27 March 2012

Redefining Faith

I have come to the realization that I don't consider myself part of the LDS Church anymore.  When I think about the Church, it is something that I see as part of my past.  It isn't part of my future.

In the present, the ripples from my involvement as a member continue.  The reflections and shadows that are cast by the LDS Church still exist as well.  They always will, I'm sure, because of my family's devotion.  And after all, I still live in Utah.  As long as that is true, the LDS Church will have some presence, despite my best efforts to understate it.

Regardless of how you leave the Church, the absence of something that has played such a large role in your life is easily felt.  How you feel it is much more personal.  Some are angry.  Some are sad.  Some feel completely liberated.

How do I feel?

Some days I think I know.  Some days I don't.

In the present and for the future, I think I am going through the process of redefining my faith.  I know that I believe in God.  I know that I believe in Jesus Christ.  I know that my faith is something that I hold very dear.  While faith and the importance of faith has been instilled in me from the time I was very young, the importance I place in my faith is something that I have determined on my own.

You often hear that people who leave the Church can't leave the Church alone.  The pieces of the Church that still stretch through my life make it difficult for me to leave the Church alone.  The Church's involvement in political matters that directly impact my life also make it difficult for me to leave the Church alone.  And I know that I still hold a lot of anger and resentment towards the Church and its leaders specifically.  That is something I need to work through, because at the end of the day, I don't want the Church to have that kind of hold on me anymore.

I know my faith matters to me but I don't know where I stand with my faith much further than that.  This is a process.  This is a journey.  This is where I'm at right now.

24 March 2012

The Little Things

I don't know what it is about little things, but they seem to make quite a bit of difference.

I can't tell you how many times we get callbacks at work from people who ordered takeaway and have missing items.  It's not a steak or a chicken or a salad that get forgotten.  It's the salad dressing.  It's the potato toppings.  It's the au jus or horseradish for prime rib.  It's the butter for the bread.

Why do customers get so upset when you forget little things?  Because the little things are important.  They make the meal just that much better.  Yeah, you can open your fridge and pull out a bottle of salad dressing.  But it doesn't have the same flavor that a homemade salad dressing has, especially when you ordered that salad "just for the dressing."

So if it's so important, why do we forget the little things then?

I find that this goes beyond the walls of a restaurant.  Think about the last time you did something that you thought was a "little something" for someone.  Text someone to say hi.  Smile at someone on the street.  Say hello.  Do the dishes when it isn't your turn.  It makes a big difference.  It says that you were thinking about someone.  You were looking outside yourself.  

Why does that make a difference?  It's validation.  It's saying that someone else matters.

I'm still taking this grain of sand and spinning it into something more well-formed, but I've been thinking about it so much that I thought I would start formulating it out in the real world.  

Little things.  Interesting.

23 March 2012

Never Stop Fighting

21 March 2012

Prepping for Pride

This will be short and sweet, but I'm starting to get excited for June.  Pride will be here before I know it and I can't wait!  In Utah, Pride weekend is the one time a year where we can go and be gay and be in public without the extreme level of caution that we most often exercise.  We get to let our hair down, so to speak.

I'm SO buying a Tyler Oakley shirt for the festivities!

As usual, we invited a bunch of people from work.  For a few of them, if they really go, this will be their first Pride.  I'm just happy that they're so excited to go, and that they're as supportive as they are.

I really am blessed with wonderful people in my life.  Hurray for my PFLAG, and hurray for Pride!

10 March 2012

A Private Club For Members

I wonder sometimes about doing what some of you have done, and composing a letter asking that my name be removed from the records of the Church.

Sometimes I don't know why I haven't done it already.  Whenever I have to fill out a form that asks about religion, or if someone asks me, I don't identify myself as LDS anymore.  I usually opt for Christian-Other. If someone asks, I tell them I am non-denominational Christian.

I do believe in Christ, very deeply.  My relationship with Him and with God have become very personal and there is no way I could ever deny that they know and love me.  Little old me, just doing the best I can, living a life where I follow my heart and try to be a good person.  Those are the boundaries I set for myself and the standards which I hold myself to.

When I think about organized religion of any sorts, I recognize that people as individuals have many different spiritual needs.  There are many different spiritual hopes, which in turn has led to different denominations and sects and all sorts of faith.  What is good to one person may be completely strange to someone else.  I think at their core, most religions try to help people have good lives, teach them good principles, and try to encourage society as a whole to be a more loving place.  Unfortunately, these core threads are sometimes buried beneath the emotion that runs on the surface.  People use their religious beliefs to justify a lot of things, not all of them good.

I have always been the type of person who bristles when someone tries to tell me who I am, or how I should be.  I am perfectly capable of making that determination on my own, thank you very much.  A little guidance is fine but any mention of "should" implies judgment that I'm not willing to accept.

