Tuesday, December 11, 2007

An explanation and update

I thought I would post my final religion paper. I don’t know that is particularly good, but for anyone who is looking for some doctrinal encouragement, I think it fits the bill.

Otherwise I am doing great. This last Saturday I was invited by a friend in one of my classes to go riding with him and his wife. It was really good. I can’t really explain how much it means to feel that another guy actually cares about me in a way that is totally unrelated to sexuality.

I am so grateful to the Lord and the way in which he blesses me. I want to clarify a little bit about the last paragraph of my paper. I confided in my religion teacher last week about my struggles. He is the only one who will see this paper. Also, I don’t want to give the impression that I am happy about my SSA. This is not easy, nor is it fun. I do, however, know that the Lord seeks my best interest. He would not have given me this challenge to deal with if there wasn’t something I could learn from it. Part of my responsibility in the process of overcoming the natural man is to find out what I need to learn and do as a result of my challenges.

Sin and the Atonement

WARNING! This is LONG! I’ll explain it in my next post

This Semester I have studied the New Testament with a desire to better understand the Atonement, the Sacrament, and Prayer. I selected particular questions that I felt would be helpful in deepening my understanding of these principles. It is interesting to me that while I feel that my understanding of these principles has been greatly enlarged, deepened, and in some ways corrected, many of the questions I felt were important remain unanswered while others now seem superficial and irrelevant. As I have studied the New Testament, my thoughts have been influenced greatly by a book that I read early in the semester. The Peacegiver, by James Ferrell, offers many great insights into the atonement of Jesus Christ. So now, I hope to capture the feelings and thoughts of this humble heart of mine on paper. In doing so I seek the inspiration and guidance of the spirit.

Before we can truly understand the blessing and saving power of the Atonement we need to understand what it is we are being saved from. In announcing his own mission, Christ quoted the prophecy of Isaiah saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”[1] Christ was to become known as the Savior, the Redeemer, the Deliverer. Indeed, He preached deliverance to the captives. Who are these captives and to what are they captive?

Christ later taught that “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.”[2] It appears form this verse that when we sin we become subject to “the power and captivity of the devil.”[3] John taught that “he that sinneth is of the Devil.” But what does this mean? How are we subject to the devil? James E. Talmage taught in Jesus the Christ that Judas Iscariot had, through sin, effectively surrendered his agency to Satan. In other words when we sin we sacrifice a portion of our agency to the enemy of our souls. We are no longer completely free to make our own choices. As Paul counseled “let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body.”[4]

Paul also taught that we should be careful “lest any of [us] be hardened through eh deceitfulness of sin.”[5] James Ferrell explained that this hardening and deception is illustrated in the response of Adam to the Lord when asked if he had partaken of the fruit. Adam began to justify himself and blame Eve. Eve likewise blamed the serpent. When we sin, our natures become changed. They become corrupted so that the way we see the world is distorted. We see ourselves as guiltless. We don’t need the Savior. Someone else is to blame.[6] In this sin “we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”[7]

Another of Satan’s lies to which we become subject when we sin is described by Elder Uchtdorf. He said, “Satan, “the father of all lies”, “the father of contention”, “the author of all sin”, and the “enemy unto God”, uses the forces of evil to convince us that this concept applies whenever we have sinned. The scriptures call him the “accuser” because he wants us to feel that we are beyond forgiveness. Satan wants us to think that when we have sinned we have gone past a “point of no return”—that it is too late to change our course. In our beautiful but also troubled world, it is a sad reality that this attitude is the source of great sorrow, grief, and distress to families, marriages, and individual lives. Satan tries to counterfeit the work of God, and by doing this he may deceive many. To make us lose hope, feel miserable like himself, and believe that we are beyond forgiveness, Satan might even misuse words from the scriptures that emphasize the justice of God, in order to imply that there is no mercy.”[8]

Sin is not a system of carefully kept tally marks in the heavens. Nor is it a card system of all our transgressions which will keep us from entering heaven. Nor is Sin truly a single stain on our robes that must be removed before we are worthy to enter into the Celestial Kingdom. Sin and righteousness are not some abstract things external to our souls. In fact the very nature of our souls is changed when we Sin. This change takes us away from Christ and our Heavenly Father. It blinds us to the reality of the plan of Salvation and gives the Devil power over our decisions. How then are we free?

