th Day of Christmas

Every person in my life wants me to be happily married... Which means that they each try to set me up with girls they've (usually) randomly and casually met. Girls who happen to work at the temple that they are visiting out of town. Girls who might be in Utah for at least 1 day of vacation. Girls who they have never even met - only heard about when a family came to visit their ward and mentioned that they had a female family member within 10 years of my age.

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love the people in my life. I am amazed at how much they think of me and how involved they are in my life. Every time my great-aunt, grandfather, or anyone else tries to set me up with another girl it's because they want to give me every possible opportunity... and it's pretty much all they can do. I just wonder about the filtering process that goes on inside their heads. Some of the girls have even had boyfriends or fiancées... which meant that an awkward phone call to set up a blind date became even more awkward.

Some days I wish they knew the struggle I faced... and understood why telling me a girl is incredibly attractive is totally useless... and so that the incredible pressure to get married, at least from them, would lessen. But most of the time I'm glad that they're involved... and glad that they admire me enough to try to help me to be happy. If they knew they probably wouldn't ever try to set me up again... (I tried that once with a gay friend. Didn't work because she was just starting to date someone else and he didn't want to open up old wounds. They really hit it off though when they met - she was definitely on an all-out flirt and I had never seen his eyes light up for a girl before. Even if it didn't work out, I still think it could have helped him and her.) and that's not really my intent.

It'll happen someday. In the meantime I still go on blind dates, try to find girls that might fit (with the necessary miracle, of course...) and follow the progression and prices of diamond simulants (I'll leave my feelings about diamond cartels for a different forum). Years ago one of my marriage prep teachers said the best way to move towards marriage is to move as if it was already in the plans. Go ring shopping, choose a temple, taste cake samples, browse colors and reception styles, choose a honeymoon and think of baby names. I haven't done all that. Going ring shopping without a girlfriend was awkward enough. This was the real conversation as I tried, nonchalantly, to just look around the display area.

"Does she know you're here?" 
"Have you talked about it?" 
"Not really."

And the salesmen look at each other knowingly. I think they'd have a very different look if they knew the whole story.

Wednesday, December 29

Spiritual Paradox: the 4th Day of Christmas

I like to have all the right answers. But today a guy asked me a question that made my blood run chill. "What would you do if God commanded you to find a husband?"

I told him I honestly didn't know, and the conversation shifted to safer topics. I tried to convince myself that God couldn't do such a thing, as it went against everything I had ever known to be true. But in the back of my mind I wondered about my unanswered question. What would I do? As I thought, I realized that my question was about more than just gay marriage - it cut to the core of living life by the Spirit and following counsel received by prophets. What would I do if the Spirit prompted me to do something contrary to the teachings of the prophets - anything at all? It may never happen. But it has - Nephi was commanded to kill Laban. Abraham was commanded to kill Isaac. And black men were prompted to ask for the Priesthood before the Lord had made it possible. God could prompt me to do anything at all. What would I do?

I know that God will answer any personal question with a personal answer... and so this afternoon I asked Him to help me answer this one - if not for me, for anyone who feels torn between promptings of the Spirit and the teachings of the prophets... torn between wanting to follow God's personal counsel, and knowing how to follow it.

The first thing that came to mind was the importance of knowing the voice of the Spirit. Even the devil can appear as an angel of light... so my first step would be determining if the revelation truly came from God... and would involve a whole lot of fasting, prayer, scripture study, temple attendance, blessings, and meditation.

If the answer still held, and God still prompted me to move forward, I'd go on to the next step. Elder Uchtdorf's talk on divine lines of communication this conference emphasizes that all revelation and truth can and must be reconciled using two lines of communication. That is why we have two lines - so that, in difficult situations where issues are unclear, we can receive revelation from multiple sources.

So I would check using the Priesthood line - talk with my bishop, stake president, and anyone else who could receive revelation on my behalf. I'd explain the situation honestly and sincerely, and ask them to pray and confirm what I had learned from God.

If my Priesthood leaders confirmed what came through the personal line, then I would go forward with faith. If they did not, then suddenly I would be faced with a spiritual paradox. The Spirit tells me to do one thing; the leaders of the Church tell me to do another. Which do I follow?

This is the heart of the matter - do I follow God or His Church?

As I thought through this question, I was reminded of the many talks this conference that referenced the 14 truths about the prophet. Among them, the prophet can speak on any topic... and the prophet will never lead the Church astray. Ultimately this question, and my ultimate loyalty, hinges on one question - whether the Church is truly God's Church, and whether Thomas S. Monson is His prophet. Because if the Church is true, and Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, then what he teaches is true... and the Church has the authority and responsibility to guide how I live my life to enable me to receive salvation. In that case, the right thing to do will always be within the bounds that the Lord has set through His prophets. And if the Church isn't true? Then I have a much bigger problem.

I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet... and I know the Church is true. I've asked, and God answered me... and so I know that God will never lead His prophet astray, and that His prophet has the authority to receive revelation on my behalf. So what would I do? I would continually check the personal line of revelation and do what the faithful black members of the Church did as they waited for the Priesthood. I would follow God's commandment to me as far as I could within the doctrine of His prophets... and then I would wait for God to make the next move.

But my waiting wouldn't be for the Church to change - it would be to receive guidance in my own life to do what was right, paired with a willingness to submit to all His commandments, and prayers for God's oracles. Maybe He would change doctrine... and maybe He would change the commandment He gave me...

Commandments aren't always given with the express purpose of keeping them. I would try to look beyond His commandment and understand its purpose, since God gives me commandments to teach me critical principles of the gospel. In the scriptures there are examples of commandments the Lord never intended His children to keep. Abraham was not commanded to kill Isaac so that Isaac would die; he was commanded to test his faith and prove to himself that he would follow God in all times and in all places. That didn't change the commandment, though... or the requirement for Abraham to be completely willing to follow God no matter what. In my own life the Lord has often given me directions that seemed confusing or strange, only to change directions again in the future.

And so perhaps the commandment was given, not to be fulfilled, but to point me in the direction the Lord needs me to go, today, in order to accomplish His will. Maybe having the goal in mind to keep His commandment would enable me to be a better missionary and share the gospel, or motivate me to become a better person as a whole, so that God could give me more direction.

