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The Takeaway

by Michael Haehnel

February 25, 2022

Ten years ago various factors in my personal life, family life, and professional life suggested it would be a good idea for me to look for a new job.

Nine years ago I started a new job. The change of circumstance opened the door to something I had wished for but never believed possible: coming out of the closet as gay.

Eight years ago I began to come out.

Oh, it was a wild ride. Relationships shifted and some buckled. My psyche reorganized itself in surprising ways. My understanding of God changed—or rather, reverted. I rediscovered the God I first knew, and unlearned the God I had been taught to believe in.

One of the relationships that buckled was that between me and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There were many reasons that relationship did not survive. Not on the list was anything to do with anger or being offended. Not on the list was wanting the relationship to fail. It was as much a surprise to me as anyone when it stopped working.

Part of it, I suppose, was that my understanding of God ceased to jive with what the Church taught.

Now that the dust has settled and my new normal no longer feels new, I look back on the last ten years and ask. “So what is the main thing I have gained?” Inner conflicts no longer rage; I know what my likes and dislikes really are; I am happy to be alive. All of these are true, and they are big.

But what’s the thing that brings the most meaning to my life? What is likely to chart my course for the rest of mortality and beyond?

Eternity has changed. It is no longer the infinite straight line for the chosen few. It is here and now in the ever-expanding universe of ways of believing and being: the diversity of cultures, races, ethnicities, religions, philosophies, personalities, abilities, moralities, genders, sexualities, interests, esthetics, values…and on and on. I no longer pursue eternity through separation from the world, but I embrace it as I behold greatness all around me in myriad faces and frames of reference.

And that I can take with me, from here to as far as existence takes me.

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