Sunday, April 26, 2009

Callings

I am always on a natural high after our MoHo parties--meeting new people, wonderful hugs from all these gorgeous men, fabulous music sung at the top of our lungs (I hope the neighbors enjoyed it--the windows were open). And I usually come away having learned something, having felt what I think are strong spiritual impressions about my purpose in life.

In addition to many Mohos as usual, Ron Schow came last night. He is a professor at Idaho State University where he has taught for the past thirty years. He is the author of numerous books and journal articles and was one of the editors of Peculiar People: Mormons and Same Sex Orientation (Signature Books, 1991). He is also one of the authors of A Guide for Latter-Day Saint Families: Dealing with Homosexual Attraction (2002, available at Deseret Book). Yes, he is an active member of the church, but is also very much a gay advocate and, like us, would love to see a change in the way that the church deals with gay members.

Part of the reason he came (besides to meet us, and other bloggers, I assume) was to ask Scott and I to help him with what he considers a mission, to help members of the church really understand what being gay is all about, and learning to be more tolerant and accepting. As Ron and I sat at the kitchen table, conversing between insanely loud spurts of kareoke, my heart was touched, and I swear the spirit was speaking to me again, that I have an important calling to do, that I am on the right path, and that I do not need to be afraid.

I was overcome with the significance of that calling as I bid Beck farewell, he and I briefly speaking of his wonderful wife, and marveling at my acceptance of everything. How could I possibly be this accepting of Scott and everyone else that walks through our door without God's help? He has given me what I need to do what He needs me to do, and I can't give up--I can't give up at school or at church, and I also cannot stop going to church--I am needed there more than anywhere else!

I felt the calling again as I read a message to an email list I am on for friends and family of gay mormons. The message was written to a mother who is new to the list and to the idea of her return-missionary son being gay.

"Yes, it is lonely. Your life will never be the same, but you will make many wonderful friends and gain much understanding and grace. And you will probably believe, as many of us do, that this is a new calling for us. For if not us...who?"

The feeling was confirmed in my heart again this morning as I pondered the messages in word and song in Sacrament meeting. The first talk was about the Welfare program of the church, emphasized by sweet personal stories of service for those in need. The final message of the talk was that the main blessing of the welfare program is letting people know that God loves each of them and is mindful of their situations.

The story was shared of the Prophet Elijah, and how God told him to seek food and shelter from a poor widow, who didn't even have enough food for herself and her son, I believe. But God told Elijah to ask, and the widow to share, and though it did not logically make sense, they had faith and obeyed, and were both blessed, the widow blessed with all the food she needed for her family to make it through that tough time.

I compared this story to my own situation: there are those who would argue that God would never ask us to do something that seems contrary to what the prophets or inspired leaders tell us, but I am certain that God has given me a message over and over the last few months. I am certain that I not only need to be tolerant of gay marriage, I need to rejoice in it so that I can completely fulfill my calling, helping my gay friends to know that God loves them and is mindful of them. I don't think that message would come as strongly to them if I had the opinion that "God loves you, but..." Does that make sense? I have come to completely accept it and agree with it so that I can completely love and accept each of them, and express that to others that I come in contact with at church and school. Eventually, attitudes will change, even if there will be a lot of battles along the way.

I participated in a musical number today in Sacrament meeting that goes right along with the idea of following God's plan for me. It is written by Alice and Larry Beebe:

Here am I, take my hand
Savior lead me through this land.
Hear my humble plea for courage,
In this world of sin and strife.
Oh, Savior please guide my life.

Here am I, take my hand
Walk beside me in this land.
Let me hear the voice of knowledge,
Understanding truths today.
Oh Savior, please lead the way.

Here am I a warrior, in the battle of saving souls.
Here are these my willing hands.
Give me strength to renew this sacred trust,
Sacred trust.

Here am I, take my hand
Savior lead me through this land.
I stand ready now to serve thee,
Hand in Hand eternally.
Standing firm with my Savior,
Obedient to promises
Oh, Savior, I come to thee.



Do you think in the life before this one that I make a promise to my Savior that I now have to keep, one that will not be easy, but will certainly be worth it? I think so, I really do.

In Sunday School (aren't you proud of me for going to all of my meetings, while Scott was off after our Sacrament meeting with Ron Schow to a different Sacrament meeting and Sunday School?) we were discussing Doctrine and Covenants section 46 and spiritual gifts. After we read through the entire section of material, the teacher asked if we thought there were any other spiritual gifts that were not listed in the text.

The first one that was suggested was a gift of compassion. Has God given me personally the spiritual gifts that I need to complete this calling? Yes, I believe he has, but it will also require the gift of courage, and as courageous as I may seem sometimes, I really do need more.