And yet, there is something stopping me from writing a letter and signing my name.  Maybe it's enough for me to not go to church every Sunday and not pay tithing and consider myself Christian instead of LDS.  I no longer feel like a member, and maybe that's all I really need.

Maybe it's that I know it would break my mother's heart, and I know I've already put her through a lot of heart wrenching stress anyway.  She likes to remind me that she hopes for the day when I'll "come back."

Maybe if the Church and the records department can feel better about their membership numbers by including all the people they freely hurt and who don't support them anymore, then that's their problem and not mine.  I certainly don't lose sleep over it.

Maybe...maybe I don't even know what.

If you have sent a letter and resigned your membership, what was the major factor and/reasoning behind your decision?

Something Good

from the Sound of Music

Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth

For here you are, standing there, loving me
Whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

Nothing comes from nothing
nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good


Sometimes I feel exactly like this.

04 March 2012

Engagements and Marriages

It seems like there are a lot of people who are engaged right now.  I see a lot of them on Facebook, and most of them are Moho guys, but I think there's a straight couple here and there.

Engagements are something I love to see.  I'm so happy for everyone who is finding this happiness!  I think it's a very exciting time and I'm glad that the opportunity for marriage is now reaching people I know.  To have two people recognized for the deeply committed type of love that each must bring to a marriage is a truly amazing experience.

Those of you who have followed this blog for awhile know that I was married once.  I was married in the Salt Lake Temple.  When I got divorced about two years later, I very firmly committed to never getting married again.  Having not had the best marriage experience, this thought was one that brought me so much peace.  I knew that I could be okay if I was never married to a man again.  It wasn't something I remotely wanted.

As more states are embracing marriage equality, I am finding now that I actually do think about getting married again.  My girlfriend and I have been together for two and a half years.  That's practically a lifetime in LDS terms.  If we were a conventional LDS couple, we would have already been married for two years.  We talk in terms of "forever" when we consider our relationship, but we're not in a hurry.  We've even talked about "when we get married..." but it is always a distant future sort of thing.

As I think about the possibility of getting married again, I actually find that I would like to get married again.  I want to.  And I think it's because it would be a marriage I could actually bring something to.  It's a marriage I want to be a part of, not one that I want to run and hide from.  I love my girlfriend so much and I never want to be without her.  I'm pretty sure that she feels the same way about me.  We have genuine care and concern for the others well-being and state of happiness.  And I know that I could be married to her for the rest of my life.

It doesn't feel like a foreign idea, wanting to get married again, because in a lot of ways, I think it would be like getting married for the first time.

And if that's the case, it would be my first and only, which is how I've always wanted my marriage to be.

03 March 2012

What I Learned From Andy

I feel like I've been in a weird frame of mind for the last month or so.  I feel like I've been doing more soul searching than I've done in a long time.

I think part of it comes from thinking about Andy.  I've learned more about the circumstances of his death and it's very rattling to me.  Drugs were involved.  Andy had struggled with addiction for a long time.  Even his obituary says that he lost his battle with drug addiction.  I have found that to be a sobering reminder.  I've been an addict myself, though not to substances.  To be reminded that the fight is never really over is tough, to say the least.  You can be sober for years and still be close enough to the edge that one misstep will send you falling, perhaps to never get up again.

And unfortunately, when you start thinking about and worrying about your addiction, that addiction becomes a much more present force in your life.

In grieving for Andy, I've been trying to remember what he taught me.  He was such a light, filled with so much positive energy.

"Today I will only expect great things!  Today I will only be the LOVE I wish to experience in my life!  Today I will excel in my forgiveness of my negative thoughts, and only feel the positive flow of the universe ever working in my life!  Today I will be HAPPY!  Today I will be me!"

"In this day and age, life can feel as though you are struggling, and things just aren't as they seem...for a few weeks my life has been on an up sweep of loving energy that I know is moving me forward into more and more blessings!  My higher power blesses me more and more each day.  It's my awareness to this energy's presence that allows me to feel as amazing as I do!"

Life doesn't stop, even when you want it to.  It's funny how important a small moment can be much later.  As we try to move forward, I hope to do so in a way that I can be proud of, and that will not turn my life towards shadows I have moved out of.  Just because I cast those shadows and they follow me doesn't mean I have to walk back into their arms.

TODAY I know that good things are ahead of me.  As I work towards what I want from my life, I know I have to enrich my life with good and positive things.  TODAY I won't ask for my obstacles to be removed, but rather I will ask for strength and courage to face them until I can overcome them.  TODAY I will remember that I am blessed.  TODAY I will thank God for Andy and for all the wonderful people who bring positive energy to my life!