Ultimately, if God commanded me to do anything against the doctrine of the Church, and I knew the prompting came from God, then I would follow His commandments. I'm grateful to know that the Lord has called a prophet today who speaks to God on my behalf... and that the onus of receiving guidance from the Lord is not mine alone. I would follow the promptings the Lord had given me as far as I could within the guidelines set by the prophets... and then wait and pray to see what God did next in my life - if He changed the doctrine and commandments of His Church, wanted me to simply wait and learn patience, or if He turned me in another direction once I had learned the lessons I needed to learn by moving forward.

It all comes back to that - if the Lord has established His Church as an authority here on the Earth, and if He is guiding the Church through a modern prophet, then I can and must follow the teachings of the prophet to the ends of the Earth, for, in God's words, a prophet's teachings are the words of the Lord, and the prophet is given the ultimate authority to receive revelation in my behalf. If he is a true prophet, then his counsel, as the authoritative voice of the Lord, will always be the ultimate will of the Lord in my life. With that knowledge, I have a lens to see how to follow God's commands in my life.

Thank Heavens for answers to prayers... what began as an awful question became an opportunity to learn an important principle for my life. Whenever I receive any commandment from the Lord, I will do my best to follow it and all the commandments God has given - melding my prompting within the bounds that He has set through His prophets. I will follow Him with faith, and He will take care of the rest.

I forgot one sort of important part. At the moment I realized I would have to wait for God to give further direction - either to me or His prophet, I wondered how that would work. The answer - "You don't receive doctrine for the Church... and so that is not your concern. Keep my commandments, follow the prophet, and I'll take care of everything else."

Tuesday, December 28

Fitting In: The 3rd Day of Christmas

I stick out. Everywhere I go. Really. Except for the temple, I've never found a place where I really feel like I belong. I go to family gatherings and feel like the black sheep. But then I've felt like a black sheep everywhere - church, school, work, the mission, with groups of friends, even going out on dates with girls who like me. And it's not an in-my-head-oh-no-everyone-is-watching-me kind of sticking out; in my case, everyone (no exceptions so far) around me tells me I'm different.

I realize that "everyone is different," and "there is no normal." But when everyone I meet tells me I'm different, even in a good way. it does more than just highlight my differences. I'm sure they usually mean to compliment some talent or perspective on life... but even so, being different cuts a chasm between me and the rest of humanity. I feel like I can't relate with people, or they with me.

I know that I need to rely on God to meet my needs. I'd still like to fit in with people, though... and feel like I'm one of them - not just an outsider that someone kindly invited to play a supporting role. But I'm not sure what needs to happen... if I need to keep searching until I find the right group to fit in with, or if I just need to change to better fit with the rest of humanity. 

Monday, December 27

Dreams on the 2nd Day of Christmas...

I've had two dreams for as long as I can remember. Dreams that fill my sleep and haunt my days... and whose lilting, vagrant melodies make me question whether I will ever see their fruition. Inside my heart, I know they will happen someday, but until then I work and wait and pray.

The first dream is of love. I wish I were in love... hopelessly and completely in love with a girl who loved me in return. I wish I could shower her with gifts, talk late into the night... I'd even be willing to sing her love songs every so often. I dream of having a family and being a righteous father and husband... standing by my future wife through everything... teaching my children the gospel and helping them each to see the hand of God in their lives. 

The second dream is to make a difference in the world - to do something truly great... something to give back to humanity and leave the world a better place. But it's more than just wanting to end world hunger or fight famine or disease... I want to change the people of the world - to inspire them, somehow, to become who they truly were destined to be.

Looking at my life right now, and honestly looking at all the pieces, I still have a long way to go. I don't even have a girlfriend, or any girl that I'm attracted to... and I've only ever fallen in love with guys. And changing the world? Maybe I can touch a few lives with something I say or write, but there are billions of people in the world. I don't know how I'll ever change the fabric of humanity.

So those are my dreams. They're what keep me going through the hard days of life, get me up in the morning, give me a reason to keep living when my days are down. They're big dreams. And some might say that they're impossible... but they're mine, and in my heart I believe that someday they'll come true.

Sunday, December 26

Outed on the 1st Day of Christmas

I got to church today and the bishop wanted to talk. Three thoughts went through my head. 

1: A new calling.
2: He was prompted to meet with me. 
3: I had been outed. 

It was definitely the third.

Our meeting started well. We talked about Christmas traditions and the ward in general, and he thanked me for being a member of the ward. Then I sat back and let him explain why he wanted to meet.

"____ (guy who is subject of last Saturday's
Post - link) came to me and there is some sort of friction between you two. I've heard what he said and I just want to hear your side of the story."

I don't know my bishop very well. I hadn't decided to enlist his help yet, since I don't have any worthiness problems and I'm not sure how he can help. So I shared part of the story - talking about my desire to serve, be connected in the ward, and support and sustain my leaders.

He listened attentively, then told me, "Everything you say to me is confidential. Everything ____ said to me is confidential - I won't tell you what he told me and what you say won't leave the room. It's like they say,  'What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.'"

Interesting metaphor, but I love my bishop. He asked me if there was anything else.

I took a deep breath and went deeper - and talked about wanting friends and to be a friend in a new place... leaving the door open for issues like self-esteem (which no one would ever guess) and depression (similar). I knew he wouldn't get either hint, but I have a really hard time opening myself up to people. Again, he listened attentively, but wasn't hearing what he wanted to hear.

"I don't know how to bring this up," he said... paused... "I know that some subjects are ... touchy... Tell me about a website or a blog..."

I looked at this man in front of me while my mind went in a dozen directions. He knew. I had been outed. And now I was supposed to share my life with an almost stranger in a few minutes. I wondered what had pushed my friend to talk with the bishop - but I know nothing of the circumstance but my own view. I still wondered, though, what had gone through his mind... how their conversation had progressed... and what I could do better to make it so that I don't run away friends in the future.

The other part of me realized that, suddenly, I had someone here in front of me who wanted and needed to know at least a good chunk about me and my trials.

The five seconds of wait time was up, and I replied, "That will probably take more time than you have scheduled right now... Have you read it?"

He hadn't. He didn't even have the address. And he wanted to hear from me before he read the site anyway. My esteem for my bishop jumped in that moment... as I realized that, regardless of circumstance, I was grateful to be talking with him. He may not be able to help in what I need right now, but I can counsel with him... and find strength in his guidance. He's a good guy.