Christ taught that “Truth shall make you free.”[9] How does truth make us free? When we se the truth of our own sinless and helpless state; when we see that we cannot possible overcome the bonds of sin by ourselves, we have an opportunity in that moment to turn to Christ to free us. As He himself said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”[10]

How does Christ save us from the captivity of sin, in effect save us from ourselves? With the understanding of the true nature of sin and why we must be saved from it, we can better understand just what the atonement was. Alma taught that Christ would “take upon him the sins of the his people.”[11] Knowing that sin subjects us to the power of the devil, in Gethsemane, Christ was in as Talmage said: “the supreme contest with the powers of evil” an “hour of anguish when Christ had to meet and overcome all the horrors that Satan could inflict.”[12] The Savior’s perfectly righteous character allowed Him to remain sinless even when bound with the same chains which bind us. This is what Paul meant when he said that Christ “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”[13] Paul also explained that Christ “who knew no sin,” “was made to be sin.”[14]

Christ was therefore placed under the exact same temptations I am. He was handicapped by the effects of my previous sins, as well as the afflictions, pains, sicknesses, and infirmities, that I have suffered. Yet, because of the attributes which made his character perfect, he was able to resist and overcome the power of the Devil. He overcame the effects, the captivity, of sin. He broke the bands of the second death which is spiritual death.

Because He has literally and perfectly been “where we are,” and yet remained sinless, when we turn to Him and qualify ourselves for His grace through our humility, broken hearts, and contrite spirits, He “knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations.”[15] As Paul taught, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.”[16] Christ’s temptations were not just those he experienced in his own mortal life. He does not understand temptation in general terms. Rather he knows intimately and perfectly the temptations that we face and the sum influence of our previous choices as well as the circumstances over which we have no control. Having broken free of the same chains which bind us, He knows just what character attributes he needs to bestow upon us to enable us to likewise break free. This is the enabling power of the Atonement: the Grace, or divinely given strength, to do more than we ourselves are able.

Therefore when we repent and come unto Christ, we are truly made “a new creature.”[17] This freedom from the power of sin to cloud our minds, is what the Bible Dictionary means when it teaches that repentance is: “a change of mind, i.e., a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world.”[18]

Elder Bednar taught about repentance. He also teaches about the next step in our progress to “be perfect, even as [He] is.” “The gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses much more than avoiding, overcoming, and being cleansed from sin and the bad influences in our lives; it also essentially entails doing good, being good, and becoming better. Repenting of our sins and seeking forgiveness are spiritually necessary, and we must always do so. But remission of sin is not the only or even the ultimate purpose of the gospel. To have our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit such that “we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually”, as did King Benjamin’s people, is the covenant responsibility we have accepted. This mighty change is not simply the result of working harder or developing greater individual discipline. Rather, it is the consequence of a fundamental change in our desires, our motives, and our natures made possible through the Atonement of Christ the Lord. Our spiritual purpose is to overcome both sin and the desire to sin, both the taint and the tyranny of sin.”[19]

This change of heart that comes about through the power and grace of the Atonement is one of the greatest goals we can have here in mortality. The freedom from the taint of sin leads so smoothly to the development of Christ-like attributes. Elder Hafen Described the process this way: “We grow in two ways—removing negative weeds and cultivating positive flowers. The Savior's grace blesses both parts—if we do our part. First and repeatedly we must uproot the weeds of sin and bad choices. It isn't enough just to mow the weeds. Yank them out by the roots, repenting fully to satisfy the conditions of mercy. But being forgiven is only part of our growth. We are not just paying a debt. Our purpose is to become celestial beings. So once we've cleared our heartland, we must continually plant, weed, and nourish the seeds of divine qualities.”[20]