Relief Society took a shocking turn today as the lesson finished by discussing the 10 virgins and the qualities that we need to develop within ourselves to fill our own lamps with oil. The teacher ended by asking if we had seen or heard about Miss California in the Miss USA pageant. She asked a sister who nodded to tell us about it and then other people began to comment. Even I commented about hearing her say on the news that she felt she had been blessed with the opportunity to share her viewpoint with the country. They talked about her courage to stand up for what she believes, and then of course the comments turned into her standing up for what is right.

The time was up and the meeting ended. As I gathered hymnbooks and put them away, I was in awe with myself for not being upset. I was able to sit through a brief gay marriage discussion and still feel calm and happy at the end.

I also thought about, how, if there had been more time, I would have liked to say that I was impressed with Miss CA's courage to say what she believed, but that I am equally impressed by Mormons who have the courage to say what they believe, even when it is the opposite view in favor of gay marriage. I thought of my courage and my daughter's courage to interview for that documentary, and now I hope with all of my heart, that like Miss California, my voice will be heard by those who need to hear it all over this nation.

I am invigorated and blessed by what I have learned about myself this weekend, for the person I am becoming and for the renewed strength I have found to carry on.

8 comments:

Damon In CO said...

Sarah-

I believe you're right...that there is a calling there for you and Scott. Much like what Carol Lynn has been working toward for decades...it improve love and compassion within the Church for those who are different.

You do have a beautiful ability for compassion and therefore love. Though it might seem daunting at times, what a beautiful gift to have been given.

Wish I could have been at the MOHO party yesterday. But I'll be heading that way in just a couple of weeks.

Talk to you soon.

~Damon

Grant Haws said...

Last night as I entered your home I felt an incredible love and acceptance, even though I never had technically met any of ya'll. It was an incredible example of Christ-like love. Thank you for being such amazing people.

AmbiguouS One said...

Just keep listening to Him, Sarah. He is the only person that knows how your story is to play out.

Alan said...

Joan of Arc rides again.

Beck said...

My biggest regret last night was not being able to spend more time talking with you. I feel your love and compassion for me and my family and I am touched tremendously by it. We'll find more ways to connect, I'm sure. Please keep it up and know that as you fill our buckets from yours He's filling yours from His!

Thanks for being there for me.

Bravone said...

I am so glad you are feeling reinvigorated able to carry on. You have blessed many live, mine included. Thank you.

Daniel said...

In what I'm about to say, I dont want to put the burden of the outcome of mixed orientation marriages on the wife. What the man feels and believes and decides plays a tremendous role, obviously, in what the couple ultimately decides to do. But as far as I see it, there are two things a wife can do when her husband comes out to her. She can react with fear and disgust, not recognizing his needs as legitimate, and not becoming involved in the gay aspects of his life, OR, she can embrace him for who he is, bring honesty and openness to the relationship, and become involved in that aspect of his life--almost like becoming his gay partner. I think the latter is more likely to have a healthy relationship that lasts. And when I think of the latter, you and Becky are the two that come to mind as the perfect example. If I had decided to marry a woman, I would have hoped it was a woman like you. And if I marry a man, I hope he is like you!

Ron Schow said...

Sarah

I keep thinking of the concept of a MOHO Ward as Scott blogged about last week. Not all, but many of us have our own wards where we participate and where we are leven in the loaf. But nothing can keep us, if we wish, from creating a giant network of support and fellowship which is basically a "virtual LDS ward."

Everyone affected by this issue or friendly to those in this ward can be a member. We can socialize and have parties and family home evenings if we wish. All we need to do is come together online regularly and in person from time to time.

Beck would be good at leading the high priest group and organizing home teaching, I am sure. Sarah and others could keep an eye on Relief Society and the women's and children's activities. There were actually quite a few children at the Sat night party who seemed to be having lots of fun. As noted, we have lots of musical talent and maybe we should have both informal and more formal music at some gatherings. In my little branch for several years now I've been in charge of family home evenings, which have just been moved to Thursday nights because of a conflict in the use of a shared chapel in our assisted living facility. We don't have to do home evening on Monday nights I've learned and maybe this virtual ward could pick a night once a month and someone would volunteer to host it. I would be happy to line up surrogate fathers and mothers to lead discussions and do fun stuff. I'm sure others know of resources of that kind. We have many who are good with food preparation for refreshments.

Suppose we were to volunteer to take on various callings, some online and some face to face. One thing we could do is try to make sure everyone is welcome regardless of their current affiliation with the Church. Scott and Sarah have this wonderful inclusive spirit which makes everyone feel at home. We can all follow that lead. We can also find the gay friendly wards in the Salt Lake Valley and the members of our virtual ward who are out in their own wards and who have friendly bishops. That is what Scott and I did on Sunday was to visit a gay friendly ward and bishop and hear a Gospel Doctrine class given by a MOHO.

So, what do you think? Could we do many things of our own free will and bring to pass much righteousness?