My Story: How I Developed A Sexual Addiction

I am a good person. To be honest, I still cringe a little as I write that. As someone recovering from a sexual addiction, I've lived mos...

Sunday, July 15, 2018

"Come as you are"

There has been an "outbreak" of hand, foot, and mouth disease among the children in our stake, so our stake president decided to cancel 2nd and 3rd hours today to prevent any spreading and to make sure everything is disinfected. My wife and I decided to skip church altogether, because the chapel could be just as infested as the nursery rooms.

This gave me time to finally go to the Salt Lake Buddhist Fellowship. I'd been wanting to go for a while, but it happens during our scheduled sacrament meeting and I've committed not to leave my wife alone with 4 crazy kids.

Attending was a special, spiritual experience for me. Part of the emphasis of the community (Sangha) is "come as you are." That was such a powerful message for me. It was amazing to see all the people there, who were all so different and diverse, come together in this place to learn to live peacefully in the present moment and grow together in loving kindness. I felt the spirit in this moment just as strong as I have at other times in my life as a practicing mormon. As I scanned the group, and listened to many of them share their experiences and life struggles after the meditation session, it dawned on me why this place for them was a "refuge." The slogan “come as you are” wasn’t just lip-service. Everyone was accepted exactly as they are with no ulterior motives to change them in any way. This was a safe place.

There were those with tattoos, piercings, there was a gay couple sitting in front of me, holding hands affectionately, and I thought how unfortunate that the true feeling of "come as you are" that we experienced in this fellowship is pretty much absent from the Mormon Church. In my experience, the message is more like "come and bring as much feigned perfection as you can muster." As an extreme example, I remember how hard it was for me initially to start wearing colored shirts for fear of being socially demoted from the top-tier white-shirt wearing men... I often don't feel that I can truly be myself at church. When I've mustered the courage to be vulnerable and share a question or comment that hinted at my uncertainty, I remember feeling dejected when the responses were "thanks for sharing" as the teachers moved along in the lesson manual.

As I was feeling the spirit of this gathering and the power of "come as you are," I started wondering. If Christ were on Earth, would he don a suit and tie (with a white shirt of course) and sit on the stand in an LDS chapel, presiding and waiting his turn to speak last from the pulpit? Would he stand and give a 30-min talk, preaching at the congregation? It is a lot easier for me to imagine him among gatherings like the one I visited today, wearing humble jeans and a t-shirt and loving everyone who walked through the door. I could imagine him leading a guided meditation, inviting us to see the beauty and magnificence of the present moment and to contemplate all the things that have happened from the beginning of time that have in one way or another made this present moment possible. I could imagine him leading a meditation on loving kindness and oneness, and the interconnectedness of everyone on Earth. I could see him helping us break down our superficial labels and preconceived notions, and realize that we are all alike as humans in this experience of life.

It truly was a special experience, that left me with both immense hope that there are gatherings all around the world like the one I visited, but also with a feeling of deep despair wondering if our LDS congregations could ever get to such a powerful state of "come as you are."