Tuesday, August 3

A Curse? A Trial? A Blessing in Disguise?

For a long time I believed that being attracted to guys was inherently evil. And I was a good kid - I had tried to do everything right... and so the thought that I really was attracted to guys was alien to me. For years I convinced myself that it wasn't true - maybe my attraction to girls just hadn't 'turned on' yet or maybe I just didn't understand what was going on in my mind. But then I found a clinical study that described the medical procedure for determining physical attraction. It's sexual arousal. If you are aroused by women, you are attracted to women. If you're aroused by men, you're attracted to men. It didn't take much to realize, using that metric, that I was only attracted to guys.

Since I believed that the attraction I felt was evil, I saw it as a curse - something that God would take away if I were only righteous enough to merit that blessing. And so I became a zealot - being so involved in the Church and religious activities that they consumed my life. It helped - and I became stronger and closer to God in the process. But, though I prayed for years and years to be free of my attraction to men, it hasn't happened. The realization that I wasn't good enough, even though I had tried my hardest, opened the door to depression. I felt like I was worthless. If I couldn't even be good enough to take away my curse, then was life really worth living? There were days that I curled up into a ball and cried... totally alone, helpless, and feeling like I wanted to just give up. But, in those dark hours, I had enough strength to turn back to God and ask Him for help. And, while the attraction and temptation wouldn't go away, He told me that He loved me. He told me that I could do it. And He helped me move in the right direction. I knew I was in the depths of sin and pain, but I knew that God would never forsake me. He will never forsake anyone. And, for me, that was enough to at least brighten the darkness so that I could see a glimmer of hope.

And so began the cycle. I would became a zealot, striving to live a perfect life, but every time I failed, or when life got hard, the depression would return, bringing with it the feelings of hopelessness. I thought about suicide, but the only thought that would come to my mind was that I knew it would damn me. And even though I don't really know what that means, I want to be saved. I want to live with my family forever. I want to have a family of my own. I want to be happy. So suicide wasn't an option. And life seemed to go in circles - with the downs getting deeper and deeper, less and less hopeful that the pain would ever stop.

The only other way to look at my attraction, from my perspective, was to believe it was inherently good. But following the urges was completely against Church doctrine, whether it involved pornography, masturbation, or having close intimate relationships with guys. I would have to change my morals in order to let that type of behavior be ok in my life. And that, too, was not an option. I know the Church is true. I know that giving in and being with a guy will never make me happy - even though it feels good. And I know that resisting temptation, no matter what the price, will always bring me greater peace and joy than any other alternative.

And so I kept fighting. And fighting. And fighting. And I saw people who had given up along the way. Men who committed suicide and wrote notes to their families telling them of the quiet, desperate struggle they had faced. Friends from school, Church, and the mission who left the Church and actively followed their attractions. Behind the bliss they felt at following their carnal desires, I could see that they had lost the light that had once been in their eyes. They had cut a part of their relationship with God... and that was one thing I couldn't do.

As time went on, I finally began to humble myself so that I could ask God why. It wasn't in hatred or frustration, it was a son humbly pleading with his Father... wanting to understand. "Dear Father, I am in so much pain. I've tried my entire life to be good - to do what is right. Why hasn't this temptation gone away? Please, help me understand. I'll do anything. Just help me do Thy will." And the Lord answered my prayer. He showed me my past - the things I had done, the wars I had fought - and He showed me how I had grown through my trial. I had felt the utter depths of depression... and knew how to lift others. I had realized the importance of reaching out and serving others from the pain I felt of being totally alone. Great temptations had caused me to turn to the Lord for help, and knowledge of how to avoid temptations had turned me to the scriptures - blessing my life and enabling me to help others in their trials. And, perhaps the greatest, as I had privately struggled, I had turned to God and come to better know Him and His love for me, and to better understand myself and my ability to build the kingdom of God.

It wasn't a curse after all. God helped me see that, beyond the incredible temptations, the overwhelming urges, the guilt, and the pain, my experience was simply another trial. It was an opportunity to grow and to learn and to become the man I could someday be. And, like all things in life, God had allowed me this trial to teach me important lessons I couldn't learn any other way. That realization brought me the relief I had wanted for so many years. Even though I had learned that God loved all His children, in my heart I had always believed that I had been cast off. And now I knew that I hadn't been cast off or forgotten. God truly did love me, and would hear my prayer someday.

