I haven’t had much time to write this week. We are getting ready to go on vacation on Saturday, so work is busy and after work almost busier. But I had a moment tonight and thought I’d continue the story.

So after my experience at United Church of Christ, I started to feel a bit more hopeful. I started studying more about the doctrinal basis for church-based anti-gay rhetoric and found that it’s really basically three passages in the Bible that people fixate on when declaring that God condemns gay people. I won’t go into those in this post, though maybe I will later. But I did find that there are many religious scholars who interpret those passages differently. I also found religious writings that show some evidence of homosexuality in the Bible (the story of David and Jonathan is one example), though of course that is disputed. But more and more I found that this wasn’t as black and white as I’d believed.

Plus, I had my own experience and feelings to consider. I’ve always felt like I was close to the Spirit or the Holy Ghost, and felt guided into making certain decisions. On my mission, we often taught people the words of Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” I’d felt those feelings in the past, and I was feeling them more and more as I came to accept myself, and to accept the idea that God made me this way. I knew I was still a good person, and that’s part of what had been so hard about this journey, because what I knew about myself didn’t seem to match up with what I’d been told about people who leave the church for any reason, let alone for such a “big sin” as being gay.

Towards the end of that summer, my nephew came home from a mission. I was on my way to his homecoming and I was feeling very conflicted. I tend to be a very emotional person, and I knew as my nephew recounted his experiences, which is often very emotional, I would probably feel such strong feelings that I would cry. This isn’t unusual for me (those who know me well will be nodding their heads as they read this). So I was driving up to the church and I was thinking about how my whole family knew I was struggling with something, though I don’t think I’d told anyone at this point what was actually going on. But I hadn’t attended my older nephew’s wedding in the temple several months earlier, so it wasn’t a secret that I wasn’t exactly active in the church. And I was worried that I would give my family false hope, by possibly feeling emotional, which often indicates “feeling the Spirit”, and they would think that I would start coming to church again. I didn’t necessarily want to have any conversations about it at that point, but I also was feeling more and more sure that my path didn’t lead that way – I wouldn’t be going back.

I was feeling anxious and worried about that, and also thinking ahead to the inevitable moment when I would have to start telling people the real truth behind what had been going on with me. I decided to turn on some music, so I turned on the Lion King soundtrack (yes, I’m a showtune junkie) and forwarded to a song that I hadn’t listened to in a while. It is the song where Simba prays to the spirit of his father to know what he should do, and wonders why he hasn’t gotten an answer. It was a song that I’d really identified with at an earlier time in my life.

Where has the starlight gone?
Dark is the day
How can I find my way home?

Home is an empty dream
Lost to the night
Father, I feel so alone

You promised you’d be there
Whenever I needed you
Whenever I call your name
You’re not anywhere

I’m trying to hold on
Just waiting to hear your voice
One word, just a word will do
To end this nightmare

When will the dawning break
Oh endless night
Sleepless I dream of the day

When you were by my side
Guiding my path
Father, I can’t find the way

You promised you’d be there
Whenever I needed you
Whenever I call your name
You’re not anywhere

I’m trying to hold on
Just waiting to hear your voice
One word, just a word will do
To end this nightmare

I know that the night must end
And that the sun will rise
And that the sun will rise

I know that the clouds must clear
And that the sun will shine
And that the sun will shine

In the past, when I’d listened to that song, it was always that final chorus that made me feel hopeful – someday the sun will rise and things will get better. But this time, it was the earlier chorus – you promised you’d be there, one word just a word will do to end this nightmare – that really spoke so strongly to my heart. I realized that I HAD heard his voice. I wasn’t waiting for my answer. I had it.

At that same moment, I recalled a verse from the Doctrine & Covenants (LDS Scripture, for those who might not know) that I’d always really liked. It is from Section 6, verses 22 and 23: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak a peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?”

The feeling came so strongly into my heart and mind that I had already heard my answer, and that during the past year or so, whenever I felt conflicted and worried was when I was trying to fit back into the mold or worrying about what other people thought of me, and whenever I felt at peace was when I was accepting this part of myself and working to move forward in my life. It was kind of like the final piece in that part of the puzzle, the final confirmation I needed to know that, even if others wouldn’t understand it, I was on the path God wanted me to be on. I was able to go to church with my family, feel the strong emotions from my nephew’s homecoming, maybe even cry a little with happiness about his experiences and my own.

Between those two experiences (the first being the one at UCC from part 5), and many smaller ones in between, I was able to finally starting finding joy and happiness in my life again. I say this is the semi-final chapter because in may ways it’s the culmination of my personal journey. It’s not really the end of the story, of course, and I’ll write more later about coming out to friends and family, and then meeting the love of my life. But any happiness I have now stems from that particular summer, and of course all the struggle that came before it.

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