Wednesday, December 12, 2007
This time around I want the next job to be my last career move, if possible. I don't want to make a mistake in joining a company I can't truly support with my passions or fit into their culture. I know more about what type of opportunity I want, so I'm picky. It's true that I'm not getting any younger and I've got potential liabilities. I've hopped around a lot of companies, I've pushed my career to do innovative things, and I'm a creative who doesn't like to be 'managed.' Whoever hires me will do so at a cost for such skills and experience. I'm not generic; I'm specialized. So, I shouldn't be surprised or impatient that it is taking time to get it right.
Recently I was contacted by a retained recruiter for a technical executive position with a new company and brand that will be coming out into the marketplace. I was excited by the potential to make a real contribution and possibly see my dreams come true with an innovative product technology that I've been developing for years. The recruiter was impressed with my resume and seeming fit with the position requirements, so he asked that I prepare a one-page "Core Competency" brief. He sent me a couple examples from other people he had worked with, and at first, as I read through them, I thought, "I'm not good enough. I haven't done this level of work." But then I put those fears aside and decided to list what I thought my own career and personal strengths were. This was an empowering exercise. I settled on eight core competencies, and then began to fill in details which demonstrated my experience or skill with each attribute. By the time I was finished, I wasn't feeling inadequate at all, rather, I felt like I had substance, was more than worthwhile, and that a company would be greatly benefited by my joining their talent pool.
The recruiter was quite pleased with the writing and content of my Core Competency brief, and selected me as a finalist in a slate of three candidates for the position. I was flattered. But to his dismay, when he went to present to the company, they informed him they had found a person on their own and would not need his services. So this was another disappointment, but at least it got me to think about the important qualifiers of my experience and how this has shaped me into the valuable resource that I will be in my next position.
How often do we take such stock in ourselves? Starting with humility, looking at weaknesses and then at strengths, we come to understanding and satisfaction. Thank God I'm an optimist, and most days I choose to see potential and the good in myself and others. It is a conscious choice, one that is not always easy, and one that I don't always do. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and lose my light of confidence, but I can always go to my Father, find the match of desire and relight my candle of faith. Such is the time for now.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
"My SGA is a unique mortal gift to make the most of. I must frequently remind myself of the good qualities it has given me. Navigation within the complex forces of marriage and Church membership can draw out the best that is within me. I am challenged to develop compassion and spiritual sensitivity. I get tired and discouraged and many times get off course, but then, in the midst of the tempest when the sweet Spirit whispers, "Peace, be still", I am reminded that He knows the way and will guide me Home if I let Him."
Also at this Thanksgiving time, Beck paused to count his blessings, and expressed a similar recognition:
"Instead of bemoaning that I'm a gay man trapped in a hetero life where things don't add up right, I am grateful for the "gifts" I've been given, the "talents" that God has granted me, and the knowledge of Him whereby I can use these talents and magnify them as I seek to follow His plan. I do not bemoan that I am gay. . . I may not have a trail guide, but I have the Spirit, and I'm grateful for those promptings to keep me on the path. This is a tender mercy. "
I have been thinking similar thoughts lately. There is so much about my gayness that I have grown to appreciate and am now thankful for. I have come to realize that much of my orientation is reflected in a unique set of personality traits, most of which are really not sexually operative one way or the other. I acknowledge that throughout my life I am and have been:
- Attracted to men, and admire the masculine hero
- Desire connection and fraternity with men
- Stimulated by the power of the male form
- Hunger for intimacy and acceptance by men
- Spiritually dependent on Priesthood power
- Desire to be open and loving, to serve others
- Emotionally sensitive and vulnerable
- Empathetic to all forms of suffering and injustice
- Willing to be on the edge and question everything
- Artistic, creative and musically talented
- Lover of beauty and design
- Detail oriented and a perfectionist
- Generous and forgiving
And then a surprising thing happened to me: as I truly accepted this 'gay list' in myself, I began feeling very much more male and more connected in my brotherhood with all men. I don't have to sexualize every hunk of a man to wonder if I measure up; I may look twice at an attractive guy, but it is admiration of beauty, not longing or lust. Even though I never really believed that raw masculinity was the mark of true manhood, I allowed myself to be deluded and demoted by my insecurities. But no more! Screw all that mamsy-pamsy thinking! I'm just as good a man as anyone else, even if I don't particularly care for team sports or fast cars or sexy women. And if anyone thinks, "That's so gay," well then, let them. I can live with it. I can live with love in my heart for even the intolerant.
Being 'gay' by most standards involves a physicality that is more than characteristics of how we view and interact with the world around us. Sure, there are sexual aspects to my gayness that will never be realized because of my choice for fidelity to my wife and family and the church. I try not to dwell on the sex inherent in gay lifestyle. It's just a part of being gay that I cannot do. The world and the church react most negatively to the sexual intimacy between same sexes. But I choose to love and respect my brothers who are there though, and my hope for them is to live their lives with joy and love. I'm happy to let the Lord work out the details of their eternal lives, knowing that I am not a worthy judge, nor should I try to understand the end from the beginning. I believe true love is good enough for me and anyone else committed to faithfulness and devotion, regardless of the religious lens or culture people live in.
This brings me to the sweet and universal sentiment expressed by Elder Wirthlin in his most recent General Conference, who speaks of personal transformation by the power of love:
"True love lasts forever. It is eternally patient and forgiving. It believes, hopes, and endures all things. That is the love our Heavenly Father bears for us.
