Saturday, April 12, 2008

Buzzwords and Being True to Yourself

I have a masters degree in business. For those of you who have received an undergraduate of graduate degree in a business field know about many of the buzzwords in business. Some of these buzzwords include synergy, mission statement, process controls, value-added services, paradigm shift, etc.

In graduate degree business programs, students are often graded on participation. Some students seem to fill their in-class comments with as many buzzwords as possible, but many times, there is no substance behind their comments! Buzzwords—though popular for a time—are usually shallow and meaningless. Buzzwords are often used as an attempt to address a complicated issue with a relatively meaningless and overused phrase.

There is a buzzword (or in this case, a buzz-phrase) that is popular in the gay community: “Be true to yourself.” That phrase sounds like good advice, and taken in the proper context, I believe in that concept. But with any buzzwords and phrases, we need to ask a few questions:

What is the context of the phrase and concept?
What is the appropriate way to apply the concept?

Just as many business students try to address a complicated situation with a simple buzzword, people in the gay community often try to address life’s issues and challenges with buzzwords. Human beings are complicated, and life is complex. How can all the answers to a gay person’s problems in life be found in the expression “be true to yourself” without providing any context or meaningful advice?

This buzz-phrase, like all buzzwords and phrases, needs context. What is a person’s identity? An individual may identify themselves based on several different facets. As an example, let’s say that Hank identifies his top characteristics as follows: “I am a son, a father of two kids, an honest person, a doctor, a child of God, a husband, a sports enthusiast, a gay man, someone who loves God, and a mediocre fisherman.” Given the characteristics of Hank, how does he be true to himself? The answer to this question is not a simple one because Hank’s life has many different facets and dimensions. How can the fleeting advice to Hank to “be true to himself” mean anything of value if it fails to acknowledge his circumstances, challenges, goals, talents, successes, failures, etc.?

The advice to be “true to yourself” is usually given in a vacuum—devoid of any meaningful context. Thankfully, we have guidance to help us apply context to any buzzwords and other words of advice we are given. Such context helps us avoid hollow advice, false teachings, and the temptation to have “itching ears” (See 2 Timothy 4:3). God has given us prophets, scriptures, and the power of prayer (among other tools) to help us properly apply context to the many challenges we face during this life.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christ & Bitterness

During this Christmas season, I have done some pondering about the attributes of Christ. He experienced immense opposition—physical torture, betrayal, loneliness, etc. Yet, Jesus never became bitter because of the hardships He faced.

From my experience, it seems like bitterness always results in two things. First, bitterness is contagious—both to other people, and also to other areas of a bitter person’s life. For example, if a person is bitter about their employment, it is easy for that bitterness to spill over into other areas. In that sense, bitterness seems to be a poison.

Second, bitterness seems to lead people to engage in behaviors they would not otherwise do. I remember hearing a story of a person who was caught embezzling money from his employer. When asked why he committed the crime, one reason he gave was he felt he was underpaid, which led to bitterness. The bitterness festered, which allowed him to justify actions he would not otherwise commit.

When people explain why they participate in certain risky or otherwise unwholesome behaviors, bitterness often appears to be the root cause. Satan gets us to justify certain actions because we are bitter. No one seems to be immune from becoming bitter since everyone faces trials.

Whenever there is a natural disaster, news reporters always interview a bunch of people. Some people express bitterness and anger because of their misfortunes. Other people express gratitude and joy for their blessings despite their trials. People we often view as heroes are those who have found success despite difficult situations.

I need to guard myself against bitterness. I have many blessings and many trials. I need to find effective ways to rid myself of the bitter feelings I have and prevent bitterness in other areas from developing.

Overall, I feel I am a pleasant person. I love people, and I love to have fun. But if I am not careful, bitterness may be my downfall. I hope I can follow the Savior’s example and not become bitter no matter what I face in life.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Judge Not...

My blog is a place where I can express my thoughts and opinions about a variety of issues. However, I think there is a topic I consider very important that I have not discussed much: judging others.

I try hard not to judge others. I have a variety of friends who make very different life choices than me, and my choices are different from their choices. I value their friendships and respect them, and they show the same respect towards me. Wouldn’t life be boring if all of my friends were incredibly similar to me? If that were the case, I would miss out on so many great friendships and experiences in this life.

