Monday, June 11, 2007

Destiny


I used to believe that I could accomplish anything that I put my mind and heart to. I am not the most gifted student, but I believed that I could work hard and earn good grades. I worked my tail off and over the course of two years of school I was able to maintain a 3.75 GPA. I wanted to travel over seas. I saved my money up and was able to live in a remote country in a place where few foreign visitors ever travel. I studied a foreign language. I took a challenging job. I stretched my musical abilities and was competitive and was awarded a scholarship. I involved myself in leadership and service activities and took on anything that challenged me. I problem-solved and always found a solution. I had little spare money but I was able to always find a creative way to make my ends meet. I was completely active in church. I was a leader. I relied on prayer and faith that I could change anything in my life. I was in complete control. I had my "big secret" that I was gay, but I believed that I could also change that. I followed all of the textbook counsel from the Church on how to change and cope with being LDS and gay. I joined Evergreen. I was devout and read my scriptures endlessly. I was a leader in my LDS peer group and was seen as the "example." I even went so far as to set my phone alarm to go off twice a day every day during times when I knew I would be able to stop everything and pray. I believed that if I could prove to God that I was devout he would heal me. I fully believed that I had the ability to change everything and anything in my life that I wanted to. I really believed that if I could show God how committed I was to the Church and "choosing the right" that he would take away my homosexuality or at least put it to rest so that I could fall in love with a woman and get married.

However everything in last fall came crashing down when I realized that there was nothing within my power to change my sexual orientation and that God really didn't intend to change my orientation. The one thing that I wanted to change more than anything, I realized, was in fact, an inherent part of the life that God created. [By that I mean, God intended this to be part of my mortal experience] I learned that there are many things that I just will have to live with and that I cannot change. It was a traumatic realization for me. All of my life goals and aspirations came into question as a result of this paradigm shift. This realization caused me to loose hope.

But I didn't give up on life and I learned some valuable lessons from this experience. I learned to not stress out about life when it comes at me full force. Things happen to people and sometimes there is nothing that can be done about it. And in many ways this was a healthy change for me and my paradigm. I learned that painful experience is just part of life and that I was not meant to white-knuckle my way through life but rather make peace with life and be positive. I became less pessimistic about life and for the first time I began to open my eyes to the reality of my mortal life. It was a positive change for me.
However, yesterday I had a bit of an epiphany about how I've changed. I realized that in the process of making peace with my life that I now look at life as destiny as a living, breathing, entity with its own agenda that I cannot control nor manipulate. I believed that my life really was beyond my control.

Essentially, I had been successful at so many things and had made so many changes in my life. Yet the one thing that I felt I needed to change, I could not change. I felt, in essence, like I had failed. Suddenly I realized that I was not as invincible to failed attempts at life choices and situations and I became terrified of failure again. I lost all desire, began to fail classes, and eventually withdrew from school; afraid that I would ruin my hard earned GPA. I began to question my life mission and nearly decided to settle for a mediocre life.

Things have gone really well over the last month or two and I have finally felt the return of many of my goals that I had lost. I am feeling more motivated, but not only do I have fear of failure, but also of success. Like I said, I used to believe that I could succeed in anything and I was pretty successful because of that belief. Knowing that I cannot achieve everything I set out to achieve makes me hesitant toward pro-activity when facing challenging situations and trials. It's easy for me to say, "Oh well, I couldn't help that things went this way or that... It's not my fault that I felt that way..." It's this false belief that "life happens to me" rather than "I'm in control of my life." I suppose then the truth is that there is probably a balance and harmony between the two. I just need to know how to find that balance.

I understand that I am the master of my own ship and that there is a thin balance between what I can control and cannot. It makes accountability very difficult because I must question how much control I have in any given situation. Obviously I cannot hold myself accountable for being gay. It's not my fault and I refuse to guilt myself for it. God intended me to have this in my life and I have a good life. I guess the question is then, how do I know what is in my power to control and what is not. Am I held accountable for deciding that I am done with repairative therapy? Is giving up on that a sin? I don't feel guilty for a lot of things I do because I don't let myself feel guilty. I know that guilt is a terrible motivation to accomplish something, but why work at something that you believe you have no control over. It's a gray area and I really don't even know if I am articulating what I am feeling. To sum it up, I don't know how much of my life I have control over and that which I do have control over I am afraid of failure or afraid of convincing myself into believing I can succeed only to find that I cannot.

4 comments:

playasinmar said...

I think you're trying to say you feel drawn to a certain future and you're not sure if you should resit the pull or ride it out.

Destiny is a tough concept for the church. Does God choose our path and call us to do his bidding or are we truly free to decide where we land in life?

Maybe God just finds us easy to predict.

Brady said...

Destiny is a concept I've had a hard time understanding and processing. The result I always come to is that the only reason someone would want to believe in destiny is to remove personal responsibility for actions. I mean, if you were destined to do it then how can you be held responsible for it? How could it be sin? But if we are all victims of destiny then we are all just robots that God has predetermined and set on our course. What value does God get out of that? What purpose would there be in that?

That being said, I don't think you were referring to that common doctrine of destiny in this post. As Playa noted, it seems you're more referring to being drawn one way or the other. And it's true we were born with certain physical limitations and handicaps - and having those is part of our predetermined existence. But our behavior and actions are not determined, even if we feel a natural pull to do something. That's my understanding anyway (and it makes sense to me).

Like you said, it's a hard concept to discuss and it's difficult to articulate those feelings. Feel free to clarify if I've misinterpreted what you were trying to say. My thoughts might not have come across exactly as I intended either.

gentlefriend said...

I agree with the above comments, but I also know that stuff happens that I have little control over. Things come out of the blue that I never expected and sometimes knock me off center. Sometimes I don't respond too well to these. But somehow I get back on track. (Or at least some track that seems to be going in the right direction.)

Thus far, life has not turned out as I planned, but it is turning out OK. As I look at other lives, of people coping to move forward, OK looks pretty good.

One problem of being as bright and talented as you is being driven by the fear of failure because you haven't seen much failure in your life and the fear that it may destroy you.

It took a serious academic failure in my life to teach me that failure couldn't destroy me. It was embarrassing, and had a temporary negative effect on my family, but we survived and learned a lot from it.

Mother Theresa said that she wasn't concerned about being "successful". She only worried about doing what God wants her to do. What happened after that she had little control over.

Sir Robert Chiltern said...

At some point I realized that I can't necessarily control everything in life, just as you have. Many things are just how they are. Good things happen, and bad things too.

However, that doesn't inhibit you from pursuing things in life, and from choosing how you will react to life's curve balls. THAT is a freedom we always have - the ability to choose how we react to and deal with life's situations. Isn't that the best form of control we can hope for? For any of us?