Monday, September 30, 2013

I Love You...

     So much for me saying I wanted to blog about this the day after my last post "Update: This Crazy Week I've Lived". Well, the past few days have presented their own form of crazy. Lots going on, not enough time to get on the computer to type. So this is why I'm finally taking care of this post today. But lucky me, I got to go through some more experiences that better prepared me to do this post.
     As stated in my last post, I've fallen for one of my best friends, and he has expressed that he shares those feelings towards me. It has been hard not to pursue a relationship with him because part of me wants that, to feel close and intimate with him beyond what a friendship can bring. There has also been a large part of me, however, that realizes that is not what I want spiritually, and it's definitely not what I want for him.
     I was thinking the other day about what would happen if I were to pursue a relationship with him. He and I had both expressed a desire to be with each other beyond friendship, but if we were to take that path, what would it bring? Where would we both be later on if we made this decision? Would I actually be happy?
     One of the biggest factors for me regarding my decision was my feelings for him. No, I don't just mean attraction or infatuation, I mean the actual love for him that I have, the part of me that sees him as a son of God, that sees the infinite potential he has, and that desires him to be happy and successful in every way. That part of me, that desire I have to see him reach the highest level of glory and happiness is what has driven my decisions. As good as it may feel to cross the line with him, either by pursuing relationship or by acting out, ultimately my desire to see both he and I reach the Celestial Kingdom is more important to me than mortal gratification.
     I truly believe and support the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I agree with their teachings on marriage and morality. It is because of this belief, because of the testimony and personal revelation I have received that I know the choices I'm making regarding my relationship with him is right. I have never felt the way I feel about him before, but it is because of that love that I am able to see his potential, and I am able to care about him spiritually rather than simply physically.

     I'm not trying to say it has been easy, in fact it has been very hard. It's hard to resist temptations and desires which are so strong and real. We've gotten close to crossing the line, but were able to avoid making mistakes together. It's because of these situations that we've been able to look at our friendship and reevaluate. We've both been working on boundaries in our friendship to keep one another safe. We've reached compromises and been able to take our relationship, as full of temptation and passion as it can be, and make it more healthy and spiritually fulfilling.
    It has been a process, and it's been hard. We are still working on it each day, and as painful as it can be sometimes, I've felt closer to God because of it. I've been able to open my eyes, my spiritual eyes, and see my friend as the son of God that he really is, and be able to care for him far beyond just physical and mortal matters.
    One question, concern, (whatever you'd like to call it), that has been brought up to me, and I'm sure will continue to be brought up, is why I don't just pursue a relationship with him. Why not give in? If you both love each other, is it really wrong? Who's to say the Church is correct in it's teachings? Why would God give you feelings for each other if it's wrong? And all sorts of things like that.
     My answer to all of those is that I know what is right and wrong, I have a testimony that I cannot deny, I believe in what the Church teaches, and I love my friend far more than just as an object or life-long partner. I couldn't enter a relationship with him knowing the consequences that will follow in the coming life for both of us. I just couldn't bring myself to harm him or myself like that.
     But Mitchell, if a relationship with him would bring you happiness (which to a degree, it would), why not just go for it? My answer to this question is that I have felt more love, more happiness, more fulfillment and belonging, more understanding and hope when I'm feeling the spirit, when I'm close to God, when I'm doing what I know God wants me to, when I receive a blessing, when I go to the temple, etc. than I have ever felt "fulfilling" my attractions towards the same-sex by acting out or even just considering a relationship. Even though I admittedly struggle with my spirituality at times, as I'm sure everyone does, I also know what it feels like when I am close to God, when I have those spiritual experiences. And I would not trade those for anything. I've received more fulfillment and happiness from God and living His commandments than anything this world could give me.

     I love you all! Storms may arise, in fact storms will arise, challenges will present themselves, doubt and fear may sink in, conflicting emotions and ideas may arise, but so long as I stick to what I know and believe, I will be ok, I will feel love and comfort in the Savior's arms.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Update: This Crazy Week I've Lived

