Sunday, December 12

There is Peace in Christ

My cousin's farewell was today. It brought back some memories of my own mission years ago.

I thought I was hot stuff as a missionary. I knew all the scripture masteries and felt I could easily teach about gospel subjects. I learned Italian faster than anyone else in my MTC group and was fluent enough to teach a lesson on the plane flying out.


I was clueless.

I had little to no social awareness. I didn't understand interpersonal relationships, and I'm sure I dragged my companions through the pits of despair. I tried. But building a relationship with someone who forgets everything you talked about just two days prior is tough.

It's like building a sand castle with someone. You can make something beautiful, something meaningful, but it's also ephemeral and fleeting. I have to look in my copy of Preach My Gospel to remember the names of my companions, and find photos of them to remember their faces. And with the exception of a few moments, my memories of them are completely gone.

Realizing now that episodic and autobiographical memory issues are common in autism makes it easier for me and the people around me now.

But during my mission I didn't have that perspective.

And yet somehow it still worked out.

God still accomplished His work. Even through me - a broken, messed up, bipolar, autistic guy who, if I had been diagnosed beforehand, probably wouldn't have been allowed to even serve.

And that's the point.

God doesn't ask me to be perfect. He doesn't ask me to be ok. He doesn't ask me to be able to connect with everyone emotionally or be an amazing friend to everyone I meet. 

He just asks me to do my best, even if that is far less than the ideal I wish for. And that best is perfect. I am a part of His plan, meant to grow in the place I'm planted. The growth I experience, the messes I make - they're all part of the plan for me and the people around me.

There is peace in Christ. God knows me, He knows my needs, He knows the people around me, and life and all its circumstances is designed to help all of us come as close to Him as we can be.

Thursday, December 2


There's a feeling that sometimes calls out to me. It's like a current that's cutting through my mind. And when it hits, it makes the world around me almost disappear, and I find myself unable to look away. It's like a pressure pressing down on my heart and lungs and soul, like a hidden fire that wants to be set free. Yet it's also like a calmness - like an ocean wave that's heavy, dark, and deep - and I know that if I fall inside I'll never get out. Or maybe I'm already in it.

It's a feeling that brings an odd clarity of mind, like the moment before depression's going to hit. It gives me a chance to my laundry when I had no desire at all, or it gives me space to go work out when I had no plan to. Or tells me to stop and write when there was no reason to write at all.

It's a feeling of loss as if my soul has been carved out. As if I'm missing something that was part of me once before. It brings a sense of urgency - that I'm supposed to be *doing* something. That I should *be* somewhere. That I should be writing, or working, or moving, or doing something more. 

It's a feeling of loss. A feeling of wishing, for that something to return. As if I just were immersed in a storyline and got ripped out, but worse. A feeling that makes me feel alone in a massive world. It's a feeling that, once it settles in, is on the verge of hopelessness... as I realize the pain has only started to begin.

I call it longing. Yearning. It's a feeling beyond the hold of my ability to disconnect. In most cases I can separate what seems like logic and emotion. I can process feelings separately when the time is right. 

But with longing, somehow, nothing else exists.

There is no other feeling. There is no other thought. It's as if my life and history stop for just a moment and they're gone, and I'm alone with longing, unable to tell exactly what is wrong or if it's even wrong at all.

In the years that I've felt longing, I've fought a war within my heart. I've tried to drown it or to bury it, or tear it apart. I've tried to figure out what it is telling me, to follow if it's asking me to move or do or be or try something new.

And I don't think it is.

I've tried connection with others. I've tried falling in love. I've tried indulgence in the worst way I knew how. I've tried reading, writing, service, temple worship, prayer, exercise, supplements, or healthy eating. But everything I tried, whether good or bad or in between, did nothing to staunch the feeling. Sometimes they could cover it up. Sometimes they could pull my mind away. Sometimes they could even bring me peace. But deep down inside, in the core of my soul and being, it is always there. Always waiting. Always existing, never changing, unwilling to move no matter what I do or think or try.

I don't really think I understand longing. But I'm most inclined to think that maybe longing is just a feeling that comes from ripping my soul away from heaven. A side effect of both being alive... and glimpsing or imagining, somehow, the fulfillment that comes from Heaven. Maybe since my mind's so broken I can feel it every now and then - a desire in my soul to go home. It would make sense if that's the case. Though the thought that there could be a feeling that transcends mortality - like pain or longing of the soul - makes the science part of me cringe a bit inside, that could be used to partially explain why it seems to override the presence of other feelings or thoughts. Maybe?

Maybe it's something different. But like I said, I've tried a hundred thousand things. And while love, connection, success, growth, learning, and service all bring me peace, they don't really interact with longing. 

Or at least what I call longing.

Sunday, November 28


One of my least favorite plot devices used to be the time skip. In a written setting where time seems to flow consistently, a sudden change in the flow of time makes it easy for me as a reader to recognize that I'm an outsider. It breaks the immersion and makes me wonder "exactly what happened?"

Sometimes time skips are because an author simply wants to skip ahead to the good part. Sometimes they hide crucial details to a twist in the story that will be shown later on.

