Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vessel in God's Hands

"Your Father in Heaven recognizes you as a virtuous daughter of Zion, qualified to touch the hearts of others. He recognizes you as a vessel through whom He can perform his labors, through whom He can touch others to answer their prayers."

Never have I felt a fulfillment of my patriarchal blessing as strongly as I have tonight. It is so late, and I must get up so early, but I have to put my thoughts of gratitude to God down in writing right now.

I had a mostly down day today. It didn't start out too bad, just remnants of frustrating thoughts from spending the previous evening with Scott's family. Then an email came from Scott that posed a wonderful opportunity to let our voice be heard, but which made me both excited and extremely nervous. As many thoughts went through my head, I began to again second-guess personal revelation that I have received from God regarding gay marriage. I began to feel evil, deceived, apostate. I came home from work and read an email on a mailing list I subscribe to that made it worse.

Scott wasn't home to talk to and get my feelings off my chest, so I chatted with a friend to find comfort, discovering that he had been going through many of the same struggles today. (Or I guess at this point in time writing this post, yesterday. :) I hoped I would feel better from the comfort I felt in the chat and reading some blogs, but as the evening went on, I felt worse and worse. I thought that if another of our friends came over, then I would feel better. This friend also had a tough day, so he just wanted to stay home and wallow. Scott managed to convince him that visiting us would help him feel better, too.

As I listened to his struggles that day, which were a direct result of the struggles that the other friend was having, a major thought struck me. I realized that maybe the reason that I had been struggling so much is that God had a mission for me today, and in order to do it, I had to completely understand what this first friend was feeling and going through. I shared that thought with the friend that was in our home, and he told me that I should email and tell him.

So, as the evening went on, I left the conversation with Scott and friend 2 to go email friend 1. Friend 1 then responded to a text that friend 2 sent to friend 1, saying that he was feeling pretty mediocre until he received an email from me.

Wow, the spirit pulsed through me, and peace filled my soul. God was able to use me to help some of his precious children. I don't understand why I have been blessed with this opportunity. I am grateful for the struggle I went through today, and it has filled me with more peace regarding God's answers to me than I have ever felt. The roller coaster ride called life continues, but the highs keep getting higher, and I know without a doubt that God is pleased with what is in my heart and is therefore allowing me to serve others in his behalf.

I will try not to question God's purposes for me the next time I have a bad day. I will gladly go through the pain that I might more fully experience His peace and love when the trial is over.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

On a lighter note...

I need to get the title of my last post off of everyone's blog rolls...

Sunday I went to choir practice, and we began learning several new songs. One of them was "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" which I LOVE!

I was really tired from staying up too late the night before, and in our house we kind of have a habit of finding dual meaning in words or ideas to make them funny. (Thanks Scott)

Anyway, as we started singing, I chuckled to myself after the words "...some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above..." I couldn't help but visualize "flaming gay" angels with their beautiful voices! It was a pleasant thought and made me smile.

(Photo is from the movie "Were the World Mine" which Scott and I are excited to watch when it becomes available.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Let's talk about Sex

(Warning: this post contains some mature material but is not graphic. Proceed with caution.)

I remember when Scott came out to me wondering if we would ever have sex again. Life suddenly seemed so different somehow.

In fact, I told him that I supposed there was no reason for me to need sexy lingerie. He agreed and said probably not, but if lingerie made me feel better about myself, made me feel prettier or more sexy, that regardless of the fact that it does nothing for him, it still might be worthwhile overall. I’m not sure that was the answer I wanted at the time.

A day or two later, Scott started to come onto me after we had tucked ourselves in bed for the night. I was so uncomfortable. I thought he was just doing it for me. I kind of started to freak out (like a panic attack of sorts). He kept reassuring me, calmly and lovingly telling me to relax, that everything was okay. I told him he didn’t need to do this just for me. He replied that he wasn’t, that he *did* enjoy intimacy with me. I calmed down a bit, but it definitely wasn’t the best experience ever.

We had to talk. I had to know exactly what all of this meant to our sex life.

Since being gay was kind of a new idea to him as well, he couldn't answer all of my questions regarding our courtship, honeymoon and marriage so far. He claimed to be attracted to me, but not in the way he is attracted to guys. I guess the dating/courtship feelings had to do with love and romance being new to him, so he assumed that it was the way it was supposed to be. When we married, he was looking forward to sex and the new experiences and feelings that come with it (we were both only 21, after all!), so he was not repulsed by me at all, but rather attracted to the idea of being attracted to me. And since he has never had romantic experiences with anyone but me, he has had nothing to compare it to that would make it seem any less than it is.

Here is an approximation of how our conversation went, since I can’t really remember exactly.

