Thursday, September 29, 2011

Seven Years...No, Seriously

Dear Sentry,

This past Wednesday marks the 7th anniversary of me entering the MTC. It was that decision that led me to a lot of where I'm at today in so many ways, both good and evil, for better and for worse. I remember that summer just after high school. I had no direction and no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had just finished public school and was feeling a sort of elation. I had just finally forgiven myself for ever liking this one guy almost two years before that. I no longer hated myself as I had felt during high school. My only biggest concern was feeling guilty over watching porn and masturbating.

I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had no idea where I was going. I had no firm conviction of what I wanted at all. I was adrift without purpose that summer. I believed in the Church, the prophet, and the Book of Mormon though I harbored doubts because I had never once felt any conviction that the Book of Mormon was from God.

It was a summer that should have been one of transition and adjustment but instead I did what I normally did and refused to change, refused to adjust to what life was offering me. I allowed myself to be talked into going on a mission. I went and spoke with the bishop and passed my interview but I harbored feelings of guilt over porn and masturbating. I thought I could beat it back and do what God had asked of me. I thought all sorts of things back then.

The dry, terribly hot summer continued on and I soon met with the Stake President. In the interview, I felt overcome with guilt and was frustrated and depressed. I confessed of my sins and was given time to think over it. I felt I needed to repent. My parents were alarmed by this. What would make their son not want to serve a mission? At first they gave me space, wanting to let me figure things out. But as the weeks dragged on, they finally confronted me. My mom suggested I pray about going on a mission. So I did so...or felt too guilty to bother God with such a question. I knew I needed to go. So I figured that was my answer and was soon called to serve in Colorado. I was to report to the MTC on the 29th of September in 2004. I tried to get ready, I tried to do all that I thought I should do. But I never could seem to do it.

Sentry, it's been seven years since that day. Seven years since I chose to serve a mission for the LDS Church. It's kind of funny now, looking back on that decision. I still can recall the desire to do what was right, or what I thought was right then. I can still recall the curiosity and desire to believe in visions, revelations, God, and the Holy Ghost. I can even recall the weight of despair that I felt whenever I tried to imagine I life without ever having a person I truly loved in it. I believed that I would be dead by twenty-five. So powerful was that idea that even after I shed my beliefs, I still harbored a nervous fear that such a view would come true in my twenty-fifth year of life. I'm twenty-six now, so I guess that was an unnecessary attitude to have.

Serving a mission and going to BYU were to decisions that have impacted my life. They have so powerfully and so completely altered my life that I can't even begin to fathom it now. I divide my life, when looking back, between before serving my mission, serving my mission, and after serving. How many times have you, Sentry, felt the same thing? Felt that realization that one particular decision has so powerfully impacted your life? It has created a whole new category to make decisions in.

What about you, Sentry? What decisions have you made that have impacted your life in huge ways?

Updates and Clips

Dear Sentry,

I was going to write you last night but a friend needed my help. It's been a while. I moved a month ago to a new place and getting adjusted has been my primary concern.

It's been interesting these past several weeks. For the first time in my life I have lived as an openly gay man. I haven't had to bow my head and hold my tongue like before. This doesn't mean that I'm walking around town with my very own glitter cannons and stuffing rainbow flags in every mailbox and mail slot I pass. It also doesn't mean that I have been living in such a way as to put my life at risk. I hate that people found it justifiable to attack and harm people just because of their sexual orientation. I simply live honestly and with hope and optimism.

I have learned a lot since the start of this journey two and a half years ago. Many wonderful things have occurred in my life and some not so great things. But I'd like to believe that it has all been for the best.

Sentry, it's pretty well known just how naive I am. I know that I am still ignorant of so much. Sometimes it's hilarious and sometimes it's embarrassing. I learned a strange thing about a friend of mine. It has reminded me once more how little you can know about a person. I don't mean that as in they are someone totally alien and horrible, but different and more complex. I constantly want to figure people out. I try to factor in the simple but overlooked fact that you cannot know everything about a person. You cannot place people in boxes and you cannot fix their destiny.

It seems that people are made up of opposites. I do not harbor and do not desire to believe in some kind of divine Being or Beings yet I have a deep fascination for religious music, artifacts, history, and myths. I believe me to be very kind. If you're ever in trouble, I'll be there to help you. I'll pretty much drop everything to do so, Sentry. You already know this. But I also have a knack for knowing just how to irritate you and get you upset with me. I know exactly what it takes to irritate a person. The list goes on.

So, Sentry, what opposites are you made of?

On a lighter note (though I think this letter has been optimistic), there is something addicting about Rumbi fries. Have you ever had sweet potato fries? Why? Why? Why? Why are they so addicting?

I will become fat because of them. Damn you, Rumbi Fries!!!

Your friend,

"Have anyone of you even seen a chicken?"