An integral part of overcoming the damning power of sin, is recognizing the need for the Savior and humbling ourselves sufficiently to seek his help with real intent. The Lord taught that, “The Sabbath was made for man.”[21] Perhaps the most important thing we can do on the Sabbath is partake of the Sacrament. As we eat and drink, “in remembrance of [Him]”[22] we are given an opportunity to realize anew our dependence and need for the intercession of the Savior.

Perhaps that is why Paul, in talking about the armor of God, about protection from the power of sin, said that we must “pray always.”[23] It seems that if there is always a prayer in our hearts, that is if out thought and desires are turned to God continually, that we would always retain in remembrance our need for the Savior. We are less likely to be deceived by darkness when we are focusing on the Light of the World.

In this vein I can better understand James admonition to “count it a joy when ye fall into many afflictions,”[24] and Paul’s exclamation that “we glory in tribulations.”[25] Trials and afflictions are in reality opportunities to remember the Redeemer and our need for his help, thereby taking the first step in freeing ourselves for the captivity of sin.

Likewise our weaknesses and imperfections should be seen as a wonderful opportunity to remember and experience the grace of God in our lives. In Paul’s words: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”[26]

This understanding has been an invaluable blessing to my life as I have struggled with my trials. For reasons I do not understand the Lord has allowed me to be tempted and afflicted with feelings of Same Gender Attraction. But understanding the nature of sin and the compensatory power of the Atonement has greatly increased my faith in the Savior’s ability to save me from the chains that I have allowed the devil to place upon me. I know that He can give me the strength necessary to break my own addictions to pornography and masturbation. I am completely unable to do so myself. I have tainted my own soul by yielding to the enticing temptations of that evil one who is seeking the destruction of my soul. However, the infinite power of the Atonement, of which I am not worthy, can break those bonds and free me. I have witnessed and felt that power in my own life. I know that these things are true. As I continue to strive to do good and become more Christ-like, the Savior will bless me with his own attributes. I am eternally grateful for what Christ has done for me. He has made it possible for me to leave this world ready to meet Him. “For I shall see Him as He is, and I shall be like Him.”[27]


[1] Luke 4:18

[2] John 8:34

[3] 2 Nephi 2:27

[4] Romans 6:12

[5] Hebrews 3:13

[6] The Peacegiver, James Ferrell

[7] 1 John 1:8

[8] Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Point of No Return,” Ensign May 2007.

[9] John 8:32

[10] John 8:36

[11] Alma 7:13

[12] James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ

[13] Hebrews 4:15

[14] 2 Corinthians 5:21

[15] 2 Peter 2:9

[16] Hebrews 2:18

[17] 2 Corinthians 5:17

[18] Bible Dictionary, “Repentance.”

[19] Elder David A. Bednar, “Clean Hands and A Pure Heart.” Ensign, November 2007.

[20] Elder Bruce C. Hafen, “The Atonement: All for All.” Ensign, May 2004

[21] Mark 6:27

[22] Luke 22:19

[23] Ephesians 6:18

[24] James 1:2

[25] Romans 5:3

[26] 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

[27] 1 John 3:2

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Looking Upward

In General Conference a year ago Elder Wirthlin talked about an eternal principle. I have seen this principle prove true in my own life over the past couple of days. He said that we will all have Fridays in our lives, and he wasn't talking about end-of-the-workweek Fridays. He was talking about Suffer-the-Atonement-be-betrayed-get-crucified-and-forsaken Fridays and watch-the-Savior-of-the-world-die-and-all-hope-with-him Fridays. Elder Wirthlin then said that no matter how dark and difficult our Friday's become, we need to remember one thing: Sunday will come. Again, not have-to-sit-through-meetings Sunday, but rather Rise-from-the-dead-in-Glory Sundays and Witness-the-Savior's-resurrection Sundays.

