Forgive my back and forth. I come from a religious tradition that calls the name of God – God. I am still getting used to Heavenly Father, which is why I added a section to this piece, to reflect that understanding and respect for Him.
God is Perfect. God’s timing is perfect. It has taken a lifetime to get here, but I think I have arrived. God is always there. Patiently waiting. Always knowing when we might need Him, even if we don’t always know it at the time. I feel, God has called upon me for this next season. However long that season is.
This is the route He has chosen for me.
You might not know where you are at the moment, but God has a plan for each and every one of us. I don’t know what my plan is, there are some things I do know based on my testimony of faith.
As a young child, Memere introduced me to God, in that big Church we attended together when she had me with her. She took the time, on that one perfect day, to give me to God. It was she that had that intimate conversation with God. At least that is what comfort I take from that memory. She loved me, without a doubt.
She gave me that gift. It is sinful what my father did to her over my lifetime. My father was so hateful and he was a pig. What does a child do, when the two people that should have loved you and gave you Good, Sound, Godly advice, failed in their responsibility to do just that?
Knowing I was coming from a broken home, a home where all my father wanted was for me to, just die already, after spending my lifetime trying to get rid of me, makes me sick.
How did I know what was good for me, when the humans that were charged in making sure I did the right thing, did not care one bit ?
Spending that year in seminary, my second year of college, did teach me some things, in hindsight. In telling this story to my Elders this evening, at the time, I thought that serving God would be the end all and be all of my existence. The seed was there, but the ground was not fertile.
That seminary, might not have been the proper garden for me to flourish, as God wants each of us to flourish. Too many weeds, Too many vines, and WAY too much sin.
There were adults in my life whom I worked for, who were there when I was in the beginning stages of serious alcoholism. Some of those same people are sober today, and got sober, well before I ever hit the rooms. And I wonder, to this day, “Why they didn’t say STOP, or Maybe I had a problem?” True, I wasn’t their responsibility nor their child.
I did not know what I was getting into, when I moved to Orlando. I had a simple plan, nothing too difficult, but it was not too long, before I was way over my head, and nobody knew, cared, or offered any solution to that madness of sex, drugs and alcohol.
Everybody grows up, one way or another. This story life, might have been different, if a change of just a single degree had taken place, on this specific timeline point. Had someone warned me, or spoke to me and given me Good Advice … Not Just
Go to the Bar, have a couple of drinks and see what happens ?
What did I know, I was told, that that was the way in.
I’ve heard many young Mormon men say, in their stories, that they never heard one good word about the gays ! Well that might have been true. I had never met more evil, backstabbing, dishonest people in my life, than some of the men I had interactions with in my time in Orlando. No wonder, I had such a bad time.
Every challenge we have, in hindsight, as the Elders said tonight, was to give us experience with whatever was going on with us, in order to teach us something about our challenges.
I have worked my way out of several challenges in my life. It surely was not on my own that I found my out, it was God.
I said to them that, “I had been to hell several times over…” And the response came back that “Now you know the way out.” You had to have that experience, so that one day, you could turn around and help another human being who might be stuck in the hole you were once in.
You have the way out …
You cannot help someone, if you don’t have the invested experience to share a solution with them.
Mother Teresa once asked Lorna, “How do I help the alcoholics in Calcutta?” Lorna’s reply was a simple question … “Mother Teresa, are you an alcoholic? No, she replied, Then you cannot help them.”
I have a Testimony of Faith. I have had a lifetime of experience, and I can share with you that God does exist. That God is faithful. That God is always there. And I know that when I turned to God, He was there for me.
There were times when I needed God, and I did not necessarily call on the name of God for help, just the same, He came in the guise of someone who played a direct role in my life at one point or another.
God has been good and giving. God has been merciful and kind. I don’t know what God has in store for me right now, but I am spiritually prepared to walk where ever he asks me to go.
I thought, early in my life that the answer to all my problems, was to go and serve God. The Good Men who pushed me through the process of admission believed in me, more than my own family believed in me. In the end, I failed them.
Or was it that the rector of the seminary who had failed them ?
I wasn’t the only seminarian from our home parish to “leave the building.”
I like to say that when I was “On the Beam with God, my life was really good.” And I know, in hindsight, what good feels like. I also know what being “Off the Beam, from God, feels like as well.”
The next time I consciously connected with God, was when I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. I’ve never prayed more serious prayers in my life, because this was my life we were talking about. I really did not want to die, because so many people wanted nothing better than for us FAGS to die, because God was punishing us for our sins.
