Sunday, April 6
Sunday, December 2
Friday, December 3
Saturday, November 20
Sunday, October 31
I want to be valiant, one of the faithful. I want to devote my life to service. To be like Jesus, willing to give not just anything but everything. I want a life filled with sacrifice, and hope, and faith, and service, and joy, and charity. I want to keep every covenant and promise I've made with you. I want the spiritual gifts you promise throughout the scriptures. I want the blessings of the Gospel. Use me to bless and love and serve others. I want the capacity to love more, longer and deeply.
But not yet.
Not today, and probably not tomorrow either. I want to hold him in my arms, to feel him breathing and his heart beat. I want to see him smile. I want to be the reason for that smile. I want the life of my dreams--the house, the job, the car, him. I want to kiss his face and neck and chest. To run my fingers through his hair. I want to have a contented smile, not a painful one. One that takes no effort, knows no hardship and stays for long periods of times.
I want both things most. God, make me good. But not yet.
Sunday, September 12
Tuesday, September 7
Sunday, June 27
Monday, May 10
Sunday, March 14
Would it not be better to be dead than to have this horrible fear that Aslan has come and is not like the Aslan we have believed in and longed for? It is as if the sun rose one day and were a black sun. - King Tirian, The Last Battle
Few things are as painful as the discovery that God is not who we had once believed Him to be. Somewhere along the way we find that whatever It was that helped us find lost keys or comforted us when lonely is not who God really is. The God whom all our prior experience had taught us we would never be forsaken, ends up letting us down at the exact moment when everything else has as well. The God we read about in the scriptures, the Wise Grandfather, the Hope of the Helpless, turns out to be just as unreal as every other childhood hero.
On Moriah, Abraham found God not to be someone with endless promises, but someone prepared to take everything he had. In the garden and on the cross, Jesus found His Ever Present Friend strangely absent, at the moment of greatest need. I have watched many of the people closest to me go through similar experiences. I have seen their anguish, their tears and their pain as they have come to discover the God in whom they once testified and the Church they once loved, become nothing more than smoke and mirrors--an elaborate illusion that collapses during the time when it was most relied. It is too long and hard a road to Oz to find the truth finally at the last scene.
I look back on my life and remember the times I felt closest to Him. I remember:
- Receiving the missionary lessons, kneeling in prayer, asking in faith and receiving more than I could believe
- Listening to my first conference session and hearing for the first time the words of a prophet of God
- Waking up at 6:00am every morning for seminary ready to feast upon the scriptures
- Opening the Book of Mormon and reading words that were written just for me
- Stumbling on the words as I blessed the sacrament for the first time
- Kneeling in prayer in a bathroom stall in my dorm--promising God my whole heart
- Nervously Humbly placing my hands on her head, trying to muster the faith to speak God's words
- Riding my bike in torrential rain, on fire with the gospel, so happy to be sharing our Heavenly Father’s love
- Wanting nothing more than to be like Jesus
- Following the Spirit to bless people’s lives
- Believing there was nothing greater in life than obedience, sacrifice and charity
I have the memories but have forgotten the feelings. I remember Him, but no longer feel the love toward Him I once did.
The God who I then believed in (and followed and promised and prayed to) is infinitely different than the God with whom hard experience has acquainted me. A God who stands ready to crush my heart and steal my dreams; who is often so distant that my memory is made foolish; who promises agency and freedom, but leaves me no choice but to surrender.
Sunday, February 28
Saturday, February 13
Monday, January 18
Saturday, January 2
Saturday, November 28
I would love to eat breakfast together. To watch him enjoy the meal I cooked for us--even if it was burned or undercooked. To frown at him sternly when he fed our dog from the table. To have him pour me orange juice while I read the Wall Street Journal before work. To wonder to myself how I ever got to be so lucky while he cleaned up the dishes.
I would love to be at work and look down from my computer monitor to see a picture of the two of us together. In front of the Pyramids or the Eiffel Tower or on the Great Wall. A goofy smile on my face and his arms around me. To get back to work but never stopping my daydreams about him. To have him call me to ask what we should have for dinner and what movie we should see. To look forward to holding him while I’m driving home at night.