Thursday morning was definitely a Friday for me (see last post). However, since Thursday evening, I have been living in Sunday. I feel a need to testify of the blessings of the Lord. In doing so, I don't mean to offend anyone. This is just what I have witnessed in my own life.

Thursday night I met with my Bishop. We talked for a while about "P" and then began to discuss the interview with Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman. I let him know how I felt about the attitude that many leaders and members of the Church (especially BYU-I religion teachers) have that I have named Wickmanism. It is the "Quit feeling bad for yourself and just get over your problems. They are just the now. Eventually, you will be happy. Just trust us." attitude. I told my Bishop that sometimes that was hard for me to really believe. He then explained that one way to view this challenge is as a special opportunity to exercise faith. He said that when we have all the answers to and things are going well, especially when we are blessed as soon as we keep the commandments, our faith gets to be lazy. It is only in the times when we don't understand and when it is hard to believe that our faith is tested and stretched and allowed to grow.

I don't know why, but that really hit me as true. I had never thought of it that way. So in a way I can feel sorry for all the Mormons who live the "ideal" life. As C.S. Lewis said(and I am paraphrasing): We have no room to be proud of our blessings and the ease of our life. When things go well, we should look and say: If I had been stronger, the Lord would have put me in a more difficult position. I think the opposite applies as well. When we look at our lives and think "Damn, this is hard. The Lord must not care about me very much." We ought to look and say "Wow, the Lord must know that I am pretty strong and capable or else he never would given me such a difficult assignment."

My Bishop also pointed out that he agreed with me. As he read the interviews the though had come to him that Elder Oaks has had someone very close to him experience SSA, whereas Elder Wickman had no understanding of the issue and just recited the "correct answer." I felt a lot better that my Bishop felt the same way.

So, the next morning in my Ed Psych class I had a really neat experience. There has been this guy in my class that I have sat next to all semester and tried to get to know better. At times I have felt like I wasn't getting anywhere with the friendship. Just a note: He is married, too and the same age as I am. For the most part, I am really not sexually attracted to him althoug ther have been moments. (More on that in a minute) Anyway, our professor asks us a question and gives us two minutes to discuss it. Well, this guy turns to me and says, "So what are your plans for next weekend?" I told him we didn't have any. He says, "My wife and I wanted you and your wife to come riding with us. Would you like to?" So, since my wife and I moved back from our summer on a ranch in Nebraska I have had to sell all my horses and really miss riding. That was a major stress reliever for me. I am so excited about getting to ride, but that pales in comparison to the excitement of having another male ask me to do something with him.

Then he starts to ask me what I thought about Elder Oaks talk in this General Conference 'Good, Better, Best.' He tells me that he is really concerned about how he is going to handle all the different activities as a parent and wanted my advice. We talked after class for about twenty minutes. The whole time I am just standing there thinking, "I can't believe this is actually happening. Here I am talking to a guy who respects me enough to talk to me about something like this." Anyway, It really gave me hope that I am not doomed to failure in building healthy male relationships.

Then that evening, my wife decided to stay at her parents house after work and encouraged me to call my only real friend from High school that I have see like twice since I got home form my mission. I know, pretty pathetic. I was doubtful that he would have time seeing that I was calling him for the same night. Well, he did. We got together and went out to dinner and spent about 4 hours just talking. I had forgotten just how much we have in common. I was on cloud nine the whole evening. It felt so good to relate to another guy and feel like he cared about and understood what I was thinking and feeling. I am probably going to confide in him about my SSA sometime soon. I made him promise that he wouldn't let another year go by. We kind of committed to getting together once every other week or so. That will be really good for me.

