17 August 2011

PE: Back to God

I went to Vegas over the weekend to see my family and go to my cousin's farewell. I was only there for like 30 hours, but it was really good to see my mom and sister who drove up as well as other extended family members.

I was talking with my mom, sister, aunt and uncle about various church related things. I didn't bring it up... they started talking about experiences they've had in church and how it has been hard sometimes because they don't agree on certain things. My aunt is a pretty strong feminist, so she has issues with the fact that men can marry multiple women in the temple and women can only marry one and other similar doctrines. She has also been mistreated to the extreme by church members. Anyway, I asked why she still goes. Not out of accusation, out of honest curiosity. I wanted to find out why she continues to go even though she has some big questions and problems with certain doctrines/policies.

Anyway, that sparked an interesting conversation. My uncle said if he were in my shoes, staying would be insane. My aunt and mom talked about reasons why they go even though they disagree at times. Later, though, I was talking with just my mom and sister and my mom gave me really good advice.

After explaining my situation and how it is difficult to think about God without attaching the church (the organization in which I learned of God) and how the church uproots negativity, pain and mistrust, she said to let the church go for awhile. I am letting my experience with the church destroy my relationship with God. She said I should just focus on my relationship with God right now through prayer and meditation and leave the religion thing out of it until I am spiritually healthy again. I think she is right.

Here is what I feel like I have done: Growing up, I had a void. It was a void I refused to fill and no substitute worked. That hole was my orientation, and it was a large one. I tried to fill it with church, with staying busy, with prayer, with service, fasting, trying to date women... but that hole just got deeper until I could not feel emotion, I could not feel love, I could not believe I was loved, and my spirit broke. No substitute would do. Then, I had an experience that taught me that God did not want me to look for a substitute because there was none. I learned that living authentically and accepting love into my soul by coming to terms with and embracing my orientation was the only way to fill that deep void that threatened my life. Once I accepted the real thing, life became so sweet.

But I had work to do. How will I reconcile my faith and my sexuality? According to churches and religions, I could not keep both. In the beginning, I was hopeful that I could find a way... but after awhile, I had another void in me. God. I was trying to fill it with religion. I was so determined to force religion to embrace my orientation that I got sidetracked. But religion never did agree with my sexuality. It was God that taught me that to embrace it, NOT religion. Now I realize that a church does not own or dictate my relationship with God and that it is God who I need to look to for comfort and guidance, not religion.

So, I have decided to fill this new void with the real thing. God. I am going to focus on my relationship with deity. It is a new thing for me because in the past, I used church to cultivate that relationship. Church is what forced me to think about God, read about him, etc. But right now, my spirit is still wounded by my experience. The church is just salt on the wound at this point. I hope that once that void is full and my relationship with God is strong, the wounds will heal and I can perhaps approach the idea of religion again.

I have been using blame as a way to discharge pain and discomfort, and it hasn't worked. God claims to comfort and heal. I'm going back to God.

14 comments:

Troy said...

"Now I realize that a church does not own or dictate my relationship with God and that it is God who I need to look to for comfort and guidance, not religion."

So glad to hear. And glad you are learning the importance of putting your relationship with God first. I think far to often, Mormons (or people in any other religion for that matter) often place the church in-between them and Deity, and I don't think God ever indented it to be that way. We were meant to have a personal relationship with our Creator.

Troy said...

*intended, not indented, lol.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jonathan.

I reread a post by Rob (over on Scrum Central) this afternoon that he wrote well over a year ago. He talked about many of the things you have said here. I am giving you the link to his post- maybe it can offer some more comfort to you right now. I know it gave me comfort as I reread it. Love and respect, always. Cheryl

http://scrumcentral.blogspot.com/2010/05/how-do-i-resolve-conflict.html

Anonymous said...

Hey Jonathan, its me Evan... so I know this isnt the place to say this but I didnt know anyother way to get ahold of u... Have u checked ur gaymormon email thing? I had written to u once before and u replied. alot had happened since then that prevented me from being able to reply to ur reply, but I finally was able to sit down and write out another email to send u last week. Its been a while and just wanted to make Sure eu got it and that u were able to read it. P.S. If u didnt get it then I'll resend it to u and include our privious emails so u can know who its from or what my current one is about. I'll put my name , todays date, etc in the subject bar K? bye!