Me: Are you attracted to me?
Him: (stammering a bit) yes… (but?)
Me: How can you be attracted to me and not to any other woman?
Him: Well, I am more attracted to who you are, to your personality. And I think I have learned to react to you physically because you are the only one I have ever been with, but I can never imagine that with any other woman.
Me: But you can imagine it with a man?
Him: (pause) yes
Me: Do you ever think about being with a man while you have sex with me?
Him: (timidly) Sometimes (sad face). I don’t want to make you feel bad.
Me: (sadly) Thanks for being honest with me.

One of the problems he said that he had with our sex life is that I would climax first and then seem to be uncomfortable waiting for him to finish (I tried to hide my discomfort, but I am not very good at faking anything). He was always in fear of hurting me because he wasn’t as quick as I was, which is basically why our sex life had spiraled down to nearly non-existent. (As a side note: condoms made his problem worse, but birth control pills have always made my anxiety worse, so I had given up on them, leaving condoms as the best alternative. We have recently fixed our birth control issues with surgery. Yay! I never have to be pregnant again!)

We decided that I would be honest with him from now on about how I was feeling during sex, and we would stop at any time if it became uncomfortable. Just adding that honesty factor took the pressure off of him emotionally and actually made it easier for him to relax and enjoy himself, which means he’s actually more likely to climax sooner, which often means there isn’t a problem to begin with.

Also, I don’t remember if we discussed this or if it was just something that occurred to me, but if Scott’s main concern was that I was not feeling good, and that could be avoided by him fantasizing about a guy once in a while to help him along, and I benefit from it too, then what is the harm in that? As a result, realizing where his thoughts might be when we are having sex does not bother me anymore, because I know that it is just making the experience better for both of us, and that ultimately, Scott loves me and wants me to be happy, and is happy being with me. I used to ask him what he was thinking and feeling during sex, but I no longer need to know. I know he loves me, and that is enough.

I already mentioned in a previous post that our anniversary in August was nearly like a second honeymoon for us, although it has slowed down since then. And while I assume that we are not as sexually active as many heterosexual couples, I am comfortable with what we have and how it works for us.

I wanted to mention something about how all of this affects my self-image and self-esteem. I have always lacked confidence in the way I look. I could make a long list of all of the things I hate about myself: acne (that has never gone away), grey hair (first one at age 16, way too many to count now!), dark hair on my arms, bony and pokey wrist bones, numerous moles that resemble freckles on my arms, awkward clumsiness, now extra fat on my belly and thighs, etc., etc.

It is likely that in the back of my mind I used to think that one reason our intimate life might have been lacking was that I was not pretty enough. I don’t think that anymore. I still frequently struggle with my appearance, but I do not think it is connected at all with my sex life (or lack thereof). I know that Scott would be attracted to me if he could be, and that it is neither his fault nor mine that he is not necessarily as attracted to me as I would have liked him to be.

I guess I need to find a way to improve my self-image that does not rely on attraction or sex. I know, I need to learn to see myself as God sees me and not worry about how I look. But maybe someday I will find just the right makeup or skin-care regimen that will help. Or maybe some new jewelry...

...or, maybe I should use my birthday money to buy myself a new lacy nightgown, just for me!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Freedom and bonding

Yesterday I was thinking a lot about how my complete acceptance of Scott has brought us closer. I spent some time writing up my feelings in an email to a friend. It was like the spirit was guiding my thoughts and words. I did not intend for the email to be long, just short and supportive, but then the words started to flow and I could not stop them.

At times it would be nice to have a confirmation of some kind that gayness is not eternal. I would love to know that Scott will eventually be attracted to me and for eternity! But then I wonder if he will be the same wonderful person he is, or if losing that attraction would also change his personality and interests. I'm pretty sure that Scott's feelings will not change in this life, but I'm not sure that they will change in the next life either. Many of you guys have discussed this very topic on and off on your own blogs. I feel that Scott's gay feelings are actually an inherent part of his personality and interests, which are what I was attracted to about him in the first place, and what makes it so that we get along as well as we do. I personally like gay men best, and I feel that the benefits of being with Scott far outweigh any disappointments that come on occasion.

I have decided that the eternal possibility of being gay is not a question that Heavenly Father is going to answer for me right now. For some reason, I have to accept Scott for how he is without assuming that someday that will change. I am so grateful to have him in my life, and while sometimes I cringe at the thought that he is not attracted to me like I always thought he was, I have been able to move past that and just be grateful that he likes to be intimate with me because he truly wants me to be happy (and I believe it makes him happy as well, if for nothing else than to make me happy). I am also just so grateful that I am blessed with such a wonderful best friend as my eternal companion. At this point I have faith that God is leading my life and that I am where I am supposed to be right now, and whatever the future brings, whether Scott's gay feelings are set for eternity or not, I know that somehow everything will work out like it is supposed to.

It seems like one of the biggest problems in mixed orientation marriages is trust. I am so incredibly grateful that Scott was able to share his news to me (about being gay) within just a few weeks of discovering it himself. I know it was incredibly hard for him. He had no idea how I would react. In fact, we have had previous conversations that made him believe I would react badly and he was prepared for the worst. But as hard as it was, I was blessed to accept him. His parents believe that we were blessed to have this come into our lives after we had the time we needed to already have an incredible relationship with each other.