I decided to give him a brief synopsis before another meeting with more time. Without ever using the word gay or any of its many incarnations (I actually never used the word, or any relation to it, during the entire conversation. I had already been outed. My friend told him. I didn't need to mention it again.), I talked about my prompting to start this blog, talking with past leaders, and seeing incredible success. I shared some of the countless stories I've received - marriages saved, suicides averted, faith restored... and thousands of letters and comments of thanks.

He asked me, cautiously, if the blog shared principles that led people away from the Church. It sounded like the question was taken partially from the temple interview question. I laughed and told him no - of all the gay Mormon blogs in the blogosphere, mine probably gets the most anti-Mormon hate mail. I get a lot of well-written, well-intended stuff too... but when someone calls you stupid 10 times amid swearing in the course of a poorly written letter...yes,  I definitely support Church doctrine.

I gave him the address and asked him to read the blog from the beginning. I want him to read the whole thing, but I'm not sure if he will. Or if he has the time... I have hundreds of pages by now.

He looked at me and asked, "So, is this going to be a problem between you and ____ for a certain period of time?"

"I don't know, bishop. I'd like to talk to him about it, but I don't know if he'll talk with me."

"I'll talk to him." Then he looked at me with a look that bore into my soul. "Mormon Guy, I want you to know that I am the bishop of this ward, and I know everything that happens. Either people tell me or I get intuition. I'm the judge in Israel here... and I am talking with you because I want you and everyone here to have a spiritual experience in this ward. I don't want you and ____ to be walking down the hall towards each other and to make a u-turn. I want to make sure that doesn't happen."

Nothing else in our conversation meant more than that. If the bishop said he would make it right, it would happen... and maybe it would mean that the burned bridge could somehow be rebuilt.

"Is there anything else I can do?"

I looked at him again, and I saw him, honestly wanting to do everything he could. I told him I'd ask at our next meeting.

Since our conversation, I've thought about all my current needs... and how he could help. Here's the list.

1: Good friends. I need good guy friends who are willing to be good friends. Maybe he can help me identify who in the ward would be good candidates.

2: Help when I'm in crisis, or if I need to repent. I haven't had any major crises lately, and I don't have any worthiness issues... but real people are important. Just having his phone number and being able to call at any time will be enough.

3: Someone to counsel with when I need direction or just want to talk about my blog. Writing here is sometimes stressful. I'm never sure how to respond to letters, and I wish I had more people just to talk to... my few friends who know don't have the time to follow my blog, so I can't talk about it with anyone.

4: (very specific to me) I've felt the desire to go dumpster diving recently - to actively reach out and find people who are struggling beyond the blog. It's one of the most draining things I do... but I need to try again. And when I dumpster dive, I need a shoulder to cry on.

Outed on the 1st Day of Christmas...

Thursday, December 23

The Light of Christmas

"For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord..."

2000 years ago, a young woman and a young man took courage, followed the counsel of the Spirit, and walked into the darkness with faith. They broke with traditional Jewish norms in the timing of their wedding, and when the call came to travel to Bethlehem for the census, they probably took everything they had with them on the journey - each other and their faith.

One of the traditions of Christianity in paintings and nativities is to paint the Holy Family surrounded in darkness, creating their own light. While the world looks on and the darkness gathers, they sit, full of faith and hope and light... even though they probably have absolutely no clue what the future holds for them and their loved ones.

Right now in my life I feel like I could probably fit in that picture, at least the part about darkness gathering around me. I don't know what tomorrow holds... and the only thing I can do is walk forward into the darkness with faith. For a long time I expected the light to come on as soon as I stepped forward - for the Lord to somehow reveal some great truth to me to put everything in perspective. And sometimes that happens... but recently there has been no brilliant flash of light. Instead, I've found myself walking in the darkness, and slowly able to see by another light. I definitely have a long way to go before having a halo... but I feel like this is the right direction. The Lord has helped me learn and understand gospel principles for myself, becoming a better person and learning to see the hand of the Lord... and slowly gaining the light of the Lord in my life.

Wednesday, December 22

What I, (Gay) Mormon Guy, Want For Christmas

I wish Santa Claus could bring me a best friend who would completely understand me, a girl I could fall in love with and marry, and the ability to share the message of the gospel with every person living. But while those things have been in my prayers, they're not really on my Christmas list. I'll spare you the temporal nonsense that ubiquitously populates Christmas wishlists - whether I want a toothbrush or an orange in my stocking or something that will be novel at least long enough to break before I'm finished with it... and tell you about what I really want to find, and hopefully have the faith to see happen in my life.

1. Some more guy friends to do guy stuff with.
I have a handful of friends I can talk to when I'm down, and most of the time I can talk to the Lord anyway. But I can't play soccer or volleyball or lift weights or go running with a friend when no one is interested or makes time. I'd just like to find some guys I can chill with throughout the week.

2. Direction in what to do next with (Gay) Mormon Guy.
People are still coming here, and writing helps me to stay strong each day and understand how this trial affects my life. But there are still thousands upon thousands who need to hear the message - many of whom are searching as I was years ago. I want to know what to do next to find them and bring them hope.

3. A better relationship with God and my friends.
I know that many of you have indicated that I should drop any friends who reject or betray me... but I'm not that kind of person. I don't reject people just because they reject me. I don't hate them because they hate me. I'm not stupid or naive - I just love people way too much to ever give up hope on them. It's the same way with God and me, from His perspective... how could I offer anything less to the people I love? I want my friends to realize that I care about, support, forgive, and love them, no matter what they do... and that I would give my life to help them to be happy.

4. Greater faith... To have patience in finding true friends and an eternal mate.
I know that, someday, I'll find someone who shares enough of who I am that we'll 'click'... and our friendship will grow into something amazing. I also know that I'll fall in love with a girl in that category, she'll fall in love with me, and the miracle I've been waiting, hoping, pleading, and praying for will come to pass. Right now, though, I just look at my life... and see very little that foreshadows either promise. Few good friends, fewer of which understand me... and definitely no attraction yet for a girl to be my wife. I just want greater faith to be patient, to do the Lord's will and have faith in His timing and His ways.

5. Help becoming better.
My experience Saturday highlighted the fact that I still have a long way to go before I am perfect in social skills. I still have a long way to go before I'm perfect in much of anything... And I just want some help understanding what I need to do and who I need to be.

