Sunday, September 21, 2008

Resisting Spiritual Complacency

Welcome to my weekly Sunday School blog.

Today we will be learning about Samuel the Lamanite, and how the Nephites reacted to being told that they were doing the wrong thing.

Following are discussion ideas and summarized comments that were shared during the lesson:

Being told we are doing wrong can make us angry. Do we ever harden our hearts against recognizing our own sins?

Instead of stoning the prophets for saying things we don't agree with (like they did to Samuel), now we simply chose not to listen to them.

Satan is trying to destroy us by leading us to believe that something the Lord teaches us is wrong.

The ways we spend our time tell us a lot about where we are on the eternal path. If we don't agree with something the Lord tells us through our Prophet, are we spending time studying the scriptures so that we can be open to the spirit's guidance on that thing, even if it makes us uncomfortable? Or do we spend our time with others who share are views and where we are comfortable?

(I'm afraid to admit that I spend a lot more time blogging and reading blogs than I spend studying the scriptures or praying.)

If we are always comfortable with what our leaders tell us, we could be in trouble because we are spiritually complacent. If we are not comfortable with every lesson and admonition, then we are more likely to do something about it and keep our spiritual welfare in check.


As I write down these comments that are swimming through my head, my feelings of guilt are lifting and I have found serendipity once again! At first I was feeling really guilty that I am questioning the Prophet's decision to be involved in the election in CA. But I just came to the realization that it is good that I am being challenged so that I do not fall into a pit of spiritual complacency.

So, self, quit the guilt already and take this as an opportunity to resist spiritual complacency! I can definitely benefit from something that is going to help me increase my personal scripture study, etc.

"For it must needs be that there is opposition in all things..."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thank You for the Music

Sorry about that last post. Sometimes I start to over-think things, and it gets the best of me.

Fortunately, during my day of depression today, I had a couple of hours of joy that gave me some energy to come home and deal with the kids and Saturday chores. Scott took me to see "Mama Mia" which I have been wanting to see all summer. Although I am a little young for ABBA, my older sister exposed me to it at an early age. So, romantic movie and all, my spirits soared as I sang along and enjoyed the show. As the credits rolled, they played the song "Thank you for the Music." And so tonight, I am grateful for music, for making me think, for making me feel--sometimes sad, sometimes happy.
So I say
Thank you for the music, the songs I'm singing
Thanks for all the joy theyre bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Gift of Music: Joy or Depression?

Tonight, Scott and I, along with our 2 oldest children, attended the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert with The Utah Symphony, guest conductor and 2 soloists. It was a very enjoyable event.

One of the soloists was Brian Stokes Mitchell, best known as a musical theater performer. He has an incredible baritone voice. He started with the National Anthem, then shortly thereafter performed some very romantic songs, starting with "Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific and then a medley of songs from the 30's and 40's. I really enjoyed listening to the sound of his voice, and then my mind began to wander as I remembered that Scott's singing voice was one of the things I was most attracted to.

...We were in our high school madrigal choir together. While we were dating, one of my favorite activities with him was making chocolate chip cookies and then sitting at the piano, he playing one clef of the music while I played the other. We would sing and sing. Our favorites included songs from The Children's Songbook (especially the duets, like "A Child's Prayer" or my personal favorite "Love is Spoken Here." As we sang, I dreamed of us someday being that mother and father together that we sang about, having our spiritual home with wonderful children. Hmm. Dreams do come true.) Other favorites included songs from Phantom of the Opera and Aladdin. (Of course, the romantic duets were the best.) And then I loved to hear him sing to me. He has an incredible bass voice.

One of my favorite Christmas songs has always been "Oh Come oh Come Emanuel." Since age 17, it has had additional meaning for me as a group of guys came singing it to me at my house, Scott coming forward with a rose and singing "Oh come with me to the Christmas Dance." I fell hopelessly in love with him over the next few months and was charmed by how romantic and sensitive and caring he was. He treated me like a princess.

And yet...

I was always more attached to him than he to me. I thought I would go crazy when I left for college. I missed him so much, and when I came home for the weekend and he knew I was coming home and then he didn't call me, I wondered why he wasn't as attached to me as I was to him.

