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Home Coming – Elder Christensen

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Photo: Temple – Spencer right in photo.

Here’s the story of my homecoming! Thanks for the challenge and for the trip down memory lane.
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November 22nd, 2016, came so much faster than I thought it would. My mission seemed to end as fast as it had begun. The last few days where a whirlwind. We had to make transfer calls, pack bags, prepare the area for the next elders, and all at the same time, I was trying to process exactly what it would mean to go through such a radical change.

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We had a final devotional in the Laurier Chapel, and we all took turns sharing the highlights of our missions. There was not a dry eye in the room. It felt so good and hurt so much all at the same time. The day finally did come, and on the way to the airport, it felt unreal, as if it where all a dream and I was going to wake up any minute. I couldn’t believe I was going to see my parents and my sisters again after years being apart.
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We arrived at the airport, and I shook hands and hugged the same Elders I had trained with in the MTC two beautiful years earlier. I still keep in touch with every one of these lifelong friends. When the plane took off, I looked out one last time at the Saint Lawrence river, and had to hold back my tears. It was as if I were leaving home all over again. My friends and my family were down there. People that I loved deeply and was so sad to leave. I was leaving wards and branches that had loved me and my companions, taking care of us, supporting us in our work, and becoming lifelong friends.

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The first flight seemed to go fast, and we landed for a connection in Chicago. My layover was over five hours, so I had a long time to walk around the airport. I had so much on my mind, that I alternated between walking around and sitting quietly in the waiting areas. I thought about going to see a little of Chicago, but I just felt like I was too engrossed in my thoughts to enjoy any of the sights there. I just sat there thinking about the life I was leaving and the life I was starting. I also felt so tired. I realized how much I had been running on adrenaline for my mission, especially during the last months.
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I was working so hard that I hadn’t even had a chance to get my hair cut. It was much longer than I would have liked, and it probably looked a bit sloppy. I was wearing the same trench coat that I wore on my first night as a missionary in Joliette Quebec, freezing clear down to my bones and wondering how I would ever survive in this place where I could not even speak the language. Today was cold like it had been then, the same time two years ago.
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Missionaries stick out like sore thumbs to other members of the church, and several times, people would come up and ask “Are you coming or going, Elder?” It felt good to be surrounded by community even in such a strange place. The hours ticked by in that airport, and I started realizing just how tired I really was.

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I was drained to the core. My body mind and spirit had gone to their limits. Now that I literally had nothing to do but wait, it was as if my whole soul finally breathed a sigh of relief. I wandered over to my terminal and sat down, feeling like a washed up piece of driftwood. I somehow felt like I still had energy, not tired enough to try and sleep, but I was just worn completely out. I felt totally emptied. I don’t remember how long I sat there, in that weird state.
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I was jarred back to reality by a voice asking “Elder! How are you?” I looked up to see a lady, clearly a member of the church, holding half a pizza in her hand. “Elder” she said “I can’t eat the rest of this, would you like some?” She had hardly touched that Pizza, and it was probably a lie, but suddenly it downed on me that I hadn’t eaten in hours, and I was so tied up in my thoughts that I hadn’t even realized how hungry I was.

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I gratefully accepted and we started talking. As it turns our, she was not only going back to Idaho, she was in my same stake. She knew a lot of my friends. She new Ashton Wise and her family, my stake president, and many others. We passed about an hour waiting there. Another man sat down next to us, and we somehow started up a conversation with him. As it turns out, he was a youth pastor, and we had a great talk about God with him.
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Finally, the plane was ready, and I started the last stretch of my ride home. It went so fast, and I will never forget the feeling of passing down over Boise, and seeing the spires of the Boise Idaho temple lit up in the night.
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We touched down, and I realized that my parents were on the other side of the door. This sweet sister who had stopped to talk to me asked “Are you ready for this?” I don’t remember what I said, I was too excited now. I passed through the corridor, and through the glass doors I saw my mother for the first time in two years.
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They opened and there was a huge shout as I was welcomed home by a crowd of friends and family. There were posters, there were balloons. Mom hugged me first, then Dad, then my sisters. My lips were really dry, because I smiled so wide that I actually split my lip. My uncle and aunt with my cousins were there too. We drove home, and we talked about so much. It was late at night when we pulled into our driveway.

As is tradition in our family, we knelt down to pray together before we all went to bed.

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My Dad said “Spencer, it is definitely your turn to say it.” I said it in French, and as I spoke to God in that language that I had grown to love, the language of my family in Quebec, my heart was breaking. I stared up at the ceiling for a while, in my own bed. One of my best friends, who was also just recently home from a mission, was staying the night, and I was grateful to have him there.
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It still felt weird to be alone, and besides that, I still wasn’t released from being a missionary, so the rules of having to be with a companion 24/7 still applied. We talked a little before falling to sleep. We reached the same conclusion. It had been a hard two years. It had also been the best thing we had ever done in our lives.
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The next day, I called president Christensen, (no relation, but my wonderful stake president) to let him know that I was home safe and that I could be released. He was out of town, so he sent one of his counselors to formally release me. Now, when a missionary is set apart to begin his service, it is a very important, private, and sacred occasion.
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The stake president, who reads directly from the assignment given by one of the twelve Apostles, lays his hands on the missionaries head, usually with his/her father and everyone else in the family who has been ordained to the priesthood. He sets you apart as a missionary specific to the area of the world where you have been called by inspiration to serve, and blesses you with all the rights, powers and privileges you need to teach the gospel, along with any other blessings he feels inspired to give you.

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A release, on the other hand, is much more direct, simple, and even abrupt. President Nelson, the counselor who released me, came over to our house. We had a short talk about my mission, and we enjoyed catching up on each others lives.
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He then said, “Elder Christensen, are you ready to be released?” I said something about being ready. His next words stung. He said: “Then Brother Christensen, acting under the authority of President Christensen, I release you from your obligations as a full time missionary.” I instantly felt different. There was a moment of silence. Then he quietly said, “Its time to take off your tag.” I did so. I stared at it for a few seconds with a deep sense of loss.

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That next Sunday I was asked to speak in church. Christmas was coming and that was the spirit that prevailed that day. There were so many reunions that I lost count. Friends and family had traveled long distances to be at this meeting where I would report my mission.
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My grandparents, uncles and aunts, and so many friends were there. the meeting was about to start, so I took my seat on the stand next to the other speaker and my father, who was also my bishop at the time. Suddenly, I see Ashton Wise, one of my best friends, walking up the aisle.
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I jumped down to hug her and thank her for being there, and I remember being shocked at how thin and small she felt. She had just come back from a mission herself, and I could feel the difference. She was tired too. She had lost weight, and had a touch of laryngitis, so she spoke with a froggy voice. I wanted to sit down and talk about her experience, but I had to speak, so she went to the audience. I honestly had prepared very little for this twenty minute talk.
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I had a few notes, but I didn’t look down much at all. After two years, I had plenty of material. I did my best. I shared the funny moments, and they laughed. I shared the miracle moments, and they cried. And I did too. It stung so bad to have to come home from a live spent in the service of something so much bigger than me. I shed many tears.
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That was the beginning of accepting I was home, and that I needed to find my new identity in the work , because the work was only beginning.

Thursday: I Don’t know but I am trying to find out, OK !

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Last night, I heard from my Spiritual director, who lives in another province, tell me that his doctors have told him that he was terminally ill, and that he has an illness that will eventually take his life, as it had taken the lives of his grandfather and father alike.

God is really the most important vital sign. If he wants you to stay, there is not way you can go, and if you are meant to go, there is no way to keep you here.

I am a very lucky man, to have a young man in my life, who has this kind of Wisdom.

I have walked many people through this minefield, that is the most unknown of places. That place of One day, being alive and fearless, to the next day, when a doctor tells you that your days are numbered, and that eventually, your body will not be able to do what is had been doing for over fifty years, and death is imminent.

How do you tell someone you care about, that they need to remember to breathe, and as long as there is air in their lungs, they should live ??? That was the exact advice I gave my friend, along with those wise words from my Elder.

If your heart, knowing it is, at some point, going to give out on you, turns towards the finality of death, and you forget that living is still on the table, that usually hastens death quicker.

No matter how dire the warning and the knowledge that all the cards are on the table, and death is going to come sooner than later, My friend, at least, HAS a game plan, a plan of action. I just thought that reminding him that he still had a life, a family that needs him, a wife who is living the journey with him, children flung all over God’s world, who still need a father, I needed to remind him, that right now,

LIFE is the most important thing in his life.

If we wake up, every morning, and we are alive … Then that IS a GOOD day.

I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !

Every Thursday night, when I get home, I dial an Elder on my I Phone. And with the latest technology, I am in the presence of a young man I love, who is my friend, and spends some of his time, with me. Just like we did when he was here.

I learned this week, that my Elder friend is Pre-Med. I am totally in awe of him, knowing who he is, and how he sees the world, Folks, we are going to have one really great doctor some day, I’m just sayin ….

I am truly grateful.

NO, is not part of my vocabulary…

Last week, I was on the hunt for product. And Google had led me down many dead ends. But from those Google results, those results were coming from the Pacific rim. Australia and New Zealand.

I know someone who lives in Australia. So I tweeted him asking him for his help. I got a reply, and that reply said two things. NO, and I cannot help you.

Never say NO to me. Ever.

I mean that in the best of terms. I don’t ask my friends or people I know for many things. And after doing whatever homework I needed to do, and I get to the point that I need to ask someone for some help, and you tell me NO, from the get go … Before you even hear the WHY I asked you for help You can …

FUCK the right off …

In recovery, NO is not part of our vocabulary. Obviously, there are some people I know who are too self centered and selfish to want to even ponder the thought of being of some help to someone who asked for it.