I have noticed that as I develop healthy, intimate relationships with other men, that sexual attraction to them fades. I remember at times in high school fantasizing about this friend of mine, but as I spent more time and built a very strong friendship with him although we didn't have much time to hang out later in High School, I no longer felt anything for him sexually. It just seemed wrong. The same thing has happened with this guy in my class. I was really attracted to him at the beginning of the semester, but now I just can't think about him in a sexual way. I respect him too much.

After my wife's hell week at work, last night she was a lot more relaxed. We talked a lot about how I felt and she was so understanding. I really love her. I am so glad that I can talk to her and not have to be all macho, but can express my feelings and still feel like she respects and loves me. I got her an appointment for a massage today and she was a lot more relaxed and happy after that. We had a great evening together.

I'm sure that there are countless other "Fridays" ahead for me as I continue my climb upward. However, I know that Sunday will always come. One last thought that has been on my mind since my Bishop mentioned it: I actually am glad that the Lord does not work on a short term basis. He is in this thing for the long haul, until we are like Him. I know that I am a hell of a long way from that point and if the Lord worked on the short term, He would have given up on me a long time ago. I am so grateful that He is patient and willing to give me all the experiences that I need to become like Him. However, that blessing comes with the "challenge" that the Lord doesn't work on the short term. In other words, we need to be as patient with Him and His time line as he is with us. I know that is not easy. It takes a tremendous amount of faith. But how could we develop the faith necessary to return to live with Him if everything was given to us immediately?

I know that the Gospel is true even if some who are called to lead the Church are imperfect. I know that Christ lives and that God is our Heavenly Father. Most of all I know that they love each of us and are far more patient, understanding, and willing to forgive and help us than we are ready to elieve. That doesn't mean that they will make it easy, but they will make us more like Them. I am so grateful that I am not in this fight alone. I cannot begin to describe the blessing it is to have others, my wife, good friends, and particularly you who read thins and send support and advice. Thanks for helping this lost traveler who is just trying to find his way back home.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


This is really going to be a vent session. I'm sure I won't feel quite this way later today, but these feelings are very real for now.

Sometimes I get so angry at the way the Church handles issues like same gender attraction. The advice is just to pray more and read your scriptures then everything will be okay. I wish that even just one of the apostles had faced these feeling in his own life. Maybe then someone would begin to give counsel that really is helpful to those in the situation.

I really don’t know what more could be said. I just get frustrated with all the promises that I hear on such a regular basis. The biggest among these is if you keep the commandments, you will be happy. I am keeping the commandments. I say my prayers. I read the scriptures daily. I am not happy.

I feel so lonely. Sometimes I can’t imagine the gay lifestyle being any more lonely or difficult. I understand temptations, but feeling this strongly from so deep in my heart is just cruelty. If God allows me to feel this way and still demands my obedience to a law of chastity, how can he be considered loving?

I've had a rough couple of day's with my relationship with my wife. She has had some rough days at school and that frustration has carried over into our relationship. So now I feel really alone.

It is so easy to believe that there is a man out there who would be willing to help me feel wanted and appreciated and still value my needs and desires. Maybe not. Maybe not. Maybe this is as good as my life is meant to get. I guess I should just be content with the hell I’m living.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Longing and Fear

I haven’t journaled nearly like I should have. So, this is going to be long.

I just had a very emotional dream where a mission friend of mine and I became friends again. He wanted some food from the country we served in. Anyway, I patched things up with him in the dream just before I woke up this morning. It was such a powerful dream. The feelings were so strong even after I woke up. He lives here in the same town as I do, but I haven’t seen him once, even though he’s been home for over a year. I had some pretty deep and powerful feelings for him on my mission and although I tried so hard to cover them up, I felt like he figured it out just before I got transferred. I simply haven’t had the guts to contact him and see how he responds.

Last weekend my wife and I were in Wal-Mart when we ran into a friend form High School that I haven’t seen since graduation. He was one of the first guys I ever really had a crush on. We had a few classes together and I wanted so badly for our casual relationship to be something deeper that I turned to fantasizing about sexual “male bonding.” Those feelings for him as well as the deeper emotional needs came flooding back to me that night. It is sometimes hard to truly believe with all my heart that acting on my sexual desires won’t fulfill those emotional needs.

