Thursday, February 7, 2008

Just Listen . . .

"Hear me when I speak, and just listen and try not to be some kind of self righteous high being, or the opposite and mislead me . . . And I'm not saying that I'm any better than you. Sometimes I have motives that are just so stupid and I play the fool. But man, you're killing me; the charade has got to end. So stop acting like you know everything. Because you're missing the point, you are supposed to be my friend . . ." (The Rocket Summer).
I got a lot of interesting response to my last several posts. It's interesting what people said when I posted my thoughts about going less active. Those were the feelings I had been having for a few days, and I must confess to having a shift in feelings. I don't know that I would write the same things if I were to write a post about going less active today. I wanted to let all of those thoughts go, then, and just move on, but one comment seemed worthy of note. Just_Listen said:
I understand exactly how you feel, Peter. However, it raises some interesting questions. You said that you are distancing yourself from the church on purpose and are upset that people aren't contacting you and worrying over you. Are you sure they're not worrying about you? And, if they were, would you actually want to know, and would you actually accept them?
Am I sure they aren't worrying about me. Actually I am sure that people are worried about me. I know that my family, bishop, even roommates worry about me. You obviously worry about me--enough to look up my blog and comment. My question is what motivates the worry. There are several different ways to worry about someone. Are church members concerned because they are loosing something valuable, or are they worried because they want everyone to agree with them? Are family members concerned because they want me to be happy, or are they worried because they want me to stop embarrassing them, to be what they have always wanted me to be, and to fulfill their expectations of the ideal family?

Would I want to know if they were worried about me? Yes, in appropriate ways. Actions indicate motives. If a roommate were to approach me and tell me that he is worried that I am going to hell and proceeded to say offensive, immature, and threatening things that put me on the defensive, that would not be an appropriate way. If a roommate were to accentuate the positive and tell me things that he valued in me and how he wanted to see more of that (like when I used to bear my testimony and things), then I would be touched.

I think the number one appropriate way to show someone that you are sincerely concerned about their welfare is to just listen. So, Just_Listen, just listen. Hear me. Don't be thinking about what you're going to say next. Don't be thinking about how ridiculous you think my stance is. Just listen. Actually, over winter break I made some great breakthroughs with my dad who just needed to listen. I was again talking about how I felt about homosexuality and about the church and he was again lecturing me about Church doctrine and policy. We were getting no where again. Finally I raised my voice and asked him to stop thinking through the lense of the church and listen to what I was saying. I repeated myself again- said everything again exactly as I had said it before and suddenly a light bulb went off. Something clicked and he said, "Oh. You just don't want to be alone, do you?" We had a tender moment in which he actually could finally sincerely say, "I understand how you feel."

Would I accept those that worry about me? I think I would accept those that are genuinely concerned about me. I may not take their advice. I may not change my ways. But I would accept the concern of those who expressed it appropriately. I would hope that there would be an exchange--a dialog. And I would hope that it would be mature. In any event, there needs to be open communication. Currently at home I just feel unspoken problems, accusations, and threats.

Just_Listen, you don't know exactly how I feel. You don't understand. You haven't heard me.
"Listen. I am alone at a crossroads. I'm not at home in my own home, and I've tried and tried to say whats on my mind. You should have known. Now I'm done believing you. You don't know what I'm feeling. I'm more than what you've made of me. I followed the voice, you gave to me, but now I've gotta find my own. You should have listened" (Beyonce).


Potentate said...

For the longest time I felt the same way. Then I realized I didn't want them to listen; I wanted them to read my mind. Since I've started talking with people, I've found that most of the hate and discrimination I've felt was in my head.

Being members of a somewhat cloistered community, a lot of mormons have never had to choose between someone they love and the church. Maybe when you talk with them, you can help them understand that they don't have to.

P.S. We should have a movie party or something when I get back to Provo. I might not be there for long, though, so we'll have to snap to it.

Just_Listen said...

I’m honored that you would take the time to write an entire blog in response to my comment. It sounds like things are pretty tough at your home. Unspoken problems, accusations and threats need to be spoken and discussed. I’m sure that’s making it hard for your parents and others close to you to know what you need. It sounds like you had a nice experience with your father at least. I have a few friends that are going through what you are right now…that’s what drew me to comment on your blog. Even you would be surprised to know how many people are going through what you are, probably closer than you know. When we decide to help each other rather than attack each other we can find strength. Like you said, the church really would be missing something great if you left the church. And, as Spiderman once said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Don’t you agree that you have great power? Just think what you could do with all that you have. Despite all of your efforts to believe otherwise, the church will always need you. You don’t know how many people look up to you, and need your example in order to better their own life.

Peter said...

Alright, I'll be forthright.

Just_Listen, I thought you were my roommate. That's why you got a whole post, and that's why it had a bitter tone. Sorry if you are not my roommate. If you are my roommate, shame on you for not knowing that the "unspoken problems, accusations and threats" are in my apartment, not my family/real home. ;-)

I am actually ACUTELY aware of the fact that there are HUNDREDS of others going through what I'm going through. That's what makes me angry. We don't have to suffer. I am so glad that I am past a point of suffering and am at a point of my life where I have found lasting happiness.