I don't know if God will answer my prayers this Christmas, or if He has something better in store (patience or just a different answer). We haven't had that conversation yet. But these are my hopes and dreams - shadows of the greater ones that He's promised will come someday. I guess I'm asking for a lot. We'll see what happens come Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21

Another Very Dissenting Opinion

I'll sometimes get comments like this one on my blog - from people who believe, honestly, that I can't exist as a righteous, faithful, happy Mormon Guy who is also attracted to guys. They're normally also chock-full of 'objective' statements that go against the nature of (Gay) Mormon Guy, so I don't have the time or real desire to publish them. But this one, while definitely disparaging in nature, made me think... and want to respond. So here goes. His comments are in italics. My response is bold.

And please avoid personal, disparaging, or vague general remarks about the guy who made the comment, or people like him. You already know that I probably won't publish anything sarcastic, vindictive, or whatever, no matter who it comes from. I realize that some of you will strongly disagree with him, and you're welcome to share your ardent feelings with me, but I may not publish your comment. :)

I'm glad you have an outlet through this blog, as do many of your fans and followers. The reality is, just as your title exclaims, is a giant oxymoron. You can't have both worlds. I believe those who are homosexual cannot coexist happily with the gospel, nor can straight members coexist with homosexuals. The gospel, at least the LDS gospel, strictly forbids sexual choices, and you know there isn't the understanding that homosexuality isn't always a choice. That being the case, you will never be happy in the gospel, I will straight out tell you that right now. The more you try to reason the gospel into your life, the more you'll have men you'll be attracted to (in the church) that will call you "creep" or shun you because it is not accepted. Please, find the things that make you happy, the ideology, the teachings, and run with them if they make you happy. But the gospel in its entirety strictly forbids who you are, and so you will live a life that will, in essence, be hypocritical and oxymoronic, and always painful.

The only way I know how to respond to this is my own personal experience. The gospel, specifically the LDS gospel, is where I have found peace. The members of the Church, like everyone else in the world, are imperfect... and when I rely on them or on anyone else for my happiness, I agree - I won't find it in the end. But I also know that I am not an oxymoron... and while those who live with my struggle may not fit in your eyes, I fit in God's. And this is His Church. I've spoken with leaders of the Church on this subject, and, of all the things I have learned, is the true acceptance of who I am. I am a son of God, who is committed to living the gospel. Yeah, I'm attracted to guys. And there is nothing wrong with being attracted to them. I repeat - there is nothing wrong with being attracted to others. God gave us attraction as part of who we are. For normal guys, it's to help them find a wife. For me, it's an all-encompassing trial designed to help me be who He sees in me. If all extra-marital attraction were sin, we would have much bigger problems on our hands. The sin, and the choice that is not accepted in the gospel, is choosing to sexually act out those attractions... and that is as prohibited for me as it is for men attracted women.

I'm happy, anonymous. Really. I know you may not believe that... but I'd ask you to ask God - and I know that He can give you the same understanding He gave me.

We've known who you were, even those in your ward know who you are. They won't understand. Happiness is not in trying to be a part of something that shuns you out, while you try to hold onto the little good you know there is. Don't hurt yourself with the church. I know the 'priesthood leader' you professed about that called you a creep, and it's people like him that prove that there won't be acceptance, allowance, or tolerance. It goes against what the gospel states to have those things. I'd want to reason and believe as you do, but I know I'd be lying to myself. You will be happy. There are many like you and they've found solace in a world outside the church. You state about Him and how He loves you, of which, He does. But His love isn't how you state it. His love is because you are His. His gospel, however, (if you believe the LDS doctrine) is not the same love you are hoping for. If so, then His mouth pieces, the apostles, President Monson, do not speak truth and lie. If you believe they do speak the truth, then you can't twist or reason that what they say, what the scriptures say, can be warped into what you are. The 'truth' is you must repent and turn to Christ, the way that is outlined by the church. Repentance isn't about who you are, it's what you do. Why repent of what you are if it's not a choice? I don't know if you see where I'm going with this.

If I went to church on Sunday and everyone knew, and everyone judged me, I would still go, and I would do the same things I do now - reach out to others and try to be a good person. My membership and faith isn't dependent on being understood or accepted by others - it comes from being understood and accepted by God.

Maybe you do know him. But I choose to doubt that unless proven otherwise. I could be being incredibly trusting, but I believe in the goodness of people, even when they give me every reason to believe contrary. I'm not naive - I treat people as the best I see in them, and give them the chance to live up to that vision.

And, even if there were a thousand people who rejected and hated me for my circumstances, I've met with so many people who are accepting of who I am - most Church leaders - that I'll never believe that the gospel, or the Church, doesn't allow others to love, understand, and accept that I am attracted to guys. In fact, I know it's exactly contrary. When a member of my stake presidency gives a talk on the importance of forever families... and then looks at me and talks about the faith that comes in living true principles even when you don't understand, I can see in him more than just acceptance and tolerance... in his eyes is a profound admiration for being true to who I am in a trial he will never face and struggles to imagine. Knowing me, and seeing my faith, has made him a better person, and helped him on his journey of faith... and I know that because he has told me.

I believe that it is here that I find peace and joy. I know that what the prophets speak is true. I know, not only because I've compared and critiqued their every word, but because I've turned to God and learned the same truths at His hand. I've seen the same visions, received the same revelations, heard the same still, small voice... and from those experiences I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God... and that I'm on the right path.

Still, I'm saddened to see how sad you feel sometimes, both when I pass you by on Sundays or other days, and through this blog. If you want happiness, you need to not hurt yourself with the hope that things will change. The gospel doesn't change if it's true. Truth doesn't change. If you are who you are, you have no reason to change that part of you either. So the two can't blend together, but I'm sure you can coexist, separately. I'm sure you'll eventually figure out who I am, but that's irrelevant.

As far as figuring out who you are, passing you on Sundays, or constantly being sad, maybe you have the wrong guy. Here on (Gay) Mormon Guy I share only a small part of my life, and the only reason it's sometimes depressing is because this trial is sometimes depressing. But it's the only thing in my life that qualifies under that category... Everything else in my life easily qualifies as being incredibly blessed, and except for maybe a wife and family, I literally have everything that anyone could want. My life is awesome in almost every aspect.

Maintain the smiles you put on and push through each day. Just know you are in our thoughts, and you'll come out stronger in the end when you realize there's more to this life than being shunned out by that which you want to be a part of and parts that you want to believe. You are better than that, and that, I do believe with all my heart.