While he was on his mission, I was pathetic. I couldn't stop talking about him to everyone I knew. The drama department performed the musical Man of LAMancha and there is a kind of annoying song that some girls sing "I'm only thinking of him, I'm only thinking of him." My roommates and friends immediately decided that was my theme song, because Scott was all I ever thought about, it seemed. here are my memories as I am listening to that beautiful baritone voice tonight, singing of all things, happy love songs. (And later, "The Impossible Dream" from Man of LAMancha). Tears began to roll down my face as I remember again that all of those years we were dating, that we have been married so far, that my feelings of love for Scott were different than his for me. I was/am hopelessly in love, with all the feelings and attractions and desire for physical contact that come with that. Now I realize that I don't really know how he was feeling. I knew he liked me and I know he loves me, but just how different is it for him? Has our entire relationship for all these years been a sham of sorts? And more importantly, are his feelings for me enough to keep him with me for the rest of our lives?

So, during the concert, he realizes at some point that I had tears rolling down my face during these happy songs, and I am sure he knows they are not tears of joy. He instantly reaches for me to comfort me and let me know of his love.

But ultimately, will it be enough?

I pray it will be. I cannot imagine my life without him.

And if it is enough, how do I keep my mind from wandering to my fears? How do I learn to enjoy romantic movies and romantic songs again without analyzing my own love life? Has my life, including what I think and what I enjoy, changed forever, or will I get it back someday the way it was? I don't think it will ever be the same again, but I hope that I can get past this "phase" or whatever it is and find joy in some of these things again.

Lastly, how do I get out of this mode of depression that I've let myself sink into this week?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Out" at the Book Group

I did it. I suggested “No More Goodbyes” for my Relief Society book group to read.

There weren’t very many there (4 including me), and the ones that were there I was more comfortable suggesting it to, as opposed to few that weren’t there that I would have been scared to death to suggest it in their presence. One lady is very knowledgeable about books, and thought it could be a good pick for a good discussion (she hadn’t ever read a pre-reader copy she received, but had skimmed it), but was wary of Carol Lynn Pearson’s “agenda”. A discussion obviously ensued; nothing too bad, and I don’t even remember all of the details. But then when one lady (a neighbor and friend) leaned over to me after I made a comment and said “Wait until you find out there is one in YOUR family”, that was it. I got nervous, I thought of texting Scott to get his permission, I wavered for just a moment and then said, “Actually, the reason I am suggesting it is that Scott is gay.”

Wow. Shock, and love. Regret for words just said. Hugs, forgiveness for words said, and a continuing great discussion, but suddenly with a different feel to it.

A main topic of conversation was how best for Scott to come out to the ward. One (the hostess) thought testimony sounded good at first (if prompted after praying to do such), but then I expressed my concern of parents’ discomfort with their children present. We decided that a 5th Sunday type of meeting with just the adults, maybe led by our friend in the stake presidency, would be better.

Decision about book: probably not, maybe something a little less liberal. I am now going to read “In Quiet Desperation” so I can recommend it knowing first hand that it would be worthwhile. I personally really liked NMG as you all know, but am realizing more and more that maybe it is not for everyone (or at least not right now). My friend did, however, take my copy of NMG home with her to read.

Anyway, then I had to come home and break the news to Scott. He was fine with it, but we are now realizing that very soon, this being “out” thing is going to take on a life of its own.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


It has come to my attention that my presence in this blogging community may be keeping some of you from letting your blog be the venting experience that you need it to be for fear that I am probably reading. While I admit that I am branching out and reading more blogs than I used to, I do not quite fit in (for obvious reasons) and so some of the blog posts intrigue me more than others. I tend to skim them, and if there is anything I don't want to read about closely, I don't. Also, those of you whose blogs I do read, I know what makes you who you are, at least to an extent (I am married to one of you, after all) and I do not judge you for your thoughts and feelings.

I hope that you understand what I am trying to say. Participating in this community has been great for me, and some of you have expressed that you like having me here. I hope that this is really true.

All I can say is please be yourselves and don't worry about offending me or wondering what I might think of you. I really have learned so much from all of you, and I think that is part of the reason that I am so understanding of Scott, so thank you.

If any of you would feel better if you knew that I was not reading your blog, then please email me or Dichotomy and let me know. I will not be offended, and please trust that I will honor your request.

Another Great Quote

"We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them [even] if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told do by their presidents they should do it without any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves." (Joseph Smith - Millennial Star, Vol 14, Number 38, pages 593-595).

Isn't that great? I think it helps me today a bit...

I've kind of been struggling this week with thoughts of "am I an apostate?" I tend to over analyze and rehash conversations in my head over and over to the point that they literally drive me crazy (this time, of course, last Thursday's meeting with the Bishop). I almost had myself convinced last night that I am sliding down a slippery slope. Today at school, my friends at lunch reminded me that I am a good person, far from what they would consider "apostate" and that the thoughts I am having are from the adversary. I am feeling much better right now, but the thoughts come and go. I'm sure they will continue to fade as more time passes.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Finding Zion

Following is a subject I considered blogging about previously and then decided not to, but based on some recent experiences and conversations that have shed light on it, I now want to put it all together.