Of course our marriage wasn't without its lack of intimacy (and some conflict because of it) as most MOMs are, but I had already worked through the frustration and was beginning to accept that Scott is just not as horny as I am :), but that it didn't mean he didn't love me. I wanted him to seek a medical reason for it because he appeared to be as frustrated with it as I was. And then lo and behold, we find the answer, and in finding the answer, it made it easier to be intimate. It made it more selfless. Each of us became much more concerned about making the other person happy and much less about ourselves. We communicated more about what was good and what was not so good without worrying about hurting each other's feelings. With his revelation to me in July, our anniversary in August resembled our honeymoon. It was wonderful time together. Now our intimate life has slowed down again, but this time it is not so frustrating.

Okay, I didn't plan to put all that about our sex life in there, but there it is. Now back to the topic at hand. Trust.

So, as I was saying, I was lucky to have Scott fully communicate with me early on, but that does not mean I think any less of the men that are not yet able to be that open with their wives. It is SO hard for them. As I read blogs and communicate with other gay husbands, it seems to be such an overwhelming thing for them to be completely open with their wives about who they are. They do not feel like they have our complete trust until they can tell us anything about the things they think, feel, dream about, etc., and we are willing to listen and love them without passing judgment, acting hurt, or trying to give advice. And it is not easy to do! At times Scott has been hesitant to tell me something, but then I convince him to tell me anyway (like a dream he's had or something), and as he tells me, he is so worried that telling me will hurt me. And sometimes it does hurt a bit; at first it hurt a lot, but I tried my best to forget about myself, push my own pain away, so that I could be there for his pain. If he thought that it hurt me every time he tried to be open with me, then he would stop communicating with me so openly. And, as a result of his being so open with me, the hurt I used to feel when he told me things does not hurt as much any more. The pain is less and less as I realize how much he really does love me, really does not want to hurt me, and really is not responsible for the way he feels or thinks about things.

For some reason, God blessed me to know that I needed to love Scott unconditionally without trying to judge him or convince him of how he should live his life. The result has been that he has drawn closer to me, trusted me with all of his deepest, darkest secrets, and asked me for advice. I try not to tell him what I think he should do unless he asks for my opinion, and then usually I still turn it back to him to decide. I will usually say something like, "Whatever you think is best. I would suggest, though, that you pray about it to know that it is okay." The freedom that I give him helps him to have a greater desire to not be free from me. It increases the bond between us.

This same topic was mentioned by a couple of people on the Northstar friends and family list yesterday.

One thing a wise bishop once told me was that sometimes, when our loved ones are struggling more than we've ever seen them struggle before, and all we want to do is help in the worst way, sometimes that's what we do, we help, in the worst way. I know this may not apply to you, but it brought great comfort to my life. The bishop continued on and said sometimes all you can do is just let them know you love them, and let them fight through it themselves. Sometimes this is the case, and sometimes we need to intervene into their lives. I pray that you will have the divine guidance you are seeking to receive answers in how to help your son.

And another...

...But the advice you were given about loving them as they are is so valuable. I think this takes time to cultivate however, as you deal with initial hurt. I remember [someone] teaching a class in Evergreen saying how dare we try to deny our children their free agency. That really hit me. It has been easier in the years since. He talks to us more and is more open. I do believe that as we live the gospel more perfectly we will be blessed. And I do realize that this challenge is as much for our learning as theirs.

I feel like I am giving a talk or something, but "In closing" :), I just want to testify that I know these thoughts are so true, that as we allow our gay loved ones more freedom to choose their own path, that the bond between us can increase, and chances are greater that our open acceptance will more likely help them choose the path that WE want them to choose. Not always, but sometimes. And if they choose another path, it is not our job to judge them, but to love and support them unconditionally.

Wow. Serendipity. I am so grateful for my blog. :)

One last thing, married MoHos, and I know some of you are sick of me saying this, but tell your wives EVERYTHING, the sooner the better. You can't go back in time, but regret does not do any good at this point. Forget regret, or life is yours to miss! There is NO DAY BUT TODAY! (Thanks for the quote from Rent, D., it is my new motto!) Imagine how much of your lives you are missing by not telling and starting the healing and bonding that could be there for you! Of course, as always, follow the spirit to know what is best for your own life personally, because my advice may not be for you, but I am so grateful for it in my own life!

God bless!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Be Ok

It has been a good day today. I've found myself humming "Be Ok" by Ingrid Michaelson. It came on the radio last week one day when I was feeling down, and I have had it in my head off and on ever since. Good, simple, heartfelt plea.

I just want to be ok, be ok, be ok, I just want to be ok today...
I just want to feel today, feel today, feel today
I just want to feel something today
I just want to know today, know today, know today
Know that maybe I will be ok.

