By Nathan Alexander (also published at his blog livingoxymormon.com)
I know we haven’t exactly been on speaking terms for the last little while…well…at least I know I haven’t really been speaking to you. As always, you’ve been the better person and have still been willing to talk to me, waiting to listen to me, and answering the prayers that I haven’t actually had the nerve to utter…because apparently I hold grudges.
No, you haven’t technically done anything, but I think that’s been the problem. I was hoping for expecting radical change – people to be more accepting and loving; church leaders to stop talking so much about same sex marriage and start being more conscious of my feelings. But I know that’s not how you work. I guess I’ve always known. After all, as Randall said at Affirmation, if change happens in the church, it’s not going to happen for a long long long long long long long long time (and there may have been a couple more long’s). I know that. I get that. I’m just sick of waiting. And you know that – patience isn’t a virtue that I possess.
I have learned things lately, and I know you put people in my path so that I would, even if I didn’t ask for them. I’ve learned that my feelings have validity; that I matter and that you care. I’ve learned that I don’t have to decide between being gay and Mormon – the two sides aren’t mutually exclusive. Because I exist. I’ve learned that I have value – even as one single soul I have value. Just as much as my brother, my mom, my friends, and my enemies. Okay…I don’t really have enemies, but you get what I mean. I matter. And you taught me that. And I thank you for that.
How do I know that I matter? Because Jesus went among the lepers teaching and healing; not among the aristocracy. Because you were among us at the Affirmation conference, and I felt it. Because you sent Julie de Azevedo to the conference so that I could hear what she has to say and feel your love. Because you speak to me, an individual, just as much as you speak to anyone else.
You’ve taught me how to love and increased my capacity to love since I came out. You’ve taken me out of my former judgmental Utah-Mormon self and replaced my perceptions of others with a genuine desire to love everyone. Not judge, not despise, not criticize, not harbor ill will. Love. And because I do love others I know a little more about the love you have for me.
You’re trying to teach me to tolerate the unanswered questions. In fact, I think you’re trying to beat me over the head with the reality that most of my questions won’t be answered in this life. But you’re helping me to tolerate the ambiguity and teaching me the real meaning of enduring to the end: how it’s not about being righteous and attending church every Sunday. It’s about constantly building my relationship with you, about learning to love like you, and about thriving in the life you’ve given me. Speaking of which…thanks for giving me that Casting Crowns song “Thrive.” I cried when I first heard it because I knew it was true.
You’re doing all of this while I’ve all but ignored your very existence over the past few months. While I’ve been ungrateful, unhelpful, and self-pitying. You knew I’d remember you. You knew I wouldn’t be gone long. Thanks for not giving up on me.
Oh, and thanks for sending me the Stake President you have. He took me out to lunch the other day and we had a wonderful chat. He’s just as loving and supportive as you are, and he’s okay with the gray area I have to live in. He knows I want to marry a man and be with him and our children forever, and all he says is to stay close to you throughout the process. He doesn’t want to hold a disciplinary council – he knows I just need love. Which is great, because I don’t think my self-preserving side could make it through one of those.
And while I might not go back to church regularly any time soon (if ever), and I may not be as good as I once was at the traditional praying, I know that’s not what you really care about. Because I also know that your desire for me is to stay close to you and that nothing is too personal for me to talk about with you. I know that I can find you anywhere I look. I know that you’re there for me because you’ve shown yourself to me in the people you’ve put into my life, even when I’ve been a bit of a bitch by shutting you out.
Oh…and will you please help me to find Mr. Right? Like soon? I’m ready to settle down and have a family. And will you please make him understanding of my quirkiness and shortcomings; make him patient to balance out my impatience; make him love me for me; make him have a great sense of humor; and make him a good dad? Oh…and if you could make him smokin’ hot, I’d really appreciate it.
I don’t say it enough, but I love you. Thanks for being there for me constantly – even when I feel alone everywhere else. Thanks for sending Jesus Christ to be my savior. Thanks for giving me a kick-ass family who loves and supports me even though they don’t know how. And thanks for giving me an amazing MOHO family who can be there for my when my blood relatives can’t. Just thanks. For everything.
I promise I’ll keep in touch – especially if you still will. And I know that it’s okay if it’s not “traditional,” because since you speak with each of us in different ways, we get to speak with you in different ways. So it may be in a blog post, or in my heart. It may be in a frantic moment where I plead for help or in my mind as I go to sleep. It may even be as I’m talking to someone else. But I will. I promise. I’ll keep in touch.
Talk to you soon,