I would love to look at him sitting at ‘our’ table through the restaurant window. To watch him smile as he looks up and sees me finally arrive; slowly standing to greet me with a gentle kiss. To not care what other people think, in fact, to notice no one but him. To have him already order, because he knows exactly what I’d like. To talk about our days, but then just to sit together, watching each other in silence as we press our feet together under the table.
I would love to hold hands as we walked back to the car. To breathe in the smell of his cologne. Smiling as he laughed at my jokes. To have him open my door and then gently close it behind me. To fight together over what radio station to listen to and then content myself that even though I don’t get to listen to what I want, I get to listen to him sing softly along to what he loves.
I would love to sit next to him at the movie theater. Shoulders and legs pressed together as we held hands tightly. Never completely getting into the movie because I can’t stop looking over at him to see him laughing or smiling and then looking back at me with an expression on his face as if to ask, “what?” To reach into the popcorn bag at the same time and bump hands. To taste his Chapstick on the straw of the drink we share.
I would love going home together. One hand on the wheel and one around him. To feel his head lay against my shoulder as he nodded off. To walk into our house, into the home we had built together. To walk upstairs into our bedroom and stand there together. A long hug turning into a slow dance, hands at each other’s waists.
I would love to feel his strong arms holding me, my head nestled into his chest so that I could hear his heart beating. To hear him whisper loving words into my ear and gently kiss my forehead. To feel our legs together as they intertwine. To watch his eyes close and his mouth softly open as he falls asleep. To feel safe and secure and warm. And in love.
I want that more than anything.
But instead of that, I hope one day I might be able to say as Benjamin Landart did on June 23, 1938: "The greatest decision I ever made in my life was to give up something I dearly loved to the God I loved even more. He has never forgotten me for it." (Thomas Monson, BYU Devotional, March 1997)
Tuesday, November 24
The story of the widow’s mite has always inspired me. I, too, am one completely broken with so little to offer.
The scribes around her, with their riches, took no notice and even if they had, would not have understood or appreciated the sacrifice she gave there--of what it meant to lay her whole life on the altar.
Two mites is a small sacrifice. But when that’s all you have, I imagine it must be pretty difficult to give away. The sacrifice in itself contributed nothing to the temple, nothing to the kingdom. It provided no benefit, and would have gone unnoticed in the temple treasury. How could she have not felt, at least in part, that she was simply throwing away everything she had? I do not doubt it was a heart-wrenching experience to willingly give up something she felt she could not live without.
But there is more to the story. Read it.
It is not simply a story about giving your all. Jesus uses it to directly condemn the scribes “which devour widows’ houses” by compelling to give more than what was required of them. The law of the Old Testament and the gospel of the New, commanded that widows be cared for, brought in, nurtured and loved.
The temple was important and essential. But Jesus made it clear that “there shall not be left one stone upon another”. It was infinitely less important than the people it was made for.
The scribes justified themselves by the temple and by the law. They happily watched as someone they were commanded to help willingly gave away all. Instead, they should have been supporting her, caring for her. Under their care, she should never have been in a situation where she had nothing left to give.
So here is my parallel and I hope that it is clear:
Mine is a generation of gay men that are trying to stay in the Church and live the Gospel. Trying to give up more than they can.
They walk the lonely road. They willingly walk into Priesthood office’s unprepared to do what is asked of them. They humbly sit at disciplinary councils and submit to the judgement of men who cannot comprehend their sacrifice. They are told by their parents and families and friends that what they are being asked to do is “small” and “easy”. They plead in prayer for help, for support, for answers; constantly asking what more than they can give. They sit in Church meetings (as I did just last week) where instructors compare homosexuality to bestiality and child sacrifice: a sin “worthy of death”. They are without hope that their sacrifice, however great, can ever be enough. They are driven to depression, self-hate, suicide. They are men who cast all they are, all they have, all they hope and long for into the treasury without any hope of impact.
Like the widow, I have no doubt that their faith will be richly rewarded. But again, there is more to the story.
