Friday, November 16, 2018

Getting Un-Stuck


Getting Un-Stuck

What win I if I gain the thing I seek? 
A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy?
Who buys a minute’s myrth to wail a week
Or sells eternity to get a toy?
For one sweet grape, who would the vine destroy?
Or what fond beggar but to touch the crown,
Would with the scepter straight be stricken down?
                                                                                            - William Shakespeare

This is chapter eleven of the big gay Mormon book "They that be with us" that I am writing with friend Julie Martin. I am posting it on this site in chapter order and there is no cost. I am happy to respond to civil comments or questions. - Calvin

Let me touch on the title of the chapter before I go anywhere else. I don't believe that we gay Mormons need the atonement or a life change any more than the next guy. This chapter has to do with guys who happen to be Mormons who may feel the need to align themselves with the teachings of the prophet and all that it comes with. If this is important to you, then read on.

I used to have a clean crisp white sheet of parchment on my bulletin board right next to my sophomore prom picture which was themed “We Are Young And We Know Everything”.  It was to remind me to be spotless and unsoiled – specifically, to stay all crispy white and morally clean.  It was my image of worthiness up until the time one of my evil sisters wrote all over it in magic marker “Get your dishes done. I am not doing your chores LOSER!”
So much for clean and crisp white. I couldn’t even turn the thing over to use the back side because she leaned so hard on the word Loser that it bled right through what was an otherwise clean sheet.  It said “!RESOL” in scented grape marker with a smiley face for the point of exclamation. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t turn “!RESOL” into any type of positive motivation for me, so I ended up using the paper as a wrap for an old egg salad sandwich which I placed under her bed as a gift that kept on giving. 
Looking back, I can’t believe my sister got into my room in the first place with all the locks and booby traps I’d laid.  But more than that, I don’t believe that staying all crispy and white should necessarily have been my ultimate goal. How long was trying to stay perfect going to last me? Once I was scribbled on by purple grape marker where was I to go? How on earth was I going to clean that up, and why would I keep it on my bulletin board to remind me of what I now wasn’t?
Later in life (and not all that later it turns out), I ended up looking and feeling as scribbled and colored on with a purple marker as my pretty pure and perfect parchment had been.  Was life over for me?  Was there nothing more for me but to be a wrapper for stinky egg salad?  If the deal was done, why would I even keep trying?  
Virtue, from everything I understood, was an all or nothing kind-of affair like death or amputation - not so much by way of much middle ground.  
“So, Brother Thompson and Sister Martin,” you ask “after you have messed up your diet for the week, what keeps you from eating the entire box of chocolate ├ęclairs and most of a three-cheese lasagna for twelve in one sitting? How do you motivate yourselves to keep trying?” You are right for asking.
Speaking of eating the whole lasagna, I think it should be apparent by now that my life, metaphorically speaking, has not been a clean and crisp white sheet of paper. The color purple, while a lovely cinematic feature is not my preferred look, nor my preferred scented marker.  I am currently speaking as one who found the iron rod from the other side of the map, a spacious place where spiritual congruency was as elusive for me as a perfectly white sheet of paper on a bulletin board in what seemed like a completely different life – certainly a different lifestyle.
It was a very dark time for me - one way by day, another by night.  At the time I remember feeling helpless, that I wasn’t smart enough or of enough value to Heavenly Father to get the help, guidance, and direction I needed.  I was caught in a cycle well known to many gay members of the Church
This cycle continued for years until I changed it and created a new one. Want to know how I did it?  It was amazingly easy.