I know that I need to some how develop healthy relationships with other men, but I am scared. I just don’t know how. I guess the feeling that I am having strongest right now is one of regret. I truly regret having let so many opportunities for friendship slip right through my fingers. I have been so afraid of re-experiencing the rejection I felt as a child, that I still keep myself emotionally detached and when the other guy doesn’t seem super excited about a the friendship, I cut him off. I can’t believe I have been so stupid! There are so many mission and High School friends that I could try to rebuild friendships with. But I don’t.

I want to justify myself and say that I am too busy, but that is a lie. I choose to spend the time in the safety of my home with my wife. I know that is a good thing, but I’ll never fill my deep needs for male companionship and friendship if I don’t try. I’m too afraid. I really don’t know what I’m afraid of. Rejection? If I never put myself on the line, I can’t be rejected because of who I am. Would rejection really be any different than never trying? Yet, is it really possible for ME to develop a relationship that is meaningful and fills my needs? Or will being around another man and getting closer to him, just make my longing for something more worse?

Who am I anyway? I have so long identified myself by labels and interests. Wrestler, Piano player, good student, cowboy. I like good music. I like to read. But who AM I? I believe I am a son of God. But what does that mean in my life today? I can’t bring myself to consign myself to the happiness that homework and work bring. Isn’t there more to life? Can the purpose of this life really be to just get through each day without leaving too many things undone? Sometimes I feel nothing more than obligation to live the perfect life: family, school, work, church callings, is that really all there is to life. Then why does my life feel so damn meaningless?

There are moments when I feel like things are okay and that happiness really does come from living by the Gospel, then I have days like today and I just want to put a gun to my head and pull the trigger. The inner contradiction just seems like to much to handle. I hate it.

Earlier this week I had a really good talk with my wife about my issues. I discussed my need to feel friendship with another male. She was so supportive and kind. She listened for 4 hours while I vented. Then I went and gave in to my habit of P and M that night! What the hell was I thinking? That had been the first relapse since my “Decision.” I told her about it the next afternoon and she was so good to me. I don’t deserve her. I am going to do better, but days like this really make it hard to control my feelings.

We had a really nice time at my wife’s family on Thanksgiving. It is a little hard because her brother, who’s 20, is pretty good-looking and really cool as well. I feel so awkward around him. I feel so damned awkward around any guy. Then we spent today with my family. I helped my dad with some projects around the yard. That was good. It took my mind off of things for a little while.

I read an e-mail conversation between my dad’s siblings about Sister Beck’s General Conference Talks. Apparently a number of women across the country have spoken out against her portrayal of the ideal LDS women. Although I really didn’t feel too strongly about that particular issue I felt that the discussion could have just as easily been about a General Authority’s comments about Same-Sex Attraction. A couple of my Uncles and my Aunt were fairly blunt that anyone who felt bad about the Church’s portrayal of the “Ideal Life” must be steeped in sin and not have the Holy Ghost with them. Anyone who was depressed about anything relating to the ideals of the Church just doesn’t have a testimony. I wanted so badly to write something. It made me so angry!

If anyone were to observe my life it would seem so good and perfect. The thing is that nobody gets to see what goes on inside my head. No one else has to deal with the feelings raging inside me.

I don’t know what I was really trying to say other than venting my feelings and confusion. Sorry it was long. Thanks to anyone who is reading this.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Up and Down

This process is sure a long one. Thanks so much for your supportive messages. I means so much to finally have others know and still want to help.