On this I agree with you, but with an application different than the one you had in mind. You believe that turning away from the Church, with its people and their potential prejudice, would give me happiness. Happiness doesn't come from people. It comes from God - and from living the principles of the gospel. True faith is giving to those that stand in need - and that is why we have the Church - not only to be buoyed up by others, but more to have a chance to serve and share and, by serving others, come closer to God.

Thanks for your comment. I know we believe different things, but I'm grateful that you care enough to write, to compose your thoughts for me. Merry Christmas!

Being Amazingly, Infectiously, Awesomely Happy

I've had some rough times over the last few days. And, as usual, the rough spots in life give me the chance to turn to God and seek His guidance. Often when I ask for help, He helps me identify things that I can change... and ways that I need to improve in order to feel greater peace and joy. But these last few days have been different. Maybe it's just a calm before the storm, but I feel like I'm on the right path, and that I simply need to keep moving forward. Every answer to my prayers held the message of God's love and esteem for me, and I feel like I am doing enough.

Those of you who've read over the last few months probably realize how singular this feeling is in my life. I'm a perfectionist. I'm super-zealous in fulfilling my duties and trying to do what is right. And yet, through each step of my life I carry the powerful sense that I could, and should, be doing more to build the kingdom. Meeting with good friends and mentors and talking about this blog and my efforts to share the gospel hasn't helped. Talking with other friends and trying to lift them hasn't helped. And spending every spare moment trying to improve my talents and give back to the world hasn't helped, either... The peace and joy didn't come from any of those; it came, unexpectedly, as a gift from God - proof of His grace when I still lack the essential characteristics of perfection.

I think I've taught people that joy doesn't come from what we do. I taught it on my mission, and it shapes the lessons I teach and the things I write and say. But, somewhere in my heart, I guess I've always believed that happiness came inherently from doing more good things - that the more good I could accomplish in life, the happier I would end up becoming. That's only partially true. In reality, my ability to feel joy is based on my relationship with God and who I am, not what I do. Yes, wickedness never was happiness, and men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause and bring to pass many good things of their own accord. But when life is hard, and the pain of living in an imperfect world seems too great to bear, true happiness comes from God... as a gift. Reading King Benjamin's sermon yesterday reminded me of that, and now I realize it completely.

This is probably one of the most stressful Christmas seasons I've ever encountered. Everything in my life is up in the air, and the Lord asks me to do more and more things I have no clue how to do. But, I can honestly say that this Christmas season is also the happiest I can ever remember, because of who I am. I'm not perfect by any means. But looking back, and seeing the gifts of faith, love, and diligence that I've given to Christ, this Christmas comes with peace and joy. I have no idea what trials tomorrow holds, or what painful experiences the future holds. But it doesn't matter. I'm happy - amazingly, truthfully, and awesomely happy... and no mortal power can ever take that away.

Monday, December 20

Begging For Peace... Faith... Love

"Are we not all beggars?"

I was listening to the first chapters of Mosiah this morning, and King Benjamin's words blew me away. This man was beyond incredible, and had such an awesome understating of the teachings of God and how they apply to others. In four short chapters, he speaks with such power and spirit that every person in the sound of his voice turned to God, covenanted with Him to keep
His commandments, and never turned away from the truth.

His oration seemed this morning to apply even more greatly to me... I'd suggest reading it all, from the end of Mosiah 2 through Mosiah 5... But I wanted to share a few verse that really hit me... I apologize if this sounds overly preachy to those of you who aren't Mormon... But here are some verses, some with my own changes.

Mosiah 2:41 - And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

Mosiah 4:16-23 -

16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance [knowledge and faith] unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish [physically or spiritually].

17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery [or his pride, his anger, or his unwillingness to believe in God]; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance [or share my faith, or open my heart to him] that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just --

18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind [do we not rely on Him for our personal salvation, the knowledge that we have, our faith, our hope, our peace, and everything we have]?

20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins [peace, and understanding]. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.

21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another [whether it be physical, spiritual, social, or emotional].

22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance [or faith or support in becoming a better man] that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance [and his faith] shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world... [and I make reference to faith and hope and peace - greater treasures which are not of this world].

I need to just be open, kind, and honest with others, not judge them, and move forward with faith. And the Lord will bless me. Everything will work out in the end.

Sunday, December 19

Yesterday I Wanted to Die. Today I Have a New Life.

If there's anything I learned from my experience yesterday, it's that I place way too much stock in how others think of me. And when I think about it, it's still true. Deep inside my heart... No, more like right on the top, I want people to like me, to love the gospel, to gain the attributes that will help lead them closer to Christ. And realizing that I am still a novice in anything social is more than a bit unnerving.

And I was reminded that God loves me. In every way possible, the Lord told me that He loved me yesterday. Strangers walked up to me on the street and gave me hugs, or texted me and thanked me for a random thing I had done in their lives. Friends and family members called to check on me. Many of you posted comments or wrote personal messages. And a member of my Bishopric felt prompted to come by my house to see if I needed anything. Thank you...

I gave up my anger and tried to understand - to figure out what I could do so that I wouldn't push more people away. I learned that some people think I'm too friendly. Others blame the fact that I skip smalltalk, or that I'm overly confident and direct in showing people I care about them. And another said that treating everyone like my best friend could be the reason. Then the Lord gave me two thoughts... Both of which have made me think.

The first was echoed by some of you - don't worry about what other people think... Life isn't between you and others... Love people unconditionally even when they reject you... Rely on the Lord to know what you are doing right and wrong - not someone else's judgment... This was what helped me realize how little self-esteem I had at the moment. At least at that moment, everything in my life revolved around others... including my own personal self-worth. That places way too big a burden on others... and will ultimately fail. People can't meet all my needs, and I should rely on God anyway.

The other thought, which I haven't entertained much, is how much easier it would be to navigate life and avoid difficulties in communication if I could simply lay down all the cards on the table: if I and everyone else could honestly share our griefs, pains, trials, and sorrows with others so that they could better understand our needs and we theirs. It's the first time I've actually pondered merging my two worlds into one - putting a name and face to Mormon Guy and using my attraction to guys as a reason to who I am in real life. For the first time, I wasn't concerned about the impact it would have on my family, or on how people would think of me. I mean, I keep a blog on being spiritual and attracted to guys. I'm committed to staying clean for a girl even when part of me says she doesn't exist and I'll never find her. What girl wouldn't kill for a husband like that? Seriously, though, I feel peace about who I am, the growth and spirituality repentance in my life, and the work I'm doing in my part of the field. The only thing that made me wonder, is wondering if that choice - to become a public figure with a name instead of a cool pseudonym (It even shows up at the top of alphabetical lists! How's that for cool?) - would help or hinder the work and my own ability to serve in the Church and my workplace/chosen field. Right now it doesn't feel like the right choice. But it's a choice-- one that hasn't been in the past.