On Sunday, August 10 (the Sunday following the week I sent letters to 3 ladies), one of the ladies I sent a letter to was teaching the lesson in Relief Society (she had not taught the lesson the week before).

I felt during her lesson as though some of her comments were directed at me, although since I didn’t know that for sure, I chose not to dwell on it by blogging or otherwise. Now that I know from the bishop that she was the first to go talk to him and was very distraught, I have more reason to believe that my letter was on her mind and that her lesson was influenced by it.

The topic of the lesson was building Zion. She kept saying things like “Everyone goes through tribulations. The best way to get through tribulations is to follow the Lord and follow what the leaders of the church teach us.” I had mentioned in my anonymous letter that I had realized that the leaders of the church are human and not infallible. I wonder if she was trying to give me guidance on this issue.

Also, she talked about how sometimes people close to us will choose the wrong path, but even if it is a spouse, child, sibling or parent, we should remember that it is more important to follow the lord and keep the commandments than to side with the loved one.

She talked about how Zion does not have to be a particular place. It can even be anytime the saints gather, where we can feel peace in the gospel together. I thought at that point that I was not really feeling peace at all, sitting in this gathering place called Relief Society, with the “Saints.”

But then during the closing hymn (I actually chose the hymn to fit the lesson and led it), I felt chills through my body and interpreted it to be the spirit. I’m not sure what message I was supposed to get from that. It was hymn number 47, “We Will Sing of Zion.” Even now as I re-read the words of the hymn, I don’t understand a direct message to me. Maybe I was just supposed to feel peace, and often music will do that for me.

The next day, I prayed to understand why the hymn had affected me. I read through the words. I let my mind wander as I prayed. My mind started going through a script of bearing my testimony in sacrament meeting, sharing with the ward that it might be the last time they would hear me because the spirit had directed our family to leave the church so that we could find peace, or Zion for ourselves, if you will.

After thinking about that experience for the last month, I don’t think I was being directed to leave the church. The spirit was just letting me know that it was an option if at some point I needed it to find peace. And maybe to also help me understand why some people in our situation do chose to leave the church

But I am not giving up yet. Other things have tested me the last couple of years, given me a desire to quit church, but nothing as strong as this. Now, though, I am more determined than ever to stay active.

This morning Scott and I were talking about how important it is for us (and others like us) to stay active in the church if we are to be successful in spreading knowledge, understanding and tolerance about what it means to be gay, and more specifically, what it means to be an active gay Mormon and supportive family. We have to be pioneers of sorts, facing hardships, to pave the way and make it easier for future gay Mormons to be at peace with being active members of the church.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Relief Society Lesson

So on Sunday, August 3, the lesson in Relief Society (as chosen and taught by the R.S. Presidency) was on families. Quotes were passed around to read and I took one. It just so happened that my quote came first because it is at the beginning of the proclamation on the family. I began to read….I began to get nervous…I kind of stuttered as I hit the words “…marriage between a man and a woman in ordained of God…” I had only known that my husband is gay for 23 days, but I had already had enough time to read “No More Goodbyes”, time to think and to talk to Scott extensively and time to recognize my own feelings on the topic of same-sex marriage. Immediately I recognized a bit of a conflict between my own feelings and the words I was reading that I had previously believed to be the word of God.


By the way, just a few days ago, Scott and I were discussing this conflict with the proclamation yet again, and he explained his view. I then had an amazing feeling of happiness and peace as I realized that my feelings did not have to conflict with this revelation. The proclamation does not say that ONLY marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. I can agree with the sentence as it is with no modification as I wonder if marriage between two members of the same gender could also be ordained of God, but is just not mentioned in this publication.


Anyway, back to my story. So I read the quote, then I sat there nervously awaiting possible comments. I hoped they would not come, but come they did. One lady talked about how Satan is working so hard to make a mockery of the family and trying to change the distinction that marriage is between a man and a woman. Another sister spoke of an article she read that outlined all of the legal implications and results on governments of making same-sex marriage legal, literally leading to the downfall of society at the government level. Then the instructor commented about how horrible it was that some of these people not only want to marry, but want to adopt children into their homes.