     This week has been, well, interesting. A roller-coaster of emotions, new experiences, new challenges, re-evaluation, falling away, coming back, finding God again, self-searching, comfort, heart ache, love, pain, falling of tears, finding happiness, searching for answers, accomplishment, pride, humility, broken hearts, etc etc. In short, this week was one of the most filled weeks of my life because I went from happiness to sadness then back to happiness again.
     My video shoot for the Voices of Hope project was this Sunday. The entire process was a roller coaster in and of itself. I felt confident for my shoot going into it. I received an absolutely amazing and comforting blessing just before filming promising me so many wonderful things, and I felt sure it would go well. Halfway through my shoot I had a break to go outside and get some fresh air (I was super sweaty and stressed). One of my good friends had come with me to my shoot and came outside with me. I just stood there lost in my own thoughts.
     I wanted to quit shooting my video, I didn't feel like I was saying what I needed to, I didn't feel like I was being myself. The blessing promised me that I would be able to feel God's love for me, that I would be able to say what I needed to, and feel comfort and fulfillment when I was done with my shoot, but I just wasn't feeling it. After a long break of explaining my feelings to my friend, receiving his support, and finally making my decision to quit my video shoot, the crew came out to see if I was ready to start filming again, and I told them I wasn't feeling it today, that I didn't want to continue.
     One of the directors, who I consider my friend, took me aside and had me talk to him about it. He was actually the one who had given me the blessing. I expressed my concerns to him, told him I wanted to be done, and he told me exactly what I needed to hear. I felt the spirit so strong as he talked to me. He told me I was feeling this was because I had my whole shoot planned out, I had it rehearsed and knew exactly what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. I was relying on my preconceived idea of how it should go and not letting the spirit talk through me. He assured me that I could finish it, and that I wasn't feeling those promises from the blessing because I wasn't done fulfilling this task for God.
     After my talk with him, I felt a conviction to get out there and finish my shoot, even if it was hard for me, even if I didn't like how it went, I had to completely jump into God's arms and trust Him to lead me and trust Him to help it turn out alright. I was terrified when I sat back in front of the camera, but I finished my shoot letting the words flow from my mouth and feeling confident that God would help me through it. When my shoot was finally over, I felt comfort, I knew my part was over, that God would take care of the rest. It was a huge learning experience for me, and I will be forever grateful to God, to my friend who gave me the blessing and talked me through wanting to give up, and my friend who came with me to support me and helped me process my emotions.
     So yes, after much struggle and doubt, my video shoot actually turned out.
     I fell in love this week, well actually, have been for the past 3 weeks. This was such a big part of my roller coaster, but due to time and trying to gather my thoughts, I'll expound more on this in my next post. However, for now I'll leave it at this. Yes, I fell in love with a friend of mine who is male. No, I am not leaving the Church. No, he and I are not going to pursue any romantic relationship. And finally, nothing regarding my faith or relationship with the Church is going to change and he and I are going to work through this and put up boundaries with each other so that we can keep safe and not cross any lines.
     There is a lot more I want to blog about, but unfortunately I have to head into work now, so that'll have to wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I'll Keep You Safe...

     This week I've been taking care of my neighbors pets while they're away. They have a dog (to keep anonymity of my neighbors as best I can, let's call her Shadow). Shadow is such a sweet and loving dog, she loves to play and be with people. She's also terribly afraid of thunder, fireworks, and other loud noises that come from outside.
     Today there was a thunderstorm with heavy rain. As soon as I heard the thunder, I went over to my neighbors house as fast as I could. When I walked in, Shadow was panting and hiding behind the couch. I called her over, and she walked up to me shaking and scared. I sat down on the floor next to her and tried to calm her down, but she was still very nervous and shaking. I went and turned the radio up (background noise helps calm her as well as drown out the thunder) and I put her in a thunder-shirt which often helps her too.
      After that she seemed to calm down a little bit, but she was still shaking, panting, and stayed close to me. I sat down on the floor with her again and just held her in my arms and tried to calm her down. If it got bad enough, I'd have to give her a mild tranquilizer to calm her down and help her get through the storm, otherwise she could start tearing things up because of how anxious she gets, and I definitely didn't want to put her on the tranquilizer.
     As the storm started to calm down, I just walked around the house finishing up the other responsibilities I had, Shadow staying close to me. The storm ended up only lasting for about 25 minutes, and while it was slowly coming to an end and moving on, I sat down on the floor with Shadow one more time and held her in my arms and scratched and pet her. I started thinking about how happy it makes me to be able to hold one of God's creatures in my arms, human or animal, and be able to comfort them.
She's so cute and sweet! I love Shadow

      When I first got to my neighbors home, shadow was hesitant and fearful, and came running to me, but ultimately didn't seem to pay any attention to me, and was looking around in fear of the next boom of thunder. I got to thinking about how sometimes that's the way I act in my life regarding God and Christ. Sometimes I get scared, sometimes I get stressed, sometimes I have a bad day, or just struggling, and I get upset or expect God to just take it all away. I don't pay attention to God, I just look around waiting for the storm to pass without even realizing that the Lord is holding me in His arms and helping me through the storms of life.
     Sometimes it takes time for me to realize that God is actually right there with me, all I have to do is recognize that, turn my attention to Him, and let Him hold me and guide me. I have to take that leap of faith that I can let Him take the lead, that I can do my part, and trust in Him to make up for the rest.
     It also made me think about all the blessings God has placed in my life, in particular my amazing friends. So often they have held me or talked to me during times of hardship. They've helped me realize that I'm not alone, that God is there for me, as He is for all His children. My friends and family, such an amazing gift from God, have helped me feel His love and His grace.
     As the storm finished, I got ready to head back home. Said my goodbyes to Shadow and gave her one more hug and rub. Today is a good day, I'm thankful to God for this little reminder in my day of His love for me. Thankful that I had my heart opened to be able to recognize it. Thankful for all my blessings.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Why Remain LDS?