Calvin Thompson’s Big Break
I started shoplifting.
I figured that I’d eaten enough lasagna and had been scribbled on with enough purple marker that the game was over, so how was pocketing a book or a bottle of aspirin going to make it worst for me in the afterlife’s sub-basement? A room with no view? An eternity of country music?
In hindsight, I can see that I was grasping at straws. I didn’t know what to do, and I am proud that I at least my inner sensitive guy knew to try to do something – even something as misguided as petty theft. I think a survival instinct kicked in. I made a choice. Considering some of the selections I thought were available to me at the time, my decision was downright proactive.
It was a choice not to give up. 
Practically, by stealing my cycle was simply made larger. What I meant as an interruption became a full-on invasion. I’d fed the monster and it put me on a leash as its pet and named me Sparky.
Amazingly enough, if I’d have put both the "gay" and the "shoplifting" upon the evidence board as exhibits “A” and “B”, then stood back to compare the two, I felt worse about the shoplifting!  At least stealing was an acceptable, bona fide sin (homosexuality, even then was not acknowledged by many) that I could acknowledge. I’d compartmentalized the SGA to the point where I considered the duality between nightlife and day life business as usual. 
So, now my personal version of the Mormon Pride Cycle which I am calling Cal’s Sin-o-Rama looked like this…
  • I have gay sex
  • I feel bad for having gay sex
  • I feel guilt and shame and try to repent.
  • I can't have gay sex because the repentance is too fresh so I shoplift.
  • I feel bad for shoplifting and I repent.
  • To feel in control I have gay sex.
  • Rince and repeat. 
Does this sound familiar in any way?

When I was engaging in SGA behaviors I was thrilled that at least I wasn't shoplifting, and when I wasn't shoplifting, I found joy in being dry from both while trying to be a good person.  My scribbled purple marker covered the whole lasagna and then some.
Please hear me when I say that the choices I made are not the only choice everybody has at their disposal or that I am touting my experience as the way it works for everyone. I am saying that I did what I felt I had to do to survive; that in my grief and despair, these are the choices I felt I had to choose from: sex, shoplifting, or soberly bouncing on the Church wagon singing “Come, Come Ye Saints” – which, by the way, was originally heard in an English pub.
While I don’t know the science or the psychological reasons for these cycles, I understand that they are common.  I have a few friends that deal with alcoholism who have cycles.  Some of them drink to bolster self-esteem so then they can relax and be less self-conscious.  This reinforces their need for more alcohol, but then their guilt over alcohol dependence keeps their esteem in the gutter which requires more alcohol.
My Sin-o-Rama seems to be less uniquely “Cal” and more “O-Rama’ – more universal in describing destructive phases than I had realized.

Stepping Out Of Destructive Cycle and Avoiding Other Trouble Spots
In order to succeed, to stop the dishonesty, to be healthy, to be morally clean or what-have-you, disruptive cycles have to be broken. They have to be cracked in two or pried apart by some significant disturbance again and again until they are derailed and new healthy habits are established.
There are ways to do just that. Counselors are good at finding and suggesting methods that work for people to break these cycles. One of the techniques, as we understand it, is to get a grip on the underlining causes of the behaviors - to see where you are being blocked so you can make plans to move around it, or over it or through it.
When  Interstate 15 is blocked, our lives run infinitely smoother if we can plan ahead and look on a map for a proper detour – instead of sitting in the middle of a freeway jam frustrated both because we are blocked, and because we knew about the block in advance and did nothing! 
(By the way, my Gramma Ruby says that the definition of crazy from the Nampa Valley Farmers almanac is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result – like voting or paying taxes. Gramma Ruby might not have thought the adage up, but she looked so darn cute saying it with her wig on sideways.)
It’s not the knowledge that the road is blocked that breaks our cycle - though that knowledge is a real heads up.  Just knowing doesn’t make things happen.  It’s the plan to work around the roadblock and the follow through that gets us out of the rut and onto a different path – literally in this case.
______________________________________

I consider myself more knowledgeable today than I was when I first realized I was gay, and I still don’t understand all the underlining causes of my SGAttraction. Looking back I am amazed that in my ignorance I was able to get out of the self-created rut at all.
I had to go about breaking my personal cycle another way.  I had to blow something up or pull something down in order to derail the train that was going nowhere but circles. Somehow, in the midst of my sin-o-rama I got through my head a concept that literally saved my life.
  • I needed, I wanted to follow the commandments of the Lord. In order to do that I had to stop what were for me destructive behaviors. 
  • In order to stop the destructive behaviors, I had to include the Lord.

