Impossible

I had this insight at church today about Luke 1:37. One translation says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” I think it is interesting that it says “shall be” because sometimes things are impossible at the moment, but that doesn’t mean they will always be impossible. God can mold and shape us into a new person that can do what was impossible for who we used to be.

I have done things that were once impossible for me, but are now natural and even easy. I asked for help to do these things. I tried over and over, but I had limitations that I could not overcome by myself. But, then, I changed. I became a new person because people saw something in me that I could not see in myself.

We are so often told that God won’t give us more than we can handle or that all things are possible with God, but the process is not explained very often. God makes us so that we can handle things. Sometimes that is through trials, but I think most often it is through other people. People teach us, change us, and stretch us to become more than we once were. And sometimes it is not a good experience. Sometimes it is difficult, painful, and heartbreaking experiences with people that force us to become better.

I think in the end though, we can find reasons to be grateful for all the growth experiences, even the unpleasant ones. The key is allowing yourself to be changed, so that the impossible can become possible.

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Sexual Attraction and Religion

There are a few things that I hardly ever speak about or write about because they are simply not culturally acceptable. Sometimes that means they are not acceptable in society at large, and sometimes it means they are not acceptable to my immediate culture surrounding me on a daily basis. Homosexuality, gender dysphoria, and sexual attraction are all things that are not culturally acceptable for me to talk about here, or anywhere else really.

I avoid these topics for a few reasons. One reason is that this blog posts directly to my personal Facebook page. I made the difficult decision to do that a few years ago because I realized how much people don’t talk about the hard stuff, and I wanted them to. I wanted to not feel so alone in what I was feeling. So I decided that if I wanted to see this, I had to start doing it.

I do not know how many of my friends know about my mental illnesses, disorders, or feelings toward gender or sexual attraction. I do not know who will read this today and learn something about me that I never would have told them in person. This puts me in an incredibly vulnerable place, but someone has to do it. Someone has to talk about the hard things to make it easier for others to talk about hard things.

So… Here it goes…

I read a post on Facebook that said sexual feelings are from God so we should not be ashamed of them. Since this was a post on a religious page, someone then asked why churches can discriminate between homosexual feelings and heterosexual feelings if they are all from God. How can we say that homosexual feelings are not from God if we believe heterosexual feelings are from God?

I don’t believe we can. I do not believe that we can honestly say that attraction in any form is unnatural, an abomination, or any other form of condemning language often used in religion to denounce the practice of homosexual behavior. If sexual feelings are from God, you cannot say that the direction of those feelings negates that statement.

However, believing that homosexual feelings are from God does not necessarily mean that acting on those feelings is sanctified by God. God gives us certain desires or tendencies that may or may not be for us to act upon. I have had depression for as long as I can remember. I have had the desire to die for as long as I can remember. I do not believe God wants me to act on this desire. However, I do believe that I should not be ashamed of this desire because it does come naturally to me.

We have a tendency in society, and often even more so among church members, to judge feelings as bad or people as bad for having these feelings. If you express natural feelings that are not common place or considered socially acceptable, you can be shamed, isolated, and abandoned by those around you. I do not think anyone should be ashamed of their sexual feelings. Whether you are attracted to the same sex or the opposite sex, the feelings that come naturally to you are not anything to be ashamed of. Again, that doesn’t mean you should act on these feelings (either heterosexual or homosexual) because there are bounds that have been set. But I believe that we need to break out of the mindset of being ashamed or shaming others for their natural feelings and inclinations.

I do not have sexual feelings naturally. Thinking about kissing or other sexual touching is not something I enjoy, and my body has an adverse reaction to sexuality in any form. Does this mean that my sexual feelings (or lack thereof) are not from God?  I cannot believe that to be true. I believe that God has given me these feelings for a purpose. I do not know that purpose, but I do know that it has helped me to better understand those around me and that it connects me on a more spiritual and emotional level with those around me rather than a sexual or physical level.

Because I feel no sexual attraction towards another person, I am more emotionally attracted to them. I feel the desire to get to know others because I feel their hurt or their goodness or their love or potential. I want to get to know people because I want to connect with them on an emotional level. I want to share their burdens and partake in their capacity to feel joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. I want to be friends with people because I like knowing and experiencing how others feel.

This makes me a good listener. It makes me more understanding of others. It makes me more compassionate when someone is hurting. It also makes life harder in some ways because I am more emotionally involved with others so the potential for emotional damage to myself increases. And it makes it harder to desire to date or find a companion because most people want a physical connection in romantic relationships rather than just an emotional one. In fact, romantic hardly seems like an appropriate term for me because how much romance is there if there are no sexual feelings?

The point of this though is that I believe we need to stop labeling thoughts as good or bad or people as good or bad for having certain thoughts or feelings. People are often quick to judge someone who does not fit their standard of normalcy. But if you believe that we are all created equal, that we are children of God, and or that God is no respecter of persons, I feel it is a contradiction to condemn another person for feelings that come naturally to them. We need to make discussing natural feelings normal if we ever want to understand how people feel and why they do the things they do.

Grateful for Faith

Sometimes believing in something bigger than yourself isn’t easy. Sometimes it takes everything in you to believe that there is something better than how things are right now. In the desperate times though, faith has been the one thing that I have been able to cling to. Faith is what I am left with when everything else fails or falls away. Faith is my constant. Faith is my core.

I am so grateful for the faith that has guided me through difficult circumstances. I am grateful for the faith that has stayed with me when hope seemed to slip away. Life gets complicated and difficult and even unbearable at times, but that faith that there is something else helps me through the rough times. I may not have anything else left in me, but I am grateful that I can still keep a glimmer of faith no matter what happens.