We all yearn to experience love like this. Even when we make mistakes, we hope others will love us in spite of our shortcomings—even if we don’t deserve it.
Oh, it is wonderful to know that our Heavenly Father loves us—even with all our flaws! His love is such that even should we give up on ourselves, He never will.
We see ourselves in terms of yesterday and today. Our Heavenly Father sees us in terms of forever. Although we might settle for less, Heavenly Father won’t, for He sees us as the glorious beings we are capable of becoming.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of transformation. It takes us as men and women of the earth and refines us into men and women for the eternities.
The most cherished and sacred moments of our lives are those filled with the spirit of love. The greater the measure of our love, the greater is our joy. In the end, the development of such love is the true measure of success in life.
Do you love the Lord?"
And here, I think lies the quintessential question to living gay in the world and the LDS Church. Can we answer it honestly? I must confess, "Yea Lord, thou knowest that I love thee." (John 21:16). My life of perceived weakness has become much stronger, as I focus with faith on the God-given gifts bestowed upon me. I have the love of God in my heart for all men, and I am not ashamed to feel weakly male any longer. I can feed His sheep with the talents He has blessed me, according to His direction, and shall no longer be afraid of who I am or what I might accomplish with His love.
Of all the aspects of my belief that I am most sure of, because of my experience in living with conscious faith, it is that I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me, the little Geckoman. And since they first loved me, I love them (1 John 4:19). And since I truly love them, then I am blessed to love others in the way I know the Lord loves me, which is as a gay man, a son of the true and living God.
Monday, November 19, 2007
However, all the while, my wife is beginning to worry about the reality of leaving Arizona and the new dimensions that will surround our lives. We are now 'empty-nesters,' and the rules are changing about what to take with us and what to leave behind. I think my wife is wondering where she fits into the wagon of my future. We have an open, mutually supportive marriage. But lately, my wife has been experiencing anxiety around the theme of "Do you need me?"
This has given me some cause to consider just what it is that I value the most. I could honestly say "No, not really," but that fits only a small part of my feelings. Pragmatically, I may not "need" her; nor could I deny that at times I wish I had a man partner to connect with. But this doesn't jive with the tremendous respect I have for her as a wonderful person who I love dearly, who others love dearly. She, along with me, has paid her dues in our family and relationship. I don't want to imagine life without her, the simple friendship and intimacies we share.
True love isn't based on need, it is based on choice, deep feeling and abiding commitment. My true love is spiritual and reflects the relationship I have with God. My attractions to same gender are based on hunger for intimate understanding and connection. The same goes for heterosexual attractions by my spouse, brothers and sisters, every human being. Connection is a need, but it is not necessarily love. True love goes beyond need to devotion. My true love helps me realize this.
"No Sweetie, I will not leave you behind in the desert. I love you because I simply do."
Monday, November 12, 2007
Here's another apology. With all the upside-downness in my life for the last 6 weeks, I forgot the password to the email account (firstname.lastname@example.org) I link from my blog. So I wasn't able to go in and check on correspondence. Just recently I figured out my password and got back into the mailbox. Unfortunately a friend tried several messages, but of course got no response from me. When I tried to reply, his email account was closed...so Adam, please try me again. I wasn't intentionally ignoring you.
Confession: I waited over a week to get some feedback from the 2 days of face to face interviews I had with the local company, and now I'm feeling a little unsettled. Because I'm so wonderful, I was very hopeful this would be a slam-dunk, and I'd get an offer. I could just get back to work, and let all my logistical problems of moving melt away. Well, not so fast, nothing's ever perfect. Yes, they liked me, but had some 'concerns' about my idealism and openness and hunger for innovation; they're not sure if I would be happy with their 'little' job, as if I might be too big for it. I was quite excited about the opportunity, but now I'm not so sure about what they really mean. When people dig and want to know your feelings, your strengths & weaknesses, and 'describe the perfect job' I told them what I really thought and felt. Maybe they weren't ready for my level of honesty: when asked about weakness I said I sometimes lack of focus. My creative mind LIKES to wander; it gets me to places you don't go if you think and do only the same things. The perfect job means I get to make real decisions and be the top technical dog. And one of my strengths is that I'm curious. (The interviewer said, "Well, I've never had anyone give that answer before!") So maybe I should have been a bit more cautious, reserved and conventional. I'm frustrated that if they said they wanted an R&D innovation manager... well then, what does that mean to you? It means to me what I am, inside and out. I'm still on their list, but they want to interview other candidates to see what might be out there; so in other words, hang in there--we'll be back to you in a month or two. Arrrggghh!
But this week is going to be fun. Three interviews, one of which is a flight to Denver. I love Colorado! Stay tuned, more to come....
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Timing is always everything. Just this week three more interviews popped up for next week, so maybe I'll have some options to choose between, which would be nice. I'll have my first phone interview with a company in SLC on Tuesday. A company I applied to through Monster.com called; I had a short phone chat with the HR guy, and was invited to get on a plane to Denver. So that will be great to get out of town and see what's there, next Wednesday. Then another face to face interview on Thursday, back in Phoenix for a pharmaceutical company, which is a bit of a stretch, but they're the ones making the invitation, so why not?! I love having choices.
