Sunday, September 9, 2007

What Kind of Tears Are These?

Earlier today I was just doing the laundry, folding clothes. And it just hit me.

I saw my whole life up to this point. Everything. All the people. Everything that has ever mattered to me.

I never thought I'd be where I am today. I miss holding the priesthood. I miss having a calling in the Church. I miss being safe in the fellowship of the Saints. I hate feeling like a stranger in my own ward. I hate there being only so far people will go with me. I hate feeling like people are afraid of me because I'm dangerous somehow. Being afraid of just saying what's on their minds. I hate being afraid of telling my story, the whole unexpurgated heart-wrenching version.

And yet I can hardly wait to go to Church tomorrow. I missed it last week because we went camping. How is it that when I miss even one week it feels like I've been gone for a year?

And yet so often I feel like a cypher, a shadow there. I always sit on the back pew. I remember when I was a kid, I remember there was some guy, I overheard some folks saying he had been excommunicated. He always used to sit on the very back pew. I always loved the Church so much, with my whole heart. I never thought I'd be that guy. The excommunicated guy sitting at the back alone. And yet...

Still, I don't know how to explain this. None of that matters. I don't feel pain. I feel longing and unrequited love. But not pain. I don't feel angry. I can't complain for anything. I love my life, I love my home, I love my friends, my neighbors. I love being part of this MoHo blogging thing. I love you. I have the best family in the world. I love my writing. I love that I'm going to be a teacher in the spring. I love the Church. I love my partner. I can't even say how wonderful that is. I love that we are going to be foster parents (though I can scarcely believe it still). My life is filled with love, love that grows more profound and better every day. My life is full of the Spirit. I go to Church and I feel as whole and complete as I possibly can be. That's where I need to be. Where I can grow. Everything is as it should be, the Spirit says.

How can this be? How can nothing be like what it's supposed to be, like what I expected, and yet everything better than I ever could have dreamed?

Still, I miss it. I pray for what Alma told Corianton: "It is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order." Things are broken. They're out of joint. I want it all to be whole, restored to its proper order.

It's come back to me several times, this longing for wholeness, and every time it's come to me this afternoon, and even now, I cry. But I can't tell what kind of tears these are. Tears of sadness, or tears of joy, or tears of holy expectation.


Elbow said...

"I feel longing and unrequited love..."

I'm really glad you posted this. I think it's so interesting. The connection we use to have with the Church in terms of Bishops, callings and rituals speaks so much to our desire to be connected to our inate spirituality.

The layers behind your tears and the many thoughts and longing you've felt in relation to your lack of spiritual community is I'm sure as much of a blessing as it is a trial. You're looking back at your life and you've accomplished so much. You've found a very happy and sweet place, and a HUGE part of your journey has been your involvement and uninvolvement with the Church. And for that, of course you are feeling feelings that would evoke tears of joy, of loss and longing.

I have a feeling that you going to Church and involving yourself in the community of saints once again may prove to be harder than once thought, but the rewards for you and especially the members of your ward will be without number.

J G-W said...

Elbow - Thanks, I appreciate it.

It's odd... After eighteen years away from the Church, I find myself coming back, while you seem to be distancing yourself from it now, maybe even questioning your belief in God.

For eighteen years I tested the hypothesis that the Church was not true. Now I find my testimony is stronger than ever, and this means everything to me.

I had a religion professor at BYU. In one a class I had posed some particularly difficult, painful questions. He sensed that I was struggling. He took me aside, and he said, "John, keep asking these questions. But don't satisfy yourself with half answers. pursue the truth all the way. Don't give up until you've found it." I don't remember a single thing any of my religion professors said to me at BYU except that. I'm still on that road.

I've been reading your blog, and I love what you've shared. And I want you to know that if you ultimately choose to leave the Church, I hope you will find the greatest possible happiness. So long as you are honest and loving and you honor yourself and others, and you commit to taking the road of truth as far as you can go, the journey will take you where you need to go.

Anonymous said...

thank you. i missed church today because of work schedule, but i suspect nothing i would have heard their would have been as thought-provoking as your post.

GeckoMan said...

Is it that something is dead, and will not return? On Saturday I was also crying tears of longing, separation, understanding and gratitude, as I reflected on my brother's birthday. I have faith in the plan, but that does not change the current reality of things. Sometimes these feelings just surge up, and I let them loose and enjoy the moment of feeling them.