Sleep on Now- The Loneliness of Depression

I try to keep my religious posts separate from this blog. I do mention faith and some other religious concepts on here, but posts that are specifically about religion are on my other blog. So if you would like to keep up with my journey with depression, check out this post:

Serving a Service Mission

I took a week off of work and stayed with my sister. Depression had gripped me so tightly that I could not breathe. I just wanted the pain to be over. It was good to have this time off, but I didn’t get better. In fact, I might have just realized how bad it really is.

This depression has been so thick, so debilitating, so all-consuming that I have related to how Job felt and how Christ must have felt in the Garden of Gethsemane. I don’t really know what they went through. I have no idea. But I believe it took them to their limits, and this depression has taken me to mine.

During this difficult time, I could feel my friends becoming less able to be there for me. I knew I was sliding into a dark place that no one could really understand. But I hoped that…

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Breaking Apart Wedges

Today at church we talked about pride. At one point in the lesson I felt the need to comment with my struggles to enjoy church. Earlier in the lesson, we had talked about how pride is enmity between us and God or us and other people.

I shared that when I first started attending my current congregation, I felt enmity towards them. It wasn’t that they were bad people or that they weren’t Christ-like. In fact, the reason I kept going back was because of the Christ-like atmosphere and the things I was learning about Him. I just have a harder time making friends because of autism and anxiety, etc.

The thing is that instead of being humble about my struggles, I blamed it on the people at church and people in Utah in general. I blamed it on their lack of knowledge of people outside themselves. I blamed it on their small town, country nature that couldn’t connect with a city girl from California. After all, I’m the one with autism. Shouldn’t people almost be required to talk to me first? Isn’t that what Christians are supposed to do- reach out to the weak and weary and all that?

It made sense to me. How could people possibly expect an autistic girl in a new place to make friends herself? Eventually though I realized that the problem really was me. I wanted friends, but my behavior was inconsistent with that desire. I mean, why would anyone want to be friends with someone that hates them? Not that I made it obvious that I felt that way. I was just very unhappy and didn’t see it getting any better.

I don’t know exactly when it changed. I don’t know when I decided that the people at church were a lot nicer than I gave them credit for and that I was really the one at fault. It may have been a story about how  a wedge left in a tree had eventually caused it to split in half. I knew I had put a wedge between me and the people at church, and I didn’t want that wedge to eventually break me apart.

So I decided to change. I decided to try to see the good in people and let go of all the negative feelings I had about not being able to fit in and find my place. I decided that if I wanted a place in church I couldn’t wait around complaining. I had to make that place for myself.

I can’t say that I have done this perfectly or that I never feel indignant when I can’t seem to find someone to talk to, but I can say that it has gotten better. I have gotten better. I still feel lonely at times and lost and alone. But I know that it’s me. It’s me that needs to change and break apart the wedges I have because no one else can do it for me.

Justice Doesn’t Make You Happy

This post goes with the last post I published. So even though I’d usually post this on my religious blog, I decided to post it on here as a follow up.

I believe in justice. In fact, I have an unhealthy belief in justice. I used to participate in what I called “karma driving,” which basically means I would treat other drivers the way they treated people. So if I saw someone tailing other people or cut someone off, I’d go out of my way to be a jerk to that person. I justified my behavior because “they deserved it.”

I’m not sure when I decided to stop, but I basically just realized that it wasn’t making me happy. I mean, I felt some satisfaction that the person “got what they deserved” but knew it didn’t really change anything. Me being a jerk wasn’t going to change how someone else drives. Yeah, they might be a little more careful for the next few minutes, but jerks will still be jerks no matter how many times it backfires.

I still secretly hope that the car speeding past everyone and cutting off cars will end up stuck behind a semi truck, but I no longer feel compelled to make them suffer.

See, I have finally realized that justice doesn’t make you happy. Getting what we deserve doesn’t make us happy, and giving people what they deserve doesn’t make us happy either. Mercy on the other hand, does make us happy. I think that’s God’s favorite part of being God. Extending mercy is so fun. It makes you feel joy. Christ taught that the person who is forgiven more loves more. Forgiveness breeds love. Justice breeds hate. That’s why forgiving is so powerful. Mercy and forgiveness are gateways to love and love leads to joy. I’m so grateful for forgiveness and I hope that I can find ways to be merciful because I definitely need more love in my heart.

One of my favorite scriptures states that perfect love casteth out fear. So my goal lately has been to try to love people perfectly and love God perfectly because I fear people, but I know through God love can cast out that fear. And by believing in mercy and loving more, I think I can become so much happier.

Easter

Easter is one of my favorite holidays. I love the chocolate bunnies. I love spending time with my family. And most of all, I love celebrating the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This year I decided to make Easter baskets for my family. Mostly it was because I’m single and I have the time and money to do so, but also because I just love making people happy. I love watching someone’s face as they discover something exciting. And Easter baskets are just exciting.

My family used to hide the Easter baskets on Sunday morning. When we woke up we’d have to find them under our bed or behind the tv or between couch cushions. Easter was always exciting for me. And I always hoped to get a chocolate bunny. I’m not exactly sure why, but my favorite chocolate is chocolate bunnies- the solid milk chocolate kind.  I think it has to do with the texture. No matter what brand of chocolate it is, it tastes better as a bunny shape.

Anyway, because Easter and springtime in general is a time for new beginnings, I’ve decided to use this time to set some resolutions. I’ve never engaged very much in setting New Year’s resolutions because I just feel like I shouldn’t have to wait until a new year to start making changes. If I want to make changes in my life, I want to start today not 8 months from now.

But I’ve decided to make some Easter resolutions because I want to be better. And even though I try to be better every day, I think connecting it to Easter will give me greater hope in trying to accomplish my goals. Because in the end, it’s not really me that pulls me to a new level of being. I am just a person, but “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”