In the time since that realization, I've become even stronger. The temptations are still there. The urges are still overwhelming. But I know that it is a test - and that if I do what is right, the Lord will make me into the man I truly want to be. I look back on my life and see the high points and the low points, and I realize that, at the lowest points, when I turned to God for strength, He taught me lessons that have changed me forever. I am who I am today because I am a survivor - not a physical survivor of cancer or a disability - but a spiritual survivor of same-sex attraction. I would never wish my experiences on anyone else - friend or foe. But God loved me enough to let me learn in the hottest, most terrible, painful, awful fires of affliction... so that I could learn to be who I am today. And, because of the relationship I have developed with Him, and the lessons I have learned, I wouldn't trade my cross with anyone.


  1. I prayed before writing this comment in hopes that you would feel the sincerity of what I'm writing.

    I've been praying recently to find something that would help me realize that I'm not fighting this fight alone. (you've heard this before)

    I've seen other blogs, websites etc. where lds men who are struggling with ssa are sharing their thoughts and feelings. I am grateful for their words, but felt like something was missing, like their fight was a little different than mine.

    You see, I too am attracted to other guys, but have felt that the answer to my personal journey is in surrendering my will to Christ. Let him guide my life. If this means that I will lead a single life, so be it... as long as I'm being an instrument in His hands, I know everything will work together for my good. He's perfect.

    I really am proud of you. I know how hard it is to make God the focus of our lives when there are so many other competing voices.

    I'm a BYU student. I served a mission. I love the temple, the scriptures and my Savior. I am trying to make decisions for my future, when my future is completely unknowable. He does know, I just don't.

    I know that you have found refuge in your relationship with the Father. It is the ultimate peace. I'm glad you have such a great ward, friends, family.

    You obviously are helping a lot of people... your Packer post has nearly 100 comments. But I also want to let you know, that there are people out there who are being prepared to help you, the way you are being prepared to help others.

    You know you are not alone in this struggle.People tell you over and over in their comments that they can relate. Do you believe them? When I say that I understand and can relate to EVERYTHING you have said... do you believe me? I hope you do, and I hope you know that they can help you too, if you let them.

    I've been looking for something like your blog to show me that there are other young men out there who have ssa, but are men of God, growing spiritually with these problems, and even because of them.

    I would like to get to know you better, I think we could be a support for each other. I picture you sitting at your computer reading this, thinking... "I have my support through Christ, His words etc" but you deal with the issue without understanding from friends or family. I would like to be your friend.

    This comment is too long, and isn't really what I had in mind, I apologize. Think about what I said though... there are people willing to help you just like you are willing to help others.

    Please email me with your thoughts. sky84606@gmail.com

  2. I prayed before starting this comment, hoping that you can feel the sincerity of my thoughts.

    I just finished writing paragraphs explaining how I read your entire blog this evening, I felt inspired to do so. I started at the beginning and ended with your most recent post.

    For some reason I don't picture you believing me when I say, "I know what you are feeling."

    The attraction to other guys is a part of that, but your experiences with the Lord, scriptures, the temple. The lessons you have been learning, I have also been learning. The spirit has touched me several times while reading your posts.

    I can now picture you reading this thinking, "Well I'm glad, that's what this blog is for, to help inspire others and bring them to Christ."

    A great purpose, I also hope however, that you realize that there may be people with the same struggle who can help you, if you let them. God isn't the only one who can help you in your mission.

    I would really like to stay in contact with you. Please email me with your thoughts. sky84606@gmail.com. It may be helpful to have someone to talk to, where you don't have to be so anonymous, pray about it.

    I am currently attending BYU, here in Provo. There are more people you can help, and I think they can possibly help you too.

  3. I just found your blog today. I really enjoy your writing and your topic. I am not gay, but I have several friends who are. Some have "lost their light" as you said. It is so sad to see them turn their backs on the Gospel thinking there is no other way, for that I truly appreciate you sharing your story.

    Also, I can relate to your last paragraph. I have had major depressive disorder since I was a small child. I have tried a broad range of anti-depressants without any relief. Finally a few years ago I realized that this is my trial. I can be strong. I may be sad and have *extremely* strong suicidal urges, but I CAN fight those with the Lord's help. Sometimes it's not so much "enduring it well" as just "enduring". I have found in moments of peace, to reflect back on all the lessons I have learned. About how capable I have become at just pushing through the pain, and still taking care of my responsibilities myself. And even though I have a disease, I am not JUST a "depressed person". I no longer let it define who I am. I love "But God loved me enough to let me learn in the hottest, most terrible, painful, awful fires of affliction... so that I could learn to be who I am today." I think you have such an amazing, strong spirit.

    Thank you for your writing.