All this dragged out job uncertainty serves to reminds me in a literal way of the fact that in life we don't really know what's ahead--we get comfortable in routines, but we still don't know the end from the beginning. We believe we have a purpose so we just press on. I trust in a plan, regardless of knowing the outcome, hoping for good options, and doing my best day by day. To do otherwise would be to basically do nothing or panic--submit to chaos and despair, which I don't want to subscribe to. Sure, 'shit happens,' but choosing to believe we're headed in a direction to lead us somewhere better, or choosing to believe we're going through this trial today to make us stronger for tomorrow, that's the stuff of faith. I want to be in Zion's camp, even if the trail is tedious; too many evidences along the way already point me in that direction. I won't jump out of the Gardner's hand back into a dark pile of rubble to hide in. The best reward along the way is being home to do the things I didn't have time for, loving my wife and playing with the most wonderful grandson baby in the entire world. I can wait, use up a little more money, have faith in a better outcome, just around the next bend.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Two days ago I was excited to prepare for and meet real people, with real interest in me and what I might do for them. The talking went well, but the stress was physically and emotionally draining. And the commute home battling rush hour traffic was grueling, and took almost an hour and a half. It was Halloween, the little goblins were coming out, I wanted to be with my little grandson (premiering as a red M&M), and I was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. So when I arrived home to meet my family's hopeful and expectant questioning, I felt . . . empty. Maybe discouraged and uncertain and afraid would be more telling. Was it 'Trick or Treat?' I didn't expect to feel this way, not after so much anticipation that this was the answer to our prayers for staying in Arizona. After all, we had been to the Temple in the morning, we reviewed expected questions and answers, we wanted this to be the one. And now I just didn't know if I liked the opportunity. I knew I did NOT like the traffic nightmare.
Yesterday was phase two of more interviews. This time around even better discussion and some answers to spoken and unspoken concerns. Another drive home through rush hour via different route home took only one hour. I listened to Schubert's 'Unfinished' Symphony on the public radio station. I asked myself "Are we there yet?" I think so.
Now I am hopeful and excited with the opportunity to work for this company. Early this morning before waking I dreamed about working on a project as if I were already employed. I already have creative plans if they have a job offer for me that is acceptable. I think it would be a great team of people to work shoulder to shoulder with. And they have great expectations for growth and innovation within the company's brand. It would be a chance to launch neat stuff into the marketplace, the kind of stuff to dream about at night.
But the saga continues. The job opportunity in Salt Lake appears to be opening up. I have a phone interview next week. It would be wonderful to be close to family. Maybe I could even sing in the MTC! There are also opportunities in Nebraska and Massachusetts. Anything could happen. "Are we there yet?" Lord only knows.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I should be using my blog as a way to vent my anxieties, and yet I've been holding it in and seeking other diversions. The job trail has been winding up and down, mostly down, and I'm tired of it. My knees hurt, and not from kneeling too much in prayer, but in stumbling down the path. I want to whine, "Are we there yet?" to my Heavenly Father. It's been over a month of unemployment, lots of phone interviews and still I have yet to get a face to face. I knew I was a prime candidate for a couple positions with major companies, and yet they both fizzled without so much as an invitation to get on a plane. One company restructured their department, eliminating the open hire position; the other company enacted a hiring freeze until next year.
"But wait, don't you see how valuable I could be? Come on, guys."
I wanted options to choose from. I wanted them to compete for me with ever increasing offers. I wanted a little respect for my long distinguished career. I wanted them to want me, badly. I wanted my dreams to come true about promptings I felt came from the Lord. Surely, 'This is the Place,' wasn't it? Aren't we there, yet?
"O Pride, O Vanity, canst thou not mask thy leering face?"
Yesterday (Sunday) I started the day on spiritual 'EMPTY.' I should have had at least a quarter of a tank; after all, I've not really gone that far from my front door for several weeks. I guess I've used up a lot of spirituality on 'IDLE.' So anyway, yesterday was our ward's Primary Program, "I'll Follow Him in Faith." I was asked to help out with a couple of the musical numbers that needed a second conductor for the kids to follow. So we got through about forty minutes of the usual darling one-liners, earnest effort, songs of faith, and then it was my turn to join them in 'Love Is Spoken Here.'
Mine is a home where every hour
Is blessed by the strength of priesthood power.
With father and mother leading the way,
Teaching me how to TRUST and OBEY,
And the things they teach are crystal clear,
For LOVE is spoken here.
And there it was, my answer. I knew it all along. My own voice was simple and clear, floating above the young crowd of sweet boy voices so full of faith and believing. Trust in the Conductor, He's telling you the truth. You know it. His voice is rich, confident and inspired. Several people came to me after the program to compliment how lovely the song was ("I just love to hear you sing!") and I wanted to tell them I have a cold, it wasn't really my voice, but I just meekly said, "Thank you. The children were lovely, weren't they?"
And if that wasn't enough, then the second number a little later, a round, 'Listen, Listen.'
Listen to the still small voice!
When you have to make a choice,
He will guide you,
The cacophony of children's voices singing at odds with one another in a controlled chorus of echos, eventually resolved and caught up with "ALWAYS." Another answer.
Doing yard work on Saturday I flushed a gecko out of hiding and picked him up as he was scurrying up the wall to find new cover. They're only about 2 - 3 inches long, fully mature. They are soft and tender and gentle; they don't bite. They like the humus of the earth and crevices to hide in. They sport mottled colors that blend in, and you only see them when they move. The gecko did not like being held. He looked furtively around for escape, licked his lips with a tiny tongue and in an instant flung himself out my hands back into the rubble of twigs and leaves I was raking up. I let him be.
