It had been building for weeks.
I was a Mormon missionary in Paris, France. When I had joined the LDS Church almost two years before, I had truly believed that I could leave my same-sex attractions behind me. I had worked diligently to discipline my mind. I had done everything I was “supposed” to do, and more.
The first four months of my mission were fine, i.e., I experienced no “temptations,” and I had little trouble controlling my thoughts. But then I was transferred to Paris, and temptations seemed to come at me from everywhere. Gorgeous men who attended our English class. Beautiful men on the street. Sensuality that was palpable.
For the first (and only) time in my life, I was propositioned by a guy – directly, unmistakably, in a store in the heart of Paris. An older male member of the Church befriended me. I knew he was probably gay, but I didn’t care. Another male member, also probably gay, seemed to see right through my mask.
All of this was extremely unsettling to me. For the first time since joining the Church, I allowed the genie of my repressed sexual orientation to escape from the bottle and allowed myself to contemplate who I really was. It was exhilarating, but it was also frightening – particularly since I was a missionary.
It was after struggling with these thoughts and emotions that swirled around me for a number of weeks that I had a dream that was unlike any dream I have ever had, then or since. It was so palpable, so real, so revelatory. I have written about this dream before, but the time has come to write about it again.
I dreamt that I saw a person in a large room filled with people dressed in white. His presence seemed to tower over the others. I knew it was Jesus. As I made my way to the front of the room, my eyes became locked with His and He beckoned me to come to Him, to take His hand and embrace Him. As soon as I did so, we were transported, just the two of us, to another place, where we sat and talked – I talked, He listened lovingly and patiently - about my fears and joys, the deepest corners of my soul … and my ultimate secret.
My gaze never left His countenance, and in His beautiful eyes, I saw love such as I had never before felt. In those eyes, I saw no judgment, no guile; only perfect, total understanding. His very countenance radiated such intense purity that I felt as if I would faint from bathing in such exquisite peace and love. In this setting, enveloped in love and light and truth, He told me that it was okay – my “attraction” – and that He loved me just the way I was. And that was the message I woke up with.
Now, one would have thought that this experience would have given me permission to embrace my gay self. But the message of the dream and the message of the Mormon Church regarding homosexuality were completely opposite each other. And I wasn’t strong enough to embrace who I really was.
This dream remained vivid in my mind for the next 25 years. It played a crucial role in the events that catapulted me out of the closet. But it wasn’t until yesterday that I feel I came to see the true significance of the dream.
The insight came in a flash, seemingly out of nowhere: that dream, from a Jungian perspective (which posits that dreams are vehicles through which our subconscious tries to tell or teach us something), was really ME telling myself that it was okay to be gay. I assumed the personage was Jesus because my subconscious recognized that I viewed him – particularly at that point in my life – as the supreme Validator.
When I shared this with Mark, he provided the rest of the stunning insight. He posited that the love I had felt emanating from “Jesus” was really from my own deep Self, extending love and acceptance to my troubled, anxious self who was trying to do the right thing as a Mormon missionary and a Mormon man who desperately wanted his homosexuality to go away.
In addition, this dream – from this perspective, showed me who I truly am (and, by extension, who each of us is): a person capable of deep (even perfect) love, compassion and knowledge. It dramatically showed me what it means to be Christ-like, to be enlightened, to be full of compassion. Looked at from this perspective, the dream gives me hope that I not only CAN be the personage I saw in the dream, but also inspires faith that I AM the personage in the dream.
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible Gods and Goddesses. To remember that the dullest, and most uninteresting person you can talk to [including oneself] may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship.”
~ C.S. Lewis