I spoke with my Bishop on Thursday night. I was nervous about how he would respond. I didn't think I could handle anything but support. He just said, "I'm unfamiliar with Same Gender Attraction, but have received a lot of information form Salt Lake. I need to study up on it." He was so supportive and positive. He was so grateful that I told him and was starting the process of changing. He told me he did have experience with pornography and gave me some very helpful counsel about how do deal with that addiction. I was amazed at the love he showed me. He gave me a blessing and the part that really stuck out to me was that he blessed me with patience, not only with myself as I work to overcome this, but also toward those who would try to help. It felt so good to finally know that I had done what I needed to be right before the Lord. I know that the repentance process is far form over, but the hardest part is.

Yesterday I was hit with the realization that this battle is far from over. The previous couple of days had been really easy for me as far as the feelings for other men are concerned. I guess I had kind of hoped that the process was beginning to work But today they were back with a vengeance. It was a little depressing.

Also, I think that the reality of the situation hit my wife. She was very quiet. She doesn't feel that she is quite ready to talk about all of her thoughts and feelings. I can totally understand that. I have had years to work out how I feel about my situation and I'm still in the dark. I can only imagine how she is feeling after three days. Still, it is hard. She is really my only friend and with our relationship strained, (still filled with love, but awkward) I struggle. She did tell me that she still loves me and needs to realize that I am the same person I was before. I've been dealing with these feelings all along; the only difference now is that I am getting help and she knows.

This morning has been a lot better though. I have learned that I need to be proactive about being ready for feelings and temptations. I simply cannot afford to neglect daily prayer, scripture study, or serving my wife.

This journey sure isn't going to be easy. Before when I turned to P and M to satisfy my urges, I was able to somewhat repress them. Now I can only pray for the strength to resist long enough for my heart to begin to change. No, this won't be easy. Still, I know there is hope. I cannot begin to describe my feelings of gratitude to the Lord. The reassurance and love that I have felt form him are overwhelming at times. Has he taken away my trials? No. But I no longer feel so alone and powerless. Someday, the pull of attraction to men will have no power over me. Until that day? I keep reaching upward.

Again thanks so much for your advice and support. I will continue to stay in touch.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Making the Decision

I wrote this on Tuesday of this week, the day I decided to finally deal with my feelings of Same Sex Attraction rather than giving into it. I post it here in hopes that it might be of some help to someone else who is struggling to make the same decision.

Right now I am standing on a narrow ledge. I’m hundreds of feet down from the top of the cliff. Above me is an un-climbable wall devoid of hand holds. I cannot ascend more than a few feet. The only direction I can go now is down. That is what I’ve been doing for the last year and a half. Now I am here as far down as I can inch. Below me is the great unknown. I see clouds far below me. They look like little sheep, they’re so far down. The ledge on which I stand is very narrow. I have barely enough room to stand. Here on this little ledge I am being torn apart. Feelings inside of me are screaming “Jump!” These voices are as real and as powerful as anything I’ve ever known. They tell me that freedom is below. True happiness awaits. It is easy to believe. Things both above and here on the ledge are hard, unhappy. I don’t fit in. This part of my being yearns for something real. It swears that it is right, natural. I never asked for these feelings. It’s not my fault that they’re here. Maybe I do belong down there, wherever that is. Jump! Go for it! Do it before it’s too late! Live true to yourself, don’t let them make you miserable. Why shouldn’t you just do what you’ve always wanted?

Another other part of me resists. I look down into the void below. As I contemplate jumping, it tries to convince me not to. It throws out so many reasons. Some say it isn’t worth it. Only pain and misery lie at the bottom. Still, I know that pain and sadness are part of the life above as well. Why is one pain better than another? Your family will be disappointed and hurt. Your wife will be devastated. How could you do that to her? How could you be so selfish to do just what you want? These feelings are wicked and wrong. What have I always wanted? To feel loved, accepted. To belong and to be valued. Why can’t they understand that. Why is it so wrong to need a friend, to need some one who cares about me? Why must I always be the one to sacrifice? They always say sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven. Where are they? Why am I so unhappy and unfulfilled? How can it be my fault? If these feelings are such an abomination why are they here inside of me? Why do I have struggle so hard just to get through life? Where is the joy? I have tried so hard, so very hard, to live as I should. To do everything just right. How can a life so miserable, be divinely appointed? I’ve tried so many times to get back on top, I doubt I actually can. One by one, the first army of voices defeats and disarms every attempt to stop me from jumping. The war inside me is destroying the battlefield. I feel my heart being torn, broken. Tears pour from my eyes.