Yesterday I was a bit depressed about recent lessons in Relief Society and I couldn't figure out how to get out of my funk. I eventually made a decision and emailed the RS President. In a nutshell, I told her that I was having a hard time with one sister's lessons in particular, and that I was going to be missing RS on the second Sundays for a while.

During my prep time at work, I was listening to an album by Kenneth Cope, "Women at the Well". One song in particular ("If Thou had Been Here") is so meaningful to me as I sang it a year or two ago with a friend in the ward as part of the Easter program in Sacrament meeting. The song is from the view of Martha and Mary, wondering why Christ did not come soon enough to heal their sick brother. Then they realize that because He came so late, the miracle was much more dramatic as he raised Lazarus from the dead. As I sang through the words while grading papers, I couldn't help but think that often in order to accomplish the greatest things, God does things we don't understand that hurt us at the time, and then later we can see His whole plan and be grateful for it. Wow. Everything will be ok.

It seems that yesterday was truly a manic Monday for many of us. On the 5 minute or less ride home from the elementary school, I found out that the neighbor girl had been called a liar by one of her friends, and it was something that I knew personally she wasn't lying about. I said something to calm her tears, and convinced her that everything will be ok.

Then my oldest son shared with me that he had told some of his friends about his plans to crochet an afghan, and how the friends laughed at him (I didn't think to warn him of that when he told me his plan the night before, dang it!). "Why are boys expected to like sports; I don't like sports; and why isn't it okay for a boy to want to crochet a blanket? I don't get it." Tears started to sparkle in his eyes.

As the neighbor girl climbed out of the mini-van, I gave her a hug and told her that even if her friend didn't believe her, that the important thing was that she wasn't lying, and Heavenly Father knew that, too. She smiled, said thanks, and walked across our yard to her house. As I watched her go, I realized that my words to her had been words to myself as well. This lady in Relief Society might not believe that it is okay for me to disagree with Prop 8, but I know that Heavenly Father knows what is in my heart, and everything will be ok.

Today when I woke up, the sadness was gone. As I faced the school day, I was distracted by my desire to send the RS president another email. Try as I might, I still couldn't stay on task, so I finally decided to give into my distraction. It didn't take long; I had written part of it the day before.

Dear RSP,

I just felt like sharing this quote. I heard about the lesson on Sunday. I thank my Heavenly Father for giving me a reason to stay home. I know without a doubt that He had a hand in my decision to do so. I am grateful that He is so mindful of me. I pray for [the teacher] to be mindful of me as well. I know she has good intentions and that she doesn't mean to hurt me, or if she does know she is hurting me, that it is only for my eternal salvation, which she feels is worth the pain, I guess. The problem is that in reality my eternal salvation is only at risk because she is pushing me away, otherwise I believe I would be fine. (This same problem is happening in wards throughout the church with others that hold my view and hers.)

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Latter-day Saints are free to disagree with their church on the issue without facing any sanction, said L. Whitney Clayton of the LDS Quorum of the Seventy. "We love them and bear them no ill will."

Thanks for your support. I am so sorry to burden you with all of this.



P.S. I would like to share my thoughts with how I stand with all of this at the moment. I know I kind of told you a couple of weeks ago, after my testimony, but maybe I should put it in writing so that you can understand where I am coming from a little better. Feel free to share this with anyone in the ward that you think would benefit from it. Thanks

I have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that the LDS church is blessed with leaders that are inspired to do what is best for the church. I believe that God had a purpose to inspire the leaders of the church to be involved in the campaigns against gay marriage. I do not believe that they would have been so involved in the political process without having prayed about it first.

However, that does not mean that I am not entitled to my own inspiration and revelation for myself. Due to personal experiences, my mind and heart cannot side with banning gay marriage. I have been a member of the church my entire life, and I have never had this kind of inner conflict before, and I also know the process for receiving personal revelation. I studied both sides of the issue, I attended the temple, and I prayed, but still I was in turmoil and could not find peace in agreeing with the leaders of the church. Finally, instead of praying to know that what the church was doing was right, I prayed to know if it was okay to have the opinion that I have. Finally, I was able to taste the sweet peaceful feeling of my Heavenly Father's love. He spoke to my heart and told me that it is okay for me to have the view that I have.

I don't know why he has revealed this to me when the church has received other revelation, but I think it is because he has given me an important calling right now to help and love some of his precious children and bring them unto him. I cannot fully empathize with them and help them to feel of God's love for them without having the peaceful view that I do for same-sex marriage. Just like a speaker shared in our regional conference meeting, I cannot ignore the promptings and calling that the Lord has given me at this time. Also, I cannot let the fact that others fear for my soul and call me to repentance throw me back into turmoil. I know what God has told me, and I know that He knows it, and I cannot deny it. I feel that I need to stay active in the church to set an example for my friends, but it is getting harder and harder to do so when I am continuously called to repentance by a sweet sister in the ward.