In my case, there were a number of things. 

When the prophet asked us to focus on Christ in all references to the Church and our faith (by changing all references to Mormon / LDS to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) I felt sorta lost. The focus makes sense. Jesus Christ is the center of my faith, and I want everyone who finds (G)MG to know that. But my naming sense is awful. And it seems like the trend is to either put the whole name in it - like the change from and to - or to remove the references completely - like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square or LDS Newsroom to just Newsroom. I don't want to remove references to my faith and just have my blog be called (Gay) Guy. But I don't know how to change it. And writing a blog called (Gay) Mormon Guy without changing the name makes me feel uncomfortable. So that's one reason.

Another reason is that (G)MG had always been about my own personal experience. One guy's interpretation of his pathway in life and his efforts to get back to Christ. I think one reason that was so easy was that my life was mostly just about me, or me reaching out. But for a while my personal experiences intertwined with other people. Which meant that the ups and downs of my feelings were about those circumstances. And while my feelings about people are valid, I felt like those belonged in a journal... rather than being posted online. I felt like if I shared my honest feelings, they would make the problems even bigger than they were.

But the main reason? It was probably because of pride.

I was a mess. (G)MG has always been my place to show my progress moving forward to God. It's a part of my "good guy" identity - the story I would write to myself if I were younger, facing the problems that I've already seen. And there are some things that I didn't want my younger self to experience.

I don't think a time skip was the right choice. It would have been a better help to chronicle the mistakes I made as I made them, or at least to share my own feelings. It could have helped me be more honest with myself and helped me change earlier. I'm sure that writing itself would have helped in that case, and if it happens again I'll start a random anonymous blog again.

But time skip it was.

One flashback. Since Covid started I've spent a lot of my free time reading. I went to Japan with my little brothers in January of 2020 for a business trip, and while I was there my little brother suggested an anime called Infinite Dendrogram. It didn't have enough episodes (2) to sate my curiosity, and in my search to understand, I discovered the world of syosetu - the online webnovel community. It's a community of gazillions of people all embracing a writing style that matches mine, but in fiction - episodic adventures written as time goes on. Syosetu ( is a free online Japanese webnovel platform, and in Japan it's the most popular entertainment website bar none. Aspiring authors begin their journey on syosetu, where one in a million somehow becomes famous. Their webnovel gets picked up and turned into a manga, and if that manga is popular enough, it turns into an anime.

That's where I learned to hate and also appreciate the time skip.

So today I'm at church. It's been a time skip. And the easiest way to explain what's happened in a webnovel is the ubiquitous status screen (for those who aren't familiar, a status screen is used in games or some types of novels to show the growth or status of a character using numbers. In a growth-oriented system, strength, dexterity, agility, perception, intelligence and/or any other characteristic can be turned into numbers to compare the character with others and to show change from the past).

Physical Strength: my physical strength is less than it used to be. It's been almost two years since I went to the gym regularly. I can't run far without being breathless; I can't lift as much as I could; I'm not happy with my body image.

Physical Strength Goals: I *want* to exercise more regularly, but the past few times I've quickly gone gung-ho into exercise I also quickly got sick or injured. I think that, instead of immediately trying to work out for hours each day, I'll go for a few minutes. Working out in the morning is best for me because it gives me a base to start.

Social Interaction: My social interaction is close to an all-time low. Being around my family causes me stress. Getting a text message or a phone call or an email causes me stress. I have almost no social energy, and find that I don't want to go anywhere or spend time with anyone. I'd rather curl up in a ball than do almost anything.

Social Interaction Goals: I want to be a reliable friend and family member, at least in what I can do. I recognize that social interaction is a struggle for me. I don't remember people's names, and it's easy to forget almost everything about them. I'm going to a ward mission meeting this Wednesday. I'm going to ward choir today. I'm planning to go to FHE tomorrow. They're decorating cookies, so I'll take a healthy cookie alternative and stuff I can decorate it with so that I'm not just sitting there. And I'll try to spend more time with my family. Also, I deleted personal social media apps off my phone a year ago. While it disconnects me from others, at the same time I think that it's a better choice. I don't see idealized photos or read picture-perfect stories, so I don't find myself longing for that or comparing it to my own life. (I do see that in novels, and it messes me up... but that's another story lol)

Spiritual Strength: This one is awful as well. For all the time I spent reading, scriptures were far less. My family reads the scriptures each night together though, which has been something that I have appreciated and loved. I don't have a current temple recommend and missed my sister's sealing, my brother's endowment, and my best friend's endowment because of that.

Spiritual Strength Goals: I'm meeting with my bishop today for tithing settlement. I'm committed to having a current recommend. I want to be a solid spiritual support for my family and the people around me, and for myself. I'm going to start focusing on kneeling prayers. Writing here is also a goal. I'm going to get back to God. I'm going to heaven with my family. And I'm going to be a faithful, happy, thriving member of the church here.

There's the timeskip. Maybe I'll write more moving forward. My status is low, but I'm facing forward... and for now that's enough to be ok.

Also. As someone who has blogged exclusively on an iPhone for over a decade, I'm glad that blogger *finally* has an interface for phones.