Doctrine, like the temple, is made for the benefit of man. Doctrine is not more important than people. Set it aside, for it is not for you to judge or condemn. Reach out your hands and hold them up. Love them. Care for them. Stop insisting they give more--because I assure you that even without your ‘encouragement’ they have already learned what it is like--and how awful it really is--to be willing to sacrifice all.
We are commanded to bear one another’s burdens that they may be light and yet I see so many of ‘them’ falling in exhaustion because they cannot take another step forward; carrying a load that is impossible to bear; broken hearts wounded further by hateful words and doctrinally-justified prejudice.
Instead of asking them to offer more, take their hand and offer them something. Be a savior instead of a scribe.
Monday, October 26
In this life, each one of us is asked to attempt the impossible: to walk the lonely road to salvation as Christ did and to become perfect as He is. I look at that road, the ‘strait and narrow’ path ahead of me, and I certainly don’t see the tree that Lehi spoke of.
Nephi told us it would be this way though: that the path that leads to the love of God would be enveloped with mists of darkness, even “exceedingly great mists of darkness.” Often the only thing we can see is a rod of cold iron, inflexible and rigid. My heart tells me it leads to a place I am sure I do not want to go: it promises to lead to a tree with exceedingly beautiful fruit, but makes no pretense that I will not be led directly up to the altar on Moriah and deep into my own personal Gethsemane. It leads a lonely journey--often in complete darkness and silence. There are no angels to beckon nor a light to guide. And its not just other’s scoffing that tempts me to let go, but my own heart that tells me to take a different path.
As if the journey wouldn’t be difficult enough though, He asks even more outrageous things of us along the way: love those that despise you, turn the other cheek, be reconciled to thy brother, bear one another’s burdens that they may be light, give more than we can spare.
God truly intends for us to be tremendously different than we currently are. He asks so much of us (more than we can possibly give) because, as David O. McKay taught, the richest rewards come only to the strenuous strugglers: to each of us who are us asked to do so much that we have no option but to fail, and fail, and fail until we finally succeed.
We are not alone in that failure. Its abundant in the scriptures. We often think of the scriptures as a roadmap to success--the history of heroes--but to us what seems so triumphant may have felt to them very different. Lehi sailed across an ocean, but in the end was able to save less than half his family. Abinadi had the courage to testify boldly in the court of a wicked king, but died without a single convert. Moses led the children of Israel out of slavery and across the Red Sea, but was not able to step foot in the promised land. Nor was Abraham. Israel, the chosen of the Lord, spent much of history conquered by their enemies. Isaiah, Micah and Nahum were able to speak the word of the Lord, but did so to a declining nation that rejected their words. Alma and Amulek converted many, only to see them burned for their faith. The Church Christ Himself set up crumbled within a century. Joseph Smith brought forth what was to become “the most correct of any book on earth” but only after losing 116 pages through disobedience. The pioneers who crossed the plains did so only after numerous failed attempts establishing their Zion.
Of course they didn’t fail though--and maybe we, too, are more successful than we think. Maybe the small steps we take toward Him, the small sacrifices we offer Him, the meager service we give His children are not as failed as we imagine but, like the widow’s mite accepted, not because they are enough, but because they are all we have to offer. Maybe our failures--like theirs of old--are actually triumphs in the eyes of the Lord. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes: “this Helper who will, in the long run, be satisfied with nothing less than absolute perfection, will also be delighted with the first feeble, stumbling effort you make tomorrow to do the simplest duty.”
Elder Zeballos reassures us that ‘God will not require more than the best we can give.” But in the same breath tells us that “He can not accept less than that because that would not be just.” Make no mistake: God will break our hearts, He will bend our knees, He will ask us to give more than we are prepared to, more than we want to and more than we should have to.
And why not? The Savior attempted the impossible in saving us: He gave His all when there was no assurance that it would be enough. Even a perfect atonement cannot save a single soul if they are too proud to accept it. He sacrificed everything and offers everything to us. To us who so easily “esteem it as naught”. I imagine, that just like us, He didn’t quite realize just how much Heavenly Father’s will demanded of Him. It was probably a lot harder than He expected. When He needed God the most, His Father turned away. C.S. Lewis writes that on the cross, Christ “found that the Being He called Father was horribly and infinitely different from what He had supposed.” His Atonement required a lifetime of obedience and an ultimate, final and complete sacrifice. Should we not too, at times, be called to suffer--alone and unbearably--with the doors of Heaven slammed before us?