I didn’t have the willpower, the self-control or the brains ‘n brawn to do it on my own. I didn’t have a huge and visible support system to make me Way to Go posters and cupcakes.  I had to go right to the Lord and trust that -- when He said He would help me and that I was not on my own -- He meant me. He meant now.
Was it reading scriptures that saved me? Was it priesthood blessings or personal prayer?  Was it the angel or two that I felt around me at times to bolster me up and carry me home?  Was it the knowledge that He would not allow me to be tempted past what I could handle?  Was it an understanding that my relationship with Christ was private and personal?
It was all of the above and more. 
Once I got past a certain point and was able to take on more, I realized that to be successful I had to figure out what I wanted and what I was willing to both do and forgo in order to get it.  Could
Yes, I was, as it turns out. 
What I needed was an incentive of sorts.  Not a “what is in it for me” as grounds for action, but to know that there was something that made it worth it to forgo what I thought I wanted: what I thought I needed.  I yearned to know that there was a reason, that there was some logic somewhere even if I didn’t understand it. I needed to know what was in it for me to obey, and if obedience to the Lord served me as well.  What I needed was just the right paper on my wall with the perfect motto, and “!Resol” wasn’t it. 
I wanted to know what the Lord would do for me if I did what He said to do.  I hadn’t really tested any of the promises and convents between man and the Lord before.  I was about to.
I now have a motto that I don’t usually put into words. It didn’t come to me originally in word form, after all. It has to do with His love for me and still comes with addendums in pieces that I put together and rearrange. But I can say this; there are things involved here that I do not understand, and may not understand in this life. It will be worth it for me to do as He has asked me. 

Let me be frank:  He has asked that there be no sex outside the bounds of marriage, and He has established that marriage is between a man and a woman.  I choose to follow Him.  Therefore I choose to not have gay sex.

It is a small nitch - those who are gay and who want to follow the Lords commandments.  By follow I mean to hold an LDS temple recommend and hold it honestly with no misrepresentation. There are some out there who strive for this and I am one.  I do not judge others who have different goals.
With the knowledge I have, rather than focusing on what I don’t want or what I can’t do, I am focusing on what I can.  Now that I have a testimony of Him and His plan for me, I can believe in myself.  If He thinks I can do it, then I don’t need any other approval.  If He says yes, then what am I waiting for?
I have found wisdom in inspired words like these from Portia Nelson.

"I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street."
 

To mix all the metaphors together, my experience derailing a speeding train has taught me that no purple marker is too deep for repentance. The atonement of Jesus Christ and my willingness to repent has become an incredible tool in both removing purple marker and in seeing that there is more to a meal than Italian food.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Chapter Ten Big Gay Church Book


Chapter Ten of The Big Gay Mormon book - 
"They that be with us" 

This is a from a manuscript I was writing to help gay members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This chapter became mute quickly so I am not including it in the finished manuscript. I still think it has worth, however.


The Power of a Name  or
The beauty in, the danger of a few words   

My darling sister Carol-Lynette-Margaret-Louise is four feet nine and a half inches tall, standing. I myself am six foot three, also standing. I would think that one of us was adopted, but my mama promised that indeed we are siblings of the most generic genetic kind. She has been struggling with health issues for years; low energy, dizziness, mood swings grander than the normal patented Thompson family mood swings. It troubled her and us for some time. We thought she might have had food allergies or Epstein Barr.  We thought it was all in her head and that she was psycho.  Still, the symptoms had become debilitating. Finally, a doctor did some tests and found that she was diabetic. 
When she called and told me that all this time she’d had an insulin problem I was so relieved that I started to laugh. She almost hung up on me. At last!  Eur-freakin-eka!   It had been discovered. Her problem had a name.
Carol-Ella-Margaret-Louise was dealing with the same problem as millions of other people with shorter names and taller bodies. There were pills available. There were shots available. There were books and magazine articles, websites and specialists on the subject. There was a telethon fundraiser sponsored by Healthy Happy Foods featuring stars of the Partridge Family. We didn’t have to wonder what the problem was, or if there even was a problem to begin with. We had at our disposal a list of things we could do to help her. She had a list of things she could do to help herself. Stick a name on it and it becomes manageable.
“Hey, Carol-Ella-Margaret-Louise.  How is your diabetes? Are you still short?”
“Hey, Cal.  It stinks, but I am managing. Are you still annoying?”
Just having a name we could attach to what had been ailing her seemed to empower all of us. The gray clouds in our new and happier world left the sky and were replaced by bluebirds and singing rabbits. Knowing what we were up against gave us options and a refreshing freedom. It seemed manageable.