"Just have faith, little Gecko. You are in my hands. Don't jump away so fast. "
So this is the week for hope. Doors have closed, but others have opened. There is a food company in Phoenix, and their R&D Manager just moved away with a spousal relocation. The phone interview went well last week, and I'm supposed to interview face to face this week. I'm hopeful that I won't have to move and leave my children and grandson. I hope this is the job for me. The Lord will guide me, always, if I can but stay in his hand.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I feel like I'm bipolar, bouncing between feelings of teary-eyed depression and optimistic conviction for the future. Deep down, I believe that this is in the Lord's hands, and that 'somewhere there's a place for us,' yet then I feel like I'm the Tony guy laying on the ground with a bullet in my chest. As the weeks are marching by without a paycheck, anxiety about the reality of the mortgage and 'what in the world are we going to do with the house?' is getting oppressive. It's then I tell myself that I'll get my tithing paid up, and even if it all falls apart and we have to turn the keys into the bank: "So what? its just money, no big deal!" comes into play. I've got my loving family, and that's what is really important. And it's exciting to think of a new area to discover, a new start on a job, and a new set of friends to get to know and love.
So here's to Pres. Eyring, and remembering what the Lord has done for me lately:
Right now there are two potential jobs with major companies I hope to continue to interview for. One of them progressed quite positively and then went on hold for a couple of weeks. The other opportunity I thought would move quickly, but it has stalled out too. This was discouraging to me, and then I realized that if both come back into gear at the same time and move toward job offers, then I can play them against the other. "Hope springs eternal."
An opportunity came up yesterday with a recruiter whose name came to mind while I was praying. The open position would be returning to a previous employer. Even if it goes nowhere, just the opportunity to talk to the person I owe a conversation to would be a great thing.
Yesterday we found out that a huge charge on our credit card ($9475) which we've had in dispute for over six months has been credited back to us--what a blessing!
And being home with my chosen companion, sorting through stuff and getting through a chaos that has piled up over the years and having so much time to talk about what we want out of our life ahead has been a really good thing too.
Gosh, we should all be unemployed every so often! Still, forced vacations are no picnic. Anybody want to buy a car?
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Going through much turmoil over the past seven years, I'm glad that my relationship with my wife is now one of the strong pillars of support I have to keep me true to the faith and my family. We don't have a perfect and peaceful relationship--there are plenty of things about her that annoy me and vice versa. What is better though, is that we're more open about the marriage. We talk about hurts and feelings and what isn't right. We talk about my SSA. We talk about her weight problem and her lack of conformance to her diabetic needs. There are no secrets. I'm feeling understood, loved and supported. Some things are changing to the better, some things are not changing, but at least we're dealing with it more honestly.
I'm sharing all this for a couple reasons. It's good just to acknowledge where I'm at in my blog, every now and then. After all, I'm using this as a journal of sorts. And I bring it up because marital trust and relationship isn't a topic that is discussed much among my particular Moho subset. It's whined about a little bit, but it isn't chewed on and elaborated. Why not? Is it too personal? Too painful? Can we help each other here?
I'm particularly concerned about my married SSA brothers who are struggling with coming to open terms with their wives. Having gone through more than a little grief with this, but now on the other side of the forest, I would wish for them to take the risk and start opening up, because I see how it's helped me.
I offer this overarching advice: marriage has to work both ways. First, strengthen your friendship and understanding with her, support her in her trials, and you are preparing for the day when you can include her into your deepest trials. You may need the assistance of professional or ecclesiastical help, to act as a mutually agreed upon moderator of what is right for both. Hopefully, you will one day tell her that you have been and will remain loyal and faithful to her alone, and that you love her still--those are the most important things she really wants to know, even if you are SSA. Letting her understand your trials will eventually draw you closer together, if you are honest and open with her, and if she truly loves you.
My wife hungers for intimacy, for inclusion; SSA is inherently a disconnect to that need. Because of my shame, embarrassment and the reality that I would naturally be more comfortable with a man, it is difficult to be intimate with her without honesty. It is my challenge therefore to go beyond what's natural or comfortable for me, to leave my isolation, and to trust in her and the Lord. This change in my behavior has brought challenges and blessings to our relationship. A year ago I finally came to the point where I determined I had to do this or not survive emotionally and spiritually in my family and the church. I knew my emotional health and salvation that was at stake, and I was doing this for me as well as for her. Asking her to go the distance, because she already knew about my SSA, but to do more than sweep it under the rug, to embrace me with my flaws, to be open and talk about this whenever I needed, to be able to accept and love me as is--this is what I required of her. And in return I would make concerted effort to be more loving, more forgiving, less critical, less self-centered. She rose to the occasion, and I responded with more love, and we are happier than ever. Burdens and stress are so difficult to handle alone; we are not meant to do that in our marriages; sharing our trials and overcoming together is part of the plan.
