07 November 2013

The Life That's Waiting For Us

When I was 17 years old, my parents sent me to a residential treatment center to begin and finish my senior year of high school. The experience was not the worst experience of my life, but it tore me down bit by bit, inch by inch, until there was little left of the light, and strength of my spirit. It tore my self confidence to shreds. The experience taught me that no matter the pain or heartache I had experienced in the past, I was solely at fault for everything that had happened.

Observing the interactions with my family was telling as well. Very few letters, awkward and shorter than allotted phone calls, and being the only one whose parents did not permit them to go home for Christmas. I learned that I had
earned their tolerance rather than their unconditional love.

This is only one side of the story, and not a complete one at that, but it conveys accurately the feelings of my heart... Feelings from 7 years ago, and feelings from today.

During my time there, I developed the belief that God alone could save me. That God alone could heal my afflictions and mistakes. I believed that with enough faith, with enough devotion, I would be made whole.

This led me to the Church. I was yearning for truth in a way I had never sought before. I was entranced in the idea that righteousness brings blessings. And the only blessing that I wanted was to be made whole. To be made into the image that God intended. To see myself in the way God saw me. And it was a bitter pill to swallow when I realized that after two years of strict adherence to the letter of the law... nothing happened. My family relations were still non existent. I was still broken. I was still gay. And it only led to more self loathing, more self hatred, and more failure.

But it lead me to really open my eyes. That's when my search for truth took off. And the truth I found, while unorthodox and unexpected, was exactly what I needed.

I learned the truth. I learned that while I had done wrong, and that I was to blame for the vast majority of it, I was not to blame for all of it. I learned that my parents had done wrong, and they were to blame for some of it, but not all of it. My classmates, teachers, neighbors, friends, bullies... they were all to blame for some, but all. They were to blame for their words, and their actions towards me. I was to blame for my words and actions, and for all of the hurt that I caused. But I learned not to carry blame that was not my own.

From that day forward, I learned that healing was possible. I learned how to have compassion and forgiveness for my fellow men and women. I no longer looked for their faults, but instead I looked for their good. For their praiseworthy actions. I learned to recognize that all of us have done wrong. You. Me. Your spouse. Your dog. Some of those wrongs were done intentionally, but most weren't. Some of these wrongs were severely painful, and others were not.

Because Christ's Atonement is infinite, I've been able to forgive myself. I've forgiven myself for my lack of self control, and inability to think before I speak. I have forgiven myself for the wrong I have done. Because after all we can do, Christ's Atonement picks up the slack. When I drop to the floor in exhaustion and anguish, He picks me back up. He carries me until I have the strength to stand on my own. And on those marathons where I am too fat and out of shape to finish, He carries me to the finish. He is there. He knows me to my very core. He knows the intentions of our hearts. He is there.

"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." - Joseph Campbell

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Ellen - you are very insightful and empathetic.