I appreciate all of your thoughtful comments. It has lead to a lot of thoughtful thinking on my end of things.
Atonement. It references Christ's suffering on our behalf. The price He paid for our sins. You will notice the picture on my blog is a picture of olive trees in Gethsemane and references the Atonement. In every way I believe in the redemption of His ultimate sacrifice. It demonstrates to me, as it does to most Latter-day Saints, the reality of Christ's power to heal and change.
On my mission I learned a lot about the Atonement and about healing and changing. I watched people change their lives, their character, their desires. I saw how they did it. Through out my life I have applied the same principles I taught them. I have applied the healing, changing power to so many aspect of my life, most especially my sexuality. I felt broken because of my attractions to guys and lack of attraction to girls, and I wanted desperately to be fixed by the Atonement. I prayed fervently, deeply, desperately. I gave of myself. I kept the commandments and lived a meticulously righteous life. I fasted countless days. I bathed my pillow in tears. I became an amateur scriptorian. I served an honorable full time mission. I worked hard on my end of things to learn how to control my thoughts and I regularly went to therapy through LDS social services. I dated a lot of girls. I ignored my feelings for men. I did everything I was supposed to do.
When I came home from my mission I was devastated that I was still attracted to guys. I felt I hadn't been healed even after the Atonement. I expected that it would all end in despair simply because I felt I hadn't changed. It didn't. Instead, I found myself with new perspective. I realized that I had been healed. I realized that I was whole. I looked back and saw that I had changed. In fact, as I've talked with my brother this weekend, I have really felt a great sense of fulfillment in the wonderful things the Atonement has done for me. Of course I still have many things to work on and to change about myself, but I am not broken.
The fact remains, though, that I am still gay. What does that mean? Does it mean that I didn't apply the Atonement enough? Does it mean that I didn't need to change my sexuality? Does it mean I wasn't broken in that area to begin with? I don't know. Those are the questions I am struggling with right now.
The point is, I have let go of the expectation and the demand for change. I have given up the desire to have God remove my pain from me and am now submitting to what He apparently wants me to live through. That's the result of my journey so far. The side effect is that I don't believe that I will ever not be attracted to guys. Maybe that's not true, but I still believe that I needed to let go of the expectation before I could ever really understand what the Atonement has and will do for me.
I don't pretend to know anything about the Atonement. I can't understand it all. I do know that I felt it in my life, though, and I feel it now. And it feels compassionate. My brother has spent the past few days with me, and he shared a realization he had recently with me. "You just don't know what goes on in someone's head. Even if they tell you, you still don't know. But God does."