You cannot control your wife and how she will respond to your disclosures. You can hope for a particular outcome, you can pray and be on solid ground yourself, you can invite her to join you in the middle and continue down the path of eternal companionship. But in the end, we each must decide for ourselves what is best. This may be scary, but to be willing to let her do that is a sign of deep love and respect for her. Acceptance of all possible outcomes in the spirit of humility and charity is the place to get to one day. I've been impressed with Elbow's account, even though it had an outcome feared by some, but their honesty and love for each other led to what they felt was best. I wish for him the best. I wish for all of us tangible trust in our most important relationships.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Monday, October 8, 2007
Sunday morning, before everyone else was up and coming over for a family breakfast prior to the 10 am session, I had time with my cousin. He is 10 years older than I, a father of 10, well educated, a humble man of God. We love each other in a brotherhood enriched by our mutual testimonies of the Gospel and the Lord's Spirit. I have always respected him greatly, trusted his judgement, and admired his family. I've shared with him some of my problems and feelings in the past, but I've never disclosed my orientation. So as we were talking together this last Sunday morning, about the unknown future of my life, I felt the great desire to tell him of my recent spiritual progress in Arizona and of my faith in the future. But the words were sounding hollow to me, lacking evidence or connection to what I've experienced. And then I said, rather impulsively, "I'm not sure if you ever suspected through my personality or behavior, but I am same sex attracted." He smiled quietly and acknowledged that he had not known, but yet he did not act surprised. After all, he's known me for over 40 years; I lived with his young family during my freshman year at BYU. We talked about the trials of life and the Lord's refining of our hearts. He confided in me of a personal tragedy that occurred in his family and we agreed together how these struggles of ours impact so many other things downstream, yet give us depth and faith if we so choose. He had no condemnation of my reality, only compassion and admiration of my faith and perseverance. I felt truly understood. I'm not sure why I haven't confided in him sooner; perhaps it was the fear of disappointing him.
My cousin has faithfully served decades as a Bishop, in a Stake Presidency and currently on a Stake High Council; so he has a well-developed experience base for church discipline. He said several interesting things: the church understands there are multiple origins for SSA. This contributes to the great complexity and dilemma of how church policy should appropriately respond to all members fairly. He personally believes there is a gay genetic component for part of the SSA population, which is beyond a person's control. But there also is evidence that SSA can be a learned or developed behavior brought on by abuse, culture, people's circumstances, as well as personal choices, curiosity, etc. Given all this, what is a reasonable response to one member might be a condoning of sin for another. I had never thought of it in this light. Overall, he said his observation of church courts for members involved in homosexual activity were judged by the same criteria as heterosexual adultery, and that long histories of damaging dishonesty were more of a common denominator for excommunication than just sexual behavior.
He also talked about a principle he called 'The Law of Compensation,' his belief in eternal rewards given to those who bear extraordinary burdens in this life. I think this follows with the idea of the Law of the Harvest. He felt that this applied to the gay community of saints, because there is no good answer answer for them in the church at this time. I'm not so sure that I feel specially burdened, but I believe there are many people who deal with great injustice and abuse in life, and I hope that special consideration will be granted to their trials.
Then my cousin dropped a personal bombshell. It is his speculation that our paternal grandfather, my namesake who died before I was born, was gay! I've heard the same anecdotal evidences from his life, but I never put it together the same way. My grandfather grew up on the Maine coast, separated from his family as a young man at the turn of the century, took on the life of a sailor, spent several years in Hawaii, Alaska and Washington as a single man before returning home to start a family and marry my grandmother at the age of 35. It was said they both believed sex was for procreation; they had only two children. My grandfather was a skilled craftsman and he had a woodshop that was a gathering place for men in the town. He loved his association with men; he had a respectful but independent marriage with my grandmother. My father attributed these somewhat unique behaviors to the New England culture he was raised in, and I always just accepted that explanation; what a pause for re-consideration my cousin brought to me this weekend!
I think as we seek to understand our family history, we can find the pieces that put together our individual puzzles, which brings a sense of wholeness, satisfaction and identity.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
How could this happen? Shit happens. But nothing happens in a vacuum. Reverberations happen. Well, it so happens that the founder's daughter was out driving drunk and killed someone earlier this year. They needed money to protect her in court with high-powered attorneys; they had to sell the company. We all wondered if there would be fall-out from the 'accident.' Yup, there sure was. It all rolls downhill. But maybe not without a purpose.
So, where do you want me to go, dear Lord? I'll do what you want me to do. The reverberations are not finished yet. We'll be starting again somewhere else, and only the Lord knows the end from the beginning. This isn't the first time of packing up and moving on for us. A new horizon, a new calling, a new opportunity to serve, and new important lessons to learn. Given my love for change, it's always a new adventure--maybe my dreams will come true, this time around...
Monday, September 10, 2007
Saturday, September 8, 2007
My brother joined the church while I was on my mission, and his true satisfaction in life was serving wherever he could. But he was the wierd guy that volunteered for everything, that had to be told sometimes to please go away. It nearly broke his heart when he had to put away his Scouting uniform, because some mothers were concerned about him with their boys. Yet he was genuinely loved by his ward--I learned this from attending his funeral. I chose not to speak, I only wanted to sing. It was and still is the most important solo I have ever sung: How Great Thou Art. I also chose the hymn, "Lord, I Would Follow Thee." It fit him, his zeal, his love, his quiet heart.