I was crushed. All three of these sisters are ones that I associate with closely. I love and admire all of them. They are good people with good and kind hearts, so willing to serve others. I was incredibly tense. I literally wanted to scream, but I held it in. I don’t remember much of the rest of the lesson (only a small portion at the beginning focused on the gay thing) because I was not able to listen. It was all I could do to sit there quietly and not walk out.

When I got to the car after the meeting, I sobbed. I was consumed with anger and confusion throughout the afternoon. When night came, I could not sleep…I started writing a letter in my head. Finally, I got up and literally typed out a letter on my computer.

After running the letter past a couple of people (thank you Scott and Beck), I mailed it anonymously to these three ladies. It was a heartfelt and kind plea to these sisters to learn more about the topic they spoke of (I recommended they read No More Goodbyes). I told them that my own view had been like theirs only a short time ago, but was changed by someone close to me telling me that they are gay, and by my subsequent research on the topic.

The next Sunday was interesting as I saw two of the ladies conversing closely and quietly, and later as Scott overheard the R.S. president discussing it in the foyer with her husband (in the bishopric) and another lady (not one who got a letter from me). They were not discussing the content as much as trying to determine the sender, I think.

Anyway, Scott and I figure the whole bishopric most certainly knows about it.

This afternoon the bishop called and wants to meet with us Thursday night. Now I am nervous. Have they figured out the identity of the sender of the letter? Or am I being paranoid and will find out that it is just a new calling or something? Regardless, I hate talking to my current bishop and I am not ready for a different calling.

Only 46 hours to find out, I suppose.

Addendum: For archive purposes, I have decided to include the actual text of the letter I sent:

August 4, 2008

Dear Sister,

I am another sister in your ward whom you love, and I want you to know that I love and value you as well. However, I feel a need to let you know that some of the things you said in Relief Society on Sunday hurt me. Actually, things you said are things I might have said or thought a month ago, but my perspective has changed.

Someone very close to me has recently come out of the closet and told me that they are gay. In response to that revelation, I have been researching the topic extensively during the past 3 weeks. I never thought that something would make me question church revelation like this has. Don’t get me wrong—I know that the gospel is true, that Jesus Christ lives, that he died for me and has restored his gospel to the Earth. I know that there are living prophets on the Earth today that lead the church, but I also know that those men are human, and that their words of inspiration are mixed with their own beliefs, thoughts, feelings and experiences. Realizing this is the only thing that is keeping me active at the moment, because I have come to believe that marriage between two people of the same gender might not be wrong. I have come to learn tolerance and love for a group of people I have not understood, a group that is chastised for trying to ruin the world with their choice to love someone of the same sex. I now know and understand that these people were born gay, just like they are born left or right-handed, and that they love and want to be loved. They want to know the satisfaction of loving and serving their significant other, and even raising children, though it is biologically impossible for them to create them on their own. I have read story after story of gay and lesbian Mormons who feel guilty and hate who they are because they love God and they have testimonies of the gospel, but there is no place for them or tolerance for them in this church. Quite a few of them commit suicide. Many of them leave the church. It is so sad that they cannot be happy with who they are and feel welcome to worship God with the rest of their fellow saints.

I know you are an intelligent woman with Christ-like love. I have seen that love and charity. I have been a recipient of it. What I ask for now is that you open your mind to learn more about something you do not understand. I have included one article, one story. I would encourage you to learn more by reading a book titled “No More Goodbyes” by Carol Lynn Pearson. She is an LDS poet, author of “My Turn on Earth” and the primary song “I’ll Walk with You.” She was married to a gay man for a time who died of AIDS in 1984. The book was just published last year.

You are entitled to your own opinions, your own revelation regarding knowing the truthfulness of the statement that marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not asking you to change that. I am not asking you to question the words of prophets that you have complete faith in. I am only asking you to learn more so that you can be more tolerant and loving toward a group of people that you do not fully understand. I know you don’t understand them, because I didn’t either just a short time ago, but now my life is intertwined with one of them.

I hope to continue to drag myself to more church meetings and pray that I will not have to endure much more of what I went through today, or that I will be strong enough to bear it. I feel I have a mission of sorts to help educate and perpetuate Christ-like love on this matter. I just hope that my testimony will stay strong in the process. Maybe someday I can continue to spread this information without feeling the need to stay anonymous. If I told you who I am, I have no doubt that it would influence you to learn more about this matter. But if I tell you who I am, I am afraid you will not be such a close friend anymore. I cannot bear to lose your friendship.

My love and prayers are with you. I hope you will be open to my suggestion of gaining greater knowledge.

Your sister in the gospel of Jesus Christ