Saving us individually is just as impossible a task. Each of us (or at least me!) is so quick to do evil, and slow to do good. The natural man within us is so rebellious, so ungrateful and so forgetful. We avoid suffering and pain at every cost and often His merciful hands that reach out to us, reach out in vain. And yet He is there--He has a plan B, and a plan C and plan D to save us.
Elder Zeballos teaches us, as Jesus Christ did through His perfect example and commandment to follow--to serve “with all our heart, with all our might, with all our mind, and with all our strength--that is to say, with all our being… That we will do the best we can in our roles as… children, brothers and sisters; in our callings; in sharing the gospel; in rescuing those who have drifted; in working for the salvation of our ancestors; in our work; and in our daily lives.”
I’m grateful--or rather, sometimes grateful-- for the impossible things that God has asked me to attempt. Even though I fail (even though I can’t even imagine what success would look like) in trying, I find myself becoming a lot more like Him than I would otherwise.
I bear my testimony of the Savior and of His commandments. Of a loving God who asks so much of us because there is a great need to become like Him. Many broken people need someone who can love as the Savior did, lift as He did, give as He gave. And the only way to become like that is to become as He is. “The Son of God suffered unto death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His.” (George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, First Series) That our impossible tasks might make us like Him.
I’m grateful for what I have learned in this ward. My first day in Seattle, eight years ago, I got stung on the head by a bee, got lost on the Burke-Gillman and went to sleep hungry because I couldn’t find a place to eat dinner, but here I stand seven years later feeling like I am leaving Zion. In this building, I received both the new member discussions, my first calling and the Melchizedek priesthood. In Lander Hall just down the way, I got my first priesthood blessing. I have made countless friends here, who have at many times and in many different ways have shown me the love of God and acted, to me, as ‘Saviors on Mount Zion.’ In the last few years I have learned so much of who God is and what He expects of me.
I think the most important thing I have learned, and I’ve learned it in a very personal way is this:
... It is a poor thing to strike our colours to God when the ship is going down under us; a poor thing to come to Him as a last resort, to offer up 'our own' when it is no longer worth keeping. If God were proud He would hardly have us on such terms: but He is not proud, He stoops to conquer, He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him, and come to Him because there is 'nothing better' now to be had.I know that God loves me, because even when I do not love or desire Him, He does not abandon me. I’m grateful He has always surrounded me by people who love me, and grateful for the love I received while in this ward. I trust that as each of us attempt the impossible, He will help us. May we honor Him and each other by doing the best that we possibly can.
Thursday, October 1
Friday, August 28
- I have no one else to tell this to, so I'm relegated to writing it on a blog: I fell in love with a boy. I said it to him, he said it to me. It felt perfect, and it got even better. And at the moment I was thanking God for him, the day I realized he was quite possibly one of the best things to ever happen to me, when things between us were starting to become better than I could have imagined he slammed on the brakes. With no warning, I went from going full-speed-ahead to flying through the front windshield because I had just begun to believe I didn't need to worry about a seat belt. The most painful words I think a person can ever hear (and I've heard the phrase twice now, from both the boys I've loved) are: "I'm sorry if you misunderstood my actions..." I can handle not having a future with you, but do you have to go and ruin the past, too?
- I finished Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. One of the profound things he wrote: "... it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just the power of always trying again." Such a beautiful thought, are failings aren't failure, we only fail when we stop trying.
- I got a job offer today for a better job. There isn't a single person on earth that I wanted to tell, feel free to leave a note of congratulations in the comment section, it'd be nice to celebrate with someone.
- Sometimes showing up to sacrament meeting with a smile on my face is the absolute best that I can do.
- Never have heaven's doors felt so closed and so empty as in the past couple months as I've tried to 'come back' and draw closer to God.