My brother was a dreamer. When we were boys, he loved to draw fantasy castles filled with magical animals and we would let them live through our imaginations. He drew all the time; he was never without a pencil. We created all kinds of stories about kingdoms and chivalry. Then as he grew into a man, and the effects of heavy medications began to take their tole, he stopped drawing. But he always had big plans, like businesses he wanted to start up, things he wanted to invent, a wife and kids. Although none of that could ever happen for him, he'd never admit to believing in any of his limitations. Maybe that was his saving grace.
My brother died in his sleep, probably from a seizure. He was found several days later in his apartment, with his hand outstretched. I thought this was iconic: he always was reaching for something. Maybe now he can get his arms around his dreams. I wrote this poem about it. I believe his death was a sweet release, a gift from our loving Father in Heaven.
So today I'm missing him. Again. I wish he could know that, maybe he does. Happy birthday to you, John, my beloved brother.
Friday, September 7, 2007
I think the observation of human need and behavior, set in the stirring imagery of this poem is thought provoking, so I'm sharing. Do we wound ourselves and others, carry it with us, in going back to the abyss, time and time again in seach of love? Do we marry with the sky? And what of the cosmos do we transfer in our loving relationships?
The author is Robert Haas, a contemporary American poet.
This morning in the early sun,
steam rising from the pond the color of smoky topaz,
a pair of delicate, copper-red, needle-fine insects
are mating in the unopened crown of a Shasta daisy
just outside your door. The green flowerheads look like wombs
or the upright, supplicant bulbs of a vegetal pre-erection.
The insect lovers seem to be transferring the cosmos into each other
by attaching at the tail, holding utterly still, and quivering intently.
I think (on what evidence?) that they are different from us.
That they mate and are done with mating.
They don’t carry all this half-mated longing up out of childhood
and then go looking for it everywhere.
And so, I think, they can’t wound each other the way we do.
They don’t go through life dizzy or groggy with their hunger,
kill with it, smear it on everything, though it is perhaps also true
that nothing happens to them quite like what happens to us
when the blue-backed swallow dips swiftly toward the green pond
and the pond’s green-and-blue reflected swallow marries it a moment
in the reflected sky and the heart goes out to the end of the rope
it has been throwing into abyss after abyss, and a singing shimmers
from every color the morning has risen into.
My insect instructors have stilled, they are probably stuck together
in some bliss and minute pulse of after-longing
evolution worked out to suck the last juice of the world
into the receiver body. They can’t separate probably
until it is done.
Robert Hass, “Dragonflies Mating” from Sun Under Wood. Copyright �© 1996 by Robert Hass.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Saturday, September 1, 2007
How can we not hear the music of Zion, especially when it stirs our souls, and not want to sing? It's happened to most of us, those moments when you get carried away, when you know the God of Heaven lives, when you simply want to cry out and acknowledge, "It's True!"
Such a moment happened to me today. I was sorting through old emails and came across a large file. "What's this?" I thought to myself. It was an MP3 file I hadn't had time to download when I received it, then I'd forgotten to get back to it. Now it was Saturday morning, the house was still, and I had an extra minute. The music was by the BYU Men's Chorus, singing "I Love the Lord," text taken largely from 2 Nephi 4, and arranged to the tune of "Be Still, My Soul."
Here are the words:
I love the Lord. In him my soul delights.
Upon his word, I ponder day and night.
He's heard my cry, brought visions to my sleep,
And kept me safe o'er deserts and the deep.
He's filled my heart with his consuming love,
And borne me high on wings of his great dove.
Yet oft I groan,"O wretched man am I!"
My flesh is weak and I'm encompassed by
A world of sin, which holds me in its thrall,
If I give in and to temptations fall.
Then strength grows slack, I waste in sorrow's vale.
My peace destroyed, my enemies prevail.
Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin.
Rejoice, my heart! And let me praise again
The Lord my God, who is my rock and stay
To keep me strict upon his straight, plain way.
O let me shake at the first sight of sin
And thus escape my foes without and in.
I love the Lord. In him my soul delights.
I had quickly scanned these words when my friend sent the email, and thought "that's nice." But usually it takes more than just words to move us. Somehow the sound of the choir, the exquisite harmony of men's voices in perfect unity took on life, and it grabbed me by my heart. Tears began to stream down my face and I had to just let the feeling of the Spirit flow, slow at first, then in heartfelt sobs as I reveled in the fire of my faith. Yes, I could feel as though no doubt ever existed in my life. I could feel only praise for so sublime a plan as the Lord's perfect Atonement. My love and adoration for Him was sent on the wings of prayer to on high.
How is this so? I don't know, other than it's been a while since I really pondered on my love for God. I wish I could reproduce these kind of feelings on demand, but I acknowledge they are a gift of the Spirit. Grace happens. It's like experiencing a vivid dream and for some unexplainable reason, it all makes perfect sense. But when you wake up and try to explain it to another, it somehow falls apart. We live in a world of great beauty and ugliness, light and varying shades of darkness. We must go through turbulent waters on our journey to the infinite. But today I felt my true love flowing again, it felt wonderful, and that feeling has lifted my hope to new heights.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
I had a really nice Saturday afternoon with my son-in-law. We painted my adult daughter's office in the morning, had lunch and did some odd jobs together around the house, then hung out for an hour or so in the pool. My wife had gone shopping with my daughter, which allowed time for just the two of us. So I asked him, "Did I do the right thing, in telling you two of my orientation, and sharing my blog, or has it been too much information to handle?" He said, "Absolutely a good thing. Speaking as her husband, this has been so good for my wife, to put things together and sort out some of her family questions from the past. Changing some of her assumptions has caused her to adopt a new paradigm for viewing the family and herself. We now have greater understanding and such respect for you and the Moho's in the bloggosphere."