Anyways, This week has been very good. I found product I wanted. One of my friends helped me as a mail drop, because I could not get delivery to Canada, and that package is on its way today. Two other packages are also on their way as well, another from the U.S. and one from the U.K.

I returned to major seller platforms and U.K. Websites that proved to be genuine.

I heard it said to me that if you get asked to speak at St. Matthias, then you have MADE IT.

This is what our young lady said first tonight.

Obviously, I have not MADE IT YET … And I’ve been sitting in that room for more than twelve years. And nobody has ever asked me to speak there.

We heard a newbie girl speak tonight, just over her first year. I thought to myself, I did not speak for a very long time, when I first got sober. There is some wisdom to putting a newbie in the hot seat, early on. Because they get to hear their story, at that specific point IN their journey, from their own mouths.

ONE, it gives them early perspective. And TWO, they get a baseline in where they are, because after the meeting, they are going to hear everyone in the room, thank that person for their share, and then offer them some wisdom from their own journey.

In the end, our young lady told her story, and then heard from the rest of us, what she might expect if she sticks around …

On Being a Man …

We are MEN, trying to figure out what it means to be a MAN, AND trying to figure out HOW to get there.

In our little group of friends, all of us at various ages, in the rooms, are trying to figure out what our manhood’s are going to look like, and what we want our lives to look like, and some buzz words that pop up are Humility, Integrity, My Elder also adds the words God and Spirituality to the mix, these, I think are crucial for a well rounded life as a man, in the rooms of recovery.

We all agree, among ourselves, that a Spiritual Foundation laid with care, can be one of the most important components in someone’s life.

Man or Woman.

And by extension, One of my guys has Million Dollar Millennial on his watch.

We are fathers to boys, who don’t really have fathers in their lives, trying to figure out what to do for the most people, to the best of our abilities.

I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !


Friday …There are Options, Its Your CHOICE

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This afternoon, I got a letter from a friend. My young Elder Friend who returned home to Idaho, prior to the holidays, wrote me, sitting inside the grand library at Brigham Young University.

The hallowed institution B.Y.U has educated some of the finest young men and women in all of North America. Our Elder served his two year Mission here in Montreal, where we met, just a few months before his departure.

What little time we spent together was jam packed with Love, Faith and Hope. The Elders had a purpose coming into my life, and in the end, the fact that the LDS church states quite clearly their view of “one man and one woman,” has prevented me from becoming a full and baptized member of the church.

But, his words to me were thus … “You came into our lives for a reason, and Heavenly Father knows that reason. We are converted to the Gospel, and NOT the church. So whether you are baptized or not, there is a place for you, and Heavenly Father will never let you down. There were just too many God moments shared between us to discount the hand and spirit of Heavenly Father. So believe me when I tell you that he loves you and so do I…

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Last night, I began reading The Dispossessed, by Szilard Borbely, Translated from the Hungarian, by Ottilie Mulzet. I was hooked on the first page. The first page.

I have a stack of books on my bedside table right now. All going at some point. I am expecting a follow up tome by Viet Thanh Nguyen, titled “The Refugees.” I had read, a few months ago, his first novel called “The Sympathizer” which won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for literature. Along with Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, also a Pulitzer Prize winner, was the best book I had read last summer.

The Refugees, comes out in February. I almost missed the title, thanks to Indigo’s Pulitzer Prize listing, saved another book for me to read.

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I said this as the Holiday’s began. I gave a dire warning to my friends. All of them, over a series of weeks. I made sure that every single one of my friends had my number with solid directions to call if they needed to, at any time, for any reason …

My phone did not ring save for Rafa and Juan calling to check on me.

Tonight, was the best night of the week, because it is the best meeting of the week. As I said, my phone did not ring. One of my friends, who lives not far away, offered to drive me out and back tonight. He was, WAS, clean and sober just a short 4 months, this time.

When I got in the car tonight, he was visibly shaken. New Years came and went, and on New Years Day, his lady friend packed up and left him high and dry. Instead of calling, as he was told, he took a chunk of money and got HIGH and DRUNK. Alcohol is one problem, it is the COCAINE that is the real killer.

That started the night off with a bang.

The meeting we talked about Faith without works is Dead … If a man does not expand his Spiritual life and turns around, and works with others, and gives it away, he will surely drink again …

As was tradition, we split up, and the discussion went around. Those who needed to know he had gone back out, knew. So it was a night of protracted song and dance around the room, cross-talking among ourselves, but quite directly talking to him, but not TO HIM.

After the meeting I spoke to my handful of men whom I work with directly. The men who I choose to support directly, even if they don’t want it. I am there. All those conversations led to the same conclusion …

The Holidays sucked, everybody is miserable. Thank God the holidays are over, and I wish they had never come.

Like I said, my phone did not ring except expected calls from my guys.

WHY DO I FUCKING BOTHER …

The way I have stayed sober for so many years, is that, First, I did not make the stupid decisions that my friends did. And Second, I did not do many things I watched my friends do. This holiday, I warned my friends, I gave them my number, told them to call,

Nobody called…

Thank God I am sober, and that I don’t make really bad choices.

I am never alone. You are never alone. Whether you stay clean and sober or drunk and high all comes down to A CHOICE.

Your Choice !

YOU make that choice to be sober or not. I can’t make that choice for you. Tonight I spoke to many miserable men, (all straight) by the way, who had horrible holidays, yet they did not even think to call when they could have, but chose not to call.

Fuck me for trying, I mean God the Fuck Damn …

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This afternoon I was trolling Face Book, as I am wont to do. And I came across this image… Mario in Marbella at Borussia Dortmund Winter Training.
SNEAKERS, well TRAINERS !!! Orange. Sleek. New. WANT !!!
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Do you know how hard it is to find a pair of shoes in the world ? Knowing that I probably could not find them here on Amazon or Ebay, because I did not know what they were called, so ZOOM the photo, get a good look, and load that image into Google.
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Search all the images known to NIKE … I find an image that led to a website, that did not actually have the trainers I wanted, in style or colorway. But a further search landed me on EBAY UK. Which led me to not ONE but TWO UK shoppes online that had the trainers, AND IN MY SIZE …
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Classic men’s Orange/Neon Green/Black Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31’s …
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For a cool $160.00 CAD shipping included.

Next week …

 

 


Monday: The Morning Drink, Discuss …

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Can I just say, right now, that it was terribly DANGEROUS outside tonight. A fine sheen of ice covers every square inch of real estate, sidewalks, roads, walls, etc … So much ice that walking from point A to point B was an exercise in fine balance and agility.

People were slipping and sliding all over the place.

The Morning Drink

Did you drink in the morning? For many, the “morning drink” is that fine line, that many used to justify their drinking. If you did not drink in the morning, one was not necessarily an alcoholic, or so we thought.

I have some questions about “The Morning Drink.”

  • What do you consider MORNING ?
  • Is it morning if you did not go to sleep yet ?
  • If your nightly drinking, extended into the morning, does that count as morning ?

I had knowledge of what alcoholism looked like from a family perspective. So my alcoholic practice had certain rules.

  • I never bought alcohol at a liquor store, ever
  • I never kept alcohol in my home, ever
  • I never drank in the morning
  • Once I crossed into hard liquor, I never drank beer again, so beer does not count
  • I always had to go OUT to drink.
  • Or I drank in other places, other than home

When I was much younger, I engaged in levels of alcoholism.

I was told, in my twenties, that alcohol was going to make me acceptable to others. I once had a job, where alcohol was served in the office. Later, I worked for R.C.I. International, then Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Alcohol was served at special events, during work hours, and open bar was the name of the game with new ship introductions.

Happy Hour was very useful, because happy hour got the ball rolling. Then I would drive home, change my clothes and return to the bar, for the nightly drinking ritual until last call or until the ugly lights came on.

Going out to the bar or club was a part of life. It was the lubricating event that usually sealed the deal for human sexual interaction. I drank most nights, but back then, You usually did not drink in the morning, unless ONE, there was an open bar in the a.m.,or TWO, you had alcohol at home, which I never had at home.

When I lived in Fort Lauderdale, you could actually drink 23 hours a day. Beginning at happy hour, (5 p.m.) you would begin the ritual. Then, you either stayed where you were, or you went to a secondary location to continue drinking all night, (8p.m. to 2 a.m.)

When that bar/club/location, closed for the night, you could go to a club, that was open after hours, or open into the wee hours of the morning. (2 a.m. to 6 a.m.)

When that bar/club/location closed, you would be forced to endure 60 minutes without a drink, which usually lent itself to going to the Diner to get breakfast, and give your liver a break for an hour.(6 a.m. to 7 a.m.)

At 7 a.m. one local bar opened for business. It was open for twenty three hours a day.

So if you planned accordingly, you could reasonably drink, 23 hours a day/night.

I only did that maybe a couple of times. That was pretty desperate drinking.

I know, for a fact, that on one particular morning that I continued drinking into that 23rd hour, the next decision I made, sealed my mortal well being and ended my sexual viability.

I can piece together what went down after years of trying to figure out the specifics. That morning, specifically, was the morning that I crossed the invisible line into AIDS.

I know that James was sick when he killed himself, which was a year prior to my diagnosis.

I was working for Todd by then, but I was not yet sober. It would be another year before I got sick, but I was told that I carried for well over a year, before I got very sick with hepatitis hence, activating my immune system, and AIDS exploded into my system.

Like I said, I never drank in the morning, if you want to split hairs.

If I had not gone to bed, it was not morning yet, so that did not count.

It’s that morning drink that will kill you.

It almost killed me – Literally.