  4. (Part 1)I needed to thank you for being brave enough to create a blog where you share your struggle with ssa. I feel that today the Lord was showing me a tender mercy by helping me find your blog. I do not suffer from ssa, but my husband does. We have been married for 5 ½ years. I love him very much and have struggled to understand and forgive him.

    He told me a month after our first child was born that he struggled with ssa. I was shocked, and numb. He had been a close friend for over 5 years and I would never have thought it was something he struggle with. I was so lost and confused, at first I hated him for "deceiving me" -for not giving me the chance to decide whether it was something I wanted to compete against or have in my marriage. I felt trapped. I was not thinking about my husband, and what hell he must be struggling with –how hard it must have been for him to tell me. I also had not thought how much he truly did love me, and that he hated having this trial in his life. He said that as a teenager he had realized that there were two paths he could choose, and while one would let him give into the feelings and desires he had -it ultimately had a dead end and no family. He wanted a family, he wanted children, and he wanted to live the gospel. I turned to Heavenly Father -I asked him to help me, and to help my husband. I asked him to help me understand and help my husband in whatever way I could. I was able to feel his love for me and for my husband. I knew that I loved my husband enough that I would stand by him, and be his support in any way I could. I also realized I was glad he hadn’t told me before we were married. I don’t think anymore whether I would or wouldn’t have married him had I known beforehand. I realized it isn’t healthy to think and wonder about the past, only to think about the future, and what I wanted to hold on to. The understanding is still a struggle I'm working on.

  5. (Part 2) Over the next few years my husband struggled, and messed up -each time worse than the first. He had become inactive at church -at first it was because of his work schedule and then I could tell it was because he didn't want to come. I knew something wasn't right. He had become distant and annoyed when I tried to have FHE, family scriptures or family or couple prayers. He was uninterested in what we were doing as a family -he'd hang out with unmarried single guys from school. I began to be very afraid, and we began to also have a lot of arguments. Last September I finally was able get him to confide in me. He had been struggling with an attraction he’d been giving into for over a year -when the other guy had asked him to leave me and to move in with him -he told the other guy he that he loved me, and knew that they'd be giving into something unfulfilling and destructive, when my husband would not give in to the guy anymore he was finally strong enough to tell me what had been going on. When he told me I was completely shattered. We now had two little boys, and I didn’t think our marriage was strong enough to survive anymore –how could it last? I couldn’t trust him, I hated him and yet I truly loved him. My husband has never told anyone besides me –every time he has messed up we would get into arguments about him going to see the bishop and every time he would refuse and make an excuse. He was terrified that he would be misunderstood, or wrongly judged. I had promised him I would never tell anyone, but he was getting deeper and deeper and when he told me what he had been fighting against lately –I told him he had no choice –I was going to call the bishop. He finally agreed. I know it sounds bossy or demanding –unprotecting or not trustful, but I was completely lost at what else to do. We had been here before, and I realized that if he didn’t talk to his bishop he might never do it, and I would lose him completely. I wasn’t sure if our marriage was salvageable, but I wanted to do whatever I could to at least try. We have a very loving bishop who has been an answer to both of our prayers. It has been 7 months ago that my husband talked to the bishop –and while we have had a rocky and difficult road, it has begun to look brighter than it has in 4 years. He has become active again, and is working on steps to full activity and temple worthiness, and while he isn't completely confident that anyone can help -he trusts our bishop -and our bishop has completely protected and helped him and I start the process. But today was a rocky one, and I was fighting against feelings of anger and betrayal –feelings of being used and unloved… kinda like being a prop for the outside world to see while the inside is a façade –these feelings come and go, and I know it’s part of the healing and growing together process. Learning to forgive, and understand but some days I’m weak. When I found your blog today I sat here and bawled. I have been on my knees constantly asking for help and understanding, forgiveness and unconditional love for my husband. I had no idea how many people also struggle with ssa. I kinda felt we were a rare case -something new and uncharted. I knew it wouldn’t be something he could overcome overnight and that this would take years, but I have been worried. I know that Heavenly Father brought me to your blog to give me hope and a little more understanding, and to help me be a better wife –to be patient and to not give up on him. I read your post “A Curse? A Trial? A Blessing in Disguise? And realized that while I do not suffer from ssa –this is something I have considered to be a curse, and a trial –but today I sat and considered how it had also been a blessing in my life. I have grown and have gained a relationship with my Father in Heaven that I know I would not have gained without it. Thank you for being an instrument in the Lords hands, and for bringing a much needed ray of hope into the life of a worried wife.


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