My daughter has felt somewhat disenfranchised at times from mainstream Mormonism, because of her passionate feminist viewpoints, and so to see what some gay LDS people are dealing with in terms of sacrifice and faith has been expanding for her. She has been a reader of Feminist Mormon Housewives and the like, but the Mohosphere is new territory, one that she didn't realize existed. Some things come full circle: it was her blog-reading that piqued my curiosity in blogging and initiated my search for greater meaning through writing and sharing. And my coming out to them has helped her to better understand her emotional and attitudinal roots, and has given her a greater respect for both her parents and their individual struggles. This was my principal hope in sharing when I was faced with the "Shall I tell them?" moment. In a word, I'm glad I took the risk and opened up when I had the opportunity.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
But "good" and "righteous" and "right" don't feel as "good" and "righteous" and "right" as they once did. Such words have lost their power and meaning. Why? What has changed?...Why can't my world be black-and-white clear and exact again as it once was? Will I ever have the unquestioning faith that I once had?
One of my poems I published early on in my blog, Prairie Wind, speaks to the struggle we have in finding and keeping the Spirit alive in our daily walk, because we shut ourselves in and don't embrace the Spirit. I labored over this poem for a couple dark years, and couldn't get it finished until I moved out of the frozen prairies of Minnesota into the light and warmth of the Arizona sun! (No offence, JG-W!) My point is, we don't usually get our answers at the first asking, and we sometimes have to move on to new perspectives to realize truth and understanding in our mortal rear-view mirror.
The fact is, we change. We experience new vistas, new sin, new doubts, and new truth as we traverse through life. I chose to answer the angst in my poem with a veiled reference to the Savior's admonition to become as little children in seeking the Kingdom of God. But even this is not an easy answer to the doubts and fears that plague us, it is simply a guide. In our quest for conviction Beck asks the thorny question of whether our religious experience at church will ever again feel "right." I don't know. What matters to me is that I must feel right with God.
Case in point: of all the things that constitute party-line rhetoric in Mormon testimony meetings that I find somewhat discomforting, it is the phrase "the only TRUE church." I have great faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ because I have felt repeatedly the gift of forgiveness; I know the Priesthood is real because I have felt and been an instrument of its power; I know we have a prophet who speaks for God because I have felt the Holy Ghost testify to me that this is so. But don't ask me to smugly recite the 'only true and living' phrase because it doesn't fit my personal experience and observation. I have too great a love and respect for people of faith practicing other world religions, and know of God's love for them, to say something that implies for me that God doesn't direct and reveal Himself to them as well. I realize our church teaches people of other faiths can be inspired, but adhering to 'the only true and living church' for me runs the risk of being condescending and doesn't match my personal faith in God's universe, therefore I don't say or believe such things. I cannot imagine God's celestial garden being only red roses, not that they aren't "true," but that the diversity and beauty of His real garden of life is simply so much more wonderful and compelling.
So how does my kind of testimony stack up? Well, I might be accused of 'relativistic morality' or 'buffet line faith.' This assessment certainly hits the fan of rigid dogma as it relates to gay lifestyles, feminism or you name it. I know we can find ourselves outside mainstream Mormonism when we start developing special cases for our situation, especially if our belief system runs counter-current to recorded teachings by apostles or prophets. However, I think a relative faith, taylored by personal revelation can cope. I realize this kind of faith causes some concern to our 'straight' brothers and sisters for our eternal salvation, but this is our problem, not theirs.
How do you think God will judge the peoples of the world's diverse belief systems? I don't think it will be by Mormon theology. I believe He will judge and reward people according to their faith and love, the desire and intent of each individual heart, and as demonstrated by personal observance, just like us.
If I think God will show latitude in judging the diverse peoples of dispensations and cultures, shouldn't I think he would do the same for me, even under the mantle of Mormonhood? If I am willing to venture in my faith where others of the church are cautious, my only constraint is this: I should deeply believe that I am "right" in light of the Holy Ghost guiding my belief, and then I must live my belief with integrity, because that will be the measure by which I will be judged. Otherwise, my self-fashioned religion is only a convenient farce.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Almost 2 weeks ago, "L" posted thoughts on a change of heart, which stemmed from the LDS Family Services' Addiction Recovery Manual, Step 6: KEY PRINCIPLE: Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.
Admittedly, I struggle with the concept of healing, and was feeling a willingness to be exposed at the moment I left this comment in response to L's ideas:
"A Change of Heart...Bobbing up and down, as I tend to do in life, is the hardest thing for me to deal with in my faith. How many times will I make the same stupid mistakes and acknowledge that yet again, my randomness doesn't work or bring me fulfillment? It's hard to pray always, read the scriptures with real intent and maintain fervent belief when my behavior seems all over the board. I'm a perfectionist and I doubt I'll ever be perfectly happy with myself. It's not that I lack love for the Lord or that I don't try hard--I do. But carrying on with faithful desire, realizing that I probably won't measure up in the end to the Lord's standards, based on my prior performance, is the angst I struggle with most."
