Thursday, January 11, 2007

Fruits

I got an e-mail a while back from a gay guy who’s pretty happy with his life being gay, but had an odd dream in which he saw himself as married to a woman. And having children. And LDS. And extremely happy. He described it like this:

…last June something came over me that I haven't been able to shake -a vision of myself in the future, eternally married as a Mormon with two children. It was the most incredible, wonderful feeling I have ever experienced. In the vision, my world was completely different - nothing was about myself anymore, and instead, everything was about my wife, children, and God. Our children were so beautiful - we would have done anything for them. I was still gay (and we all knew it), but that didn't matter. Just as I had sacrificed certain career aspirations, my time, money, and the planned direction of my life, I had sacrificed being with men. It wasn't something that I questioned because I had evidence of the blessings in front of me at all times.

So, he hooked up with the missionaries and started taking the discussions. I don’t know where he is or isn’t in the process of investigating the church right now, but at one point they were teaching him about the fruits of the spirit and he e-mailed to ask me about the “fruits” of my choices.

I’m pretty stupid about most things, but particularly about my own life and happiness. I have huge mood swings, moments of manic happiness, frenzied stress, bitter frustration… you know, the spectrum of life. Does that make the “fruit” something worth setting out there as an example?

There have also been occasional comments and e-mails from people who, in one way or another, suggest that I’m trying to persuade people to do things like I’ve done it… or to convert them somehow to my way of thinking. I can’t deny trying to be persuasive on some topic when I think I’m right and some other point of view is stupid (notice: no instances offered), but overall I really thought I had made it abundantly clear that this is a journey for me, I don’t pretend to know where it will end or what all the answers are.

I can speak to the happiness I have in my life right now, and it’s genuine. But I can also speak to the difficulties we’ve had (and still have), as well as the many examples of couples that haven’t succeeded in making their marriages a perpetual bliss.

As far as comparing my situation to those who have taken a different path, things get muddy fast. And super subjective. I can only look at the choices people make, and the way I perceive their happiness and the quality of their lives. I don’t necessarily go by whether people say they’re happy, because I’ve seen some pretty nasty, bitter people snarl out how great their life is and that if anyone disputes their happiness they’ll snap their neck like a !@#$ matchstick!!!

It turns out my subjective conclusions don’t really support the “fruit” theory at all. I see the full spectrum ranging all the way from wonderful, exemplary people to cranky jerks both inside the church and out. Of course, the traits that qualify the wonderful, exemplary people as such are qualities consistent with following LDS church teachings, whether they’ve been achieved by trying to follow Christ’s teachings deliberately or not. And vice versa.

I think Galatians isn’t really talking about knowing anything by its fruits (although it’s a great analogy), but specifically the gifts of the spirit. But if I’m making decisions about what to believe and do based on who I want to exemplify and become, I feel pretty good about things anyway.

8 comments:

Kengo Biddles said...

You know, I think this e-mail you received can be seen as something of a successful relationship, regardless of religious views.

If you want to have a working relationship, you CANNOT be selfish. You can't expect to be immune from change. A working relationship, friendship, marriage, dating, all requires that the involved parties make sacrifices for the good of the life that you both have and want to have.

Thanks for sharing it, L!

HiveRadical said...

You have an interesting blog here.

Thanks.

And best of everything.

Rebecca said...

Okay, so I'm not ENTIRELY sure what you mean by: "Of course, the traits that qualify the wonderful, exemplary people as such are qualities consistent with following LDS church teachings..."

Do you mean the "be a good person, love one another" teachings? Because that's far from specific to the LDS religion (as, duh, of course you know). Or are you talking about teachings that are more specific to the LDS religion, like no alcohol, no premarital sex, no tattoos, etc? Because if that's what you mean I'd have to disagree. I know lots of people who are happy (and lots who aren't) who drink, have sex, and have tattoos (also lots who are happy and lots who aren't who DO live by those principles).

Being a good person, in general, is not only not specific to the LDS religion, it's not even specific to RELIGION. I remember learning something about this in a social research and design class - just because the LDS church teaches it and non-LDS people are happy doesn't mean that the principles of the LDS church caused that happiness. Both sets of people are living SOME of the same basic principles, but the happiness is correlated and not causal (not caused by the LDS church, since most people in western culture espouse these same principles). Does that make sense? I think you probably know what I mean, and I think maybe you even agree, but what you wrote leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

Loyalist (with defects) said...

Being a good person (atleast from my biased point of view) is to be honest with yourself and live according to the Instrinsic Values that you have discovered.

Values exist outside of our individuality whether we like it our not. Of course not all our choices will line up with these Values and that is where we must be honest with ourselves.

People constantly ask how many people "I" converted. My answer - NONE. I can tell you what helps me be happy but it is your choice to discover whether or not it is a True principle.

Talking the talk is the easy part. Walking the walk or putting your money where your mouth is - that tells you how a person views the world and there interaction with it.

Beck said...

My take isn't necessarily like those of others commenting here - I viewed the dream and post as something more along the lines of "smell the roses right in front of your nose" kind of thing by seeing the goodness of family, marriage, kids, sacrifice, struggles and ultimately of blessings right before me!

It has hit me personally pretty hard. I need to be reminded of this and wish I had such a dream instead of those I do have (when I do dream) that are not as uplifting.

Thanks for a thought-generating Friday!

-L- said...

Rebecca, you've pretty much re-voiced a lot of what I was trying to say. As you say, being good isn't specific to religion or the LDS church or whatever, but it is consistent with the church. That is, good people are good because they follow the principles Christ taught, there's just no attribution. So, you can see their goodness as totally independent of the church and Christ and I can see it as unwitting discipleship, and we're both entitled to frame the situation appropriate to our respective worldviews.

Rebecca said...

Sure - I just wanted to know, for sure, whether you meant the general golden-rule-be-a-nice-person-love-one-another principles (which Jesus taught, as far as I can tell) or the no-smoking-no-drinking-no-lots-of-other-things kind of stuff that IS pretty specific to the LDS religion (although people outside Mormonism can certainly abstain from drinking, smoking, etc). If the former (which is what you mean, I think) then sure - I'm pretty much on board with that.

Thrasius said...

thanks for your comments, and I have enjoyed your blog.