And then, from deep inside another voice cries out. It is barley audible, scarcely more than a feeling. “Please,” it pleads, “remember.” Remember what? All of my pain? All of the things I’ve never experienced? It doesn’t react defensively to my anger. In the same soft tone it answers. “Remember how you’ve felt when you were close to me. Remember the times before, on other cliffs, when you were ready to jump, so tired of the struggle. You were not alone. You are not alone now. You’ve never been alone. I Am here with you. You don’t have to jump. You don’t have to do this. I promise that you will not be happy. The others up above don’t always see clearly. That life is not what matters. However, it is the only way that you can find your way to the life that awaits. You are not as alone up there as you might think. I have friends who will help you. They won’t judge you. You will meet many, even those who claim to be my friends who will still hurt you. But my friends will only help you. You’re right. You can’t get back up. But with their help and with my power, the way is open if you so choose. I know that right now the choice is not easy. The way to return will be difficult. It may take a very long time. But I promise that it is worth every second, every pang of discomfort. You aren’t sure right now whether you believe me. I do not condemn your uncertainty. I can only plead that you will believe me. I have been in your shoes. I have heard the voices you hear, but please, please don’t listen. I was able to resist their allure. And yes, they are alluring and they are powerful. But I did it and I know you can, too. I will help you and guide you every step of the way. I know the way to a happier life. Take my hand, please.”

I paused for a moment, the truth of his words slowly sinking into my heart. I had felt happy before, fleeting moments. I had somehow survived other ledges, other calls to jump. Could the promise of a life beyond the one above really be true? If it was he couldn’t jump. If all the voice said really was true, it would be worth anything to achieve it. Could I find the path to true joy above? Would I find the love and companionship I needed up there?

At this thought, the first voices respond with demonic power. They scream inside my head and heart. “Don’t listen to his lies!” they order. “That’s just the remains of the false traditions of your fathers. Nothing matters but the here and now. There is no happiness to be found above. Jump now before it’s too late!” The last voice is quiet but strong. It resists the attacks of the first easily. In the quiet, meek pleas I now see a wrath against these feelings. He sees them as his enemy, our enemy. The enemy of the man I could become and the life and joy I could have. He strikes with vengeance and precision. Still the feelings in side of me are strong. They fight with a fury I have never known. The war inside me is destroying the battlefield. I feel my heart being torn, broken. Tears pour from my eyes.

I know of the strength and power and rage of these feelings. Somehow now they seem weak, even afraid. Many times before, I had thought “Maybe I could try to climb up again.” At the thought the feelings seemed to give up, but now I see that they were secretly laughing. “Go ahead and try.” They would scoff. They knew I’d fall again, sliding further and further down the cliff. Each time they grew stronger. Each time they pulled a little harder and a little further. They continued this game, until now I am here as low as I can go without jumping. Why don’t they play the game again? Could it be that they fear the power of the voice? Could he really have the power to bring me back to the top, free from their grasp?

I look upward and see for the first time a thin cord just above my head. A small note is attached to the end. I can barely make out the words. “Pull for help.” Was this the way to meet the friends he promised to send? Would they really come? Or would I simply prolong and enlarge my pain and misery, falling again to this same place just later, maybe too late to find the freedom the feelings promised? I don’t know. I really don’t. But I do know one thing. I can’t stay here. The war will destroy me. I either jump or reach up. Down the easy, fast way or up a painful, difficult process. What do I really want?

Breathing deep, I close my eyes and. . .

Reach upward.