Even when drugs were introduced, when I went back out, by my own hand, it wasn’t alcohol that was the problem, it was POT. Our days began with a joint and continued well into the day and into the night, all night, until you either passed out or ran out of weed.

You can see above, that my sober decision skills were nonexistent.

Even sober, I could not make things work on my own, and I certainly did not think straight when I was drunk for sure. My brain was fucked for a very long time.

Sometimes, I am under no illusion, that at certain times, I should not do anything, make any decisions, or even leave the house for that matter.

When Todd stepped into my life, He was in the game with me. I was no longer alone, and for a couple of years, under his wing, I did what I was told, I did not make ANY decisions, alone or by myself, and in the end … I Lived !!!

As soon as that guiding hand departed, and left to my own devices, you would have thought that what I learned the two years prior would play out, it didn’t.

The second time I came in, again, I was no longer alone. I put my trust in the group of men and women who helped me get sober again.

When I moved here, I connected to people, who had my back, and the best of intentions. The right people, were in the right place at the right time.

And I’ve said this recently, about my friends … I must have done something right, by NOT doing what I watched my friends do. My decision making skills were honed in the meetings, and with the people I trusted.

I never did anything without a second or third opinion.

Many of the people who got sober when I did, or came in after, and now are double digit sober, are CRACKED in the HEAD. I’ve listened to them week in and week out, and I know what decisions they made, because all those pitfalls are part of their sordid sober story.

And for some, they still, to this day, double digit sober now, Don’t have their SHIT together. Comparing apples to apples, I stayed very close to my center. I never ventured very far from it. And I think that made all the difference.

Foundations …

I was visiting with RAFA earlier tonight, and we were talking about our fellows, and that they see things in a particular way. And when they see or hear something that rocks their moral or spiritual boat/foundation, they loose their shit.

And I jokingly said, I can’t be angry, and I can’t get mad, or show any emotion, in any meeting, in any capacity, in front of any of my friends. I can’t express certain things in public, because that shakes my friends up so much, they they flee in all directions.

I got mad in a meeting, and lost three quarters of my sponsees in one conversation. Rafa, at one time, voiced an opinion, and all of our friends, ostracized him from the fellowship and the group, because he rocked their perfectly tenuous moral boat.

That Boat, I am talking about is like evangelicalism.

Evangelicals are fed one truth. Based on either scripture or a human being (read: Preacher). What they hear, and what they take in, is taken as gospel and that becomes foundational.

Alcoholics and Addicts suffer from the same malady. And I am not sure why. It probably has to do with where they come from, how they were raised, how much life experience they have outside their comfortable community bubble, where they were educated, and finally, how they see the world.

We see this situation play out with our fellows, when you introduce to them alternative ideas or concepts. Or you share an opinion that is not as conservative or as liberal as their own. We’ve seen, over the last year or so, how people react when they hear things that do not necessarily jive with their world views.

Friendships end. Meetings close. Ne meetings open because people are distressed and they need someplace safe to be, so they open a meeting, formed in their image.

People do not return to certain meetings or they go back out and drink and use, which is the most dangerous consequence to differing opinions.

Foundational Sobriety, for some, is as tenuous as the foundation of an Evangelical Christian. They believe certain truths and they bank on those truths never changing, because if they do, people usually implode.

Many years ago, I could not talk about being Gay AND being  a Christian.

That one relationship was so abhorrent to some evangelicals, that they mercilessly attacked me for years, on this blog, until I achieved my degree in Religious Studies in University. Then they just went away …

Thank the Baby Jesus …

They just could not wrap their heads around a Gay man being a Christian. That has changed for some, in today’s day and age, but not for many religious.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

My dalliance with The Church of Latter Day Saints, was an honest endeavor with honest Elders in conversation. It was the Mission President who said, in finality, that in order to be baptized in the LDS church, I would have to annul my marriage.

Not Gonna Happen.

Today, I am still waiting on a meeting with said Mission President. Tonight I got a text saying that they were trying to find time for us to meet, so there is movement there.

The ATONEMENT Is everything. It is the guiding force behind the LDS Church.

I’ve atoned, ten times over.

Good sobriety is all about Good Decision making skills.

At least, that is what I have learned so far, by the example shown by other sober people, in the program, who haven’t all made the wisest decisions, and suffered for their poor decision making skills.

Thank the Baby Jesus, I am not one of those poor souls.

Honestly ! It isn’t my ego that says that, but my soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Friday – 15 Years Introspection

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A comment that came in just now, I will explain in detail …

I’m curious about your change in church allegiances; first it was banners all about the pope, pope, pope, pope! Now it’s LDS. You know that neither of these institutions will ever accept you as a gay man, right? LDS has even given you the ultimatum.

My observation about you is that you seek a system of rules that will keep you sober and safe; The Catholic Church was first, now it’s the LDS church. Both absolutely and completely anti-gay. Although, let’s face it: the Mormons are ever so much more polite about it.

It’s our relationship with our Higher Power, independent of any institution, AA included, that is at the heart of our sobriety.

That’s why the lady stomped out when you asked her to delay her trip: she didn’t have that internal strength in place and was relying on external institutions to manage her sobriety for her. She knew it in that moment, and was pissed off.

What are you looking for outside that you don’t already have inside? Work on *that* rather than wanting people to like you. It feels to me as if there is an ancestor (Father? Mother? Aunt? Uncle?) who you are trying to please. Ignore them and please Jeremiah. For once figure Jeremiah into the equation. Be self-centered in a good way, because that is where your center IS.

The stewardess tells you to put your oxygen mask on first: if you’re not conscious, you can’t help anyone else. Jesus tells us to take the beam out of our own eye before even thinking about trying to help our neighbor. We can only give when our own cup overflows.

Just like the lady who couldn’t tell her adult children she couldn’t come to England, I know that you have a lot of rules about why you can’t put yourself first. Examine them. AA is supposed to be all about self-examination first, and helping others SECOND, AFTER you get truly sober. And I’m not talking about white-knuckled strict adherence to the rules as a substitute for true inner serenity and sobriety here.

Alcohol is not cunning, baffling and powerful — I don’t care what the big book says: the ginormous hole in your soul that needs constant feeding IS. Fix that. See it. Acknowledge it. Fill it with good things. I wish you the utmost best.

So, I’ve spent fifteen years adhering to the rules and suggestions of those I most trusted. And they have served me well, because I did not CRACK UP and I am sober still. And I think I am a little more sober this year, than I was last year.

At this time last year, there was open rebellion in the Best Night of the Week Meeting, and the alcoholics and the addicts were in open combat, and I chose a side and stuck with it. That almost ruined certain key relationships in my life, and when I took my chip last year, it was very apparent that I was terribly upset with one of my best friends in the world.

For the last two and some odd years, I had been serving a second fellowship almost entirely, and at the end of my run, my cup was empty and I left them to seek my own renewal. That has only been a few months in the works today.

I also left another meeting that was totally unhealthy for me, because of the toxic people in that meeting, so that cut me back to just two meetings a week, where I am homed today, the Thursday meeting and the Friday meeting where I open and set up as well.

I had come to the realization that I was not taking care of me, opting that if I served others dutifully, that I would stay sober. This was not a really good tack, because I know now that I really want to take care of me. And I wasn’t…

Which leads to the LDS.

On that fateful day a few months ago, the elders appeared and opened dialogue. If you have read back some ways, I explain how we get around GAY in the LDS. The marriage issue is just a paper formality that is the stumbling block NOT my homosexuality. I am on the back side of Gay today. Been there, done that.

There is a reason and a method behind my pursuits. I’ve explained in detail in several posts listed below.

I talked to Heavenly Father prior to the Elders coming to me and set my 50th birthday as the cut off day to sever ties with everything that was not serving me. HE, in his infinite wisdom, set that plan into action much earlier than I had expected it to begin.

Hence where I am right now.

After seeing my friend crack up last night, I realized just how hard I worked to stay sober, by following the rules like Gospel, because had I done things that I saw my friends do, or had I taken a tack that some of my friends did, I would not be of such sound body and mind as I am today.

You might have the time, but you may not be very sober …

I’m really not in a bad place. I am happy, all things considered. I have everything that I need, and I seek contact with Heavenly Father on a daily basis. And for the most part I find Him when I seek Him. I know that for sure.

In reaching this anniversary, I was prepared to do what I needed to do for me, spirituality was one segment, and self care was the other. I am just trying to work out what I need to do, where I need to go, and whom to seek for advice. Because I am nothing without those I trust. And there are just a chosen few that I do trust today.

Over the last year, it has been made plainly aware that there are just some people I should stay away from, even though they are WELL double digit sober.

They might have the years, but they are certainly not sober, and I really do not want what they are peddling. So I’ve moved on from those folks over the last year.

Approval … As alcoholics and addicts, we are always seeking approval, one way or another, and I admit I am guilty of that myself. I want to be seen as a human being worthy of love, and human decency from people who will never give that to me, and that has been a thorn in my side for the whole of my life, and I am turning the page on that, and I’ve been working on that for some time.

That is going to take some more work, to be honest.

Self centered and Selfish for me … I’ve never been keen on doing things for me, however I do do thing for me on a daily basis. Meanwhile in the meetings, the plan of action is always to serve everyone else, to the exclusion of ourselves, because in serving others, we get to stay sober. Working with others also suggests that that work will guarantee sobriety.

But I know from experience, that throwing myself into serving others on a one to one basis is all time consuming and taxing on my spirit and I am glad that I have just my two guys that I work with today.

I am trying to find the balance, and I am seeking balance in places that most of you tell me are unwelcoming and judgmental. That may be the case, but I have found the work arounds, to a certain degree. And I enjoy the LDS community and the people in my ward. They are loving and kind people who only want the best in each of us who are part of that contingent of men and women. Elders and Sisters included.