I don't know what else to do or what else to say to help you understand. I can only pray for you that you too will find peace, not with gay marriage, but rather that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing right now in my life. Trust me that my trust is in God, not man, and that I must follow his promptings to me personally. I am not going to be an anti-christ and spread a message against the Prophet of God. But I am going to spread a message of peace and love toward all men.


She responded this time.

Sarah - Thanks for sharing your thoughts and trusting me. I appreciate your love and concern. May the Lord continue to bless us in our individual lives and may you know and feel of my love for you. Love Ya, RSP

The rest of the day, I just felt like everything was going to be ok.

I just want to know today, know today, know today
Know that maybe I will be ok.

I DO know, I WILL be ok, and I AM ok today.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


35 years ago today, a beautiful, dark haired baby girl was born to a family that did not expect her. The parents were aging (mid-40s), the two children in the family well on their way to being raised, and so the four of them did not expect that God had a special gift in store for them.

My mom always said that my brother prayed for a baby sister, and that is why God sent me. When my mom found out that she was pregnant, she just thought, "Here we go again." You see, she had several miscarriages over the 12 years since my brother was born, so she figured it would just end badly yet again.

My dad first thought that my mom was too old to get pregnant (she was 43), and then after it happened, that they were too old to care for a baby, that she was too old to go through with the pregnancy safely, that it might just terminate itself before too long anyway, so he suggested an abortion might be a good idea. My mom disagreed, thank goodness, and I'm pretty sure that my dad is glad she did. It took me a while to get over that one when I found out in my late teens, but I know my dad loves me, and so I do not let it bother me. I'm certain that I am his favorite. :)

When the pregnancy continued and they were the parents of a new baby girl with absolutely no complications, they welcomed me into the family. My mom wondered at times if I had been a picky spirit child, and that the reason she kept having miscarriages was that I was not happy with that particular body or particular time to be born. One of her pregnancies actually ended in a stillborn baby girl. I cannot imagine going through an entire pregnancy and having the baby born dead at full term. She has wondered over the years if that body was meant for my spirit, or if we have another spirit that is part of our family that only needed to get her body and then immediately go back to work on the other side. Someday I'm sure I will find out.

Anyway, my brother was 12, my sister 15, so between the four of them, my mom said that I never had a chance to cry. I was spoiled rotten. My dad would walk me around the block at night on his shoulder to get me to sleep while I sucked my thumb and held onto his ear. (I have always had an ear fetish.) My brother cried harder than I did when he dropped my slippery body while trying to get me out of the bath. Instead of getting in bed with my parents when I had a bad dream, I would go get in bed with my brother. He married when I was 9, and he and his wife spoiled me rotten. My sister married in her late 20s, so before she had a boyfriend or a husband to take to work events with her, she would take me. We enjoyed outings at Jazz games, Lagoon, Raging waters, etc. I was the official babysitter for both my brother and my sister's kids for many years. My nieces and nephews didn't want to go visit Grandma and Grandpa, but rather Aunt Sarah.

Then there are my jealous cousins. At one point a few years ago, my Aunt mentioned to my dad that my cousins (her children) were tired of visiting my grandmother and hearing "Sarah this..." and "Sarah that..." Grandma flaunted my photo with Governor Leavitt when I graduated with my masters degree, and everyone at the assisted living center knew all about my youngest baby boy, born only a month before she died, because she couldn't stop talking about him and me to everyone she met.

Over the years I have always had a hard time with my self-esteem. Why me? Why am I the favorite? I really am no better than the rest of them. We each have our own individual talents, strengths, weaknesses. I blushed or rolled my eyes any time I was reminded of Grandma's love for me, but I think fondly of her love and of the love of my nieces and nephews. I thought that my closeness with them would never go away, but sadly it has as they have followed their own paths, some away from the church.

Now I have a new family in addition to the old one. They seem to think that I am also one-of-a-kind. They say things about me like "absolute angel" and I wonder again, why me? Certainly there are other people more worthy than I am of such praise. But I am so grateful that I can apparently be an angel to them, that I can be an instrument in God's hands to let them know of his love and acceptance of each of them.

So today, on my 35th birthday, I have been given the greatest gift possible from my Heavenly Father and each of you...the chance to be your angel, and the chance to have you as angels in my life as well. Thank you for your friendship and for being part of my journey the last 6 months. It was 6 months ago today that Scott came out to me, and what I thought at the time was the worst possible half-birthday gift has turned out to be one of the greatest gifts ever.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thoughts on God

Twice this week I have commented on other blogs regarding God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. In both cases, someone has been struggling with the connection they make between the LDS church and the gospel of Jesus Christ or God.

I think at one point these things were all interconnected for me as well.

But somewhere along the last 6 months, I have gradually come to the conclusion that they are not as connected as we think they are. I have some sort of memory of someone, maybe even Scott, blogging about this before, but I hope it is okay to re-visit it in my own words. My memory of such a blog was that someone referred to the church as merely a vehicle of sorts that gives us a framework in which to worship God and learn about the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.

