19 April 2009

The Death of Hope

Going into Conference, I will admit that I as hopeful. As I am every Conference. They say that if you prepare, and you hope, and you pray, that you will find the answers you're looking for. And so I do the same thing everytime, and end up feeling jaded. This time was no different.

This was the first conference I didn't attend in person since returning from my mission 3+ years ago. But I made a day of it anyway, leaving home for the first session and just chilling at the church until it ended (I took a lunch and a book both days).

If you are a sincerely converted, deeply believing Mormon, I warn you in advance some of this may be a little startling. I'm just going to go down the list and give you my reactions as I penned them in my little notebook. This is 100% honest, sincere, guttural, and intensely emotional - consider this your fair warning disclaimer.

SATURDAY MORNING SESSION
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Pres. Monson - He said "the work is moving forward uninterrupted" and immediately the hope and strength I had mustered in putting on my tie and bringing myself to hear these words in hope of upliftment, begin to falter. Are you ignoring all the issues before your eyes? How can you honestly stand by such a statement and say that there are no interruptions to the work of God?

You pray for me but do you have a place for me here?

Coming into conference, and having it start this way I find myself more skeptical than ever before. I'm just not as ready to believe. Prayers for Bobby states that questioning spawns deeper faith - Am I simply in the limbo before I get there? Or will I never make it?

Robert D Hales - I need to have hope, in my Savior.

Is my deepest hunger a love of God? I don't really think so. I think it's to have a place, to feel equal. I know with all my being that God loves me, but does the Church? Because I still don't see that.

Margaret Lifferth - Reverence

Michael A Neider - Virtue. Live by quorum and priesthood principles.

Allen F Packer - Deep personal conviction. Where is it? This is the way to build on rock.

Desire, Experiment, Study and learn (Ponder), Have realistic expectations of inspiration/revelation, and ASK.

So are my expectations for answers to the questions that continue to vie for purchase in my heart and mind unrealistic? Unattainable?

The lord needs EACH of us, I have work to do. There's a reason I'm not dead, so why can't I see it? Why don't I know where to go?

D Todd Christofferson - Covenants provide the faith necessary to persevere through all tribulation. Faith also grows through trails. So is this my hang-up? My covenants aren't all in 100% working-order, so I can't hack it anymore? Getting everything back where it needs to be would cost so much, am I ready to pay the price? Is it worth the cost? That's a question I really want answered.

Henry B Eyring - We are human. Comfort gives way to distress, good health wanes, and misfortune happens. And the one he didn't say: Good intentions don't necessarily work without harming others.

Is God indifferent? Does he just not care about the way we suffer, racked with pain and agony? Greater trust is only gained through trials. Then brings the joy of forgiveness, to heal and help us. So how much more is more? How much deeper does deep go? How many more tears do I have to cry in order to wash my soul clean? Trials are an invitation to grow, and faith endures when it's hard. This is why I'm still here right now, despite my misgivings, my struggles, my doubt and the inherent discrepancies I see in the conduct and attitude of the Saints.

One day I want to be able to say this: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" 2 Tim 4:7

SATURDAY AFTERNOON SESSION
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M Russell Ballard - Darkness results when we turn our backs. So which way does that mean I'm facing? Where is the so-called "collapse of morality?" Everyone raves on and on about the moral depravity and rampant collapse of values and principles, but I have yet to see documentation of this. I have yet to understand that there is a world-threatening endemic of people ravishing the streets have wild, gratuitous sex with whomever they come across. Where is the evidence of this collapse? The economic collapse - that I believe in because I can see it.

This was one of the first talks where I felt a strong sense of irony as he preached about the past repeating itself, and I thought about the Church and it's position with the Blacks and how that changed. Is this the next repeat?

Why do you, whom I look to as leaders, and guiders, and the ones in whom I should place my trust - WHY do you dance with your words and skirt the issues? If you're going to take a stand, then by all means, TAKE IT. Come out and say exactly what you intend to do, and who you are going to do it against, so that I can have something solid in which to base my decision and know for sure what's going to happen. Then I can make my informed decision without your damned ambiguous vagueness.

Quentin L Cook - No notes.

Kevin W Pearson - Fear and faith cannot coexist. We get what we focus on - so is my focus misplaced? Is my hope in the wrong thing? Should I just go back to grinding myself against the wall some more so that my focus is directed to the right place? Even if it kills me? At least my focus will be in the right place...

Rafeal E Pino - Adversity happens.

Richard G Scott - Going to the temple is #1. More important than addressing the situation of those struggling? Stop mincing words! I need to thank the Lord more for trusting me enough to give me adversity? Stop your bitching, there's no reason to complain if you're living worthily.