I don't know what will happen with my relationship with this Priesthood leader. I knew I wouldn't see him today, so I texted him (I think I may stop texting... or at least stop texting when I could call or talk in person the next time I see someone...) the following message: "[Name] - I hated you this morning...But I wanted to let you know that I forgive you and I'm sorry. Don't share this link with anyone [link to this blog]." I didn't know what to do except be completely honest with him - to lay all the cards on the table. I don't know if he'll follow the link, or if coming to (Gay) Mormon Guy will solidify my being a creep... but something inside me said I should give him that chance - the chance to see me in a totally different world... where maybe he would realize that at least my creepiness was unintended and totally benign. Whatever happens - if I find a friend who is willing to help me through life or someone who wants lots of space - I'll be okay. Really. Today was better than yesterday, and tomorrow is a new day.

Saturday, December 18

I Asked God to Kill Me Today

A priesthood leader told me this morning that I was a creep and that he essentially never wanted to talk to me again. I usually try to delevop relationships of trust with my leaders because I've been in their shoes... and sustaining means more to me than just doing my home teaching and fulfilling my caling in the ward. But I really hadn't done anything different here than with anyone else - I talked to him when I saw him in and outside of church, let him know about activities and social events so he could pass it on to quorum members, and accepted his invitations to serve, attend the temple, play sports, go to another institute class...

So when he told me this morning that I was a creep, it hurt way more than I ever could have guessed. I'll be honest. I am in constant need of friends, and I am constantly somehow pushing them all away. Everything I do seems to backfire and turn all my efforts into dust... and I'm left totally alone, friendless, and depressed. I cried for hours this morning, talking with God and trying to figure out what I am doing so terribly wrong. And I don't know. I don't know at all. And I haven't known since I was 12 years old and realized that my "friends" all had better friends... but I never did. I don't have the best relationship with my family members, because we have a really hard time understanding one another. The few times I've tried to talk to them about anything they've been kind enough to listen... but they can't empathize and the suggestions they make belie a complete misunderstanding of what it is I face.

I felt so incredibly frustrated this morning. What a hypocrite, to preach about the importance of unity and then discard someone who has asked for your help. Part of me wanted to shout - to show him how much pain his words were causing to a guy who lives with depression, feels like he has no friends, and turns to Church leaders as His one source of friends... because they have the obligation to love and accept others unconditionally. And part of me broke into tears that lasted long after I'm sure he forgot about his words. Maybe he was right. Maybe I am a creep, and he and everyone else that tells me I'm socially inept are right. And the others, and I, are all wrong. I can't judge people. I don't know his circumstances or who he really is. The only thing I know is that he felt uncomfortable around me, creeped out, and didn't want me to talk to him again.

I've been trying to do everything right in life. I do everything I can to keep the commandments, be a good example, overcome my temptations in life... So where am I going wrong? While I was sobbing a woman came up to me (I have to get out of my house when I'm depressed or life is really bad) touched my shoulder, and said, "I hope life gets better for you." Total and complete strangers understand and love me. But the people I love and care about find ways to distance themselves from whatever emotional leprosy I carry.

The Lord told me not to worry... and to just move on with life. To not judge others for anything they do or don't do... and to simply love them. At least He doesn't think I'm a creep. And He reminded me that I should be relying on Him - not on others - to fill my needs. Only He truly understands my pain, because He has felt it, and overcome it so that I can be happy and have peace. Obviously my request to die was denied. He asked, instead, that I give up my pain, my sorrow, my grief, my anger... and let Him give me peace. I realized that I had asked for peace but wasn't willing to give up my pain without understanding it. Dear Lord, give me the faith and courage to believe and trust, even when I don't understand and everything seems to be going wrong. And, in moments, my tears dried and I felt peace.

I still don't know what to do, or what I am doing wrong that pushes people away from me. But I still have a testimony of the Gospel. I'll still be active in the Church even if I can't confide in... and have trouble admiring or trusting... my priesthood leaders... because my relationship with God is my own, and no one can take that away from me. Someday I'll understand. In the meantime, I'll have faith, and accept the peace that comes from Christ.

Friday, December 17

Unconditional Love

Some of my friends are college students, and they're not very responsive during the time of finals. Some days I wonder if they have completely dropped off the face of the planet, or, much worse, if I've done something to merit their running away at top speed without saying goodbye. I'm pretty sure that I'm not a bad influence in their lives, and I think way too highly of people to make assumptions about them. So, instead of dropping them when they become unresponsive, I've decided to be better than just a fair weather friend... and assume that people still need to be loved even when they don't reciprocate.

It's actually pretty obvious... I mean, being a good friend means being a friend through thick and thin. Don't hate me for not completely understanding and implementing this.

Thursday, December 16

Falling Off the Path, Wallowing in the Dust...

The last few days I haven't really been doing everything that I should, or can. I wake up early in the morning, feel like I should go to the gym so that I can start the day on the right note, and promptly fall back asleep, the covers still pulled around me. Maybe I should move my alarm clock. Since I haven't been to the gym, my listening to the scriptures has been cut as well. That one hasn't been a total failure, though - I just take my .mp3 player with me throughout the day and listen as I drive, eat, or any other time I'm alone. Like right now.

In past years I most likely would have bemoaned the fact that I fell out of the habits I had begun - and the bemoaning would make me depressed and feel awful about myself. I definitely still feel bad about not doing the things I want and should do, but for some reason don't. But recently I've realized that guilt, and feeling contrition for my own inadequacies, are tools... and nothing more. The Lord gave me the ability to discern between right and wrong, and the Holy Ghost to enable me to chart a new course so that I can change, not so that I obsess vainly. Fretting or obsessing about my inadequacies just makes me feel inadequate, and sometimes the depression that results prevents me from actually changing.