That framework is run by men, I believe they are inspired men, and that sometimes God speaks to them directly, but sometimes He allows them to act on their thoughts and feelings and make their own decisions about how the church is run. Sometimes the leaders change policies to fit what they feel is best for most members of the church at that point in time, even though it may not be right for all members, but things change again when they need to.

But do you really think that God would forsake his children that worship him in other venues? Do we have to have the "Gift of the Holy Ghost" to feel his spirit and know that he lives? Or don't you think that sometimes he whispers words of inspiration to leaders and members of other religions? I believe He does.

However, I still believe that the LDS church is the MOST true church on the Earth. But I also believe that God is okay with us seeking the framework that will help us be closest to Him. And if that is NOT the LDS church, then so be it.

I guess what I am trying to say is that if we get to the point that we have a problem with something the church does, we cannot just assume that the entire framework falls apart. Easier said than done, I know, but I strongly believe that God lives, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and that God loves all of his children, regardless of what "framework" they choose to worship him from.

Now that makes me wonder if other parts of my testimony have changed. Do I still believe in the covenants (baptism, temple endowment, etc.) that are required for eternal life? After pondering that thought this morning, I believe I do. I have had too many spiritual experiences with such things just to now discount them as bogus. When I was Primary President, every baptism I attended was an incredible spiritual experience. And I will never forget the year that two of Scott's sibblings were married a month apart. The first one was a civil ceremony, the second was in the temple. Many of the people in attendance were the same and both occaisions were happy ones, but words cannot describe how different the overall feeling was from one event to the other. I was particularly touched at the temple sealing as I compared the two, with memories of the other one fresh in my mind.

So how do these things fit together? How can God require these covenants and yet possibly be okay with his children seeking him in other places besides the Mormon church? I don't know, but I know in my heart that it will all work out. He will make it work out. We each need to do the best we can in this life, follow the path that God has for us, and He will judge us according to our hearts and what we have been able to do with the circumstances we have been given.

I realize that this is the Gospel of Sarah, or maybe the teachings of men mingled with scripture, but it brings me peace, and helps me to stay active in the LDS church even though I don't agree with every teeny tiny detail. Isn't that better than discounting everything I have ever known and giving it all up? I believe so, and so this is where I will stay, at least for the time being, until God directs me to follow a different path (if and when that ever happens).

Friday, January 9, 2009

Strength through acceptance

Some of the blog posts from the married mohos (in mixed orientation marriages) this week have made me wonder again why I seem to be so different from other straight wives, and why our marriage seems to have such strength that others might be lacking. Maybe we are just new to this and still going through the "honeymoon" stage of Scott being out to me. But I think it is more than that. I think it has to do with my total and complete acceptance of the mohos regardless of their path in life.

Scott and I talked about it on the phone, and now he has blogged about it. I know there are some people who read my blog that do not read his, or may not realize at the beginning of his post that there may be some message for them down at the bottom, so I want to quote from it here:

...it is beneficial and self-affirming to know that there are people who do accept us for who we are, and especially to know that the people who are closest to us and who mean the most to us are willing to accept us and love us without requiring or expecting us to change ourselves to fit some pattern that they have created for us.
At least once or twice every week Sarah turns to me and asks "Why am I so weird?" She reads the MoHo blogs and the posts on the various Spouse and Family lists that she is on and is frequently reminded that our relationship and situation are a little bit abnormal, mostly due to how comfortable and open Sarah has been with the whole situation. So... why is she so weird? I believe (and we've talked about this) that the one thing that has made all the difference in how well we are doing is how open and honest we have been able to be. And the main reason we have been able to be so open and honest is because I discovered very shortly after I came out to her that she was willing to accept me as I am, with no attempts to change me and very little regret for what "should" be or what could have been.
Sarah's acceptance of me stems from the same roots that my acceptance of others comes from: She understands me. Right after I came out to her she read No More Goodbyes by Carol Lynn Pearson. The book provides numerous anecdotes and points-of-view from gay people (mostly members of the Church) who explain and describe what it means to be gay and Mormon. The stories focus on "goodbyes"--goodbyes from suicide, from the breakup of mixed-orientation marriages, and from individuals or families leaving the Church because of the incompatibilities between their beliefs regarding homosexuality and the Church's teachings. They are poignant and touching and frequently sad and they give the reader a good glimpse into what goes on inside the head and heart of a gay member of the Church. Reading the book gave Sarah an injection of empathy that has allowed her to understand and accept not only me but also all of the other friends we have met through the MoHo blogs.
Knowing that she accepts me (as a man who is attracted to men) has gone a long way toward helping me feel better about myself. Knowing that she accepts others (including men who are in relationships with men) has been the icing on the cake. To be perfectly honest (and we've talked about this, too) if Sarah wasn't as understanding as she is--if she wasn't willing to allow me to be who I am, and to support me and love me without trying to squeeze me into some "ideal husband" shape--I'm absolutely certain that we wouldn't be as happy together as we are, and I'm not entirely sure that we would still be together at all. There's a very real chance that her acceptance of me has made all the difference is our remaining together vs. separating or divorcing.
We all want to be accepted, and we will seek acceptance where we can get it. If our gay loved ones ask for and expect acceptance from us and are denied or disappointed, they will seek acceptance elsewhere. Too often, "elsewhere" will prove to be a bad influence or a bad environment and one poor choice snowballs into an avalanche of bad decisions. If, instead, we provide the love and open arms and non-judgmental acceptance that they seek so that they don't need to turn to others for it, we have a chance to influence them for good.
This influence must be exercised carefully. Constant reminders of what is right and what is wrong (with emphasis on the "wrong") are really little different from closed arms and closed hearts. The Savior didn't lecture the woman taken in adultery, or confront her with a list of her sins or misdeeds. Instead, after dismissing others who would have condemned her, he gently reminded her to "sin no more". Our influence is most effective when it is exercised in the form of kindness, of good example, and of loving acceptance. We need not accept that a particular action is right when we believe it to be wrong, but we should accept an individual's right to choose his own path.
I told him after I read his post that the entire thing should be published as an instructional pamphlet for gay members and their family and friends, but I have no idea who would be willing to publish or distribute it. I've said it before and I'll say it again, but he is so good at putting our discussions into writing. It always helps me clarify what I was really thinking and trying to say.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Dear Beloved Husband,

