Sunday a friend came over to my house and we begin the process of Christamtizing the home. You know decking the halls and all that fun stuff. Before he arrived I had been writing the missionaries and listening to BYUTV. They are doing a serious on the "9 Be's" and they we're highlighting be clean. I only remember 6 b's but I guess somewhere along the line the prophet found 3 more, Most of the talks were pretty much the same. One touched me, in what was said that was different. But that’s another post.
So as we sat there on the floor, surrounded by pine needles, garland, various manager scene pieces and Santa’s. We half listened to the speakers and talked about church.
My friend is aware of my struggles, he doesn’t struggle with the things I do, but he has his own issues. Ironically he asked me the first day we met if I was gay. I was taken aback by this and asked him how he knew, and he said, "well it not because of anything like your mannerisms or anything like that, its just this feeling I had."
He opened up to me and told me about his struggles. It was interesting because what he struggles with is something I think we all do. I just didn't know it had a name. It too is an item for a future post.
So anyways we listened to one of the apostle speak about the law of chastity and my friend finally just sorta snapped.
"You know I don't need to hear that," he said. "And yeah I know what you are thinking, you are thinking that I must have a problem with it and that it’s hard for me to hear it. But that's not what I'm saying. The problem is that I don't have a problem with it. But it’s the only thing they ever say. I go to church; I hear the same stuff over and over, now what? I know this stuff. I obey this stuff. I don't need to hear this. What I need to hear is more, more about what I need to do now."
I sat back and looked at him. True to my LDS upbringing I said. "Have you talked to you bishop about this" of course it was a dumb, knee jerk reaction.
"Oh yeah, that’s why I was late." he said. "Of course he said it was some sort of spiritual handicap of mine. That the teachers and leaders are all inspired and teaching what they need to teach and if I'm not feeling the spirit its because I'm not intune to it," he said. "Dude, I read my scriptures, I pray, I serve I do all those things. I don't have a problem with these things. I pay my tithing. I go to church. Now what?"
I looked at him and said, "I understand." We started talking about how the church handles the who SGA issues. I had given him a copy of the new pamphlets. He read it, we both agreed that it was awesome. We started talking about the way it had been dealt with in the past, I went and found my copy of "To the One" and read what at the time Elder Packer had wrote. I told him that I knew that Packer was inspired to write it, and at the same time I knew we had to think about the time period it was delivered in and the spirit it was delivered in. I also told him that I had many friends who had been hurt by what it said about selfishness and all that. But that I think that our leaders are trying and honestly they want us to avoid and not get involved in what is a sin, or what would even lead us to question what is sin, rather we understand the cause of it. The final answer is that it is a sin and that's it. But that doesn’t always help make it easier.
He asked me how I did it. How I stay faithful. How I deal with it knowing that how I feel and want isn't always in tune with what I want so badly. Not so much my lusts, but my desires to be loved and share love in a way that isn't "work" or feeling like I'm sacrificing what I want for what someone, even if that someone is God, wants for me and only having his promise that in the end I'll be happy.
I told him about these groups, and blogs and the whole "moho" thing and that I know that I'm not always well liked for advocating being faithful and stuff and that I've actually lost friends over this and am seen as somewhat of an overzealous preachy guy. But that if the church is true, than everything about it is true. I can't follow a version of it, or an altered liberal version of it. I've been to the temple; I've made promises and covenants to the Lord and now its up to me to keep those. Some may find this being over zealous, but I what if God blessed us according to our zeal? If this leaves me friendless then so be it. I try to be the type of friend who is honest and who does stand for what is right. What if a friend started drinking poison, would we not tell him because we didn’t want to offend him? Maybe this isn’t what those who struggle want as support but it’s what they need, but it often just makes them feel preached to and I end up getting rejected. I told him that I think maybe that’s why he feels the way he does. But that I also understand how he feels.
There are times I feel the same way, like “Okay God, I’m doing what you asked, now what, why don’t people like me, where is the happy ending that comes at the end of the seminary movie? When is that check going to appear in the mail? When am I going to be respected for what I do? I’ve shown Christlike love, when will I feel it from others?” I don’t think me feeling this way is a lack of faith on my part.
We sat and listened some more. Honestly I wanted to change the channel to “Desperate Housewives,” the mood had turned from holiday festive to "endure to the end gloom."
He finally looked up to me and said something. "You know how the year before we were asked to all read the Book of Mormon?"
I said yes.
"I was already reading it, then I suddenly felt guilty for not reading it fast enough to get to the end of it by the end of the year," he said. "It's like when the stake pres gets a lecture from a GA about Sacrament meeting attendance and so he speaks to all the wards about the importance of attending church. The problem is that these are the ones who are attending church; these are the ones who are already reading the Book of Mormon. But these are the same ones who will now bare the brunt of all the guilt in the church for not doing it."
I looked at him, and nodded. "So why are they being so hard on the ones who are doing what they are asking us to do?" he asked.
"Because,"I said. "We are the only ones who will listen to them."
We both smiled and started to laugh. The mood lightend. We needed that. Things started to make a lot more sense than.