The Continuous Atonement
This past week has been my Spring Break away from school. So I've been able to spend some down time with my family, sleep in, and think about my life.
Saturday as I sat on the airplane home, I felt severe anxiety about my friends in my life. I felt like one by one they were either disappointing me or falling as a casualty to the war against Satan:
Adam and I have drifted somehow. Our schedules have both been insane. I've been preparing for finals and job hunting while Adam has been preparing for finals, graduation and finding a stable first career job. In addition to that, he's just distanced himself from me which has made me more frustrated. It seems like we used to be able to talk forever and never get tired of it, but now whenever I ask him how he's doing, his response is always "good". He never divulges or goes in depth like he used to. It's like he's shut himself off to me. He recently told me he doesn't believe the Church is true anymore which broke my heart. I support him and love him no matter what. But I honestly believe those feelings have been harbored and cultivated by attending a counselor who is pro-gay (when it comes to the Church stance on things) as well as associating with guys who are pretty much members now only by name. They are guys who aren't living the way they are taught, who are disobeying the law of chastity with other guys and who are all into finding fault in anything and everything with the church. I am gay and parts of me do want to be with a man. But I know the Church is true. I know that this is a trial of my faith, a trial that I accepted and because of that I am able to trust in the Prophet and continue to be faithful and follow the path I know to be right. Anyways, I stopped by Adam's on my way to the airport. I presented him with a birthday present that he really wanted as well has a heartfelt letter. I told him he was my best friend and that I loved him. We discussed how he was doing and what his position was with the church. He told me again that he didn't believe or support the Church like he used to. He said that he believed that Church wasn't the only true church. He also told me he is considering taking off his garments because they don't mean what they used to to him. I cried while he was telling me this and then in my drive to the airport afterwards (listen to Taylor Swift, All Too Well). I cried because I felt helpless in Adam's decisions, it breaks my heart to see him making similar decions to my own Father which led to a broken family for a decade. I felt heartbroken that he hasn't sincerely told me he loved me or that I was his best friend in over a month. He actually told me "This is what I worried about with this friendship. I didn't believe it was sustainable. It's always either hot or cold, there's no in-between." Ouch.
Stephen and I were talking to each other and Stephen dropped the bomb that he was drinking on the weekends to numb the pain and loneliness he was feeling. He was finally off Church probation for screwing up with Mac and it has left him bitter. He doesn't see hope and anything I said to him he rolled it off like it didn't mean anything to him.
Benji has found a new friend in the form of Alan, which is fine, good for him. I want Benji to have a ton of friends. But Benji has the tendency to make a new friend and becoming clingy and obsessed with them. He spends all his spare time with Alan but then complains that we never get to hang out. He never texts me anymore and then wonders why I get mad when I ask him to hang out and he's always with Alan. Then when we have hung out since he became friends with Alan, that's all I hear about.
David... I ran into him twice on campus and have been over to his house a couple of times when he wasn't home and spoke with his parents. His parents feel just as I do about Jaran (the other guy). His parents told me David used to be so full of life and energy. He used to be happy. Now every time they see him he looks sad and down. Jaran has taken over David and caused him to sever contact (on accident/on purpose who knows?) with his family and close friends. Jaran is manipulating David to live a life contrary to what he has been taught. It's sad and breaks not only my heart but his parent's hearts more importantly.
My other friend Erik who returned home from his mission a little over a year ago, just came out of the closet and is publicly dating a guy and announced it over Facebook. When I announced my support for traditional marriage at the beginning of the Supreme Court hearings on Facebook, Erik attacked me. He doesn't know that I'm gay. Part of me wonders if he and others could still call me ignorant and non-understanding if they knew about me.
These thoughts and worries about all my friends has been eating away at me. I recently deactivated my Facebook because I just felt pain and like I was alone in my battle, that these friends didn't really care about me anymore. They just looked at me as this ignorant replaceable guy. I've spent a great deal crying over all of my friends. I've begged the question to Heavenly Father "Why? Why am I so strong and able to stand by the Church and what I've been taught when others fall? I don't feel strong. I feel weak and simple minded." I have yet to come up with a reason why I haven't fallen to the teachings of the world. Though this girl I've been heavily involved with and interested in is leaving soon on her mission. I had the thought, "Maybe if I was married and just had my spouse I wouldn't feel empty right now with love and worry about all these other people. I would just have to worry and love my spouse. I wouldn't have to worry about her going anywhere."
These thoughts practically consumed me as I sat on my three hour flight. I felt the prompting to continue reading The Continuous Atonement by Brad Wilcox. It's a book I bought two years ago at the prompting of my Bishop when I first began my journey of being gay. I bring it on the plane every time I fly home to read but have never gotten around to it. I began reading:
"To Be Embraced
I have interviewed many who feel as if the blessings of the Atonement are meant for others and not them-for General Authorities like Elder Wells and not for the rest of us. They don't feel like they qualify because their lives don't match what they consider to be the ideal:
One man came home early from his mission. (I had to come home early from my mission because of illness)
Another is in his thirties and is yet unmarried. (Biggest fear I have)
A young woman never knew her father because her parents divorced when she was little and he refused to maintain contact.
Yet another young woman went on a mission, married in the the temple, and then found herself in an abusive relationship. She was divorced before her second anniversary.
A middle-aged woman was trying to earn a living at the same time she was raising her family as a single parent and didn't have enough hours in the day to do all expected of her.
Another sister felt like she might as well be a single parent. Her husband was not a member and did not support her in her efforts to bring up the children in the Church.
A middle-aged man was deeply troubled because his ex-wife left the Church when she divorced him and now the children, who remained with their mother, were being bombarded with anti-Mormon literature.
One mother was struggling to deal with her teenage daughter's suicide, although it had happened many years earlier.
A teenage boy was anxious for acceptance from other males and responded eagerly when a popular boy extended friendship. He soon discovered sexual favors were expected to maintain the relationship. He tried to cover his guilt by convincing himself his new lifestyle was acceptable.
His father was wrestling with feelings of hurt, embarrassment, and guilt. His son now claimed to be homosexual and had left the Church and participated in demonstrations against it.
The list of struggles seems endless. Obviously, many people live their lives far from the situations they planned and hoped for when they were children. This gives us all the more reason to turn to the Savior, whose message is not just "Come unto me," but "Come as you are." He doesn't say, "Go get your act together and then come back when you fit the mold." He says in essence, "Let's start right where you are, and go from there." Christ doesn't wait to offer blessings until our families look like the happy groups whose pictures appear in the Ensign magazine or in TV commercials. He doesn't require us to fit any mold before He is willing to mold us."I feel sorry for the soldier and old woman I was smashed in-between. I started sobbing. I felt the Spirit wash over me incredibly strong. The Spirit testified to me off the truthfulness of Brother Wilcox's words. I didn't receive a miraculous revelation or fix all solution, no I received the love and comfort from my Savior that he was aware of what I was going through, what Adam, Stephen, Benji, David and Erik were going through as well. He knows that none of us have our acts together. He knows that our lives are far from where we planned where they would be. But that was the plan. Had our lives been perfect we wouldn't need the Savior to mold us.
I know and testify that if my friends turn to the Savior, all their infirmities will be made whole. They will know what's right, they will know where the need to be and what they should do. In the mean time, it's my job to continue to love them and be an example.
I'm thankful for a Savior who knows me perfectly and loves me in spite of my many imperfections and faults. I'm thankful for his glorious and infinite atonement. Without him, I am nothing.