Dad

My mom came up with an idea to make a book for my dad and for all of us.  Our assignment is to write a letter to him and then she’ll put all these together with some pictures and have it bound and published.  For us.

I like the idea, but when my mom asked me to write a letter to my dad, I felt kind of anxious.

There are a lot of theories out there about how homosexuality is caused.  One of them includes having a distant relationship with your dad.  I don’t think the distance between my dad and I caused my homosexuality, but I do think it probably contributed to it somewhat.

I’m having a really hard time putting words on paper.  I don’t know what to tell him.  Sure, I love him.  Of course I do.  I don’t hate him at all, actually.  We just have a very….different?  Unique?  Uncomfortable?  relationship.

I was surprised with how I reacted while my dad was in the hospital.  I never thought I would experience such an emotional response as I did.  A close MoHo friend of mine had his dad pass away recently.  As I sat in the funeral, I thought a lot about how close my dad came to dying and how hard that was for me.  If I had to give a talk at my dads funeral, I don’t know what I would say.

My dad and I have very different personalities.  He is very organized.  He is very reserved.  He is pretty content in doing what he has always done.  He likes a calm, peaceful life.

I, on the other hand, am very messy and unorganized.  I like to do whatever is on my mind in the moment.  I don’t think a lot of my actions through.  I’m outgoing.  I have a hard time staying in one place for a long time.  I plan to travel a lot, have many different jobs, and live an exciting life.

I don’t want to talk negatively about my dad.  I do want to write about my perception of our relationship, though, which has some negative aspects.

I’ve always felt distanced from him.  I was the rowdy, out of control kid in the family.  I think my dad didn’t understand my creativity and weirdness.  He is a very talented musician, as are most of my family members.  My older sister has an amazing voice, and my dad is an amazing pianist.  They performed together a lot.  I was occasionally asked to perform a song or two with them.  I would watch them practice for hours.  I enjoyed being with them, but felt like the enjoyment wasn’t always mutual because I was noisy or distracting.  I would get jealous of the relationship he had with my older sister. I wanted to feel that connection to my dad that she did.  But it didn’t ever really happen.

My dad became the bishop, and I became one of those bishops kids…   You know, the ones that get suspended from school and are a pain in the butt.  That created a larger distance between us.  I wasn’t really close to any family members at this time.  When I finally came out of that stage, I grew close to my mom and my older sister.  I felt uncomfortable around my dad, and I don’t know why.  It might be because I started realizing the anxieties I felt surrounding my relationships with men, but I don’t know.  There are only two times I can remember feeling a connection with him.  One was when I was 16 and I decided I wanted to fix up an old car.  He helped me to get it running.  I often felt frustrated with him because we communicate very differently, but I enjoyed being able to spend time with him.  The other was when I was 18, and I got my Eagle Scout award.  He and another musician in the ward who had a son getting his Eagle performed a favorite song of mine:  The Eagle and The Hawk by John Denver.  It was really cool to see him take the time to put that together for me.  My sister wrote about her memories of it here.

I can only remember a few times he has hugged me.  When I got my Eagle, when I left on my mission, and when I got home.  Those are the only ones I can remember.  And I actually only remember that he hugged me when I got home.  I just assume he hugged me when I got my Eagle and when I left on my mission.

And now I sit here, crying, because I don’t know what to make of my relationship with my dad.  I know that he loves me, and I love him.  I just wish things could be different.  I wish that we could really let each other know that we love each other.  If I could go back and change him and me and our relationship early on, I would.  I don’t want to change it now because that seems awkward and uncomfortable, and I don’t want to deal with that.  I would rather just keep things how they are.

I love my dad.  I know our relationship is far from perfect, and maybe even sucks sometimes, but I still love him and I know he loves me.  I’m so grateful for all the time he has spent working so our family can have a good life.  I’m grateful for the blessings he’s given me and for the peaceful attitude he has brought into our home.  I’m grateful that he helped shape me into who I am.

Now if I can just figure out how to turn that last paragraph into a letter.

Atonement

A few years ago, I heard a quote from Chieko Okazaki about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  I know that when I think about the atonement, it seems very complex and I don’t understand how it can really relate to me.  This quote is quite popular, and was even used in the November Loganside, but I still love it.  I love how Sister Okazaki helps me to understand what the Savior’s atonement does for me individually.

We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually.
That means he knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer- how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.
Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he does not know and recognize.
On a profound level, he understands the hunger to hold your baby that sustains you through pregnancy.

He understands both the physical pain of giving birth and the immense joy. He knows about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion.
He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down’s Syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old, when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs, when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only visitors are children, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years.
He knows all that.
He’s been there.

He’s been lower than all that.

He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us , or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.

You know that people who live above a certain latitude experience very long winter nights and can become depressed and even suicidal, because something in our bodies requires whole spectrum light for a certain number of hours a day.

Our spiritual requirement for light is just as desperate and as deep as our physical need for light. Jesus is the light of the world. We know that this world is a dark place sometimes, but we need not walk in darkness. The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, and the people who walk in darkness can have a bright companion. We need him, and He is ready to come to us, if we’ll open the door and let him.

Joy

I have a few things that i want to write about and hopefully I will over the next few days, but for right now I feel the need to write about this:

Although I try to optimistic and realistic, there is definitely a part of me that sees the negative in things, and I sometimes dwell on those things.  This has been happening a lot lately and I feel like it would do me some good to list things that I am thankful for, things that bring me joy, or just things that I love.

  1. Independent and/or foreign films – I love these because I think the cinematography is beautiful.  These films often make me think about life and where I am in a particular area in my life. They are amazing tools that give me a lot of self reflection.
  2. Music – I know this is a broad subject, but I love all kinds of music.  The top two kinds of music that I love, though, are choral music and independent music.  Choral music is absolutely astounding and beautiful to me.  I am particularly fond of Eric Whitacre.  I found his music when I was in the 8th grade, and it blew me away.  When I was in high school, I sang a few of his songs and I absolutely loved it.  Anyone who is familiar with him will probably agree.  He writes music that illustrates the words of the song.  For example, in the song Cloudburst, the choir sings about a rainstorm, and the music sounds like a rainstorm.  In Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine, the choir sings about Da Vinci inventing a “flying machine”, and the end of the song sounds like flying.  It is incredible.  As far as Indie music goes, I just love it because of its uniqueness and it is something new to listen to.
  3. Hot Chocolate and Herbal Tea – I love hot things, especially when it is drinkable.  Hot chocolate is something that my family loves and we drink tons of it.  When I was in high school, I would often invite friends over and my mom would make us all a cup of hot chocolate.  Right after I got home from my mission, our family would try a new hot chocolate recipe every Monday night.  I found my favorite recipe, and it turns out that I love hot chocolate the most when it is rich and thick.  I love tea, and I love having tea parties.  I just think it is fantastic.
  4. Mystery Science Theather 3000 – yes, yes….I know.  I’m a nerd.  But MS3K is probably one of the funniest things I have ever seen.  I love all of them, especially some of the shorts.  I now have a hard time watching movies without making side comments because of it though.  Here are some of my favorite shorts:  Body Care and Grooming, A Date With Your Family, and Mr. B Natural (part 1 and Part 2).
  5. Thanksgiving – it’s just the best holiday.  That is all.
  6. Helping people – I learned that I really love to help people while I was on my mission, and I plan to have a career that revolves around helping people.

Well, I think that is all that I have for now.  I may update this later today, but for, I think it is good.