I love you. I often feel I don't deserve you. You are so good to me.

But sometimes you need to stop trying so hard to make up for what you can't be.

Sometimes you need to stop trying to convince me that the wound isn't there, or stop trying to bandage the wound or heal the wound.

Just let it be.

And hold me while I let it hurt.

I have my ups and downs, and when I go down, I don't do it half-way. Be it hormones or tiredness or disappointment that start me spiraling downward, or worse yet, all of the above. I know it must be frustrating and you must feel helpless, but when you let your exasperation show through, it makes it worse.

Please just hold me and let me cry. Don't try to convince me I have no reason to cry. Don't try to help me stop crying. Don't tell me what to do or what not to do. Just hold me. Let me rattle off all my frustrations whether they seem rational or not. Let me sob, my body shaking with each breath I take. Let me cry. Cry with me if you want to.

And if you can't handle my tears, then tell me you love me and go in another room to sigh and raise your voice. Write me a letter to tell me how frustrated you are with my inconsolable and ridiculous tears. Then tear it up and write me a letter to tell me how much you love and appreciate me. Don't just let me find out by reading a comment about myself on someone else's blog. I need validation directly, at least a little more often than I get it.

Maybe you need the same from me.

When you need your turn to vent or your turn for me to just hold you, I will try to be there for you, but don't try to do it when I can't handle it. Let me have MY moment to hurt.

I am tempted to message you anonymously through your chat window to see if I can get more compassionate understanding from you there. :) I'm sorry for this idea. I know that you love your new friends so much and you get such a great internal lift when you are able to be there for them any time through any situation. I admire you for this great calling that you have taken upon yourself. I really do, and your friends have become my friends, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve with you. They each fill an important place in my heart.

But I am selfish, and I want a bigger piece of this incredible compassion that I see you have for others for myself as well.

Maybe it is wrong of me to put this on a public forum for all to read. I love you so much and I don't want to hurt you. You are truly so incredible.

But keeping these words to myself might also be selfish. Perhaps one of my readers needs to see my sporadic anguish. Perhaps one of my readers can let their feelings gush out with mine as they read my words, perhaps relating to their own situations. I hope you can understand why I posted this and forgive me for it.

I love you.

Just hold me.

And let me cry.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Random Thoughts for the New Year!

Happy New Year!

It has been a good week, although it went by WAY too fast.

Monday started lazy until one of our children bashed his head into the corner of a video cabinet. He is fine but ended up with staples in his head to hold the skin back in place. I was so glad it was this particular child, because he played on his gameboy the whole time and couldn't care less that the doctor was sticking needles in his head. My two older children would have been screaming at the very idea!

Tuesday...I don't remember. I think I was pretty lazy. We had some nieces/nephew stay overnight, and we got a bit of cleaning done for our moho party. My emotions were getting the best of me for several stupid reasons (part of it was recovering from Sunday's events) and by the end of the day I had a severe emotional breakdown.

It is amazing what a bit of sleep will do, and by Wednesday I ready for a long, busy day that was oh, so worthwhile! We cleaned and shopped and cooked (okay, the kids and I cleaned, Scott shopped and cooked. :) Then our new friends and soon-to-be new friends started to arrive and I was in heaven. One man I probably knew 15 years ago in college. (We found out at the very least that we had some friends in common.) Others arrived very nervous, but then settled in. As one of them left early for a family party and I saw him out, I was so touched by his sincere gratitude at being with us for a little while, and also for his struggles right now. God bless him!

