Monday, October 7, 2013

I Am Not Offended

I am not offended by the words people speak.

If their words are true, then I would be a wise man to listen to them and take them to heart, even if to do so causes inconvenience to me. In fact, the more inconvenient the truths, the wiser I would be to listen.

Inconvenience creates emotions like stress or anger or hurt. And those kinds of emotions cloud my ability to see truth. So if I hunger for truth I need to find a way to calm those emotions. I must try not to be offended.

If the words someone speaks are false, there is no power in them. I have no need to be offended. I would be wise to ignore them.

Spoken untruths may inconvenience me for a time, especially if they inspire others to act in a way that is harmful to me. But I cannot stop that from happening by being offended. I am better served by trusting that the truth is larger than words.

I'm not super human. I'm just me, a man, with all the mixture of weakness and nobility that implies. I do not know all things. I do not regard myself as better than any one else. I feel good will toward all, and would prefer that we wrestle together to come to an understanding of the truth, than that we make each other enemies because one or both of us takes offense.

So I am not offended, because my hunger for your fellowship and for the truth is greater than my fears.


This morning, I woke up in my husband's arms just as the grey sunlight was starting to filter through our window shades. It was still very early, and he was sound asleep. He was clutching me tighter than usual, breathing heavily. In the background I could hear the hum of the dialysis machine he is connected to each night as we sleep. Life is fragile and precious.

My mind was filled with beautiful memories from the weekend. Beautiful sessions of conference that left me feeling inspired and deeply, deeply happy. Special promptings from the Spirit that filled me with hope and confidence, that I jotted into the little notebook I keep with my scriptures. A ward potluck in between Saturday sessions where I stuffed myself on Relief Society-produced delicacies, including the best collared greens I've ever had. A rare opportunity to bear my testimony. I love the Church. I know too deeply in my soul to ever deny it that the Church is true.

Sunday afternoon, a lot of people were upset by a couple of conference talks. I spent a lot of time on Facebook and on the phone. I was not -- I am not -- offended, either by what had upset people, nor by the fact that they were upset. But when I finally fell asleep after midnight, I was exhausted.

I woke up in my husband's arms filled with warmth. The Spirit was there in our room, luminescent almost, brighter than the filtered grey sunlight coming in through the shades. I felt deeply happy. As my husband clutched me, I realized how precious he is to me, what a gift our love is to us, what a gift is our mutual life, even with the disappointments, even with the difficulty, even with the dialysis machine humming in the background. It is our commitment to each other -- expressed in rituals and in legal documents hard fought for, but also expressed in the way his whole life intertwines with mine -- that gives everything in my life meaning and direction.

"I love you," I told him as I kissed him on the forehead while he slept on blissfully.

That truth is larger than words.


Anonymous said...

I love yopu too with all my heart my darling husband.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could share your optimism, hope and peace. General Conference is not something I can really let inside. I find the negative messages about gays disheartening. For weeks I’m left with unshakable emptiness and hopelessness. Deluding myself with hope of acceptance becomes impossible again. Words from the pulpit become cold weapons and I retreat. I begin letting go of my patient and kind lover, my career, and my friends and I block out my family. I no longer feel worthy of God’s love or any love for that matter. Prayer brings no solace. Is the Spirit is telling me those cold words are the truth and I’m damned? Is it just one too more in a string of negative messages from the brethren?

J G-W said...

Anonymous - This breaks my heart to hear that. And, to be honest, in the past few days I've witnessed many similar expressions of pain and hopelessness. It's very hard for me to watch... The people who are suffering the most, it seems, are very, very good people; I'd say even righteous people.

I am seeing a lot of people going to God in prayer and finding tremendous comfort. That's what I have done -- what I have always done!

But I realize that often people try prayer and they don't "feel it," they don't get any response, and are left to themselves to struggle with very difficult feelings. Again, this is not a sign that they are bad or that God has abandoned them.

Trust that you are a good person. Hang in there! Reach out to others. Don't listen to the voices that tell you you are "damned." Trust me, that is not the Spirit!! Feel free to reach out to me privately by email if you want to talk more...