Let me tell you, God had nothing to do with the things I witnessed. God had nothing to do with how sick all of my friends got. God had nothing to do with the indignities I watched being perpetrated on the sick and dying.
My poor friends went to their death, in ways you cannot even imagine or conceive, and I am sure, as the sun rises, that each human being that turned their backs on us, paid a heavenly price for that ultimate Sin Against God’s humanity.
I survived the worst disease I have ever seen. And God was right there, in the middle of it all, and for a few hours each night, I spent time with people, who were running out of time. I know who loved me through that darkness.
On December 9th, 2001, I promised God that I would remain on that beam, even if it killed me to do so. I moved to Montreal for a spiritual truth. I had been given the gift of sobriety a second time. I’m not sure that wasn’t a fluke.
If I had not had salvation from the sinister episode I was sunk in, when it was time to go, I am not sure I would have survived, and nobody knew where I was for one, and two, nobody cared either. If I had dropped off the face of the earth, or died, nobody would have come looking for me or even missed me.
God Giveth, and God Taketh away …
I know today, that in my life, at certain times, God removed things from my life, for certain reasons. Other times, I had to choose to walk away from some things. And in a few instances, when I walked away, from, let’s say, a substance, I did not go back to look for more. I knew I was done. That happened with alcohol as well.
When I moved here, I did not go looking for it again.
When I decided that I did not need the Village or the people in it, early in sobriety, I walked away from it. And I did not miss it. I was sober, so I was not bar hopping nor was I trolling for sex either.
Heavenly Father, in His wisdom knows what He is doing for me and for you. Over the years, I trusted in His wisdom and love when I was relieved of things in my life that were not serving me. I’ve spent fifteen years here, I was educated here. I know a ton of people here. Out of ALL the people I know, ONE, ONLY ONE, friend has invested in my life. HE is my best friend.
I can’t say that much about the community I walked away from. And don’t miss one bit. For the first time in all my years I went to Pride in the Nations Capitol, Ottawa. I had never felt so out of place or unsettled in my life. I knew, that I did not need that event, or any of those people. I have certain gay friends who I trust and listen to advice from. Getting sober in straight rooms, that assimilated many into them, serves me well. There are just some things in life that once i felt necessary and exclusive, proved, in the end, to be unnecessary and pointless.
When I was diagnosed in 1994, even our own brothers, who were alive, healthy and safe, turned their backs on those of us who were sick. i watched healthy humans toss their sick partners, boyfriends and lovers out into the streets destitute and alone. I served every one of those men left on the side of the street, and I was there when many of them crossed the veil into the afterlife. Let me tell you, that was a bitter pill to swallow.
But Heavenly Father delivered me out of that hell. WHY he chose me to live is still beyond me, but like my Elders said, I have a story and a solution to offer. At least that is solid wisdom.
So the decision to convert was not a difficult choice. It was another choice, as I heard from a young man on the Voices of Hope site tonight.
When I left home, there was only ONE choice. There was no other, and no other voice offered to engage me.
I have a choice today.
I don’t know what it is, but I am certain that, when I walked away from something, or something was taken away, it was or has been by Divine Intervention. (read: God)
Hubby was dropped into my life, So I could repay God for his tender mercies He had shown me, so that I could turn around and help, love and serve another. Then marry.
My Marriage is Non-Negotiable. However, a commitment must be made to God. One that I am ready and willing to accept.
I will not, in any sense of the word, forsake my marriage.
God has always been part of this marriage. But I see now that, God removed some things from my life, just the same, and I am ok with this truth.
There are covenants coming.
There are commitments to be made.
There is a process in this conversion experience. The Elders think well of me, and I am blessed that God put them in my path, at the moment they appeared.
Cedric said that the Elders who found me, were “The Right” elders to find me. That had any other Elder come across me, this time might not have happened the same or even at all. Because the young men I know today, speak with the authority of the Church, and their Scriptures.
I spent a couple hours with my sponsor this morning talking to her about this process, and she could identify with the feelings and emotions I was talking about.
After we parted, I had lunch with a lady friend who had texted me earlier in the morning, and it was funny that she asked how I was, then she asked me “What are you reading?”
And I said … The Book of Mormon.
She did not believe me. I told her I was going to be an LDS member, and she was intrigued, so we had lunch together. At my evening teaching session, I said to the Elders that “They should have warned me, that I would become an evangelist…”
They just laughed …