Russell M Neslon - To be forgiven, you must first forgive.

Unity is key, but it's going to fail in the face of unacknowledged divisions. How can you build unity around secrets, prejudices, and false judgment?

SATURDAY EVENING SESSION
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Boyd K Packer - Read D&C 89. Resist the impulses that will trouble your spirit. The hardest part of war is UNCERTAINTY. You don't know how it will end. Who's going to be a casualty?

Happiness is NOT available to me according to his definition. Because that is only found in taking a woman to the temple, where "happy" is.

Richard C Edgely - Get a job.

Claudio R M Costa - Give faithful service.

Dieter F Uchtdorf - Focusing on being gay and finding my way and place in the church seems vitally important, but is it causing me to crash? Am I going to go down and miss the truth? Am I focused just on a burnt out bulb?

Henry B Eyring - The wounds of sin are not readily felt at inception, and if not resolved, fester and kill. So how have I survived? Shouldn't I be long dead with all the "sin" in my life that goes unmentioned?

"Man Down!" Help your brothers! Go above and beyond the call of duty. What hypocrisy! How can you profess to do this? How can any of you claim to stand here and do this? What about the 100's already down? What about me? I've been screaming MAN DOWN for months, years. Where is my aid? Where is my rescue? I don't even know who the enemy is that's shooting me. Is it the advancing menace? Or those who would call themselves friend? Where's MY badge of honor for fighting for all of you even when you turn your backs and disdainfully leave me here to die?

Pres. Monson - Study diligently, Pray fervently, and Live righteously. Are these principles fully incorporated into my life? Or ignored? Prayer provides spiritual strength and is a passport to peace. So why hasn't it EVER EVER EVER worked for me?

SUNDAY MORNING SESSION
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Dieter F Uchtdorf - Hunger for meaning and purpose... oh wait I do. The more we hear the gospel truth, the more faith and hope blossom within us, filling our hearts and minds... NO. I don't feel this. Where's my disconnect? How did I break somewhere?

The gospel supposedly has the answers to ALL problems. So where the hell are they? Why aren't you giving them to me? What is the "ultimate formula for success and happiness?" (besides the one I can't fulfill).

Day after day after day after bloody day I do what you say but get NO closer to elusive happiness. None. "Practice what you preach." HA! Okay, I'm waiting for you to live up to that hypocritical statement.

I stop, I see myself. Yesterday: Innocent, naive, full of hope, budding with joy for Christ and His church. And again Today: Tired of crying, of fighting, of pushing myself away from inviting death, waiting for someone, anyone, to finish my faith that I continue daily to retch toward the thing I love most that only returns hate to me.

God sees me forever. What does he see? What do YOU see?

Neil A Andersen - Keeping covenants in these days of destiny will be a badge of honor in the eternities. Well, I already forfeited mine, so now what?

Steven E Snow - No notes.

Barbara Thompson - No notes.

Jeffrey R Holland - Finally in this battery of hate, lack of acceptance, indifference toward my plight, and hypocritical preaching, I find something which provides me a flicker of new hope, which I desperately cling to.

Jesus is who I follow. He is the reason I am still here. He has walked alone, just as I am. ALL turned against him.

Judas was a special witness of Christ. An apostle of God. He saw Jesus heal, heard him pray. And yet, he could betray him? Don't JUDGE Judas. The apostles Peter, James, and John fell asleep in the Savior's greatest hour of need. THREE TIMES.

Peter denied Christ three times.

Jesus' support circle collapsed around him (though the women stayed - way to go faithful ladies!)

Jesus had no comfort, no companionship. So why should *I* expect any? God went through this hell of hells, and I need to be like him right? Was Jesus emotionally prepared for what he suffered? He made it through, and that is sufficient reason to continue hoping, and to press forth. God was pleased with his Son.

Jesus pressed on even when he was in complete anguish; completely, and abjectly alone.

I STAND BY JESUS.

Pres. Monson - The moral footing of society continue to slip? You are the PROPHET OF GOD! It your duty, calling, and obligation to sound your voice as a TRUMP to shake all nations against deviance and wickedness. If Prop 8 is WRONG, then come out and say so! Don't just mildly refer in passing to things which upset you. Tell me so I can know to leave!

2 Ne 2:25 "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." Okay, HOW? How the hell do I achieve this when you stand there and paint it against me? When you paint me on the other side of you and all those who are righteous?

You tell me to center my life on the gospel. I AM. I DO. And it's done nothing but bring me closer to DEATH.

The future is as bright as my faith? Well, that's going to be a problem...

SUNDAY AFTERNOON SESSION
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Dallin H Oaks - What am I willing to sacrifice for the Lord? Happiness? Normalcy? Equality? I have a different destiny.