I have not walked in anyone else’s shoes but my own. I do not pretend to know exactly what other people have experienced even though I may be able to relate to some degree. I do not pretend to know how God will judge, and it is not my place to speculate His righteous, perfect judgments. My job is to “work out [my] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philip. 2:12).

I love hearing/reading experiences of other people. It helps me learn. Wise people learn from other people—both from their successes and mistakes. I enjoy respectful, enlightening discussion about a variety of topics.

In short, my thoughts and opinions are never intended to be judgmental or condescending to anyone. People can disagree respectfully and share their own experiences, and hopefully we all become better people through listening, learning, and understanding.
I appreciate honest, thoughtful discussion, and I hope to receive a variety of emails and comments on my blog in the future.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Bad Experiences in the Church

Over the years, I have heard and read accounts of gay people having anger towards the Church. Thinking of their comments prompted this entry.

First, let me say that I have had negative experiences in the Church because of my SSA. I think an experience or two in seminary growing up and a couple experiences with bishops at BYU fall into this category. I understand people have negative experiences at the hand of insensitive Church members or leaders. It’s tough, and such experiences should not happen.

Members and leaders are not perfect. I don’t think the sins, mistakes, and shortcomings of some members and even leaders does not prove the Church is not true. I am not defending the “bad apples” or shortcomings. The Church claims the organization is “true”—not the leaders or members.

I have had to take a step back and evaluate some of the negative experiences I’ve had in a non-emotional manner. I can separate negative experiences from the doctrine. It’s tough to do, but in my experiences, it has been well worth the effort.

New Blog Title

As some of you have noticed, I changed the title of my blog. When I first started writing, there were not very many gay/SSA Mormons in the blogosphere. The title “Gay LDS RM” identified my uniqueness and the common theme of my blog. As the number of SSA bloggers has greatly increased, the time came to change the title of my blog.

This new title reflects one of the main goals of my life: to figure out why I was placed on this earth and to live up to my potential. I have a lot to learn, but I hope I can gain the insights I need.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

President Faust

I was quite sad to hear about the passing of President James E. Faust, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Faust was such a loving, Christ-like man who spent a great deal of his life in the service of God.

President Faust wrote the First Presidency message this month. I think it’s fitting that his last message was one of inclusion: welcoming and reaching out to the single members of the Church.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"I am Free"

“I am free…” I find these three words one of the most chilling phrases in the scriptures:

And Cain went into the field, and Cain talked with Abel, his brother. And it came to pass that while they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and slew him.

And Cain gloried in that which he had done, saying: I am free; surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands. (Moses 5:32-33, emphasis added)

We all know this story. Cain committed the first murder, and after committing the heinous act, he ironically believed he had found new freedom. In the world today, I wonder how often we incorrectly believe we are “free” when making poor choices. A few examples come to mind. I think of a person getting high on illegal drugs thinking he or she is now “free” from pains of the world. I have seen many news stories of people (e.g., Mark Hacking, Scott Peterson, etc.) who kill a spouse to become “free” rather than get divorced. Students cheat to prevent the bondage of a failing grade. Some people go into credit card debt to “free” themselves of want.

“I am free.” When I hear someone speak these words—and other phrases are more commonly used —I have to examine the context of their statement. I rejoice with a person when they are freed from sickness, disease, the bondage of sin, addiction, needless worry, depression, etc. However, I feel differently when people “free” themselves of responsibility, moral character, thrift, conscience, truth, values, etc.

All sin presents a false front of freedom. Thus, I cannot make a decision based on promised freedom—I must use other criteria to make the best decisions in my life.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Struggle Yesterday

Being gay and a Church-active, chastity-abiding LDS guy presents interesting challenges. I struggle with loneliness and depression at times. For some reason, yesterday was particularly bad for me. In the evening, I got on my knees and pleaded with God for help. When I was done, I didn't feel any differently. I decided to be productive by doing some cleaning around the house. About 45 minutes later or so, I felt much better.

I am glad God will help us through our trials. I am happy to know I can call on Him for help when I need it.

Ethics and Homosexuality

To read my thoughts on this topic, visit my post at Northern Lights.