Tall and Annoying
My own “helpful name revealed” moment was not as public or as joyful, and I certainly did not share it with family or friends.  Not even sister Carol-Ella-Margaret-Louise.  Of course, the diagnoses of SGA (a title that did not exist in nineteen-eighty-blah-blah) was not made in the doctor’s office. 
The feelings at my finding a title are difficult to describe even now that I have access to a lovely thesaurus. I knew what the symptoms were: there was a longing - something inside that was fundamentally different for me than the other boys in my school and church group. They seemed to naturally gravitate towards things that had no interest or appeal to me.
 The jokes they told didn’t make sense.  The camaraderie was off.  I stared at things I shouldn’t have been staring at, and I didn’t stare at the things that caught their attention.  Stuff just didn’t fit, and I interpreted this as my having some flaw that the others didn’t.  This combined with a suicide in my former neighborhood of a man thought of as being different, and I wondered if that’s what guys who were different were supposed to do.  Were we left on our own and expected to weed ourselves out? 
I withdrew from groups.  I wanted to be alone.  Walking home from school one day on the country road where my dad was building a new house, I stumbled across some literature that was truly meant for the gutter.  It had been tossed out somebody’s car window.  I was actually looking for money, good walking sticks, and pieces of blue glass.  I found empty beer cans and dubious literature instead.  Much of it meant nothing to me, but there was a part toward the back that rang a few bells.  
I learned quite a bit that day. Suddenly there was a name to go with my manner, and I found out about it while sitting on the side of an Idaho road.
Even with the misconceptions, stigmas, and horror I eventually found attached to the name, it gave me an idea of what I was up against, and it was something others were feeling as well.  It let me know that I wasn’t a freak or an aberration while at the same time confirming that I was both of those.  I was horrified at the diagnoses.  I didn’t laugh in relief.  I was just a kid.  I had had no sexual experiences, and yet, pieces were starting to fit. 
In the years since then, I have literally risen from the gutter, knowing I have a choice in who I really am and what I do, and that knowledge means the world to me.  
There was another name for me.  I was also an active, believing Latter-day Saint of the white shirt on Sunday and funeral potatoes variety. I was raised in the Mormon culture and I was eating shredded carrots and pears in my Jell-O way before anyone was drawing political cartoons about it.  My mom was presented at a Gold and Green Ball and she Kimball-ised her pink clamshell dress. (You may need to Google that). My grandfather was a stake president in Nampa, Idaho and I was going to Church back when we used to leave and return three separate times on Sunday.  I even slightly remember when a Bazaar was not bizarre at all.
Need more verification? Okay, how about the fact that I use farming metaphors? I have worked in the nursery, taught Gospel Doctrine, cleaned Church bathrooms and wondered why there was a sofa in the ladies room. I have snorted out loud during a particularly funny talk in sacrament meeting, and once while I was in the MTC my companion and I both fell asleep for a few minutes in the temple during a six am session on our “P” day. I know what an eternal smile is and I am happy to have one.
If I am LDS, which I am, and I also have strong SGA desires, which I do, how can I accept and honor what I am without tearing myself apart? These two names don’t seem to go together. I was a walking oxymormon.
I found some comparable in the story of a group of townsfolk who have captured a woman they claim is a witch, and who is being blamed for all their society’s ills.  To prove that this poor girl, with a carrot tied onto her face to elongate her nose, is indeed a witch and not just the baker’s wife, they use some suspicious-at-best logic. 