I know what I need to do, these realizations have been coming for some time. And I have listened to my spirit more, and stepped up my prayer and spiritual life, and I am seeking spirit in the LDS church, because when they came to me they offered a way of life that was truly engaging and open to possibilities. And I was ready to hear their message and become part of something I had not found in the Catholic, Anglican and other faiths that I had studied and been part of for the last decade and a few years here in Montreal.

I know where I come from, and I may not know where I am going, but this journey is still ongoing, and I am seeking the way, the best way I know how and I am trusting Heavenly Father, that He knows the way and in time will show me, one day at a time.

Heavenly Father has a plan, I just need to Trust, have Faith and Believe.

Over the last few months after working this round of steps, and seeking a New Experience with the women who were in my study pod, I did have a new experience, and at the end of those studies, I learned just what I was seeing for the first time, and found out just who certain people were, on their insides, and I chose to walk away from that toxicity.

When people show you who they are the first time, believe them …

I’ve encountered old timers with LOTS of time, who turned out to be charlatans and fakes. And that truly turned my stomach and sent me into a tail spin earlier this summer after the shooting in Orlando. That was a totally catastrophic emotional bottom that I had never experienced before. And it took me months to work myself out of it.

I don’t suggest anyone go through that kind of emotional bottom if possible, but you know, shit happens.

Sobriety has been a challenge, and for the last year, I pounded service till it bled me dry and my cup was empty at the end of the summer and I have been endeavoring to refill that cup with good meetings, good people, and a smattering of service because I still feel that a little service goes a long way to keeping my head on straight.

It keeps me rooted in the basics of sobriety and keeps me mindful of where it all started, and why I still go to meetings, and why I want to stay sober.

Because I don’t want to CRACK UP like some of my friends are CRACKING UP.

At least that suggestion is still in active motion. I can’t NOT do service.

It’s like tossing a loonie in the basket …

My chip and its giver are stuck in San Diego at this hour, so we postponed my anniversary for one week, until next Friday.

More to come later tonight.

Thanks for your comment Bill, it was very much appreciated.

 

 

 


Watch the Heartbreaking Live Stream of an LDS Chapel Burning Down in Idaho

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Courtesy: LDS Daily Online World

Just after 2 p.m. on Tuesday, a fire broke out at a chapel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Swan Valley, Idaho. The live stream from an East Idaho News chopper, found below, is being watched by thousands on social media as firefighters from across Eastern Idaho work to put the blaze out.

No one has been injured in the fire and the cause has not yet been determined. A representative for the Church told East Idaho News.com that the fire likely started in the attic. At this point, the building is considered to be a complete lost. The steeple has collapsed into the building, which is completely ablaze. Crews are expected to work throughout the night to try and contain the fire. We’ll provided updates as they come.

Forward to the last twenty minutes or so of the video to see the full state of the blaze at the time of this article.

This is important because Elder Christensen lives in Idaho. So I called him to check up on the community. And they live about four hours away from Swan Valley.

The loss of a chapel is a huge impact on the community there.


Friday: Part 1, In Quiet Desperation

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Only time, life, experience, and finally hindsight, has given me new eyes to see life the way it panned out, how life changed, gave me its lumps, and now restored me back into the faith life that I was meant to live.

I’m amid a read of “In Quiet Desperation” Understanding the challenge of Same Sex Attraction. By Fred and Marilyn Matis and Ty Mansfield.

Having figured my self out, and finding myself of the backside of Gay, I have reoriented my life. Approaching Fifty next year, I prayed for a new experience. And I got it in spades.

I’ve reassessed my life as it played out. And I’ve figured out that What I became as a young boy, was directly related to the reading material I was consuming. I favored one flavor over another, for some strange reason.

Being fed two sides of the same coin was problematic. Having parents do one thing then say another, was confounding. Knowing I was headed in a certain direction, and having parents who derided me, and verbally and physically abused me, did not help in that process.

And I lament the fact that I did not have reinforcement in either direction, gay or straight. My parents might have loved us by the way they lavished “Things” on my brother and myself. Showing Love was not the same as Giving Love.

In my experience of parents who love their kids, and give them stable homes, with religious education and support, is something that was never afforded to me. I mean, there was church, and good people in my life, but that’s as far as that went, because when i went home, all the good was replaced with all that was terrible.

I reflect this question across many ideas … “Had someone stepped in, and said something, anything, to either dissuade me or give me another option to live my life, would I have listened, and what would that have looked like in reality ?

I know, that had my life changed even one degree from the track it took, I probably would not have gotten here, in the now, where I am in this moment.

I went into my twenties knowing I was gay. Was it a choice ? It all stems back to reading material and what fancied me, and I only carried it forwards because it was thrilling I guess. And the lifestyle I chose to take on, was based on a suggestion, from someone I thought I could trust.

My addictions only followed me and made the transition worse.

Still I did not know any better. And that is my fault. Once you are immersed in a culture and a people, and you become insulated into that community, and one does not venture very far from it.

But I see today, the wisdom of the Latter Day Saints. I understand their position on the Teaching on Marriage and Families. I understand how difficult it IS for young people, and adults alike who struggle with same sex attraction.

Because I am on the other side today, I see wisdom in ways I had not in the past.

To read Stuart’s story in this book, a young man of the LDS faith, struggle with SSA for so many years, go on a Mission, Teach and was loved, and the length he went to to get help, to pray, talk to his family and his Bishop, but in the end, being unable to reconcile his feeling with his faith, he planned his exit.

Stuart’s parents loved him, they supported him, they knew about his struggles and tried valiantly to help him, to no avail. All the words in the world, the scriptures in the book, the talks with friends, family, bishops and others, did not assuage Stuart’s feelings of his negative self worth and his unworthiness as a Child of God.

He told his parents that he was suicidal. He told his parents that the end was coming, everybody knew, but nobody had any power to change his mind, however hard they tried. They did not commit him because that was counter intuitive.

People of the LDS faith, and the Book of Mormon, rely on prayer and the authority of their church. I wonder, if I had that kind of faith life and family life, to the extent that many young people in the LDS church do, would something like that have changed my track, way back when ?

For Stuart Matis, there was no option. He had the gun, an on a Friday afternoon, Stuart went to their LDS stake center, and took his own life, by his own hand.

Mix this terrible tragedy, with the commotion caused by the push to legalize Gay Marriage in California, and the pros and cons in this discussion, and the firestorm the media creates in all things, this tragic event was defiled by hatred, only fueled by the media that twisted this young man’s death into a front page story about “hating the Gay.”

Being gay, we know is not a choice. Somewhere in our DNA there is something that triggers this state. I knew, before I hit the age of ten, who I was.

And that “Who” I was, was directly related to what I was consuming.

What did I know from gay in the 1970’s ? Nothing. The first gay man I met wasn’t until the late 70’s into the early 80’s. I knew squat about being gay, beyond what I was reading.

So I wonder, would a change in that equation, have changed the outcome ?

My heart weeps for Stuart. I was just dumbfounded as I was reading last night. I cannot imagine what his family went through, well I can, because the book tells the story, but just as well, reconciling faith and homosexuality has its problems.

Matthew Vines has spent the past five years teaching the evangelical faithful that there can be reconciliation between faith and homosexuality. I’ve read his work. And the work is sound.

People of faith, in all faiths, deal with the issue of Faith, Homosexuality and Same Sex Attraction, each in their own ways. And across the board, if reconciliation is not found, it is either “Living the lifestyle” or “Suicide.”

The LDS church offers the Option.

And I can testify that many young people in the LDS church, who deal with SSA and their faith, have, each themselves, contemplated suicide as an option.

Suicide is Not and Option.

I dissect my gay life into these areas … Gay, Attraction, Sex, Money, Addiction and Relationship.

I had dated women in my teens. I am still friends with one of those women, to this day. But I never went as far as sexuality or the spectre of marriage with any of them, because what did I know about marriage, beyond what I had seen in my life.

Alcohol and Drugs were the glue and the mortar that solidified being gay. If you take away the substances, then you have sex and relationships left. If you remove sex from the equation further, then you have just relationship.

The above list involves non-negotiables in any relationship. Remove any of them, and the relationship will fail.

Which is why, at this stage of my ball game, I am on the backside of gay, due to my special circumstances. And I am a unique case in my approach to the Latter Day Saints. And my case will be reviewed by the proper church authority before I progress further.

And I wonder … What was it that made gay good ? Boys, Alcohol, Drugs, Sex ???

That’s what made the world go round. Would I have changed anything, YES, I would have gone without certain people, activities and certain relationships back then.

It was an experience.

It got worse as I approached my diagnosis. I had never met such dishonest people in my life, until I met Todd on that fateful night.

Yes, I was still gay. But I was a sick gay. Which removed me from general population. I was serving the least of these, but I wasn’t “one of them.” Heavenly Father removed me from general population in order to save me from them and from myself.

Heavenly Father removed the

  • substance
  • the relationships
  • the attraction
  • the sex
  • and the lifestyle from me.

And over time, I changed as circumstances changed. And now in hindsight, I see the trajectory as it played out.

Today, all I have is the relationship. Everything else has been removed.

The book talks about being refined in the fire …

I was refined in the fire. Absolutely.

And now I am here.

Faith is such a personal practice for every human being. The Church of Latter Day Saints is the true church. And is built on the authority given to its leaders from the prophet Joseph Smith.

You need to read this book, to understand what I am trying to share.

I think, simply, life is about choices and options, and what lifestyle you choose to live.

