Thursday, September 22
I fully intended to share everything about my appointment with my bishop. Going in, I felt overwhelmed, disappointed, anxious, and somewhat hopeful. Speaking with him and then blogging about it felt like an awesome opportunity to share my own personal repentance process... and hopefully inspire others to choose the same.
But sharing the experience with my best friend helped me realize that my idealistic goals could be very easily overrun by emotion.
And, for whatever reason, this time I'm not going to share everything. I think that modeling repentance is still a valuable way to motivate others and keep myself honest and on the path. I'll share some of my emotions, but the actual disciplinary process - and how it does and doesn't impact my life - will just be my path.
Scheduling the interview beforehand made it much easier to go. Arriving early was a good choice, but my stomach was in knots. I felt like I wanted to throw up, then run away somewhere no one would know my name. Bishop finished the appointment before mine, and the executive secretary left for the night. My appointment was at 9pm.
Bishop greeted me with a smile and asked what he could do for me. I had hoped that he would have read my blog, but knew that it wasn't super likely. He's definitely not tech-savvy: he texts, but I think his wife gets and actually prints emails for him. Some people have downtime at work, but he runs a car repair business and it's still summer. So following my blog isn't really in the picture.
"I have some confessing to do."
Swallow hard. Breathe deep. It's going to be ok.
I told him what had happened, and then stopped and waited for his response.
As I listened, a burden lifted from me. I had done this part of the process. The confession was over. I still felt like absolute garbage though. Here was my bishop - who trusts me, relies on me, and asks me to reach out to people in my ward - and how do I prepare myself to serve? Not very well... that's for sure.
He talked about the magnitude of what I had done. Messing up with another guy is a violation of the law of chastity... and while there are different levels of violation, any violation causes the Spirit to leave. And the more knowledge I have - from temple covenants to priesthood to personal covenants with God - the bigger that mistake becomes against God. In the back of my mind, I remembered that in the Handbook of Instructions - the blue policy handbook given to Church leaders (and only them - though any member can read it in their presence) - "homosexual relations" is listed under the section where a disciplinary council may be required.
He outlined how he saw the repentance process going forward, and then he said something that caught my attention.
He suggested that I apologize to the other guy involved.
I already had. Half a dozen times. But the sheer depth of what I had done hit me like a ton of bricks yet again at that point. Yes, I had stunted my own personal progress in the Gospel. Yes, I had betrayed God and disappointed myself and everyone I love. But I had done far worse than that. On my journey into darkness, I had pulled another soul with me.
To someone whose sum goal and purpose in life is to help people find meaning in the Gospel, live better lives, repent, and be happy... Realizing that I've done the opposite was even more horrific than being damned myself. I mean, to me (and I think, to many who have ever known depression), my soul is sometimes expendable as long as others are ok. But someone else's? Worth dying for. And in the day since it has made me begin to rethink *everything* I do. Does this action help someone come to Christ? Or pull them away? And what can I do to repair the damage that has already been done?
That realization - that my sins affect others - has made me want the Spirit back, and the consistent counsel it provides, more than anything.
I asked my bishop for feedback on sharing my experience with my Elder's Quorum and asking them for help. We looked in the Handbook for any counsel on public confession... since both of us were aware of cultural history (public confession was an accepted, and sometimes expected part of the early Church) and current cultural dynamics (we both felt like someone had counseled against getting up in testimony meeting and detailing your sins). But in the section requiring bishops and leaders to keep confidentiality, there is nothing to suggest that members shouldn't share their trials and turn to their quorums and groups for support. And he agreed with me - what is Elders Quorum for if not to help the men of the ward address the things that they are facing? So this Sunday I'll be asking for help and support.
And then I asked him for a blessing.
I'm grateful for the opportunity I have... to choose God. It's a simple thing, really, to follow God. But it takes more faith than I sometimes want to give... and more sacrifice than I can sometimes even imagine.
But one thing is for sure.
It's worth it.
I still have a lot that needs to change. I'm sure I'll continue to make mistakes, though I hope deeply that the one that brought me to my bishop's office never happens again... but regardless, I'm going to keep moving forward. That's what life is about, right? When I make a mistake, or lose my connection with God, turn back towards Him.
And no matter what happens, always have the faith and courage to keep turning back.
Posted by Mormon Guy at 1:42 PM