Some thoughts about sitting with conflicted feelings.
If you know me personally or have read my blog or recent Facebook posts you will see that my views toward the church are not entirely black or white. For most of my life, the church held such importance in my life. I was entirely committed and devoted to it for many years. I loved its teachings, its music, its programs, what it offered my family, everything. It was such a source of joy to me.
I loved the feeling of peace and fulfillment the church gave me when I was baptized at age 8. I was made to feel that even as a young kid, I was important, loved, and cherished of God. I remember the strong feeling of belonging when after my baptism I was welcomed into my ward family through confirmation and receiving of the Holy Ghost. I loved singing, "I belong to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." I loved bearing my testimony every fast Sunday, and sharing with my community the various ways I had been prompted or strengthened by the gift of the Holy Ghost.
I took great pride in being ordained to the priesthood. I remember with fondness how my bishop told me when I was a teenager that my ordination at age 12 was his first act as a new bishop. I loved being able to serve my ward every Sunday by blessing and passing the sacrament as a teenager. I loved participating in baptisms at the temple as a teenager. I remember the reverence and awe I experienced the first time I went inside. I loved the way it made me feel deeply connected to something much greater than myself.
Connection. Peace. Fulfillment. Community. Belonging. Pride. I can attach so many positive emotions and memories to the church.
I can also attach so much pain to the church. It was a source of conflict for me from a very young age. It was very much a part of why I didn't like who I was, and it made me do everything I could to try to be someone I am not. Hating myself for being gay left me with some very deep wounds.
As a grown man, the church eventually became a huge source of pain as I lost trust in its leaders, its foundations, and its teachings. Coming to terms with this and my own sexuality was the hardest things I've ever gone through. It hurts to be angry at something that once meant so much to you. I no longer believe or have a desire to follow all the teachings of the church myself, but the church still has a very powerful influence in my life. At times I wish I could escape it completely, but then I'm reminded of all the people I love that still love the church, and so I continue to interact with it.
Now, as I sit here holding a space for both these conflicted feelings in my heart, I'm left thinking about my own children. Part of me wants nothing more than for them to have all the opportunities that I had as a youth growing up in the church. Why would I not want them to experience all those positive emotions that I was privileged to have? The other part of me is angry, and wants nothing more than to protect my children from this organization that has hurt and continues to hurt me and insists on reminding them what a sinful person their father is.
There's been much hearsay and speculation about whether or not this new policy directly affects my children. Such a roller coaster of emotions I've been thrown on and there has yet to be any real answers from the church. My children's future in the church is in limbo and my emotions are being held hostage by the church as it grapples with how to move forward from here.
For now there's not much I can do but sit with these conflicted feelings, and allow them to teach me things about myself.