- When I talk about what I did over the weekend and I tell people I went to a movie (or whatever else) by myself they get uncomfortable. I think they feel sad for me. Up until the last year, loneliness was a completely foreign concept to me. I am sure it would break my parents' hearts if they had any idea how lonely I feel now.
- I'm on week four of my exercise routine--a six pack is starting to appear. A couple weeks ago, I buzzed my hair and for the first time in a couple weeks, I feel like its starting to look really good.
- When I was sixteen, I promised God that for the rest of my life I would pay a complete and honest tithing. I haven't wanted to pay it since Prop 8. Two weeks ago I gave the Bishop my tithing for the last nine months -- not because I want the blessings of paying tithing, but because I needed to show God I am trying to keep my promises to Him.
Sunday, August 2
Sunday, July 19
... It is a poor thing to strike our colours to God when the ship is going down under us; a poor thing to come to Him as a last resort, to offer up 'our own' when it is no longer worth keeping. If God were proud He would hardly have us on such terms: but He is not proud, He stoops to conquer, He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him, and come to Him because there is 'nothing better' now to be had.
Tuesday, June 30
Maybe God understands when we are hungry, and are tempted to steal.
Maybe God can accept a blemished offering.
Maybe it isn't blasphemous to not limit (but instead to trust in) God's mercy, His love and His understanding.
Maybe if I showed up with him at Church, Jesus would be waiting at the doors of the Chapel for us, smiling with open arms. Maybe He would sit next to us, and He wouldn't judge me for feeling good while holding your hand.
Maybe the search for love is natural, innate, and even godly.
Maybe people are more important than doctrine.
Maybe charity is greatest of these.
Maybe God loves 'us' as much as He loves me and you.
Maybe our detours are the straight and narrow path to him.
Maybe pure love really is unconditional.
But then again, maybe I'm wrong.
Tuesday, June 16
"The first woman may have been Eve, but the first girl will always be Alma," she'd say... "Maybe the first time you saw her you were ten. She was standing in the sun scratching her legs. Or tracing letters in the dirt with a stick. Her hair was being pulled. Or she was pulling someone's hair. And a part of you was drawn to her, and a part of you resisted--wanting to ride off on your bicycle, kick a stone, remain uncomplicated. In the same breath you felt the strength of a man, and a self-pity that made you feel small and hurt. Part of you thought: Please don't look at me. If you don't, I can still turn away. And part of you thought: Look at me."If you remember the first time you saw Alma, you also remember the last. She was shaking her head. Or disappearing across a field. Or through a window. Come back, Alma! you shouted. Come back! Come back!"But she didn't."And though you were grown up by then, you felt as lost as a child. And though your pride was broken, you felt as vast as your love for her. She was gone, and all that was left was the space where you'd grown around her, like a tree that grows around a fence."For a long time, it remained hollow. Years, maybe. And when at last it was filled again, you knew that the new love you felt for a woman would have been impossible without Alma. If it weren't for her, there would never have been an empty space, or the need to fill it."Of course there are certain cases in which the boy in question refuses to stop shouting at the top of his longs for Alma. Stages a hunger strike. Pleads. Fills a book with his love. Carries on until she has no choice but to come back. Every time she tries to leave, knowing its what has to be done, the boy stops her, begging like a fool. And so she always returns, no matter how often she leaves or how far she goes, appearing soundlessly behind him and covering his eyes with her hands, spoiling for him anyone who could ever come after her."- The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Sunday, May 10
Monday, May 4
Thursday, April 23
My friends say I should get over him, but I just can't. The slutty summer. The porn. I'll never love anyone like I loved you, Mr. Kempton. Thanks for the beach. I'll never forget what it felt like to fall asleep in your arms after are one, wild night.
Friday, April 17
- The Church needs to see active, 'gay' men. Most gay men struggle for so long in secret, pleading in the quiet of their closets. They try and they try and they try. And at some point they reach a point where they are pushed to the breaking point and everything comes crashing down. They decide to "come out" and leave the Church at the same time, in the same decision. The Church hasn't seen their faith and effort in doing all they can to live the Gospel. They haven't seen the brokenness that results from the inability to reconcile homosexuality with the Church. And they need to. All most of them see is actively gay men, they need to see active, gay men.