We gravitate towards what is familiar. In life, In Sex, In Addiction, In Relationships, and In Faith. We are born into families, that is fact, and they don’t change.

A family, in the church, loves hard and seriously. Faith, Prayer and Scripture are absolutely important as the glue that holds families together.

Many young people in the LDS church suffer from Same Sex Attraction.

In a life of faith, in the church, it all comes down to choices.

Again, being gay is not a choice. And for many, these two ideas, faith and gay do not mix and can not be reconciled, so people suffer, until they make a decision on what they want to do.

Sadly, in high percentages, Suicide is that option. Some cannot bear the commitment to either marriage or chastity. So many choose the only route they believe is viable.

Suicide.

Suicide is Never an option.

The Church teaches that Marriage and Family are at the center of religious practice. To find a wife and then bear children. If that not be the case, and marriage does not happen, for those with SSA the commandment is to offer ones life over to God completely, and we make a covenant with Heavenly Father to live lives of chastity and obedience to the commandment set down by God.

In every life, there are challenges to be experienced, goals to reach, and divinity to seek. We might not know why we are suffering so, but Heavenly Father does. And only life. experience, struggle, pain and adversity, with the benefit of hindsight, do we figure out what God meant for us in this world.

I have seen my fair share of adversity, and I have also seen my fair share of goodness from Heavenly Father as well.

If sacrifice is what is needed, I am ready and willing to make whatever sacrifice needs to be made, save only one. and everybody knows that my husband is Non-Negotiable. That card was on the table from the very beginning. So that makes my case particular, to be dealt with on this basis alone with the proper church authority. I have not lied, or cheated. I have made my covenants that needed to be made and I honor those covenants.

I am still alive, so that first covenant I made over twenty two years ago, is still in play.

Once again, it is all about choices. And the options are all on the table.

Many are called, but few follow.

Having been through the fire myself, I don’t think there is anything that I cannot do for the love of Heavenly Father.

You are never alone. We are here. Suffering is part of life, it just depends, really, on how much time you want to spend suffering in the end. Let me tell you, the sooner you get over it, the better you will be and the easier a life of faith can be.

God can take care of all the things that others cannot.

But only if I let Him.

There are always options, one way or another. There is help. We are here for you.

Heavenly Father loves his children.


Sunday: Part 1, The Spirit Returned

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I had a conversation with Rafa last night. It seems that we are both running on the same steam, having both spent the better part of last week, in either anger for him, and fear for me.

It was as if, amid my week of spiritual realizations, for some reason, the spirit left me, and for an entire day, I was sunk in a pit of worthlessness, fear, and feeling devastatingly alone, and that Heavenly Father had pulled away from me.

I had not read my scriptures for Friday before I went to bed, and that may have been something I should have done when the darkness began to consume me. In any case, I did go to my scriptures before bed, and I am reading 2 Nephi.

And from Friday’s reading into last nights reading, I have kept God’s commandments, and I have kept the covenants I made with Heavenly Father. Not sure, that I needed a day in the darkness, to be able to extinguish between goodness and darkness.

In the reading Nephi talks about the Garden of Eden, and the fact that, in the garden everything was perfect and untouched, and then the fall occurred which gave contrast to a perfection that had been untouched. For if there was no evil, or no wrong, or no pain, or no struggle, we would not know what perfection and good are, because there was no opposite in existence when Adam and Eve were in the garden.

I know that Heavenly Father loves me and has my back, all the time.

Time to get ready for church.

 


Friday: Part 2, FEAR of Being Red Lighted

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The stories of Voices of Hope are as varied as the human sharing their story. Rejection, Denial, Ostracism, Not being understood, or Validated are very very real, for many of the young men I have listened to.

And after today’s episode that I watched earlier today, where I heard MY story told by someone who walked this very same path, knowing that HE got the Green Light, and was baptized into the church, has put some real fear into my heart tonight.

I’m really afraid that for some reason or other, the man who will be charged in green lighting my baptism, will say NO. It is a logical fear, because my story is a bit complicated, but I’ve done all the work I need to do. I’ve thought this all through, I have reached my conclusion that, I am done with Gay.

I want to be baptized. I want to be part of the community that was shared with me. I have turned to Heavenly Father for wisdom, and love. I just really need to trust the men who have been ministering to me that they know the particulars of my story, and when I see them on Sunday morning at Church, I will share with them my fears.

I just need to relax and pray for peace and understanding.

I know, Heavenly Father knows what is going on with me and that He loves me for who I am, an imperfect human being who just needs to hear that I am just ok.

 

 


Friday: Part 1, Finding the Better Me on the Other Side

maybe

I did not get a single hit from last night’s post. I imagine that it was not the right moment, and the feeling I have been sitting with is this: I am ok. I am on the way. I know where I am headed.

The last Discussion was about the process to Baptism. But first I need to meet with the Mission President for Quebec, before that can happen.

I’ve been listening to Voices of Hope every day. And they say, in our rooms that, eventually, one day, you will hear someone tell your story. After over a dozen testimonies listened to, I heard a young man tell the story I am living at the moment.

How, being Gay turned out and where that led him. Then, in a fluke of Heavenly Father prompting, he and a friend were in an Asian grocery store, in the Bay Area, and on his way out, a Missionary was walking in.

In a moment, he was enlightened to talk to the missionary. Which led to some questioning who he was, what he was, and how he could find himself, talking with a Missionary.

One conversation led to more Missionaries, which led him to Baptism.

Like myself, he got to the other side of Gay, and is working on finding his better self, through the Atonement and the Gospel and the Savior.

I needed to hear someone talk about this specific journey. What does one do when they find, that they are on the other side of Gay.

Thinking back, if I could talk to my much younger self, I would give him other, better choices to make. More options, that I did not have at the time. There was no other option for me, so I engaged in the gay community.

As my life progressed, I found less and less attraction for the gay community. I found less and less need for the community as well. Because I’ve spent the last fifteen years, living among my straight friends in recovery.

However, I have some gay friends in the room, we don’t hang out, outside the room. And I invite one of my elderly gay friends to holiday dinners here in our home, that is a tradition we have had for several years.

I don’t desire to be with other men. And I really don’t sexualize men in public. I might think, Hey, he’s cute or has a cool haircut, and that is normal. I just don’t LUST after guys like a sick puppy would.

I’ve been married for twelve years, and for the last fifteen years, I have worked on myself and have grown spiritually and soberly. Hubby, on the other hand has not. He is not interested in personal growth beyond his job and his laptop.

So two sober people living under the same roof. One is stagnant, and the other has moved farther along the life road. And now I am here.

On the Other Side of Gay.

I believe Heavenly Father is calling me to my better self.

I want to be Baptized in the Church.

Sunday I am going to church for the first time in ages. I am hoping that will lead to something I really desire.

Connection …


Thursday – Is there anybody out There ?

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I know where I am going. I know where I have been. I know the way out, but I am not quite there yet. It’s like I am standing in front of the door of the church, and the door is closed at the moment, because it hasn’t been opened for me just yet.

There are steps I need to take, and people I need to meet and talk with, before that door is fully opened. I just need someone to talk to, someone to share with, someone who can be there and to listen.

I have heard the warning about “Disclosure,” that Heavenly Father will send the right people to us, when the time is right, and that we should not look to having conversations with people, who won’t necessarily accept or understand the finer details of the story I am living right now.

Right now, I have my sponsor who knows, I have my Elders who I have asked for help from, and for someone to talk to.

This afternoon, I had “The Discussion” with my best friend. He lives in another City, Ottawa, so he isn’t local, and if I want to see him, I have to go to him.

I had not really prepared what I was going to say to him, but I had an idea. I just was not sure that I would have the right words to explain all the details fully, or that I would be able to paint the right picture for him to look at.

He knows me, and he knows my story. We have spent months of Fridays sitting on his back patio, when he lived here, talking through a manuscript that, at one time, I thought would make a good book. I later decided that writing said book, was not a good idea, so I shelved it.

In my story outline were 5 threads. One of them is a Heavenly Father thread.

With that idea firmly sussed out between us, the story I told him made perfect sense. For over an hour we talked, and he did have valid questions, worries, concerns for my spiritual welfare, because he has seen me get burned before, and he does not want to see me get burned again.

He is walking with me. He gets it. It makes sense to him. And he supports this journey.

When I hung up the phone, I was emotionally and spiritually exhausted. In a good way though. I talked about my Testimony of Faith and The Atonement. I’ve studied the Plan for Salvation. Last night, I went over my scripture readings and I prayed.

I sent word to my Elders that I really wanted to know if there was someone who they knew who could be there to listen or to guide.

I listened to another story from Voices of Hope when I got home this evening.

I don’t have a map of the next steps. I don’t know what is going to happen. Or who is going to come into my life right now, to walk with me.

If there is anyone out there, who has time … Contact me. Please.

jeremy1350@gmail.com

You know, I sent two emails out over the past week. Neither of them have been returned.

I have an odd story, I am where I am.

I also know that if I don’t hear Heavenly Father myself, that the next step is to go and listen to someone who knows Heavenly Father, because words might come from them.

He always finds a way …

 


Covenant

Do you believe in Love

Today I made my first covenant with Heavenly Father.

One of many to come.


Tuesday – Heavenly Father is Constant Like the North Star

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Forgive my back and forth. I come from a religious tradition that calls the name of God – God. I am still getting used to Heavenly Father, which is why I added a section to this piece, to reflect that understanding and respect for Him.

 

God is Perfect. God’s timing is perfect. It has taken a lifetime to get here, but I think I have arrived. God is always there. Patiently waiting. Always knowing when we might need Him, even if we don’t always know it at the time. I feel, God has called upon me for this next season. However long that season is.