By 2 a.m. when we were still playing games and having a wonderful time (Ezra talks about some of the best moments in his blog, and Andrew claims to have enjoyed it, too), everyone seemed so comfortable. They didn't have to hide who they really are, even in front of our children. And our kids got the chance to make new friends with two other children that came. We even took them sledding with us the next day for the first time (they were from CA and new to the fun stuff called snow).

I wasn't sure how comfortable I would be as the only straight- female-wife present. But I was comfortable and so, so happy. That is what I can only imagine that heaven will truly be like!

Thursday was somewhat lazy. Scott cooked an awesome breakfast, some of us got VERY cold sledding (I know, the cold is nothing compared to Canada right now. :). Then the last of our guests were on their way and we were ready for a bit of cleaning, but mostly some relaxing. Unfortunately, when we most wanted to take naps and watch a movie, we had scheduled a time that our Elders' Quorum President could come visit with us. The rumors of my testimony in RS from Sunday had traveled fast, and he felt like he should make sure we were okay and see if there was anything he could do to help. He is a great man, a convert and empty-nester, and he served for a short time as one of Scott's counselors in EQ. He and his wife have both been super supportive of our family since Scott bore his testimony.

When he arrived, he first clarified that he got the message right from his wife and whomever else, that we were somewhat struggling with staying active in the church. He let us know that he had attended the temple on Tuesday so that he could be fully prepared to meet with us. It was a bit awkward at first as he "buttered" us up with comments about how he looked up to Scott as the EQ president when they moved in, and how much he adored our family. He then started to ask us clarifying questions and it felt for a brief moment like we were back in the bishop's office, being interrogated. But then I remembered who we had there with us, our old friend, and not the bishop, and finally I just started to talk and let him know exactly how we were feeling, that our marriage and relationship is great, that we had researched and prayed about prop 8 and still felt like Heavenly Father was telling us it was okay to disagree with it, that we felt like others in the church (not just our ward) feel like we cannot possibly have that opinion if we truly have testimonies of the gospel. I told him how there is one sister in the ward (without telling him who) that I am having a particular hard time with. We told him about our "calling" from God, about our awesome New Years Eve party, and about all the good we are doing and all the new friends we have made.

He let me know that as I was talking about my struggles with the sister in the ward, that his impression several times was to tell me to pray for her. For her to back off in her comments, for her to be more fully aware of my feelings and needs to be loved and accepted by her without judgement. He also suggested that if it came down to it, it might be best for me to just talk to her about how I feel directly; be blunt, as I think he put it. Anyway, some new ideas to mull over.

He let us know, with some humming and hawing, that he agrees with Prop 8, but he also kept clarifying that his experiences are different than ours, of course, and could influence his opinion differently. He was not judgmental or preachy, but he did implore us that no matter what we should stay close to Heavenly Father and stay active in the church, like as if those two statements mean the same thing. We promised him that we would always stay close to God and follow his promptings, but that we did not know what the future might bring with our activity in the church, and that we would do the best we could to stay active for as long as we feel like that is the right thing for us to do. Scott admitted that were it not for a wife and kids, he was certain that he himself would have stopped going to church weeks ago.

Anyway, interesting encounter to say the least.

Friday, I took the kids to see The Tale of Despereaux. Great movie, very quotable, great message about being different and being yourself and being happy. I want to see it again, and then maybe I will dedicate a post to reviewing it.

That day in the mail we received a note from another sister in the ward, expressing her concern, prayers, love and hope for our family. She shared some personal information with us regarding someone they know that has adopted out a baby that now has two daddies. What a nice gesture to share that with us. Now I feel like I want to share Scot's blog (Cog) with her. Maybe I will.

The last few years I really haven't tried to set any new years goals because I never seem to accomplish them anyway. But if I were to set some goals, they might include the following: (I may add to this list as I think of more.)

  1. Don't take things so personally! Try to be happy no matter what other people say.
  2. Get to bed earlier
  3. Spend less time on the computer
  4. Swear less, especially some of the more vulgar words that I've begun using more and more
  5. Strengthen my relationship with God through more diligent prayer and scripture study (Maybe I could even start with just one verse of scripture and some sincere pondering and prayer about it every day)
  6. Spend more quality time with my children
  7. Stop procrastinating (grading, laundry, whatever!)
  8. Clean the basement
  9. Help get the yard finished
  10. Help get the basement finished
  11. Spend less money so that we can better afford the last 2 things
  12. Catch up the kids' scrapbooks, which are like 2-3 years behind
  13. Edit home video and put it on DVD so we can actually enjoy it!
  14. Take better care of myself!(Emotionally, physically, etc.)
  15. Maybe attempt to lose some weight. 20 pounds would be nice, but I would be happy with 5!
Of course this list will have to start tomorrow, since I have already failed at many of them for today. (Note the time on this post when I started, and I didn't finish until after midnight!)