What it Looks Like to Come Out

This is a photograph of what it looks like to come out to someone.

Well, depending on your situation. If you come out to someone on a sunny, warm St. Patrick's Day in 2007, the kind of day on which you can wear shorts and a polo and feel just great (besides the intense inner turmoil).

And if the "someone" is actually your two best friends, where the first one has been your best friend for five years and has had feelings for you the whole time, but you haven't been able to explain why you don't know if you're attracted to her or not. If she knows you better than anyone else, and you love being around her, but your relationship has become strained. And if you go to see the other best friend sing in a concert in the city, and that friend is someone you can always trust and always talk to.

And if you steal them both away from their other friends for an hour, and take them into a little valley by the capitol building. If you get nervous trying to find a place to do it, while they wonder why you're acting so strangely, and you settle on a little bench overlooking a path and a sign with red spray paint on it.

And if you think it's the hardest thing you've ever done, and you just sit there silently between them on the bench. And you think about not doing it. And you begin to cry, wondering again how life will change after that day. If you know that you need to do it, because life is getting too hard to live without someone to talk to, and you really, really trust them.

And if you do it, and you spit out as much as you can, trying to answer anticipated questions through the tears.

If you stop talking, and for a moment feel completely empty and alone as they sit silently at your side. And then they reach for you and embrace you, and you feel the love and comfort of eternal friendship, and you "let it all out," and you never want to let go.

And if eventually you let go, ready to start the slow process of understanding, ready to face a very new life filled with more honesty, more openness, more pain, and more love. And if you wipe your eyes and look.

That's what it looks like.

My Best?

I often feel uncomfortable when people talk about how they did their "very best" on their missions. "How can you have done your best?" I mutter in my head. "That's impossible. You could always do better." The pessimism almost certainly comes from my own experiences.

As a 19 year old preparing to face my fears and go out to accomplish what was asked of me, I made a deal with God that is probably familiar to many a Moho. I promised God that I would put away all of my fears and hold nothing back, that I would serve with all of my heart, might, etc. etc. in exchange for the simple blessing of being switched from gay to straight by the time I returned. This was no passing thought; I prayed deeply and sincerely about it and felt confident that God was willing to keep his end of the deal.

Despite the optimism, I didn't become the super-confident missionary I needed to be overnight (or over the space of two years, for that matter). I found myself doing less than AP-caliber work (I lacked AP-ness-- teehee, say it out loud). I blame a large part of it on my suffering from what my therapist recently diagnosed as social phobia.

Did I love my mission? Yeah, I loved the spiritual highs, the baptisms, the friendships I built, the culture, the testimony I gained, the packages I received, the lives I helped change, the train rides, the DDR. Did I hate my mission? Yeah, the door approaches, the street contacting, the difficult teaching, the zone leader exchanges, the companions, the 18 months it took to speak Japanese, the phone calls, the unkind members, the biking through blizzards while ice shards made my eyes bleed.

And in the end, I found myself back at home with no change to my attractions. Had God let me down? No, not necessarily; I could have listed thousands of things that I could have done better as a missionary, so I could not claim to have done my best. Having started my mission with "best" as my main goal, such a realization was crushing. If I wasn't straight, I couldn't blame God.

I was recently praying for forgiveness of recent sins and rededicating myself to the Lord, when I found myself promising to "do my best." My thoughts turned to my mission. At first the pessimism set in, and I thought the task impossible.

But then I remembered a significant lesson I learned from Robert Millet in an Institute lesson last year. We're taught that we are saved by grace "after all we can do," a concept akin to doing our best. Is it really possible to do "all we can do?" Don't we fail every day? Brother Millet pointed out that rather than seeing this as some vague requirement to be absolutely perfect, we can understand the principle through the words of the king of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies: "It was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God."

I remain confident that I can do my best simply by living in a repentant state. I hope by doing so the Lord will be able to mold me as he sees fit.