Because of Love
The comment that hit me the hardest was from "Anonymous." (See comments from "Thoughts on God.") I'm always intrigued by my reaction to these comments. I was surprised to find myself getting defensive about and finding arguments against what he wrote. It's very clear that I am Mormon through and through, and I will never escape that. The mere fact that his beliefs could elicit an emotional response in me is evidence that I still share those same beliefs.
I probably will always think like a Mormon and have beliefs rooted in Mormonism. And I'm going to have to be OK with that. The truth is Anonymous might be absolutely right, and I have to accept that. That said, he might also be wrong, and that's the problem -- I can't be sure. As long as that's the case, I'm going to have to follow my heart.
In other news ...
My father and I had a little email exchange this past week. It was interesting, to say the least. It was all started by a conversation my mother and I had a week and a half ago. She called, and we got to talking about church attendance. I've never lied to her about anything I do; I simply withhold information, unless it's solicited specifically.
During our conversation, she called me out on being inactive in the church, and I didn't deny it. She told me I needed to go to church, and she asked if I would go for her. I laughed and suggested that there might be better motivations for a person to go to church. I used humor, hoping she would let the topic go, but she wasn't letting it drop, so I ended up telling her that I'm not active and that I don't know if I'll ever be very active in the church.
I felt bad because I knew the conversation was ripping her up inside. Poor thing. The only good thing is that maybe this small revelation will help soften the blow when we finally have the big "I'm gay" conversation, which I'm not looking forward to. After an intense 10-minute conversation about my church attendance (or lack thereof), we lightened the mood with laughter and casual conversation and hung up. Regardless, I knew she was affected by our conversation.
The following day, I received this email from my father:
Your mother spoke to me of last night's conversation with you; she is heartbroken that you and Tim have chosen not to obey God's commandments, nor to make yourselves worthy to keep your temple covenants. She sorrows greatly for you both.
I too, have sorrow for you and your brother, but I don't sink into depression as she does. It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep her spirits up and to keep her from staring into space, in deep grieving for her sons.
I have not told her of your particular situation; indeed I have kept my word to you & have told no one. You revealed it yourself to your brothers and sister. They have not said anything to your mother. She knows that you are not living right, but not the full story.
I don't believe she could take that shock at this time. I find it ironic, that when we are serving a mission, at a time when we should be most happy, that we suffer 'a grief that can't be spoken and a pain that goes on and on'.
The commandment, "Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee," is still in effect. So is the first commandment: "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." we are not the only ones who sorrow for you. Your Heavenly Father and Mother are also sorrowing. You also are not honoring them.
GM, you were given a legacy of righteous living in our home; you know the commandments, including: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination" (Lev 18:22) "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators . . .adlterers, . . . nor abusers of themselves with mankind." (1 Cor 6:9) Through our modern prophets, our Heavenly Father has warned against this sin in our time. Sexual sins are second only to murder in seriousness.
You are at your present state in life because of your addiction to pornography through the internet; Tim also has been affected by this scourge of filth.
I do not say these things in an angry, condemning manner, but in simple, plain truth as God has outlined through his prophets and in his scriptures. And by your own admission, you have cut yourself off from this lifeline, this iron rod, which can and does provide the strength to overcome sexual addition and every other sin--when used with prayer and repentance.
Be assured, your present lifestyle is not approved by God; it is directly against His teachings. No worldly rationalizing will change it. You also must face the fact that as you continue down this path, you will not be with your mother after this life. You are creating a gulf between yourself and her with every impure thought, with every crude word you speak, with every unclean act you participate in. "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1 John 2:4)
She is a holy, pure, Godly woman with very tender and delicate feelings of righteousness. She loves both of her very gifted and intelligent sons who are choosing the path downward to Telestial living standards; this causes us both continual, unspeakable sorrow.
We love you and desire that you live Celestial standards, that you might return to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ; we want you to be a part of our family forever. As the apostle John wrote: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." (3 John 1:4)
I personally would like to see my sweetheart and companion be happy once again. And that will only happen when her sons are both back on the path of righteousness living. Please help her; I know you love her, please show it with deeds and not by words only.
To which, I responded:
How are you? I hope you're doing well. I received the postcard from Amish country earlier this week, and I must say I'm very proud that my parents are converting the Amish. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Speaking of, did you know 95% of the people from my mission believe the Mormons are Amish? Why, you ask? Because the movie "Witness" was mistranslated, so everyone read "Mormon" in the subtitles whenever the movie talked about the Amish. I spent two years being mistaken for people who won't ride bicycles because the technology is too sophisticated. Anywho ...
In regards to your email, I want to thank you for your love and concern. Though I rarely express it, I have two of the most loving, caring, fantastic parents on Earth -- even despite your inability to take my counsel on email forwarding etiquette. ha! I thank God daily for my wonderful life and loving family.
In fact, that's precisely what makes my situation so difficult. I know exactly what my family expects of me, yet I am choosing a different path. I really am sad that my decisions affect you and mom (and others) in such an adverse way. I hate to disappoint and worry you both -- especially mom -- and that's why it took me until age 25 to decide to live an openly gay lifestyle. I know you probably cringe just reading that phrase, but I want to be honest and upfront with you.
Trust me: I've thought about living in secrecy and lying to you guys about the decisions I've made. It would certainly delay the disappointment and heartache on your end, but eventually the truth would come out, so I've decided to be completely open and honest. That's how I have been for the past two years with all my close friends, family, and co-workers. Everyone who knows me well knows I'm gay, with the exception of mom, who must be mighty suspicious at this point. Please feel free to disclose my sexuality to whomever you choose -- I trust you completely.
