17 February 2009

Make A Heaven of Hell

Reading blogs is dangerous for someone like me. At any time I could read a post by someone else that triggers a whole new round of thought and analysis and I am suddenly and helplessly cranking out another new blog post myself.

Actually, though, this one has been on my mind lately before Scott's latest post jump-started me. And since my last post was a long, intricate rebuttal of a long, intricate fantasy, this time I will be merciful to any readers I might have left and keep to short, succinct bullet points. And though I usually can't help throwing in a joke or two somewhere, this one is (almost) completely serious.

Theme: How I'm Different Since I Came Out.

1. I'm happier all the time. Doesn't matter what I'm doing or thinking, I'm just happier. If I could dance worth a darn and wouldn't make a fool of myself, I would practically dance everywhere instead of walking.

2. I smile constantly, even at total strangers (especially the good looking guys).

3. I feel like I finally exhaled after holding my breath for--well, basically my whole life.

4. I am still careful, but I don't live in fear anymore. "And I will sing, that they shall hear I am not afraid!"

5. I no longer feel like I have to hide who I am from God or pretend in my prayers that this part of me doesn't exist. I have new and complete confidence that He knows and loves me for who and what I am.

6. My testimony of the Savior and the Atonement is stronger than ever.

7. I've learned in a new and deeper way that I have to take responsibility for my faith and what I believe, rather than just drifting along on a cultural tide because it's easier.

8. I've made a boatload of new friends who have blessed my life immeasurably.

9. I take much better care of myself.

10. I am kinder, more tolerant, more charitable, more of a peacemaker, because I have been on the receiving end of unkindness, intolerance, hostility and aggression.

11. I have more self-confidence. I have done this incredibly difficult thing and not only survived, but thrived. Maybe I have more strength and stamina than I thought.

12. I no longer live under a cloud of guilt and shame because of something I didn't choose. I have learned to accept and be happy with every part of who and what I am.

A few times in my life I have done things that seemed totally innocuous and ordinary at the time, but later events showed me indisputably that I had been prompted by the Spirit to do or say what I did. In one such case I was able to save the Church itself and some of its representatives from serious public embarrassment and possible criminal exposure.

Looking back on the day I decided to come out to Friend #1, I realize that it happened very suddenly. I had never before even allowed myself to think of doing it, but it was like a voice inside that said "You could come out to him safely. Do it." And the instant I heard that voice, I knew the decision was made. I went through the internal debate because I'm the type who always has to debate out of principle, if nothing else, but I really knew already that I would go ahead.

And now, looking back on the results these past six months, I have to wonder if that wasn't the Spirit whispering. "It's time, Alan. Time to step out into the sunlight. God your Father knows what you are, and He approves. Time to stop pretending and living in fear. Light and truth will disperse darkness and fear. Time for you to embrace both more than you ever have before."

I know full well that being gay in the Church can be a tough road, I've made that abundantly clear in other posts. But I never imagined there would be so many wonderful things about coming out either. It's like that song in "Were The World Mine" using Shakespeare's lyrics: "make a heaven of hell." Lots of people may think it's hell, but in some ways, coming out has brought me a lot closer to heaven.


Ausmo said...

Great to hear your doing so well, ive been addicted to the Were the world mine soundtrack lately too, its great!

GeckoMan said...

Good for you! I too have felt that quiet direction prompting me it's time to be more forthcoming, to be more courageous standing up for what I feel to be true. How else will things change in the church for the better? Even so, it was difficult to push the "POST" button yesterday, revealing my identity in much more certain ways. And yet, I too felt this sense of elation after having done it, that this will be a good thing for me and my family. My children need to have some references to go back to in my life, in writing, to understand some of the pieces they love about me, but don't know how to put together. . . until they understand more fully my 'grand secret.'

I came out to myself and my wife years ago, and other than a couple Bishops, I've been firmly entrenched in the closet of convenience. It's just easier to maintain an clean image of mormon goodness and not let folks in on the undercurrents of the wellspring of passions. Then I started blogging and I carelessly let the cat got out of the bag with my oldest daughter and her husband, yet they have been amazingly supportive. (My daughter is an outspoken Mormon Feminist who at times has felt quite alone in our family.) I now feel freedom from keeping the lid on all things, and we talk much more in depth on social and spiritual issues than ever before, because we jointly understand more of the pain of our personal experiences. This has been liberating, and has caused me to reflect on why we sometimes squelch opportunities to build meaning in our relationships. The reason is because it's tough to come clean, admit your weaknesses, feel embarrassed--but after getting through that we have so much more basis to understand and embrace one another.

I appreciate your blog and your edginess. I like how you're willing to hang it out there with your feelings as well as some rationale. You say the things I think, yet too often keep to myself. So keep it up, bro. . . thanks for your 'top ten' happy list. I'm glad you're feeling happy being the you of your creation, dancing through this veil of tears, making a Heaven of Hell, and feeling more honest and unashamed to be the man you are.

I'm so with you on this score: may I join the dance? (Even though I have two left feet?)

Scot said...

Ah, that's great. I came out as a kid, and so it was a bit different, but I still remember the immeasurable relief and many of the same great new symptoms of the dreaded out gay lifestyle. :-)

Bravone said...

Alan, thanks for this incredible post. I have had similar feelings by exposing my true self to those I truly care about.

Beck said...

Thank you for your example and enthusiasm for life and living it fully, honestly, completely. Someday I hope that I, too, can share in those same liberating, life-giving feelings.