This is the route He has chosen for me.

You might not know where you are at the moment, but God has a plan for each and every one of us. I don’t know what my plan is, there are some things I do know based on my testimony of faith.

As a young child, Memere introduced me to God, in that big Church we attended together when she had me with her. She took the time, on that one perfect day, to give me to God. It was she that had that intimate conversation with God. At least that is what comfort I take from that memory. She loved me, without a doubt.

She gave me that gift. It is sinful what my father did to her over my lifetime. My father was so hateful and he was a pig. What does a child do, when the two people that should have loved you and gave you Good, Sound, Godly advice, failed in their responsibility to do just that?

Knowing I was coming from a broken home, a home where all my father wanted was for me to, just die already, after spending my lifetime trying to get rid of me, makes me sick.

How did I know what was good for me, when the humans that were charged in making sure I did the right thing, did not care one bit ?

I didn’t.

Spending that year in seminary, my second year of college, did teach me some things, in hindsight. In telling this story to my Elders this evening, at the time, I thought that serving God would be the end all and be all of my existence. The seed was there, but the ground was not fertile.

That seminary, might not have been the proper garden for me to flourish, as God wants each of us to flourish. Too many weeds, Too many vines, and WAY too much sin.

There were adults in my life whom I worked for, who were there when I was in the beginning stages of serious alcoholism. Some of those same people are sober today, and got sober, well before I ever hit the rooms. And I wonder, to this day, “Why they didn’t say STOP, or Maybe I had a problem?” True, I wasn’t their responsibility nor their child.

I did not know what I was getting into, when I moved to Orlando. I had a simple plan, nothing too difficult, but it was not too long, before I was way over my head, and nobody knew, cared, or offered any solution to that madness of sex, drugs and alcohol.

Everybody grows up, one way or another. This story life, might have been different, if a change of just a single degree had taken place, on this specific timeline point. Had someone warned me, or spoke to me and given me Good Advice … Not Just

Go to the Bar, have a couple of drinks and see what happens ?

What did I know, I was told, that that was the way in.

I’ve heard many young Mormon men say, in their stories, that they never heard one good word about the gays ! Well that might have been true. I had never met more evil, backstabbing, dishonest people in my life, than some of the men I had interactions with in my time in Orlando. No wonder, I had such a bad time.

Every challenge we have, in hindsight, as the Elders said tonight, was to give us experience with whatever was going on with us, in order to teach us something about our challenges.

I have worked my way out of several challenges in my life. It surely was not on my own that I found my out, it was God.

I said to them that, “I had been to hell several times over…” And the response came back that “Now you know the way out.” You had to have that experience, so that one day, you could turn around and help another human being who might be stuck in the hole you were once in.

You have the way out …

You cannot help someone, if you don’t have the invested experience to share a solution with them.

Mother Teresa once asked Lorna, “How do I help the alcoholics in Calcutta?” Lorna’s reply was a simple question … “Mother Teresa, are you an alcoholic? No, she replied, Then you cannot help them.”

I have a Testimony of Faith. I have had a lifetime of experience, and I can share with you that God does exist. That God is faithful. That God is always there. And I know that when I turned to God, He was there for me.

There were times when I needed God, and I did not necessarily call on the name of God for help, just the same, He came in the guise of someone who played a direct role in my life at one point or another.

God has been good and giving. God has been merciful and kind. I don’t know what God has in store for me right now, but I am spiritually prepared to walk where ever he asks me to go.

I thought, early in my life that the answer to all my problems, was to go and serve God. The Good Men who pushed me through the process of admission believed in me, more than my own family believed in me. In the end, I failed them.

Or was it that the rector of the seminary who had failed them ?

I wasn’t the only seminarian from our home parish to “leave the building.”

I like to say that when I was “On the Beam with God, my life was really good.” And I know, in hindsight, what good feels like. I also know what being “Off the Beam, from God, feels like as well.”

The next time I consciously connected with God, was when I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. I’ve never prayed more serious prayers in my life, because this was my life we were talking about. I really did not want to die, because so many people wanted nothing better than for us FAGS to die, because God was punishing us for our sins.

Let me tell you, God had nothing to do with the things I witnessed. God had nothing to do with how sick all of my friends got. God had nothing to do with the indignities I watched being perpetrated on the sick and dying.

My poor friends went to their death, in ways you cannot even imagine or conceive, and I am sure, as the sun rises, that each human being that turned their backs on us, paid a heavenly price for that ultimate Sin Against God’s humanity.

I survived the worst disease I have ever seen. And God was right there, in the middle of it all, and for a few hours each night, I spent time with people, who were running out of time. I know who loved me through that darkness.

On December 9th, 2001, I promised God that I would remain on that beam, even if it killed me to do so. I moved to Montreal for a spiritual truth. I had been given the gift of sobriety a second time. I’m not sure that wasn’t a fluke.

If I had not had salvation from the sinister episode I was sunk in, when it was time to go, I am not sure I would have survived, and nobody knew where I was for one, and two, nobody cared either. If I had dropped off the face of the earth, or died, nobody would have come looking for me or even missed me.

God Giveth, and God Taketh away …

I know today, that in my life, at certain times, God removed things from my life, for certain reasons. Other times, I had to choose to walk away from some things. And in a few instances, when I walked away, from, let’s say, a substance, I did not go back to look for more. I knew I was done. That happened with alcohol as well.

When I moved here, I did not go looking for it again.

When I decided that I did not need the Village or the people in it, early in sobriety, I walked away from it. And I did not miss it. I was sober, so I was not bar hopping nor was I trolling for sex either.

Heavenly Father, in His wisdom knows what He is doing for me and for you. Over the years, I trusted in His wisdom and love when I was relieved of things in my life that were not serving me. I’ve spent fifteen years here, I was educated here. I know a ton of people here. Out of ALL the people I know, ONE, ONLY ONE, friend has invested in my life. HE is my best friend.

I can’t say that much about the community I walked away from. And don’t miss one bit. For the first time in all my years I went to Pride in the Nations Capitol, Ottawa. I had never felt so out of place or unsettled in my life. I knew, that I did not need that event, or any of those people. I have certain gay friends who I trust and listen to advice from. Getting sober in straight rooms, that assimilated many into them, serves me well. There are just some things in life that once i felt necessary and exclusive, proved, in the end, to be unnecessary and pointless.

When I was diagnosed in 1994, even our own brothers, who were alive, healthy and safe, turned their backs on those of us who were sick. i watched healthy humans toss their sick partners, boyfriends and lovers out into the streets destitute and alone. I served every one of those men left on the side of the street, and I was there when many of them crossed the veil into the afterlife. Let me tell you, that was a bitter pill to swallow.

But Heavenly Father delivered me out of that hell. WHY he chose me to live is still beyond me, but like my Elders said, I have a story and a solution to offer. At least that is solid wisdom.

So the decision to convert was not a difficult choice. It was another choice, as I heard from a young man on the Voices of Hope site tonight.

When I left home, there was only ONE choice. There was no other, and no other voice offered to engage me.

I have a choice today.

I don’t know what it is, but I am certain that, when I walked away from something, or something was taken away, it was or has been by Divine Intervention. (read: God)

Hubby was dropped into my life, So I could repay God for his tender mercies He had shown me, so that I could turn around and help, love and serve another. Then marry.

My Marriage is Non-Negotiable. However, a commitment must be made to God. One that I am ready and willing to accept.

I will not, in any sense of the word, forsake my marriage.

God has always been part of this marriage. But I see now that, God removed some things from my life, just the same, and I am ok with this truth.

There are covenants coming.

There are commitments to be made.

There is a process in this conversion experience. The Elders think well of me, and I am blessed that God put them in my path, at the moment they appeared.

Cedric said that the Elders who found me, were “The Right” elders to find me. That had any other Elder come across me, this time might not have happened the same or even at all. Because the young men I know today, speak with the authority of the Church, and their Scriptures.

I spent a couple hours with my sponsor this morning talking to her about this process, and she could identify with the feelings and emotions I was talking about.

After we parted, I had lunch with a lady friend who had texted me earlier in the morning, and it was funny that she asked how I was, then she asked me “What are you reading?”

And I said … The Book of Mormon.

She did not believe me. I told her I was going to be an LDS member, and she was intrigued, so we had lunch together. At my evening teaching session, I said to the Elders that “They should have warned me, that I would become an evangelist…”

They just laughed …


Sunday – Did I Do the Right Thing ?

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Because we need happy dog photos right about now …

I’ve been angry, and impatient, and judgmental, and unsettled all night. And I believe that this is bleed over from my separation from a group of people I cared for and supported, and at the end of the day, they turned their backs on me.My phone has not rung in more than a week now. And I deleted all those numbers from my phone on Friday.

Like turning off that proverbial light switch, I like to always talk about.

So many people in my community across the board are afflicted with the “Can’t be bothered syndrome.” They want the easier softer path, and they want sobriety via osmosis by sitting in a chair night after night, hoping that they will magically get sober, and not have to embark on the personal work The Book and The Work asks of us.

So I watched another Voices of Hope episode instead of sitting here being angry all night.

And I wonder to myself, have I been living one huge lie? Am I not true to myself ? Did  I not follow God’s will correctly ? Because my brain is on over drive and here is why …

Memere, Grammy, and my Aunt Paula, they all loved me. Memere and Grammy are gone, and coming to Canada was my way of reconnecting with Memere’s spirit, in a place I wanted to be, both for myself and my spirit. I believed that this city was where I was supposed to end up, as the signs had opened up for me as they did, to lead me here eventually.

