[after my 1st discussion with the missionaries]Whatever became of that lonely and scared 18 year old from so many years ago?
I took a long walk on the way home. I was lonely and frightened, yet I felt contented. I recognized that what I had been told was truth; I also recognized that I could never again be the same. I knew that a change would have to take place in me - and I was very reluctant to change. I was afraid to take the second discussion because I knew that it would verify the feelings. But I was even more afraid not to continue because I knew that I could could not let this out of my grasp.
[after my baptism]
Being a member of the Lords church means everything to me. I now have something more valuable than anything else in the world.
That young 18 year old man child was gay. He knew it deep within his heart at the time - but he was afraid to admit it, even to himself. The very thought of being gay was the most horrible thing he could imagine. This was his ticket to a hetero-normal life. He immersed himself in his new found beliefs. He was like a sponge soaking up everything he could get his hands on. Just a few months after he was baptized he even made the fateful decision to serve a full time mission for the church - something that his family was dead set against. But, he was determined - he needed to do whatever it took so that God would look upon him with favor and take these feelings away.
It would take him three more decades before he could finally accept the real truth and utter the dreaded g-word in reference to himself.
Just as he once recognized truth when he was 18 - he again recognizes another truth. He knows without a shadow of doubt that it's OK for a man to love another man - even to consummate such love in a sexual relationship. It's not bad or evil or shameful - it's just different. It is beautiful - it can even be virtuous, lovely, and of good report and praiseworthy. And, while he has no plans to change his status quo - he is OK with other gay men seeking after these things.
But, as a gay man, he also knows that the church, which he once held so precious, doesn't take too kindly to people like him. Sure, there are words of love - words often tinged with conditions. But, actions speak louder than words. He hears his fellow saints refer to people like himself with a tone of disgust. At best, his new found beliefs would be met with skepticism. Many would brand him a heretic for daring to think such things.
He questions those things which he once accepted as truth; but, what about those feelings from yesteryear where he just knew he had found truth? What about those heartfelt testimonies he bore to others while serving a full time mission? Can those be so cavalierly dismissed, like throwing junk mail into the trash? If those things which he once held so dear are no longer true - how can he be certain of his new found beliefs?
Is truth not so rigid as he once believed? Can truth evolve? Can truth change? How long can he hold onto this paradox - these conflicting truths? Will one truth eventually dominate and consume the other? Or is he destined to live with this paradox for the remainder of his days?
* * * * * * * *
Sometimes I miss that naive 18 year old boy on the road to manhood. I miss being able to exercise pure and simple faith, like a child. Some days I wish things could go back to the way they were.
But, alas, time marches forward. Those days are long gone. And now I am faced with an uncertain future - feeling like I have no where to turn for answers - wondering if the answers are even out there to begin with.