Ignore your plight, ignore yourself. Forget your conflict, forget your problems. Just serve! With a smile! Everything will be peachy peachy!

Bullshit.

David A Bednar - Temples are the focus. Celestial marriage is the goal. The only goal worth having.

-In this painting, I have no place. So why do I stay?

All in the gospel looks to the temple. Here is where the highest blessings are available - just not to me.

Take upon ye the name of Christ and then wage war viciously and unrelentingly against all who would threaten you because God will protect you in righteousness. Is he really saying this? This is like a free pass to just hate us more and more and it's okay. What more permission do the Saints need?

Gary E Stevenson - Go to the temple or you are the mist of darkness.

Jose A Teixeira - We are born with GPS, to know right and wrong. So why the hell is it so HARD? Confusing? I keep the commandments, but... no one's guiding me - how do *I* know?

F Michael Watson - Wisdom of those who have gone before and those with us still will lead us and guide us on the search. But where is that going to lead me? Barred doors?

Master speaks through his Prophets... so WHY do they continue to be silent when I'm screaming for all I'm worth? "Man Down!" We need more than a talk for me to believe this.

L Tom Perry - Be a better missionary - warn your neighbor. (And then when they get baptized, they can do what E.Bednar suggests and hate everyone else).

Pres. Monson - The words don't even phase me anymore. It's over - again. I've spent more than 60 HOURS listening to these men spit words looking for something to hold on to, something to give me a reason to continue trying to cut myself into the mold I don't fit, and again, I'm leaving empty-handed.

Hate and bitterness, scorn and rage, are all growing in my heart. The scary thing is that I don't know how to stop them. I don't know how to save myself from falling apart the rest of the way. "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve" - but I'm WEAK, so I serve Satan, right?

End.

After it was over, my dad picked me up and said, "So did you enjoy it?"

I deadpanned and replied, "No."

He wasn't expecting that. But he did get points by actually turning down the radio and asking why.

And then I exploded. "Because every time I go looking for answers, I only end up with more questions. It compounds the hate and loathing I already have for myself, and leaves me feeling utterly hopeless because the "focus" the "goal" is something I can't have, and it's something I can't achieve."

I paused and looked at him, "And most of the time I wish that it wasn't such a part of me - that it wasn't so deeply in my heart and soul. Because then I could walk away, make peace, and move on with building my own happiness. But I just can't do that, and it's destroying me. Why do I have to believe? Why?"

He really wasn't expecting that. And he didn't reply. But I didn't expect him too. He listened, and that was enough.

And so I'm breaking down. And I can't hack it anymore. I'm ready to be done. But just as I felt enslaved to the devil as a child with sexual desires, now I feel chained to the church with my spiritual ones. The role has reversed, but I'm just as bound as ever.

And I hate it.

That's why I wouldn't write about it. Because I don't want you to see my pain, my hurt, my frustration. Because I don't want you to understand. Or sympathize. Or try and comfort me.

It's easier to pretend nothing's wrong. Nothing's broken. I'm not floundering in a sea of doubt and despair. I'm full of hope and joy, and forgetting myself I'm simply beaming with service, loving everyone as they love me back, warmly, openly, and wholly. I put on my tie, shine my shoes, and go to church because it makes me feel so safe and happy...right?

5 comments:

D. said...

LOVE YA! Please know you're not alone and we are here for you! You know how to get a hold of me!

El Genio said...

Personally, I was hoping that we are dancer. ;)

At any rate, I can totally relate to these frustrations. After a month long break due to vacation/work, we'll see where things stand this Sunday.

Hidden said...

@D: I love you too man! So excited to hear about all the neat stuff you're doing! Best to you!

@Genio: You were hoping what? I think I missed something... Yeah, I'd like to know how things go with you when you return.

Over the Rainbow said...

The Lord is the one that has your badge of honor. Your testimony/faith/hope is strong- or you wouldn't be searching for the truth- you would be pretending everything is perfect like most of the ridiculous members of this church.

You aren't alone- ever.

And its bullshit that you can't have a Temple marriage if that's want you really want.

brittany said...

In some of my darkest times you've given me what you have been denied. You've made me feel ok and normal and good enough even though I was (and am) broken and things seemed hopeless to me.

This reminds me of alma 4:12-13
A lot of members of the church are turning their backs on people in need spiritually because of their own pride. Just like some say "you dont deserve my financial help because you didnt work hard enough to get a job" they are saying "you don't deserve my spiritual comfort and brotherhood because you havent prayed hard enough"

In verse 13 you see the humble members of the church left cleaning up the mess.

I'm so glad that the prideful members of this church haven't been able to extinguish the amazing charitable loving part of you that I have been able to benefit from.