     First off, I apologize for the long wait in between posts. These past few weeks have been quite busy. I was working on my Voices of Hope essay, and finally finished it, spent time with very good friends, and was just working, going to institute, and keeping myself busy. It was a good kind of busy, but busy nonetheless. Anyways, here's my new post, love you all!

     There seems to be a theme in the conversations I've had with people these past two weeks. I've had multiple people ask me "Why are you a member of a faith that doesn't let you "be yourself"? Why don't you go out and be "true" to yourself and your feelings? Why not go out and live a life that makes you happy?" etc. etc. It has been almost funny to me that all these questions are coming up, that so many people automatically assume I'm either miserable or not living a happy life just because I'm LDS and deal with SSA. The thing is I am happy!
     I find it interesting that so many people assume that because I am attracted to men, but that I'm not dating men or planning on having any sort of romantic relationship with a man, that it somehow automatically means I'm denying my true self. An alcoholic craves alcohol, but just because he chooses not to drink because he knows that alcohol can destroy his life, does that mean that he isn't happy? Does that mean he isn't being true to himself? I'm not comparing alcoholism to SSA, however, the analogy is much the same.
     I recognize that some people may claim to find "happiness" in living a gay lifestyle, in being with a partner of the same-gender, but through what I've learned and experienced, that's not what brings me happiness, nor will it bring me happiness in the future. I, for some time, basically lived a gay lifestyle, in many ways. I became inactive in the Church, I acted out with another guy, I was defining myself by my attractions, I thought it would bring me happiness, I thought I was being true to myself. I soon realized, however, that that was not the case. I wasn't happy, if anything, I was miserable. I felt so disconnected and isolated, I didn't feel God's presence in my life.
     I realized that being true to myself doesn't mean acting on every carnal desire I have, it means reaching my full potential. Who am I? I am a son of our Heavenly Father. That is what defines me, that is being true to myself. I am a child of God, and because I love God and I love the blessings He has given me, I strive to live my life according to the standards He has put in place because I know that in so doing, I will be happy, I am happy, and it's a happiness nothing of this world could give me, including a man I could fall in love with.

     Why remain LDS? Because I love it. It is what brings me happiness, it's what I know to be true, it's what is important to me. My relationship with God is worth more than any romantic relationship I could pursue with another man, and I wouldn't trade my testimony for anything.

Monday, September 2, 2013

All This Time

All This Time
Britt Nicole

I remember the moment, I remember the pain
I was only a girl, but I grew up that day
Tears were falling
I know You saw me

Hiding there in my bedroom, so alone
I was doing my best, trying to be strong
No one to turn to
That's when I met You
 All this time, from the first tear cried
'Till today's sunrise
And every single moment between
You were there, You were always there
It was You and I
You've been walking with me all this time
Ooh, oh, oohh
Ooh, oh, oohh
You've been walking with me all this time

Ever since that day, it's been clear to me
That no matter what comes, You will never leave
I know You're for me
And You're restoring

Every heartache and failure, every broken dream
You're the God who sees, the God who rescued me
This is my story
This is my story

 I hear these people asking me
How do I know what I believe
Well, I'm not the same me, and that's all the proof I need
I felt love, I felt Your grace
You stole my heart that day


 Ever since the first tear cried
It was You, You and I
You've been walking with me all this time
     I found this song a little while ago, and it really struck a cord with me. It was a song I could really relate to. Even the first 2 lines of the song "I remember the moment, I remember the pain. I was only a (boy), but I grew up that day" I remember that moment for me, or rather moments, early in my life when I felt pain, when I was still young enough to not need to deal with that, but it caused me to have to grow up, to accept things and deal with things at that young age. "Tears were falling, I know You saw me."
     Then the next section "Hiding there in my bedroom, so alone. I was doing my best, trying to be strong. No one to turn to. That's when I met You" This section of the song hit me even harder. I remember those moments in my life, when life seemed to be caving in, when I was trying to be strong, but could only keep that up for so long. When I felt that I had no one to turn to, and finally the moment when I met the Savior, when I came to know God, and when I was able to turn to Him and rely on his atonement. There have been times in my life when I've forgotten to turn to Christ, times when I've turned my back on God, and yet He remains there waiting for me to turn back to Him. That is a love I cannot comprehend.
     And finally, one of my favorite parts "I hear these people asking me. How do I know what I believe? Well, I'm not the same me, and that's all the proof I need. I felt love, I felt Your grace" That's one thing that has solidified my testimony, as well as something I need to apply to my life even more. How do I know what I believe? Well, I'm not the same me, and that's all the proof I need. That statement seems so powerful to me. That's all the proof I need. Sometimes I feel like I don't know enough, sometimes I feel like I need more to have a true testimony, but is it really that I don't have enough? Or should the fact that I'm not the same me, that I'm happy, that I've felt love and grace be enough for me to say "That's all the proof I need"