I recently received an e-mail from a new friend, a gay man who is trying to make his mixed-orientation marriage work while still being true to himself. His relationship to the Church is also very much a work in progress, as it is for many of us.
He wrote of reading an article in the current issue of the Ensign entitled "Finding Answers." “The quote at the beginning,” he wrote, “says ‘it is not the design of heaven that we be rescued from all difficult situations. Rather, it is the Lord's will that we learn to handle them.’ Reading this created one of my “ah ha!” moments. So often in the past I wanted the church to take me by the hand, and show me, step by step, what needed to be done to make me happy. I reasoned that if the church was true, then it had all the answers, and all I needed to do was go through the process and bingo! I'd be happy. (I'm using the word happy to mean all sorts of things, like fulfilled, complete, satisfied, content...)
“The church as an organization may have let me and those like me down, but they in no way defined my ability to be happy. Yes I did let them (or it) cloud my thinking, and influence my thoughts, but in retrospect I let that happen because I wanted the church to do the work for me and make me who I thought I should become. Sounds a bit like the plan of Lucifer in the council of heaven, where free agency is taken away in exchange for sure salvation. I should have voted for the other side damn it!”
His words made me reflect on how it seems to be human nature for us – particularly those of us who have become accustomed to rejecting and loathing who we are – to look outside ourselves for happiness, for it to be created by others and “imposed” upon us. It has never occurred to us that we could generate our own happiness because pure water cannot, so to speak, come from a polluted well.
Additionally, for those of us who were born into and/or spent most of our lives within Mormonism, we have been indoctrinated to believe that happiness comes from adherence to an external code of conduct, rather than being true to what lies within us. Self, as well as divinity, lies “out there,” not “in here.” Furthermore, we are taught that to take charge of creating our own happiness is spiritual arrogance, that we must follow the rules and wait for the happiness to come.
One of the great things about coming out is that one begins the process of accepting and affirming oneself, of learning to love oneself, of acknowledging the beauty within. This, in turn, helps us to begin the process of creating our own happiness, rather than waiting for it to be imposed from without.
We learn that happiness is not something we “seek,”
but rather something we consciously choose.
And these choices are what define our lives.
WE define our lives, rather than letting our lives define us.