That seed of faith was set in my heart at a very young age. Hearing love and devotion when I was away from home, was lovely. But when I went back home, or even when I was out of home, my father wanted me dead. Saying I was a mistake and should never have been born. What kind of parent says things like that to their kids for the WHOLE of their lives?

All I wanted was to be loved. And I was for a while, on the outside. By other people, people who were NOT my parents.

For every good thing my parents gave me, they took it out in equal opposite measure with verbal, physical and emotional abuse. My father abused me mercilessly, and my mother watched him do it and never defended me or asked him to stop. In toxic parents speak, she was the silent woman. My father was the abuser.

Where did I learn about homosexuality ? From books, magazines, radio shows and later in my teens, I met actual gay men, who gave me more positive attention than my father could ever have given me.

So jealous with rage at these conversations I was having with these gay men, my father would come home and beat me until he thought he could beat the gay out of me, all the while, hiding his own secret of repressed homosexuality.

The dog that barks the loudest has the MOST to HIDE.

I had an idea. A thought, An example of what titillated me. Reading was the one way I connected with something I found of personal interest, well before I knew what it all meant. But tits and naked women did nothing for me at all. And I got that in equal measure, gay and straight. But early on I had made my choice.

In tenth grade, I began to attend youth group. I was going to church on my lunch hours at school. I was going to prayer meetings, retreats, serving in the mass, I had a spiritual life that was second to none. In the end those priests saw hope in me that they figured a life in the church would suit me. Memere was so proud the day I walked into Seminary. My parents could not have cared any less for my success. They were just glad to finally get rid of me.

No You Can’t …

Along this path to God, I walked and searched and hoped and prayed.

I never came out of the closet at home for fear my father WOULD Kill Me.

So at age nineteen, I entered my first year of seminary. For that calendar year, my spiritual director’s favorite question to all of us was … “Did you touch yourself?” And the answer was always the same. “No Father.”

That was a big huge lie.

I watched my fellow classmates do things with certain people that I found abhorrent at the time, because, at that time, my eyes were focused on God and pious sanctimony. But I witnessed crimes. And they were crimes. Only to be cornered on a dark night with the threat of sin and violence if I ever spoke out about what I had witnessed by those who were directly involved with said sinning against God.

I believed that if I could serve the church, that that would expunge any vestige of homosexuality out of me. I would serve God and that would be ok with me. Because serving God was better than serving myself.

In the end, at the end of that year, the rector, a man I despised, asked me to leave, that he felt that I did not have the blessing of God to continue. (Read: I did not have his blessing, because I was a thorn in his side, because of some of the things he perpetrated as rector).

I was mad at God. And Rightly so. I felt God had turned His back on me.

I had to go back home. My parents were none too pleased. I got a job, that included alcohol, and trips all over the world, just because I was employed at the right agency. That fed into my alcoholism and stunted my growth into manhood.

Coming to twenty One I was seeing my shrink and talking about what I was going to do. Ok, Fine, I would have to leave home, and strike out on my own, with specific direction to visit a local bar first and have a couple of drinks, and SEE WHAT HAPPENS …

See what happens ?

I had one sexual experience with a man when I was nineteen. Nobody knew that for years after it happened. We all got drunk one night on cheap vodka, and I took his keys away so he would not drive home drunk, so he spent the night. And shit happened.

Boy oh Boy, the women were so jealous of me when they found out I had slept with him. I had accomplished a feat that none of them had been able to do.

It wasn’t until I moved to Orlando and told a friend, who was a confidant that I was new at this game and he stepped up and broke me in officially.

What did I know about Gay ? I liked what I had read in the past. It turned me on. And mix pretty young gay men, with copious amounts of drugs and alcohol, and the Tragic Queendom and you had it made in spades.

What was being Gay ? Same Sex Attraction (SSA), Sex, Drugs, Alcohol…

I lived that lifestyle for just six years. When I turned twenty six, everything changed.

Having the beautiful boyfriend was all the rage in my twenties. And it seemed, that it was not the single gay that was attractive to most young gay men. It was the “coupled” gays that were the most attractive. Breaking up a couple who were dating was the holy grail in the community I was part of.

I was not the prettiest gay boy, but I was attractive for a while, until I became a worthless drunk.

I had never succeeded in having relationships worth any substance.Alcohol fueled the desire for sexual attraction and sex itself.

And it was my own undoing that brought me to where I ended up eventually.

Alcoholism stunts you at the point you began drinking. I was a teenager, mentally, for years. I was irresponsible. I lied, I cheated, I swore on my father’s good name, that he would pay for it all. In the end he did.

And I paid for that for the rest of my life.

Imagine, growing up with the alcoholic parents who NEVER said, Hey I Love You. Or Hey I am proud of You. Or Hey, Can I help you out or support you?

They never said those things to me.

Because I was the mistake that should never have been born.

Fast forward to age twenty five. Post James’s suicide and my having to identify his remains at the coroners office the fifth day after they found what was left of him four days earlier.

It was catastrophic emotional trauma which led to pitiful incomprehensible drinking to drown my sorrow.

Todd and Bill had stepped in and got me into therapy. But the worst was yet to come.

A few months later, I contracted hepatitis and was really sick. For months, I was working at the bar, like all the other employees, there was nothing special about me YET.

A friend gave me a card with Symptoms on it, as in, If You Have These Symptoms, You Might have AIDS. It took me until July of 1994, to hit nine of the twelve symptoms on that card, at which time, on July 4th, I had called home to tell my parents I was sick and that I was going to the hospital the next morning to get tested.

“Philadelphia with Tom Hanks” was out on Video. I had a copy at home with my friends, we were going to watch it later that night. Meanwhile, back at home my parents WERE watching the movie as the phone rang. Which did not end well.

Fast forward to the 9th of July that Friday. I had had AIDS. I was going to die. Life was over.

My family, My friends, my boyfriend, all left me high and dry. Sick, alone, isolated.

The Gay Lifestyle we like to speak about changed irrevocably.

I was no longer sexually viable. Hell, I wasn’t a viable human being according to the many who told me to just die and the Christians were telling me that it was God’s wrath for my sins. That I had brought this on myself. And that I would burn in hell for eternity.

I called Todd home from vacation. 1 man. 1 God. Three words. I Love You.

I Prayed – God appeared in my life, in human form. He came, and He saved me. I knew God loved me, because the only person who mattered to me, also loved me, and that was Todd.

I lived.

But I wasn’t in the clear just yet, as my story meanders from sobriety into full fledged alcohol and drug addiction/consumption, until I had hit that second bottom in December of 2001.

Once again, I turned to God, and I prayed three prayers in a certain order. I needed three things to get me back to the rooms. Funny that God heard those prayers, and like clockwork, each prayer came to pass, in the order requested.

God was there for me when I really needed Him. At every stage of this life I was living, when I needed a miracle or God to appear, He was there, right by my side.

Saving me every time. One Day I would repay His Goodness to me.

The alcoholic who would bring me back appeared in my shop and asked for a job.

Serendipity.

I moved to Montreal in 2002. Following Memere to where I believed in my spirit, I should be and turned my life around. And I grew up along the way.

I never assimilated into Montreal’s gay community. I went looking for something specific and did not find it, so I gave that part of my life up, opting for sobriety and a sober life.

Gay Lifestyle ? Did not exist for me. I was just a human being who happened to be Gay.

Assimilation into straight sober rooms was a challenge in the beginning, because of homophobia and judgmentalism on the part of people  who claimed to be Godly and Sober.

WRONG …

I wasn’t looking for sex. I never went looking for sex because I knew I was damaged goods. Nobody wanted a man with AIDS, that was one serious deal breaker in the Gay Community. Even if i was sober.

Trolling for Sex, was not a sober activity.

On the day, I passed hubby in the doorway of St. Leon’s Church, it was a split second decision. I looked, I heard the voice, and as I have said before, the rest is history.

I dated hubby for a couple of months, into Christmas of 2002. He went home to Ottawa to see his family, he gave me a set of keys to his place. The place we call home today, and said I could stay in his apartment while he was gone to Ottawa.

Gay Lifestyle ? We had only a few months before he got sick. I got used to how he looked, what he said, who he was. How he made me feel. He accepted me from the first night.

Because it was God ordained that we were to meet.

I never had to go looking for any gay lifestyle. I did not need any other gays in my life.

Todd always said that one day I would be able to save someone and love them.
Hubby was that one human being. I stood and was counted. I did what I was called to do.

Love, Support and Respect.

I never had to worry about same sex attraction to any other human being other than hubby. I had committed.

I was done. Forever…

We were both clean and sober, and we used to go dancing together until it got too cumbersome, having to suit up winter gear and go out and at the end of the night, find a taxi home.

Too Much Trouble.

I did not have gay friends. But I knew there were some gay people in a couple of meetings, here and there, which we availed ourselves of for a while, until they fell out of favor, because I could no longer stomach gay men who were sick, night after night saying how they just wanted to die, and be so miserable. I needed to know how they got so many more years, still alive, because that is what I was after all along.

All they wanted was to die. It did not Compute …

One night I had heard enough, from one particular man who was sick. And I offered to kill him, right then and there in the meeting. I offered to either shoot him in the head or push him off the second floor to the ground.

We never went back to that meeting.

No More Gay Sober Lifestyle.

Over the last fifteen years, I stayed clean and sober.

I went back to school, and decided that I was going to re follow God. I knew I had failed at getting to God through the vehicle of the church. So I chose to follow God through academia.

Gay, Religion, Theology and Academia, in the end was my own undoing.

Promises were made to me by Catholic Priests and the Monsignor, who were some of my professors in my Religion and Theology studies.

He reneged on his promises to make me useful to the church as a Gay Man.

Read – Gay and Catholic did not mix, even if Montreal had gay priests in its employ. I just would not be acceptable within those ranks.