Drunk Townsperson: You must prove that she is a witch.
Silly Townsperson: How do we do this?
Drunk Townsperson: Witches burn because they are made of wood! Therefore, if she floats like a log, then she is a witch! 

They proceed to dunk the soggy woman into the pond.
Now, what’s the poor baker’s wife to do? If she doesn't float, then the townsfolk won’t bun her and she gets to live, excepting that she is drowned in the process. If she comes up for air like a good non-witch, then she is burned at the stake-her reward for having to breathe. What a conundrum.
I related to the baker's wife and I hoped that she could hold her breath or swim like the dickens and outrun them.  Was holding my breath and outrunning everyone the only solution for me as well?
No wonder we all had ulcers
Julie: I’ll admit that before my experiences with my son, my understanding of what it meant to be homosexual was very limited. Homosexuals as good Mormon boys?  That a young man may be a football player who passes the sacrament and is SGAttracted didn’t even enter my mind.
Calvin: Many are opening their mind to new thoughts and ideas. One of the reasons I appreciate the LDS Church so much is that encourages people to learn new things.
Julie:  Are we talking about the same church? There are some members that embrace change but they are usually under thirty.
Calvin:  I am trying to think/speak positively. 
The LDS church taught as I was growing up that homosexuality (not, I remind you, SGAttraction--a word that had not been created) was perverse. If you were homosexual and Mormon (impossible in some books due to a widely held belief that homosexuality didn’t really exist), the options were to keep it to yourself with varying degrees of obedience or leave the church in order to be “true to yourself.”
Secular groups of the time agreed. Some claimed homosexuality to be at odds with nature even going so far as to classify it as mental illness.  Of course, some promoted the “Be all that you can be” philosophy, which has morphed into the supposition that if you are homosexual then you must act on those feelings. It’s not OK to be gay your own way.  You have to be gay their way. 
Rubbish.  I have a brain and I can decide for myself.
I can accept that these SGA feelings I have may be, for all earthly intents and purposes, a permanent part of what I am – at least as permanent as earth life is.  At the same time, I can follow the teachings of the prophets who instruct that we have a choice when it comes to following our natural leanings and inclinations.  That agency lives and breathes. I know, in my heart of hearts that this body I inhabit is SGAttracted, but I also know that I don’t have to act on those feelings to be whole and happy.
This is not a philosophy that has been taught very long. It certainly was not around for me to understand as I was growing up. But due to those of us who have gone to the Lord in prayer and begged for help, clarifications have been made and will continue to be made to help those of us who desire to be faithful to the standards as we know of them through our prophets.
As with all the challenges and difficulties inherent with the human condition, our prior knowledge that SGA would be a part of our earth life is comforting to me. He knew that though these feelings would, to some degree, be a thorn in the side of those who wanted to obey the highest law. He also knew that they would provide opportunities for growth, understanding, self-control, and compassion. There is wisdom in considering that SGA is given as an obstacle for some to overcome through our use of agency.  After all, the Lord has said…
 “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble, and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them”
If the decision was made by us -- with heavenly direction – that we would exist with, thrive in-spite-of or because-of, and grow from overcoming homosexual inclinations
Sex had never been the end though it has been presented by the world as such. Satisfying our physical appetites -- regardless of their origin -- was never considered the end. Godliness was the end.
Let me restate that. 
Being worthy to enter the LDS temple has always pushed members of the LDS church to a high standard as far as the law of chastity is concerned and in many other ways as well.  No one disputes this.  It is still the case. One cannot have sex outside of marriage and obtain/maintain a temple recommend. Gay, straight, bi… No sex outside of marriage. This is a very high law.  Not all are willing to obey this law.  And yet you can not strive to follow this high law and still go to the LDS church, or believe in the teachings of the church. 
There are people in the LDS church who are obeying to varying degrees with varying levels of success. We all have issues and we all are dealing with pain and problems.  How on earth can one person say that his sins are fine, but not mine?
Gay couples are welcome to the Mormon church. Straight couples are welcome to the Mormon Church. Perfect families are welcome, and so are imperfect families.  Individuals are welcome regardless of their sexual preference.  If some dweeb at church gives anyone a hard time or a cold shoulder for smelling like cigarettes, having a tattoo, wearing heels a little too high, or sporting fantastic all leather brown numbers with colorful socks, then it is the fault of some dweeb at church for not following the gospel as taught by Jesus Christ.
Julie: You’ve been waiting a long time to say that, haven’t you?
Calvin:  Why, yes. Yes, I have.
Homosexuality: A Label Today
The word homosexuality means something different to me having grown up (or maybe just by my growing up it took on new meaning). When I was younger, homosexuality was associated with shame and fear, a dark secret that had to be kept.  It’s losing its stigma like the word alcoholic did. There is a bit more understanding  It’s getting closer to being just a name.
Julie:  For a long time, I didn’t see any hope with the word “homosexuality.”  SGA seemed like a death sentence for my son and his part in our family; a big secret we had to keep under lock and key.
Calvin:  My Grandma Ruby always said that there should be no secrets except birthday surprises, school locker combinations and how much milk money she had saved up. I tend to agree with her. SGA is no longer a secret that has to be kept out of fear of judgment or even retaliation.
I, for one, look forward to having an open-book kind of life that could at any moment be shouted out from the metaphorical rooftop and have it not make a bit of difference in my life or the life of my family.  I could take most of the energy I have spent on shame or on keeping my “cover”, and instead put it into something productive, like learning to spell, or building an addition to my house.