- All the good in my character is because of my baptismal covenants. I am sure of that more than anything else in my life. When I stood in the baptismal font on my eighteenth birthday, I promised God (and I promised Him with all of my heart) that I would mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. I have failed more than I have succeeded, but trying to fulfill that promise to God has made me the person I am today. Every good piece of me is because of that promise--both through my own feeble efforts, and through Him 'making up the difference.' There is power in covenant-making and covenant-keeping.
- I haven't found the right man yet. Let's be honest, Mr. Right hasn't come along yet and until he does, I really won't know all that I'm actually sacrificing. And when his hands graze mine, and our hearts beat together, and he laughs at my jokes, and I can't stop smiling just because he's in my life things might suddenly change. I don't doubt that they will.
- I see purpose in this trial. Every aspect of it. Every single one. The Church not knowing what to do. Members not understanding. The absolute loneliness of it. The unanswered questions. The unanswered prayers. The feelings of worthlessness and failure. How hard it is. How difficult it is to see light, to have hope, to feel peace. I see purpose in it--and see the better person I am because of it. And though it is painful, it is beautiful.
- God is absolute good. I want to be like Him--exactly like He is. And you don't become like him by not watching rated-R movies. You don't become like Him by doing easy things. He is not a God of convenience. To be like Him requires us to sacrifice everything and to do the things that He did. And let's be honest, the things He did are impossibly hard. Just like this.
- My own experiences with homosexuality have been varied, but overwhelmingly negative. I do not think this is an accurate representation of the gay lifestyle. I'm sure that many people find happiness and contentment. But for me, its been a whole-heck-uv-a-lotta heartache. Acting on my own homosexual desires has hurt many of the people closest to me and has left me with a broken heart that hasn't yet been made whole. I don't know if it ever will be.
- I have received support from His children. Not everyone is as lucky to have the privilege of the love, support and acceptance that has been extended to me by so many people in my life. My friends, ward members and priesthood leaders have grabbed hold of me and held me. I'm sure I take for granted the effort that is extended by them to me--someone so flawed, so indecisive, so dramatic, so uneasy to love. They have paid high prices to try to understand the struggle that I go through. It is not easy to reconcile homosexuality and the Gospel--not for 'us', not for 'them'. But so many--more than I could have asked for--have made that effort, in large part because of the love they have for me.
Sunday, April 12
Friday, April 10
Wednesday, April 1
The stake presidency is considering formal disciplinary action in your behalf, including the possibility of disfellowship or excommunication, because you are reported to have participated in conduct unbecoming a member of the Church.This week is not going well. What's the point of going forward? I have nothing else to say.
You are invited to attend this disciplinary council to give your response, and, if you wish, to provide witnesses and other evidence in your behalf. Please note that any invited witnesses must be members of the Church. It is important for you to attend, that you are able to express fully your own thoughts and feelings.
The disciplinary council will be held Sunday, April 12th at 3:30p.m. at the North Seattle Stake Center...
Tuesday, March 24
I'm going to try to go down to Utah the first weekend in May for the Matis fireside. I really want to go do one. Anyway, I need a place to stay, people to hang out with and a way to get to the fireside once I'm there. Let me know if you can fulfill any of these needs.
Sunday, March 22
Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. (Ecclesiastes 11:1)
Remember when they used to show pictures in health class of a smoker's lungs? I can't know for sure, but I think that's what my heart looks like. I imagine that something that hurts so much has to be bruised, tumored and ugly. I used to have a good heart, a pure one. I used to be a little boy who loved to joke around and play and smile. People used to frequently tell me they never saw me without a smile on my face. I don't smile much anymore. The little boy is dead, a man stands before you now.
God splits the skin with a jagged thumbnail from throat to belly and then plunges a huge filthy hand in, he grabs hold of your bloody tubes and they slip to evade his grasp but he squeezes hard, he insists, he pulls and pulls till all your innards are yanked out and the pain! We can't even talk about that. And then he stuffs them back, dirty, tangled and torn.Whatever love and goodness within me has only worsened my fate, has only made an already dreary life even more painful.