So this morning I woke up early, felt like falling back asleep, and then prayed for help. Somehow, God helped me and I mustered the strength/faith/willpower and got out of bed. I went to the gym, worked out, listened to the scriptures, and wrote this post, and it's before 8:00. The rest of the day is open before me and I feel great. And like that, I'm back on the path. Today's gonna be good.

Tuesday, December 14

The Sweet Perks of Anonymity

I think the Lord was definitely on to something compelling when He said, "Let not thy right hand know what the left hand doeth..." Christmas time, for me, is the epitome of helping others & serving... it gives me an excuse to do absurd things for others that, during any other season, they would probably try to reject. But since it's Christmas, and I can be anonymous, I can help others and find incredible joy in being the only one who knows... only me and the Lord who helped me think of the ideas in the first place.

It's the same thing here, with my blog at (Gay) Mormon Guy. There have been days when I've wanted to impress someone by saying, "I write stuff that thousands of people read"... but thankfully my self-imposed anonymity has kept my ego from inflating. I probably would not do well as a celebrity or movie star - I thrive way too much on praise and attention from the people who know me. I guess the Lord knew what I needed in this case, too, and it works.

In the last few months a few different groups have called for the "abolishment of anonymity" on the Internet. In the name of heightened international security and antiterrorism, every action I ever take would be logged, assigned to my personal account, and searchable by whoever happened to have access for whatever reason. Part of me can see the good in such an idea - there would be no more late night chat rooms where you say things you really didn't want to... fewer people who transgress their morals thinking no one else could know,
... Ultimately, any of the sins and vices that thrive on anonymity... and most do... would take a hit. But at the same one, it would close down a valuable and vital form of free communication - the ability to speak and not have retribution from those who know you.

I don't think that we will ever require all Internet users to validate who they are. Maybe in an opt-in program for families and others it might be plausible... But other than that, I think that there is still much good to be done with only the angels as witness.

Sunday, December 12

Being Socially "Self-Sufficient"

Social life is so awkward and strange. When I need friends, I could easily come off as needy, and people who I'd like to know feel they don't have the time or desire to invest in a relationship. When I don't need friends, and have an established social circle, I find that circle ever widening as people want to be a part. The two extremes move further and further apart, with an impassable divide in the middle... and somehow I find myself switching sides more often than I thought possible.

Moving from social butterfly to recluse is actually pretty easy to manage. My friends get married, I move, or suddenly change of circumstance means we see less and less of one another. I'm not very good at keeping in touch, even though I try, and so friendships disappear without a trace, no fanfare... Only the rare reunion. It's happened plenty of times. I feel like I have friends, people I can talk with, and people I could call at a moment's notice, and then they disappear. It's probably my fault, but I haven't been able to determine why it happens or how to prevent it yet. It just happens, and it leaves me on the other side of the gap - feeling like I have no one to talk to and no really good friends in life.

And so enters the tenet of social self-sufficiency. I've never been able to pull off the "I'm shy" motif; people think I'm just too good to talk with them. And so the only way to make friends is to act as if I already have them... which requires social self sufficiency. Being socially self-sufficient means that I'm ok being alone... indefinitely... and giving in relationships even when I feel like I need others for support. Leaning on others doesn't seem to work in my case; I need to reach out and lift them, and then they will be willing to lift me. So I organize events and make clubs, set up games and try to involve everyone - essentially doing what I wish someone would do for me. And then something miraculous happens. The Lord meets my own personal needs or He helps me to gain friends who can. I still can't say that I have super-close friends... But at least I can say that I am trying to be a friend to those in need. And, ultimately, that's more important. Yeah. I'd love to have someone to really, truly confide in - someone who shares my dreams and hopes and understands my view of the world. Someone who would be there for me in an instant, and for whom I would give my life. Maybe I'll have to wait until I find a wife to find a friend like that, but in the meantime I have the Lord. He is my strength and my help, the Friend who has been through it all at my side. When no one else wanted to, or could, understand, He was always there for me. And He always will be.

I guess that's what the Lord expects of me and why He puts me in situations that require social "self-sufficiency" - so that I'm more reliant on Him and so that I continue to reach out to others. I'm really not a super-social person; if I weren't constantly feeling friendless, I probably wouldn't care much about others. But since I have the same experience, it means that I'm willing to put something of myself on the line to meet my own needs... And also help others in the same boat. I give unto men weakness that they may turn unto me... and if they will turn unto me I will make their weakness strong unto them...

Saturday, December 11

Complete Honesty

A good friend learned that I recently stopped dating a girl; we had been on enough dates that our families knew about it and we at least knew each others' favorite colors... When she learned that I had been the deciding factor, and not the girl, the questions started. "I think she is a really nice girl, and really cute, and you guys seem to fit well together... What about her didn't you like?"

I wasn't really sure what to say. I've made a covenant with myself to always be completely honest, and finding an answer that accurately conveys my feelings and yet doesn't bare my soul seemed a bit hard. "I just felt like it wasn't going to work out - I'm not attracted to her." And then the dreaded question came... "What about a girl makes her attractive to you? What kinds of girls are you attracted to?" and the Spirit of the Lord to the rescue, being able to explain my feelings without destroying my life: "I don't know..."

When I look at my struggles in that light, it almost sounds like a completely different issue. I'm trying to find a wife; attraction is important but not the most important factor; I'm just don't know who I will be attracted to, why, or under what circumstances. Oh. And, at least right now, I'm attracted to (very few, but some) guys, and for whatever reason I have a hard time developing close relationships with others...

Reaching Out, Lifting Others

You know the feeling when life seems so awful it isn't worth living? When something about your trials makes everything seem totally worthless, no matter what you've accomplished? I've been getting that feeling more often recently - I'll go to the temple, have a great experience, feel amazing, and then, sometimes without anything really important taking place, life will seem terrible. Looking back on it, I'm a bit frustrated that nothing or little things could cause me to obsess in life... or that they would have the ability to suddenly derail an incredible experience. But in the moment there wasn't anything I could do. I read the scriptures, pray, exercise, eat healthily, get enough sleep, take time to meditate, give service, spend time with family and try to make friends... Most of the time I'm incredibly optimistic. But then the world falls apart and there's nothing I can do about it. I'm not trying to lament - I mean, right now I feel fine - only explain what it is that goes through my mind when those times hit.

Historically, times like that - when I felt like nothing in life was worth doing - were quickly filled with anything possible. If I was smart, it was running or working out for hours at a time, practicing music, giving service, cleaning someone else's house until I drop dead from exhaustion. But sometimes I wasn't so bright, and the time wasted away with surfing the net looking up stuff I really wasn't interested in or shouldn't have wanted to see... and went downhill from there.