               

Saturday, September 22, 2018

They that be with us - Chapter Nine

This is chapter nine from my big gay Mormon book. It's called                  
They That Be With Us - Finding the Connection Between Being Gay and    Being Mormon.    





Coping With Limited Options; Sleeves or No Sleeves
              
Julie: The young women of the church have been a bit of a quandary as I see it. This chapter is not about the young women, so keep reading. 

Several in my ward are fashion conscious and often lament the lack of dresses they can wear for prom. In a nutshell – they have to have sleeves and there aren’t sleeves out there except in maternity or for maturity. They have been thorough in their investigation, searching everywhere online and off to find a cache of modest stylish dresses they can draw from for formal and not so formal activities. However, as of this writing, the fickle finger of fashion is not pointing to modesty and it doesn’t look promising for the future.
Their young women leader finally said in exasperation, it looks like the only thing we can do about it is to be happy with sleeves and dresses that aren’t as pretty, or to change what we think is pretty. The idea went over as well as pork and beans at Passover. And yet, that is what it has come down to for many of us who wish to follow the prophet’s guidelines for modesty. The world may think it’s pretty. The girls may think it’s pretty. But they will wear something else. 

It doesn’t seem like much of a choice.
Those dealing with SGA are faced with the same apparent lack of choice; be morally clean, or not.

There is Always a Choice
Calvin: Our choices, more than any other single thing allow us to see who we really are.  The process of choosing gives shape and meaning to our existence.  Even “not making a choice” is choosing one over the other, and is an indicator of us to the core. 
To underscore this, here is a story taken right from the pages of my…I mean, this story is strictly hypothetical, and is an example of the fact that often, how we choose to do anything is usually how we choose to do everything:

Some Guy’s Tale
One day while minding his own business Some Guy got in a traffic accident with Brother Benign. Mr. Guy rages at everyone involved and a few who were not.  Fortunately, his son had borrowed all the tire changing equipment so there was no tire iron to brandish, and his license was at home in his wallet so he couldn’t give everyone a paper cut.  While several people did their best to help, Mr. Some Guy, acted like he was on a weekend pass from the state hospital and the cops hauled him in.  This did not improve Mr. Guy’s frame of mind.  He is now at war not only with poor Brother Benign, but cops, lawyers, the jail cafeteria, a judge and a dainty reporter from the Happy Valley Press named Roberta who looked at him funny.  Following his accident, arrest incarceration, plea bargain and a stint in anger management classes, Mr. S. Guy raged from one street performance to the next as the star and common denominator in every altercation - never seeing that he himself was the problem.  His attitude never changed, nor did his way of thinking.  He continued as he always had been and got what he has always gotten.
Brother Benign deals with the dent in his car by jogging for a half an hour after he gets home from work and by telling his wife – who looks on the bright side and jokes with him.  He then takes out his frustration by downloading from the internet a simplistic car body repair guide and spends a few weekends fixing his car. It doesn’t end up looking perfect, but good enough. Brother Benign lives to a ripe old age where he dies from too much fresh air and pineapple on a Jamaican cruise, and not from a stroke at age forty-two like some nameless others.

The same problem was had by both. One chose to react in such a way that he was miserable and defeated. The other made choices that led to other positive choices.

“Waiter, I Would Like A Different Menu, Please.”
Many would say that chastity is an absolute waste of time, that sex is part of us and we should both celebrate and enjoy it.
They’re right, at least partially right; sex is a part of us, and “we are that we may have joy”. It’s the timing that can be critical.  We will explain by chapters end.
A short time back I remember a man in the news who had to cut off his own arm in order to survive. They’ve even made a movie about it.
When I first heard about the event and I was absolutely in awe and wonder that this man survived in such a matter.  He cut part of himself off in order that the rest of him could survive.  What a horrible choice to have to make, and how brave foresighted. 
I sit here in my air-conditioned office with a juice glass at my side and I try to imagine myself in the same situation. I don't think it would have crossed my mind to cut off my arm. What was he thinking?
Well, I suppose he was thinking about having a family someday, and about lightly battered shrimp, or a Manhattan Transfer concert, or a walk on the beach or any of the other things of which he would never again have the pleasure of doing if he were dead of starvation, hanging from a bolder in southern Utah. You gotta hand it to the guy.  Cutting off his arm meant that he then had freedom.  Ironic.

When the Answer is “No”
Can I stay out late?  Can I have gay or straight sex outside of marriage?  Can I take the new car to Northern Wisconsin for the tulip festival?
No, no, and, what on earth?
We have the ability and the right to choose, a right we all fought for. We have our agency, but our ability to make a choice does not guarantee that the choice is what’s best for us, or that we somehow can avoid the consequences of a poor choice.
Calvin: When I am not in the mood for a “no” answer and I think one is coming, I sometimes try to avoid it by not asking the question.  I’m smart like that.  I can also ignore a no and discredit the authority, or I can pretend that there is no authority in the first place. I can believe that what I want is better, smarter, and more important than what He wants, that He must not love me because He said no, or equate easy with what is right.
All of these help me deal with a “no” answer I didn’t want to hear in the first place.
Regardless of my antics to get my way, “no” is still “no”, and I don’t know why the answer won’t change. Part of it may be simple obedience – will I do what He asks when I really want to do something else.  There may be basic rules or laws at the creation that must be abided by.  I just don’t know.
I believe and trust in my Father and those who speak for Him on earth. Even if the politicians and lawyers and neighborhood-watch programs allow, Father doesn't.  This is why we were clear with our belief, faith, and trust in God right at the beginning of this book.
I can't, in my right mind and with an ego larger than some eastern states, believe that what I want, or that the knowledge I have supersedes that of my Father in Heaven.

May I put you on hold, please?
There is part of myself I choose to put on hold and don’t focus on in order to live in a manner that I think is right. I believe the prophet when he states that there is no homosexuality in the afterlife nor was there in the life before we came to earth. There’s a part of me that’s not complete here, and may never be in this life. If I focus only on the things I can’t do I’m in trouble, but if I center my thoughts on the things I can do and do well then things are much more positive.
Like Mr. Ralston (of Pick Which Hand fame), the options presented to us may not seem all that great at the time, but it’s important to remember that we always have a choice. When I’m feeling frustrated, discourage or with limited options, I concentrate the following thoughts.

