11.20.2009

Uneasiness

Belief: All of us have the Light of Christ that helps us distinguish right and wrong.
Belief: The Spirit abides with the worthy and withdraws when offended.
Problem: How to tell the promptings of the Spirit apart from our own emotions.
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Lately, I have been feeling uneasy, like there's thick, black smoke in my stomach.

I have also, lately, been leaning toward a life path that would remove me from the Church (not that I plan to do anything in the near future, whatever my choice). So am I on the wrong path? Is the Spirit telling me that I need to stay in the Church and remain celibate or marry a woman? Is this guilt, the Lord's way of telling me I need to repent and 'straight'en up?

It's hard to say, because when I change my thought processes and think in terms of temple marriage/celibacy, the feeling doesn't go away.

Then is it internalized homophobia? I've been dealing with a lot of homophobia and rejection from my family recently (it's worse than my last post suggested), so maybe this nauseous feeling is an effect of that.

Or, maybe this is just frivolous navel-gazing. Maybe I just need to eat better/exercise more, or be with friends more often, or buy boxers with bigger waist bands.

Am I unworthy of the companionship of the Spirit? I am reminded of the REM lyric, "I don't know what I've done, but it doesn't feel right" ("The Worst Joke Ever", Around the Sun)--and yet I don't have any major sins in my life. I'm far from perfect, but I try to do the right things, I try to follow Christ. Every night, I read my scriptures and pray to Heavenly Father...and still I go to bed with a sick feeling in my stomach, and wake up with the same feeling.

Scott's post "Eternal Salivation" comes to mind. Maybe this feeling is just a reaction that has been ingrained and hammered into me by the culture/family I was born into. I was raised mainly by my dad (about whose hurtful prejudices I have already gone into great detail) and my mom, who recently asked of homosexual intercourse, "Doesn't it just make your skin crawl? Doesn't it make you sick?" So, would it be any surprise that I should feel sick about being gay, seeing as I grew up in a home, family, church, culture, and society where homosexuality is considered sick?

Alternately, perhaps an anxiety disorder is the culprit...Then again, maybe all of these explanations--internalized homophobia, conditioning, mental disorders--are just ways of trying to deflect guilt...raw, throbbing, leaden guilt. Scarlet guilt, in fact.
* * *
Please note that I am not speaking of homosexuality in general. I am not at all convinced that homosexuality is in categorical opposition to God's plan (a topic I have blogged about before). I'm not saying homosexuality or homosexual acts are necessarily, intrinsically wrong--I'm just thinking that maybe they're wrong for me. Maybe, after all, I'm just a nice, straight Mormon boy who has been deceived by the world and the devil and his own thinking. Maybe God is trying to tell that boy, "Wake up, stupid! You're not gay--I have assigned you a wife and kids and a life of service in the Church!" But, whether that's the case or not (and my sexuality is at this point so ambiguous I don't honestly know if it is or isn't), a part of me doesn't want to be that nice, straight Mormon boy who becomes a missionary and then a husband and then a dad and then a grandpa and then a bishop and then an old man wondering what could have been had he lived his life not according to the expectations of other people, but following his heart and dreams. And maybe that's wrong. And maybe that's why I feel sick.

I don't really know. But I am praying to be able to know.

To clarify, I'm not saying that I want to rebel against God. Quite the opposite, in fact. I want to live my life in harmony with God's will. So, I'm trying to figure out what God wants me to do, and to be perfectly honest, if I said I'd be eager to marry a woman, I'd be lying. So I hope that's not God's plan for me--even though I've been told it is since my earliest Primary days.

9 comments:

MoHoHawaii said...

If you don't have to make these decisions anytime soon, why not cut yourself some slack for now?

Here's some advice you don't get everyday: Don't pray about this! At least not now. Just let it be what it is for a bit. Make a deal with God that you're not going to worry about the gay stuff for a while but that you'll get to it later when you're on your own and out of your parents' house.

In the meantime, make time to be engaged in lots of activities, have fun with your friends and do well in school (esp. if you want to go to Stanford).

Just to give you an idea of where I'm coming from with this, here's an old person's regret. When I look back over my life I wish I could have back all of the hours I spent as a young person agonizing about being gay. All the hours spent worrying, praying and blaming myself were in the end wasted hours that I now wish I could have back. After all that angst, there was still nothing wrong with me, and I was still gay. Anyway, I hope you'll have it better than I did.

It may sound as if I'm arguing against the Church. I'm not. I do, however, disagree with the amount of pressure you're under to conform.

I have a principle that I've taught my kids. It's that the person who bears the consequences of a decision, good or bad, is the person who rightfully has responsibility for making that decision. Your uncle or your father may want to decide your life path for you, but this is inappropriate because if they make the wrong choice, they don't have to live the consequences! This is why you have to think about these things for yourself. Life is always based on educated guesses. You can't always predict how things will turn out. But that's exactly why you, and you alone, are responsible to make these decisions. Gratefully, nothing has to be decided today.

Best of luck to you. Let me tell you, any parent who wasn't absolutely thrilled to have you as a son is nuts.

Bravone said...

FLS,
I gotta get that book to you. Call me this weekend when you have a minute and we'll make arrangements. You know how much my family and I think of you. I agree with Hawaii that you need to relax a bit and take one step at a time. It is easier said than done for most of us however. We tend to overanalize everything. Sometimes I have to remind myself to have faith in the Lord's words,'be still and know that I am God.'