I've found the best way to deal with those situations is to ensure they never happen. Take time to make massive commitments of my time, be anxiously engaged in a thousand causes, and keep life scheduled to the max. Serving others in some meaningful way is the best that I've found, the only issue is finding people to serve and finding ways to serve the people I already know and love. Some people make it hard to serve them. I'm probably one of those people...

Sometimes I feel like I wish I could live safely without having to make a list of things to do, but that's my life... and it's worth it if it keeps me out of trouble.

Friday, December 10

Nothing Really Monumental

If you took the last few days of my life and smashed out all the everyday stuff, there wouldn't be much else. No life-changing realizations or goals reached that have been just out of reach... just living life as it comes and being willing to turn to the Lord. I've found that trying to avoid the guys I like, at least for a bit, helps me clear my mind and now there's definitely a lot more to life. Not stressing about the girls I don't like gives me the same simple peace, and there's not much else to say. But I think that works. Most of life is spent moving on the same track instead of quickly changing, and it's not like life is monotonous, just there isn't much to say. I could be totally sleep-deprived and have missed something monumental, but I'll check in my journal another day.

I think that my attitude during the doldrums is a good indicator of the attitude of who I really am - hopefully not sleep-deprived, but willing to work to make myself an instrument in the hands of God. His grace is sufficient to save me if I am willing to turn my hands, heart, and mind to Him... if I am willing to show that commitment and truly become more like Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, December 7

Exercise: one of the keys to the kingdom

So exercise is probably one of the greatest blessings in my life right now. I can go out running, or to the gym, and hours pass by while I'm listening to the words of the prophets. Download the scriptures, download a few sessions of conference, and nothing can stop me... and there's nothing else I should be doing more. Listening to the scriptures while I exercise is actually a powerful motivation to exercise in the first place - because I know that God will bless me, I'll feel better, and whatever hormonal imbalance is causing me to have a hard day will be (at least temporarily) overshadowed by a long-term adrenaline and endorphin rush. Pretty awesome from my perspective - keep the commandments, take care of my body, make it easier to get personal revelation and overcome temptation, all in one!

What I'm learning recently in life is the importance of finding ways to see the gospel in everything around me. I guess it's just another way of "always remember[ing] Him, that His spirit may be with [me]." At the gym, at work, at church, at home, with friends, and everywhere I go. When I'm looking for gospel symbolism, and trying to see the hand of the Lord in my life, life is great, I'm a better friend, my depression lessens, and it's easier to be the person I really want to be.

I know that people probably think I'm crazy. But I've never cared what other people thought of me. I never believe anything someone else says unless I know for myself - either through a personal witness from God or having done a whole lot of research. It means that sometimes I'm a bit stubborn... but it doesn't mean I'm unwilling to change. I like to think the opposite - I like knowing what is right, and following it, more than I like being right for the sake of my ego.

Thanks, Father... For exercise and for an experience where "all things denote there is a God... Yea, all things do testify of Him..."

Monday, December 6

Can I Tell You One Thing?

Life is awesome. I'm not kidding. Nothing around me is going right, but God loves me and I feel peace because I am trying to do what is right. What more could I ask for?

Sunday, December 5

Being a Mediocre Friend

The last few days have been a constant roller coaster of emotions. Gospel conversations with friends that leave me feeling like I am on top of the world. And then, when I need to be lifted, my guy friends ignore me... and leave me wondering if I'm just totally deficient as a person and a communicator. I rarely ask for help, for people's time, for anything from others. And the moment I get up the nerve to ask, to become vulnerable in a relationship, I lose everything.

I think the reason why my life takes extremes is probably two-fold. There's probably something happening inside my brain that I can't control... some mixture of chemicals that makes me think some days, honestly, that I am manic-depressive. The other is that I probably think too much. I read into everything that people say, do, don't say, and don't do. Who knows - maybe there's a good reason that my friends have seemed to be avoiding me. Maybe they're just really busy and only available during the times I have dates or other plans. Or maybe they don't realize that I need help - I never need anything, so maybe they feel their efforts would be better spent with someone else. Or maybe they just don't want to be friends... which is the thought that is consuming my mind right now. What am I doing wrong in life? What do I need to change? What mortal flaw do I have that makes me an untouchable as soon as I start to actually make good guy friends?

I think I'll ask. I'll ask God in my prayers tonight what I need to change to be a better friend and I'll ask my friends (or at least the guys that have been my friends) when I see or text them next. Already I know at least part of the answer God will give me - loving people isn't about having my needs met, but about helping them to be happy. Something in my character or personality makes it hard for people to be my friend... but that doesn't mean that I need to abandon them just because I feel abandoned and alone. I may be a mediocre friend, but at least I'm trying. And hopefully, someday, the Lord will consecrate my efforts and it will all work out in the end.

Friday, December 3

Faith in the Darkness

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil... For Thou art with me...

The last few days have been rough. My mind is split in a thousand directions and life itself seems to be smashing me. I could deal with it if the stress came from outside - if everything outside were the only things going wrong. But they're not... And my insides feel torn apart and caught between a dozen conflicting paths of action, none of them going up.

It's times like these that are the worst for me. I eat junk. I don't go work out. I pull away from family members and am curt with friends. And as the egoism grows with the depression that is coming, I turn away from the world and focus on the pain and anguish that seems to thrive on devouring my dreams and shattering my hopes.

It never seems to actually get easier. Life doesn't grow any less painful. And yet somehow I find hope and peace. Usually, in my case, I find it in helping others - in going service or finding someone who needs the light of the gospel... and sharing the faith that has made me whole. It happened tonight - a friend texted me and asked for help, and something in our short conversation made life seem so much more livable.

I know that tomorrow will be another day. It might be even worse than today. But, at least right now, I have peace. I know that I'm going in the right direction. I don't know where I am going... or when I will get there, but life is a journey. I may not be able to see my destination, but the pathway is lit by starlight... the hopes and dreams of a hundred billion angels watching me, praying for my wellbeing, cheering my successes and mourning my grief. Some day, I'll be able to walk in the light of day, and the valleys will open up behind me, each one telling the tale of a crucial lesson learned. I don't know when that day will come. But, at least for right now, I'll keep walking with faith.