“Two Degrees off Center” is a monthly blog by Rich Keys about the personal struggles, issues, and topics that speak to the LDS/LGBT experience. Sometimes it will be serious, sometimes humorous, but will always approach things from a slightly different perspective.
By Rich Keys
Note to my readers: Sorry I disappeared for the last two months. I made a slight detour to the hospital due to some medical issues and then had some complications after I came home, but all my critters are finally happy and healthy again, and it’s good to be back.
Most people remember reading Kahlil Gibran’s book The Prophet in their youth, but for Mormons my age, it was Truman Madsen’s book, Four Essays on Love. A small book, only 71 pages, but its connection to us and the power it wielded was amazing.
In Essay #2, “How to Be Loved and Beloved,” he focused on Alma’s counsel to his son Shiblon: “See that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love.” (Alma 38:12) I’d always read that scripture to mean if you never had those thoughts and you never did those things, then God would love you (thanks, Mom), but Madsen took a totally different approach. He compared it to a wild horse full of raging hormones, jumping up and down while confined in the corral and not getting anywhere, but if you could bridle the horse and train it to focus all that wasted energy in one specific direction, you could ride like the wind.
For a teenager growing up during the sexual revolution, with “resist and repress” my only tools for coping, and being in a church full of nothing but “thou shalt not’s,” it was a revolutionary concept: I didn’t have to fear my hormones. I could keep them, harness them, channel them, turn the bucking bronco into a thoroughbred, and be filled with Love, the kind with a capital L. For the first time in my life, hormones were okay, I just needed to point them in the right direction—and he didn’t even give a list of do’s and don’ts. He left that between me and God.
At the time, I didn’t realize the horse was gay—that would come later—but I finally did figure it out, and I’m much more comfortable in the saddle now. I also realize that passions are more than hormones, but I’m still glad they’re on the list. I’ve learned to love them too. Love with a capital L includes loving yourself for who you really are, getting on the horse, and riding like the wind. As for the destination and how I get there, that’s between me and God.
Have you been bucked off your horse lately?
Do you have the courage to get back on and try again?
Do you have the patience to gain the horse’s trust, so he’ll take you where you want to go?
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out all posts in the Two Degrees off Center blog series.