Now, it is my belief that to admit to sin and weakness is not self-loathing, but a vital step in the process of change and improvement. However, if we are trapped in a cycle of failure and self-condemnation, then we often don't like ourselves very much, and it's hard to have faith in anything. So, how can we overcome feelings of inadequacy, be patient with ourselves, and experience a lasting change of heart? At times it seems so overwhelming.
I think we need to be willing, have faith it will happen and accept the Grace that is already evident in our lives.
I also think the answers are in Steps 7 through 12: humility, seeking forgiveness, restitution and reconciliation, daily accountability, personal revelation and service. This is simply the gospel plan. Our overcoming will probably not be a "poof (!) then gone" experience for us. This doesn't seem to be the typical healing we see in the lives of any saints, SSA or otherwise.
Growth for me seems slow, like the dews from heaven. Yet I can look back on my life and realize much progress. But my immediate-gratification self longs for more spirituality, especially the rich spirtual blessings detailed in my Patriarchal Blessing. I ask myself,
"Will I ever achieve these in my lifetime?"
When I'm distracted with self-doubt, bobbing up and down between spirituality and failure, the answer is usually, "No."
When I'm on the upswing, grateful for my many blessings, filled with love for my wife and family and in control of my angst and attractions, the answer is:
"Yes, God willing."
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
Think only of those things that are in line with
your principles and can bear the light of day.
The content of your character is your choice.
Day by day, what you do is who you become."
I thought this quote was appropriate to consider, in light of speaking with 'no guile.' A key here is understanding our principles and not being ashamed to own them. And I really like the last line, because I've seen in my own life how I've evolved into the person I am.
Earlier, in my post on profanity, I posed the question about what words are appropriate in expressing our feelings. I think I got my answer on Saturday: let us 'never speak guile.'
Guile. noun. "insidious cunning in attaining a goal; crafty or artful deception; duplicity. "
Nowhere in the definition of guile is mentioned the type of language or our choice of words in communicating. I believe the Lord is more concerned with personal honesty. Our self-righteous lips may utter no profanity, but if we intend to deceive others with pleasing words, then we have denied the Lord's expectations for us.
Friday, August 10, 2007
This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Thursday, August 9, 2007
So, among other things I made this comment: "Just tell me your truth, I'm tired of bullshit." Later I read JGW's insightful comment, which was kind in admonishing the truth of not jumping to conclusions, that things are not always what they seem, and that we can learn from others if we aren't too reactive and learn to keep our mouths shut. (Thank you, John, you're right!) And then I felt a tinge of guilt for using the B word.
My wife gets a little upset with me anytime I let slip out a little mild profanity. There isn't a damn, hell or shit that I can ever say without an immediate rebuke or raised eyebrow! But I like to use these words for a little theatre, to express my feelings with a bit more passion. They have affect for me because I don't use them very often; they draw attention to what I'm trying to say.
Certainly there are various forms and intensities that can be used in expressing profanity. I tend use only the mild forms, like what I grew up with in my non-LDS home. There are more times that I think in such words than when I say them. I do get uncomfortable when I hear the Lord's name used in vain, especially if it's repetitive and intense, the same goes for the F word.
Okay, so the Moho blogs have talked in circles about the Mormon taboos of pornography and masturbation; how about a little profanity? When and where, if at all, does profanity have a place in our lives? We certainly encounter many such words in our daily world, and it's rampant in gay culture. Is it something that we should just accept and live with, or should we try to 'overcome' it? (That was for you, Beck!) And "flip," what about substitute words? Is anything appropriate?
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
I love a good quote. Nice combinations of words or a singular idea is just what my bobbing mind likes to grab ahold of, and then another one, and another one. . . but I digress. I collect quotes that I tend to harmonize with, to remind me of the good and the true or the poignant.
So, I am going to start posting a quote every other day or so, since I have pages of them. Maybe I'll include an analogous photo, a short commentary or a question thrown out there, and see where it goes. Here's one I have posted in my cubicle at work, as a warning to all who enter:
"The truth is always exciting.
Monday, August 6, 2007
I hope you all do the same.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Some pesky little things ya just live with.
And long as I can remember, my cowlick
Was always there. Yeah, I didn’t wake up
One morning fightin' off a rough tongue
Caress from some overly passionate cow!
I wasn’t born in a barn, ya know. (But it
Sure would make a sweet storyline, though.)
Nope, I guess I came out the chute that way.
Yup, never asked for damned pointy-up hair,
Right in front, and refusin' to lie down and
Act respectable. Yeah, cowlicks can surely
Be kinda embarrassin' sometimes. I mean,
Bad hairs goin' the wrong direction aren’t
What you want to talk about with nice folks,
Except maybe your Barber. Shucks, I tried
Special haircuts, gels and the like, but it
Always liked to fight back, given a chance.
Now I hoped maybe one day, after a few
Years of trainin', it might somehow conform
To my persistent combing and secret prayers.
Nope, it never happened. My cowlick still
Insists on going its own way, so to say.
Just because everyone else’s hair acts all
Normal like, don’t mean my rebellion hair
Wants to grow anywhere but straight up.
Try as I might, it just likes projectile location.
So what to do? Chop it off? No freakin' way!
Why should a cowlick matter, anyways?
Guess I’ll accept it the way it is and enjoy it.
Actually, to be honest (for once), I’ve grown
Rather fond of my old friend, that cowlick.
Hell, it’s a unique part of me that demands
A little extra attention, but ya know what?
At least I still got a full head of hair, which is
More than some high-minded folks can say.