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Monday, July 5, 2010

let freedom ring!


This has maybe been the craziest birthday ever in my life; I just turned 31! As always I looked for a way to make it a blast for me and a few friends. This year I decided to debut my alter ego, Savannah Gorgeous. I thought by doing something outrageously crazy, I would have an awesome birthday. I did have a blast, as did my friends in attendance, but it wasn't everything I was looking for; there was something missing.

The next night on my actual birthday, a friend and I had an delicious dinner at Emporium Brazil and then went to see "La Cage Aux Folles" on Broadway. If you don't know, this play/musical was what the American movie, The Birdcage, was based on. The show was extremely awesome. I was in tears when I heard, "I Am What I Am" and "The Best of Times is Now" live for the first time. I got to meet the cast afterward and get autographs, including an autograph and photograph with the infamous Kelsey Grammar. I thought that this would be the best part of my birthday; it was exciting but there was still something missing.

We went to down to Billy's Bakery in Chelsea for dessert after the show and to my surprise was given a huge chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting for free. I still have some left, so if you want some, let me know. I took the cake to a bar and shared it with some new friends over some drinks. Later, we went dancing until nearly 5am. I had an amazing time, but there was something missing and I couldn't quite tell what it was.

The next day was a lazy Saturday of sleeping in and some light cleaning. It wasn't until later that night when I went to my room to relax and sat by my piano and played a few hymns. A feeling of 'ahhhhhh' came over me; it was so nice to play the piano and hear the beautiful hymns being played. The last hymn I played before retiring to bed was, "Rise Up, O Men of God." Something touched my heart when I read the words and sang them to myself, along with my piano.

"Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of Kings.

Rise up, O men of God,
In one united throng.
Bring in the day of brotherhood
And end the night of wrong.

Rise up, O men of God!
Tread where his feet have trod.
As brothers of the Son of Man,
Rise up, O men of God!"

Hymn #324

I slept that night with a feeling a peace that had come over me. When I awoke on the beautiful Fourth of July sabbath morning, I was excited to put on my red, white and blue outfit and sing patriotic hymns as loudly as I could at church. I was even on time to our nine o'clock meeting time. I was giddy when I walked in and heard "The Star-Spangled Banner" being played as prelude. I picked up the program and to my dismay we were not planning to sing any patriotic hymns. I was shocked, but I stayed calm; most likely the person in charge forgot it was the Fourth of July and the Bishopric would make the changes needed. Nope.

We started our meeting singing "I Believe in Christ;" I have to admit that the hymn always gets to me and touches me spiritually. We went right into the sacrament by singing, "While of These Emblems We Partake." By this point in the meeting I could barely sing the words, especially the fourth verse.

"But rise triumphant from the tomb,
And in eternal splendor bloom,
Freed from the pow'r of death and pain,
With Christ, the Lord, to rule and reign."

Hymn #174


As always, I just looked on as others take the sacrament and for some reason I took a huge gulp as it passed by. I had this feeling like I was thirsty and hungry and it wasn't because I was fasting; it was a spiritual feeling that came over me. I tried to ignore it and let it go but it remained.

The bishop's counselor (who was incidentally alone on the stand) began the testimony meeting. His 15 month old son had been recently diagnosed with diabetes and it has troubled their family. It was heartbreaking to see a father break down in tears talking about the love he has for his son. He testified of this life only being temporary and that we will rise again without diseases or ailments because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Though there was only a few in attendance, many others went up and testified; not of our country or anything patriotic, which I assumed would be the case, but of something more grand and glorious; the Atonement and the love of God.

What happened at the end of the meeting is what has left me in quite a state of shock. After five long years of excommunication that has been devoid of bearing testimonies over the pulpit, the spirit told me to stand up and testify and I did.

It was one of those moments where I can't remember quite what I said. I admitted that I had been excommunicated and was living with HIV. I talked about how I felt like a castaway on 'LOST' that was wondering around, unaware of my true state of being. I talked about the thing which was missing in my life: FREEDOM. It was my perfect spiritual independence day, to which I exclaimed, let freedom ring!

The moment that overcame me the most is when I said that I could either live life like I was dying or live life like I was living. I could see myself as dead in the grave or I can see myself resurrected with my Father in Heaven. I have to say after a lot of searching, I believe I found what I am looking for; it lies within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The gospel of Jesus Christ saves people like me and everyone everywhere from spiritual prison and death. It gives me freedom and that's what I am looking for. My hope now is that I will have the courage to follow Him into the waters of re-baptism, keep His commandments and do His will; serving Him and not my selfish desires.

The meeting ended in a somber way as we sang "I Know My Father Lives." The spirit of the hymn and the quiet expression of faith and devotion could be felt all around the chapel. It was one of those times I am glad to say I was there. It wasn't a wild drag show, a lovely dinner, a riotous Broadway production, free cakes, drinking and dancing all night long. It wasn't a meeting filled with patriotic pomp and circumstance, it was an hour or so of meditation, peace, faith and the pure love of Christ; a moment of spiritual freedom I desperately needed.

I want to express my gratitude for my friends and family who have always treated me with respect and love. Those who have never stopped thinking of me and praying for me. I am so grateful for the plan of peace and happiness that allows me to be free and to feel the love of God in my life continually.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 8:28, 35-39

I love you my friends!

You have been caught Jey Walking!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9xBV1_iTcg

THIS IS HOW IT FEELS TO BE FREE
Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

There is a wall that has been standing since the day that Adam fell
Sin is where it started and sin is why it held
Speakin’ as a prisoner who was there and lived to tell
I remember how it fell

I can hear the sound of freedom like a distant voice who called
And beckon me to follow where I had never gone
And though my heart is willin’, I just stood there at the wall
Prayin’ somehow it would fall

But in a cross I found a doorway and a hand that held a key
And when the chains fell at my feet, for the first time I could see

This is how it feels to be free
This is what it means to know that I am forgiven
This is how it feels to be free
To see that life can be more that I imagined
This is how it feels to be free
This is how it feels to be free, yeah

There are days when I’m reminded of the prison I was in
Like a livin’ nightmare burning deep within
I can feel the voice of evil, I can hear the call of sin
But I won’t go back again

See, once I’ve tasted freedom then the chains could bind no more
Since mercy gave me wings to fly like an eagle I can soar

This is how it feels to be free
This is what it means to know that I am forgiven
This is how it feels to be free
To see that life can be more that I imagined
This is how it feels to be free
This is how it feels to be free, yeah

Somewhere there’s a prison where the chains still burn
If not for the grace of God those walls could still be mine
So far all the captives are saved

This is how it feels to be free
This is what it means to know that I am forgiven
This is how it feels to be free
To see that life can be more that I imagined
This is how it feels to be free

This is how it feels to be free
This is what it means to know that I am forgiven
This is how it feels to be free
To see that life can be more that I imagined
This is how it feels to be free
This is how it feels to be free, yeah
This is how it feels to be free

3 comments:

loradona said...

Keep going, Jey. Keep letting the Spirit whisper things to you, and keep looking for it. Thanks for sharing. You know we all care for you and are rooting for you, right? Well, I am anyway.
Oh, and happy birthday!

J G-W said...

Jey, this is incredible... I had a similar experience last year. My bishop later informed me that it was a one-time thing... No more testimony bearing for me. But it meant the world to me, just to be able to do that even if only that once.

Jill May said...

Wonderful post Jey. We are definitely all here for you. What a fantastic fast and testimony on the true meaning of freedom.