For the record, it was you who convinced me not to tell mom when I was contemplating telling her a few years ago. ha! We both know she doesn't cope well with difficult/disappointing situations, so I conceded to your request. Nonetheless, eventually she will have to face the reality of my situation, so she may as well start preparing. Don't worry -- I'll wait until she returns from her mission to tell her.
Back to the church ... it seems to me that the crux of the issue is the afterlife. Both you and mom are very concerned about my salvation, and I understand your perspective -- I really do. That said, I personally don't know what's going to happen to me in the afterlife (I know your beliefs on the matter, so feel free to skip your rebuttal to this paragraph). I simply hope for the best ... hope God is as merciful, loving, and understanding as I believe he is; hope I've lived a good life here on Earth; hope I haven't offended the Creator too horribly; and hope things turn out well for my loved ones. I believe God knows what He's doing, so I have faith everything will turn out well.
However, between now and the afterlife, I want to make the most of life, and that's what I'm trying to do -- even if my decisions are hard for you. I love my life and I don't regret the decisions I've made (except for the decision to take Ancient Civilizations 345 - I hated that class). I know it's fundamentally impossible for you to believe this, but I'm happy. I am. I have a good job, a great boss, fantastic friends, a loving family -- I am completely content and fulfilled. And I still have so much to look forward to in life! I am very blessed, and I acknowledge that.
I just wish you and mom could be happy for me, or at least try to be. Let's say you're right, and I do end up in the Telestial Kingdom alone. That means we have only this time on Earth to be with and love each other. Let's make the most of it and not dwell on all my failures and shortcomings.
The reality is you and mom -- especially mom -- carry too much of the burden of your children's sins. You worry, you stress, and you get depressed when your children make choices you don't like. Your children are imperfect humans who have agency, and they will make decisions that are not popular with you. That's life, and I hope you both learn better coping mechanisms to deal with these stressors. Have faith in God that He will work things out, and leave the bulk of the stress to Him and Christ. That's the whole Gospel plan, isn't it? Letting Christ carry your burdens? Maybe God/Christ could free you and allow you to love and enjoy your sinner sons. :-) I'll tell you what: I absolve you of all responsibility for my sins. That's my gift to you.
Let's be honest -- when you get to the Celestial Kingdom, and I'm not there, do you think God will let you live an eternity in misery because your youngest didn't make it? Absolutely not. He'll work things out, and you'll have joy beyond belief, so please don't let my decisions affect you so much.
It's easy for me to say these things, but I know life is more complex than what I state above. I really don't expect you to come to a point where you're 100% OK with my decisions. What parent ever reaches that point with a child? I do, however, expect you to come to terms with my decisions and learn to be happy despite. I love you, mom, and my siblings, and I want to build, strengthen, and enjoy our relationships for the rest of our lives. I hope and pray that you and mom find peace relative to me. It will take time, I'm sure, but I believe it's possible. I love you all and plan to always have you in my life.
I know where you stand on these issues, so you don't need to keep reiterating, though I'm sure you will - ha! But there is a limit ... at some point we must move past the same redundant talking points because I sincerely doubt we'll ever be on the same page regarding my choices. We disagree on these issues, so we have to work around them. How? Well, that's really up to you. Perhaps you could try remembering that I'm a fairly good kid. Well, at the very least, I'm a decent person. (That's what a few friends and homeless people have told me.) I think most parents would consider me a success story -- or at least a partial success story. Just focus on the positive (namely my nice teeth, sparkling eyes, and charming personality). I'm sure you're loving this advice. ha!
In all seriousness, I'm sorry I disappoint you both. I hate to disappoint anyone, especially mom, but I can't live my life for mom or for you. I love her dearly, and I always will. I sincerely hope she'll be able to love me, laugh with me, be there for me, and be happy for me, despite my sins/choices. I hope the same for you.
Your Son, GM
Thank you for your clear, concise explanation of present situation in life--as you see it. I have known through the Spirit, and from bits and pieces from your siblings of your choices and lifestyle for some time. I don't however, remember it being my decision not to tell Mom; I'm sure I felt that way as time went on and we were serving a mission. However, in the beginning, you were the one asking me not to reveal your SSA to any of the family, and I kept that promise. Your siblings noticed your dark countenance, and listened to your pattern of speech and they began to discern your lifestyle. Some did voice their concerns to me, but I was mute on the subject.
I have known that you don't want to discuss this matter with me, so I haven't tried to--not when we were alone dumping garbage, nor when you announced over choice over the phone while I was in PA.
However, with my understanding of the laws and commandments of God, neither Mom nor I can have joy in your wrong choices--even while we love you and remember all of your good qualities, your great God-given talents, abilites, and gifts--beyond the beautiful teeth, pleasing personallity, etc., etc., et. al. It's such a shame you should squander these gifts, bury these talents in the dark side of the force.
But, you are an adult now, and accountable for your own actions. Have a good day.
What can we conclude? I am a cast member of Star Wars, fighting for the dark side of the force, and in desperate need of a facial because of my dark countenance. And my dad wants me to "Have a good day." Really? That's his closing? haha! Cracks me up! I know he loves me and writes me these things because of love. I really do understand that.
Honestly, I didn't mind his response. It was a little cold with a few jabs, but, at the end of the day, we agreed to disagree. That's all I can ask for. Hopefully he will learn to cope better as time passes, because things are going to get sticky when I start dating someone. Not that I anticipate that will happen any time soon. But still.
OK, I've said enough for one day. I feel like this long post has made up for many months of being MIA. At the rate I'm going, I won't be posting for another six months.