All Along, the pictures and stories of sex, that were in my head, never came to pass for me. The very night that I met Todd, at the old bar location, He looked into my soul. And like God himself, He knew my innermost desires. And they were dark.

When I got sick, working at the bar, Todd passed an edict to every single man who worked in the bar, and to every single man who walked through our doors.

I was off limits.

After diagnosis, I did not have sex ever again, with anyone and that lasted for years.

The sex I wanted to have, I never accomplished at having. So menial sex was just sex. Hubby and I had a couple of months together, before he fell sick.

So the Gay Lifestyle I had read about and fantasized about NEVER happened.

Todd made that perfectly clear to me and to everyone else.

So much for the gay lifestyle.

My job, at the bar, was to be of service to anyone who walked through the door. I cleaned up trash. I bar tended. I worked in the DJ Booth. On special occasions, I was personal liaison to the special guests for each night as they showed up.

That was my job.

It wasn’t sex, it wasn’t anything but work. I could look all I wanted. I could dress any way I wanted. But that was as far as I got. EVER …

It took me fifteen years of sobriety and the meeting of the elders to get me to this point, to wonder who I really am, what secrets do I have, and need to be bore out, and what is God trying to say to me, and where am I headed ?

it took this long to realize just how BLESSED I really am today. Everything that happened, happened for a reason, to get me to this exact point in my life.

To see the truth and figure out what to do next.

God said to me …. “I am enough for you.”

Who am I ? What am I ? Why Now ?

I know God is not finished with me yet.

Tomorrow I am meeting Cedric at the LDS church in NDG.

I shopped for new shoes and new dress clothes earlier today, so I would be presentable to the community.

So that is my confession for tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Faith Evolution …

Faith phrases LDS

How do you know who you are supposed to be? What determines who you are? What one looks like, what one feels, what one sees, what one reads, what one hears from others?

How does one reconcile LOVE coming from certain people, and hatred and revulsion from others?

Looking back, to those early days, I had very few friends growing up. I did not arrive into friendships until I had hit the 6th grade. And it was upward and onward from there.

I knew I was GAY very early in life.

What does a child do, who has time on his hands, and a house full of information to be had, if you knew where to look ?

Nobody thought twice about the consumption of reading material located throughout the house. And nobody gave a second thought to what kind of reading material it was either.

Back in the day, I had a transistor radio that I used to listen to in bed at night. But more specifically, it was what exactly I was listening to that mattered.

I knew I was gay, but I never spoke that word to anyone at home. But parents are not stupid nor ignorant. And in my teens, my father figured it out for himself and began to beat me and abuse me mercilessly and senselessly. The abuse my father handed out began when I was a small child and he would chase me around the house with a bat trying to kill me, saying that “I was a mistake and should never have been born.” My grandmothers stood in the way of my father and his bat every time he did that.

He maintains that line to this day, in 2016, and I am nearing the fifty mark next summer.

I am still that mistake, and the cause of everyone else’s problems.

It is All My Fault.

Not sure where that came from really.

I played the heterosexual dating game through junior high and high school.

I attempted to follow God into Seminary, and I failed in that work. Seminary was not the safest place and not the most sacred location either.

Homosexuality was alive and well under the cover of darkness. Who knew they were going to ordain so many pompous, arrogant, entitled queers into the church back then?

That is the God’s honest TRUTH.

I had not come out of the closet yet. I was still an impressionable young boy at age nineteen.

When I came of age, at 21, knowing I had to leave home, and never return, the one piece of advice I listened to, was from my shrink,

who told me that the only way into the gay community was through a bar and a couple of drinks. The rest they say is history.

What was being Gay ? Same Sex Attraction (SSA), Sex, Drugs, Alcohol…

I lived that lifestyle for just six years. When I turned twenty six, everything changed.

Having the beautiful boyfriend was all the rage in my twenties. And it seemed, that it was not the single gay that was attractive to most young gay men. It was the “coupled” gays that were the most attractive. Breaking up a couple who were dating was the holy grail in the community I was part of.

I was not the prettiest gay boy, but I was attractive for a while, until I became a worthless drunk.

I had never succeeded in having relationships worth any substance.Alcohol fueled the desire for sexual attraction and sex itself.

And it was my own undoing that brought me to where I ended up eventually.

Everything God gives us is a blessing. It might not seem that way as life happens. But in hindsight, getting sick was truly the best blessing I could have asked for.

And I guess, in a way, I was just asking for it, wasn’t I ???

Stupid. Just Plain Stupid.

When James committed suicide, I was twenty five years old. I had reached the first tragedy in my life.

And I drank myself into the ground over that and ended up in therapy.

The day I was diagnosed with AIDS, at age twenty six, the world stopped spinning.

It just stopped.

Where does God play into this story ?

Memere made it perfectly clear to me that she was IN with God. She had that magical connection.

She believed in God and that with that faith, she would give me superpowers to defeat the hatred and abuse I suffered as a child.

I would need that God.

I did not know where God was when James died, and I surely did not call out to God, nor utter a single prayer either.

When I told my family, friends, and fellows that I was sick and was going to die, everyone scattered, nobody hung around nor did any of them want to.

Hindsight is 20/20.

I know God performed a miracle in my life. If God was ever human, he arrived in the guise of Todd’s wise supervision and love.

I prayed day and night for life, and God was right there in the thick of it walking me through the darkness.

If Todd (read: God) had not stepped in and did what had to be done, I would have died with all those men who did die in the end.

I know today that God exists. That I met him in the flesh.

When one is diagnosed with AIDS, the non-negotiables went out the window. The dynamic of what we are and who we are changes forever.

The Post AIDS view of sexuality in my life speaks volumes as to what was more important during rough times.

And I see the wisdom of that blessing now.

Working in the bar, was practice in serving the least of these to the best of my ability. I was protected from anyone who would do me harm, by Todd.

Knowing how to take care of others, was specifically important, because in the end, I would know how to take care of ME, should it come to that. Thank God it did not come to that.

As long as Todd was in my life, I wanted for nothing. I had dignity, guidance, love and respect.

When he moved away, I did not know how to carry those forwards for myself.

I lost myself, turned inwards and took back my will and in an insane moment, tried to fill the hole in my soul. And that did not work out at all.

I returned to the scene of that decision, alone and single.

When I took my last drink, I knew I was done.

For the first time in recent memory I called out to God, I needed heavenly help. I prayed three prayers in a specific order.

And God is always listening, and to prove to me that HE was there, he shifted the universe and handed me everything that I needed. God heard my prayers.

That superpower Memere gave me, was still working.

When I got sober again, I was no longer alone. I had people in the rooms who took care of me.

I moved to Montreal, and later met my now husband.

The day I saw Hubby, I passed him in a church doorway, and I knew then and there that this was it. The rest, they say is history.

Soon after we met, within the first year, he was diagnosed with Bi-Polar depression. And I was alone. I chose to stay and take care of him. I wasn’t going to leave. I spent every night, sitting here in the dark wondering what to do? I kept close to the rooms, I prayed and I listened. God kept me sane and He cared for me, through the dark times.

What happens when the gay lifestyle (read: Sex) turns into care giving and support? Sex goes out the window. I was no longer drinking or drugging. Both of us are sober today.

I think God knew what He was doing.

When you take away the sexual dynamic from the equation of life, who and what you are changes as well.

I am going to be 50 next year. I am no longer a “viable member” of the gay community. I am well “Over the Hill” by the standards of the young gay community.

I don’t walk around Montreal, with the eyes of sexual attraction. Montrealer’s are beautiful people.

I have someone in my life that I love. Once that happened, sexual attraction for others, ended. Once you commit, you commit.

You don’t need any one else. Tainted as I am, who would want me.

I am a tainted man, which makes me sexually unattractive to the many. Hubby accepted me unconditionally. Without question.

If my marriage ever ended, one way or another, I would never go back into general population. That is not even a possibility.

Our relationship began on a wind swept cold and rainy day, and an angel lost in the park close to home.

That one event turned two humans into a couple. It was An Angel, Faith and God.

I’ve been married for twelve years this November 2016.

I’ve come to realize, in the rooms of the fellowship, that we are all human beings, who deserve dignity, love and respect.

I don’t have many gay friends that I can count on in a pinch. Two men come to mind.

I know many people in the rooms. But I rely only on a handful of men and women I can call at any time if need be. They are reliable. The rest are not.

With the dawn of gender fluidity, the whole question of who we are, what we want to be called, and what is politically correct, are all the rage.

I AM a child of God, created in his image. I am a human being worthy of Love and Love from God.

In all my years, today, I have lived through the darkest times, and I survived the threat of death. I conquered my addiction to drugs and alcohol.

What is important in life is very simple. Caring for my husband, being of service to my fellows, and living Godly principles.

The way I see the world has changed, and the way I see myself has evolved. The turning towards God and a life of faith is the transition I am in at the moment.

I’ve met The Elders – they appeared at the right moment, and I was open to conversation. Which led to where I stand right now.

And I have been listening for God’s voice. I am always listening for it, and if I don’t hear it, I sit with my friends and listen to them.

Recently, I heard God’s voice and he said to me that “I am enough for you.”

There is nothing I need except God’s love and direction.

I just want to know that my life has not been lived in vain, that God does love me – all of me. He knows everything and is all forgiving.

I’ve seen so many changes in the world and as those dynamics change, we change with them. At some point, we all have to figure out what we are going to do with our lives as we grow older. And I surely am not going to sink into the pit of obscurity that many of my older friends have sunk into.

As long as there is air in my lungs and I can get out of bed in the morning, I will serve God to the best of my ability.