He knows us. He will help direct our paths if we trust in Him. It may not be what we or others have envisioned to be, but it will be the right path if we allow ourselves to let Him be our guide.

David Baker-@DB389 said...

FLeeS,

Based off of your comment on my suicide post I think I can understand where you are coming from pretty well. While Bravone and Hawaii are right that you should take your mind off of this, I remember when people told me that and I couldn’t how much it tore at me more because I didn’t have any advice on what to do. Perhaps I am more of a realist, but I understand tat you will need advice for when “not thinking about is” fails. Here is my contingency plan advice

You State:
“Is this guilt, the Lord's way of telling me I need to repent and 'straight'en up”
I think we have talked about guilt a lot in the blogosphere, Alan and Scott come to mind especially so I recommend looking at their sites for discussions on guilt more in-depth. From what I understand, there is a major difference between guilt and Godly sorrow. Guilt is a temporal emotion; it is the feeling we get when we do something against the grain. Not necessarily the Spiritual grain, but the grain that we were raised in. I remember feeling guilty for wearing deodorant because it was foreign to me at the time. Guilt is a part of the natural world not the supernatural. Godly Sorrow is how the Lord tells us to “straight’en up.” He has powerful tools that are designed to speak to our spirits and resonate with them rather than our emotions. Does that make sense? Basically guilt is a temporal thing that your emotions and physical body responds to, Sorrow is a spiritual thing that your spirit recognizes as a call to action.

I know that I have the same questions re: my future path and the same turn about leaving the same feelings of doubt and perhaps guilt. Sadly, all you can do is take a step and trust that the Lord will guide you. I do not know that answer for you, I do not know your path. I firmly believe that anyone who tells you they do is ignorant of their own journey’s personal aspect. If the Lord has assigned you said wife and kids and you start down your path with him in mind, with him as your focus and in doing what God wants you to do, I believe he will guide you and will stop you from making an eternal mistake.

One of the ways I looked at it that helped me was to look at this decision not as a fork in the road with two paths, one to the Emerald City and one to the Witch’s Castle, but instead as a boulder in a stream. Either way you go, either way you choose doesn’t matter as much as staying focused on Christ. Sure you will travel over different ground, but going to the left or the right doesn’t matter as much as going forward.

FLeeS, You are not unworthy of the companionship of the Spirit. I recognize what you are feeling and that is one of the worst feelings I ever had. If were not worthy for the companionship of the Spirit, then you wouldn’t be doing everything you needed to feel the spirit, those who are unworthy are those who no longer seek for it. The fact that you wrote this “I want to live my life in harmony with God's will.“ tells me that you have the spirit, and are worthy for it.
There are a lot of distractions in your life right now. School, Internalized Homophobia, External Homophobia, your parents are all clouding your mind. I think you should try to clear your mind of these distractions, breathe and ask and listen, not to what the world tells you, not what I tell you, not hat you are telling yourself but what the Lord is telling you. It won’t happen overnight, but I believe if you are committed to doing God’s will, no matter what it is, and that you listen for what that will is, that you will be blessed with spiritual guidance from the One who knows you perfectly, for the Lord with perfect empathy. In the mean-time focus on having some fun to take a breather and read “Learning in War-Time” by C.S. Lewis it will take you 20 minutes but I think it will help.

BB said...

Scarlet,
I just stumbled upon your blog and I don't know much because I haven't read it all, but I think that you are selling yourself with that REM quote. The bridge contains these lyrics:
Now I am floating/ I feel released/ The moorings have been dropped/ the weights unleashed/ Everything is crystalline, simple and free.
You aren't the worst joke in the world so Chin-up

Bravone said...

I could not have, and didn't, say it better than David.

Part of what we live with, growing up gay in the church is shame. Shame, used like David did guilt, tells us we are not good enough. It is toxic. A therapist once told me that the antidote to shame is acceptance. Acceptance of and from self, acceptance from those we love and care about, acceptance from friends, and recognition that Father accepts us.

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

@MoHoHawaii: Thanks! I really appreciate your advice, especially this: "The person who bears the consequences of a decision, good or bad, is the person who rightfully has responsibility for making that decision." And thanks for the reminder that I have better things to do than agonize over things I don't have a lot of control over right now.

@Bravone: Thanks for your insight. You're right--shame (or David's concept of guilt) is, I think, a big part of this. And I love "The antidote to shame is acceptance." Thanks for sharing that!

@David: Thanks so much for your very helpful words. I see what you mean about the difference between Godly Sorrow and Guilt (or Shame). And I love the stream analogy, as opposed to the yellow-brick road school of thought. Thanks!

@Beloved Boyd: Welcome, BB! Thanks for pointing out the other REM lyrics. You're great :)

MoHoHawaii said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin L. said...

It was sure nice to meet you last night. You are an incredible young man. I hope you know how much I enjoyed talking with you. I sure hope we have the opportunity to get to know each other better in the future.

I want to promise you three things. These certainly aren't the only three things I know and can promise you, but they seem the most relevant.

First, I promise that Heavenly Father loves you more than you can understand. Enough to present you with challenges and opportunities in this life that will enable you to grow and become more like Him.

Second, I promise that He wants nothing more than your happiness. Sometimes that desire means that there has to be some soul-stretching opportunities, some periods of darkness that make us capable of experiencing greater joy.

Lastly, I promise that no matter how daunting the challenge, how painful the stretching, or how bleak the darkness, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be strengthened, comforted, and enlightened on a daily basis.

Love ya, buddy!

darkdrearywilderness said...

Flees, you haven't posted in awhile! Everything ok?