Cal Thompsons’ Power to the People List
I remember the ability I have to change what I think and what I do.  I try to be ready to switch-out something positive for whatever negative element I am trying to eliminate.
I remember that some cycles are bound to happen – sometimes I am up and sometimes not so up.  I try not to give up or punish myself over perceived failure. And I am very okay with periodic rewards for good behavior.
I choose to be happy. When there seems little else, I remember that this option is always available.
I try to not compare myself to anyone else. One can always find someone more spiritually, mentally or physically buff.  I don’t sweat it. Guys, do you want to see a real man?  Look in the mirror.  Same to you ladies only get your own mirror.
I remember that there is work involved and that things are not going to get better on their own. I try to make use of the resources available, and I stop trying to reinvent the wheel.
I identify problem areas so that when I see a clear sign of upcoming trouble, I can take action.  I don’t wait around for the problem-fairy to fix it, because I am the problem fairy.
I keep at it. The spiritual terminology is to endure, but that sounds resigned to me.  I prefer “Keep at it”. 
Adversity is the source of our deepest growth and greatest 
blessings; embrace it, dare to seek it.  - Aron Ralston

Realistically, How Much Choice Do I Have In My Choice?
Calvin: If I’d been allowed to shop for my challenges before coming to earth, I’d have probably picked things like learning humility despite being heart-breakingly handsome or the challenge of overcoming greed by learning to share my vast wealth and power.
Those things may have to wait. I got stuck with things like learning faith in adversity, compassion under fire, and this ever present SGA. I can’t return these challenges like a shirt that doesn’t quite fit or pants that I have decided make me look fat. And I can’t trade them for someone else’s troubles (not that I’d want to.)
But I still have a choice in the matter. I can mope and pout or I can thrive. I can take my challenges by the horns and wrestle them into submission and let the lessons they teach work their magic on me, or I can let the bull run me over and leave me for road kill.
When I think I have no choice, I remember that the Lord loves me. He loves you, too. (Do you doubt it?  Ask him.) Remember that with His help, you are more powerful than you think. 

We End This Story by Embarrassing My Daughter.
Calvin: At this point in the book I think I should tell you that my daughter belches - like a truck driver she belches. I’m amazed by the decibel range, clarity and sheer volume of her digressions. Though she is in her teens she often finds herself, after such an expression, sitting in time-out on the stairs. She told me the other day that if God had wanted her to be polite He would not have given her the wherewith to burp like a sailor.
I gotta give it to her, the excuse was skillfully done, and yet she sits on time-out like all the rest of her siblings when they choose not to follow family structures. Belching has its time and place: like an all-nighter, a camp-out, a football games, or if you are actually a sailor.  She has a choice to belch or not to belch. Her body may create the opportunity, as bodies are want to do, but the choice to belch comes from her. And though she can choose to belch, she does not get to choose the consequences.
We all have decisions to make. Thank heaven that we all have options and agency aplenty.  There is always a choice, and when we don’t like what we see when we look down the road, we can make another choice. 
(And if she makes the wrong choice one more time I am going to rent her out to the Bonneville Bullfrogs as a team mascot.)

Julie: No, no. You can't end there.  Bottom-line this for me for all those who need a quote to go on their facebook page. You always get close to the point and then back off. I need you to come right out and be blunt.

Calvin:  OK, here goes. I believe that there are rules. I believe that these rules are for our good set for us by a supreme being that loves us and wants us to progress. This supreme being does not view happiness by our puny human standards. 

If being morally clean is what He requires of us in order for Him to give us all that He has - which He has promised by the way -  then that is the choice I will make. Living in such a way will not make me miserable. In fact, if I follow his commandments I will be blessed in ways I can't fathom. 

We have a purpose in this life. There is something bigger and better for us than anything we currently know.

And following His commandments today in part for recompense later does not mean life needs to suck for us now. 

Was that blunt enough?