Freddie said...

No matter how tenuous or doubtful the connection, your family can always give you something, even in a negative sense by default; you are made of the same stuff and share an organic experience of the world. But above that, your family have shown you true love. Cherish it. The experience of love is the key to God. Now you know how to recognize him. As they chant in the Greek burial service: The choir of saints have found the wellspring of life and portal into paradise.

Anonymous said...

Going back to God is exactly what I tried to do today. I don't want to fight. I don't want take anyone down. I don't want to blame anyone for the struggle of my heart vs religion. I don't want to spend my time crying 'injustice' to every obstacle. I just want to love, even those that hate that I'm gay. That's what God told me today.

BGM said...

I am completely with you on this one. It is so easy to forget about God, Christ and the Atonement, when those things come in a neat Mormon package. Losing faith in the church or just being wounded by it can lead us to feel that it was God that directly hurt us; when I know that God has directly loved me and held me in a warm embrace all of my life.

Jeremy said...

I think this post was good advice by those family members. A personal relationship with Deity is in my mind akin to understanding yourself. If we continuously run and avoid understanding ourselves, how can we come to understand God? If we avoid God, how can we understand ourselves? I'm glad that you are finding ways to work through your concerns to find peace!

Sam Tautua said...

Hi Jonathan,

I stumbled across video footage, which led me to your blog during research for work I am doing & I just wanted to commend you on the incredible work you have done for yourself & others.

Not only is it inspiring to see someone come in into alignment with themselves & God / Universe, but is brave & courages to address it the way you have.

I have a Mormon upbringing as well & I am grateful for the basic fundamentals it has taught me in realising what is right & wrong & encouraging spiritual growth, I however have evolved into general spirituality which makes my relationship with God & Universe direct & open to all possibilities.

Your comment about not having a church or anyone for that matter define your relationship with God, was well said!

I just wanted to commend you on your amazing journey & the work you have done to date! The world benefits from people like you.

Take care from the 'Land Down Under' (Australia)

Sam

Patty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Jonathan,

I was searching this morning for a church in the San Diego area that was gay-friendly and then I thought to look up ex-Mormons (since I was raised Mormon, didn't serve a mission, not really leaving the church, but not attending) in the area, which led me to the Affirmation website and your video and your blog. What you said in the video was exactly how I felt, when I received this information from my Mom concerning what the LDS Church believed were the options for gay members like myself.

I hope by searching this morning for a church to attend, that I am on a path to find my way back to a relationship with Christ. I could only be so lucky to find someone like you who had my foundation in faith and the strength to standup for a personal relationship with Christ that was not controlled, or altered by men.

Thank you.
David

Bravone said...

Great post. Amen Troy!

Steve

Sharon Young said...

Jonathan,

Thanks for your blog. Though, I'm not gay, I am a mormon who has always had a hard time reconciling the lds church's stand on matters of homosexuality. One of my brother's and I used to talk at length on this subject. In one of those conversations, we too concluded that the church community or environment isn't always the right place for people all the time -- in this instance because it seems hostile and, as you mentioned in another blog, church leaders have encouraged families not to acknowledge their gay children's partners and advised them to maintain other non-inclusive, non-accepting attitudes. Add on that the fact that people of conservative opinions, whether socially, politically or morally, feel most at ease in expressing themselves -- which encourages the rest of us to be much more quiet (For myself, this is more due to the fact that I don't want to bring contention into my church meetings by engaging with said people and I wish they thought the same way and were also more demure about their opinions).

I'm sure you're aware already, but there are lots of members of the LDS faith (not just your family) who would happily accept you, your partner, and the life you choose to lead, with open arms. I'm really glad you had the courage to be who you are. Admittedly, as an active mormon, I hope one day I can go to church and find more accepting, like-minded people like you sitting somewhere in the pews nearby. But I totally understand why you would choose not to be there.

Chris said...

Wow! Reconciliation is a struggle that I can`t seem to figure out for myself yet. Thanks for sharing your experiences and your process.

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