Monday, October 11

But If Not...


In the April General Conference of 2004, I heard Dennis E. Simmons of the Seventy give a talk titled, “But If Not…” In his talk, he shared the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego before the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar. When given the choice to bow down before the king’s idols or be cast into the furnace, they responded with a voice of true faith:

“If it be so [that you cast us into the furnace], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."

Faced with one of the greatest trials of their lives, these men knew that God had the power to deliver them. They believed He would. But even if He didn’t – if the miracle never happened – they would rather be burned alive than forsake their faith.

In my life, I’ve often wondered about this question. I know that God has the ability to do anything. He has the power to help me fall in love with a girl, be happily married, and raise a family. And I truly believe that He will. But what happens if it doesn’t happen? What if I am incredibly righteous, date regularly, do everything I should… and yet the road to life opens out before me and I realize that I am standing in the furnace – that marriage and raising a family will never be an option in this life?

For a long time, I wasn’t willing to think of that possibility. The Lord would save me… and any other thought was a lack of faith. Now I realize that true faith, as shown by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, is more than simply believing that God will grant an instant miracle when I reach a level of righteousness… so much more.

I realize that I may live with same-sex attraction for the rest of my life. I may never have a family in mortality. The miracles I want may never come. But I know that, whatever happens, God will take care of me. Things will turn out in the end. With that knowledge, I am committed to live according to the light of the gospel no matter what happens in my life. True faith is not contingent on results. True faith is more than just believing that God can and will empower and deliver us in life. It is acting on that belief whether or not He does.

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your posts - I have felt so torn and angry about President Packer's words, because of the sadness so many of my gay friends feel. I know I can't understand the pain of SSA but I have struggled with many other problems and challenges in my life and your perspective has really helped me see that it is possible to make the choice to stay true to gospel principles no matter what your challenges. You may have saved me from moving away from my faith in the gospel over this issue. May Heavenly Father bless you and all of us in our struggles.

Anonymous said...

As a single (straight) woman in the Church, I feel your desire for a family in mortality. Know that you're not alone. There are so many (gay and straight) people who long for a companion but may not find one. God willing we will all have that blessing in the next life, if not in this one.

Wendilynn said...

I also struggle in my own challenges and while I don't have your challenge, mine own have sometimes overcome me in my lonelier moments. Thank you so much for your faith and strength and for your testimony. I also shared your website on facebook. I thought it was important.

Marie said...

My daughter told me about your blog a couple of days ago, and I have been reading all of your previous posts. I just want to say "THANK YOU" in a big, capital letters kind of way. I enjoy your writing style and your spiritual insights and appreciate that you are providing this much-needed voice. I told a member of my family, who is also a gay Mormon, about your blog and I'm hoping he will read it and gain strength and inspiration from it. You are doing a great service for many people. Please keep up the good work!
I appreciated today's post. We have a 31-year-old son who is mentally and physically handicapped. For a few years we prayed and prayed for a miracle for him...for him to be healed and made "normal", so to speak. That miracle never came, but so many others have come, over all these years. And if he had been healed and become normal? Our family would not be the same. We have all learned life-altering lessons by having this young man in our family and wouldn't change him for anything! It's great to realize that God knows so much more than we do and will always find a way to make things OK. My heart overflows with gratitude for the miracles that happened and for those that didn't.

Lena said...

I admire you.May God bless you in everything!

Becky Beazer said...

I think it is vitally important for members of the church (and the world) to hear from people who are dealing with same sex attraction rather than acting on it. Your words, and life, are very inspiring. I was glad to come across your blog, and I have felt the spirit as I read about how you strive to continue to live the gospel. Thank you so much for having the courage to both resist your temptations and share your struggles with the world. You will be blessed for striving to lift those around you.

Karen said...

Thank you so much for this post. I appreciate so much your faith and insight. I have a son who suffers with mental illness and I've felt just as you do. I know Heavenly Father has the power to cure him but if he chooses not to do so in this life we will carry on in faith with the knowledge that we will all be resurrected with a perfect mind and body. I will pray for healing in mortality for you as well as my son but continue in faith that the Lord understands our trials and that there is purpose in them.

Karen said...

Thank you so much for this post. I appreciate so much your faith and insight. I have a son who suffers with mental illness and I've felt just as you do. I know Heavenly Father has the power to cure him but if he chooses not to do so in this life we will carry on in faith with the knowledge that we will all be resurrected with a perfect mind and body. I will pray for healing in mortality for you as well as my son but continue in faith that the Lord understands our trials and that there is purpose in them.

kimber said...

So beautiful and inspiring you are. What an amazing testimony. Thank you for sharing!

Karen said...

Thank you so much for this post. I appreciate so much your faith and insight. I have a son who suffers with mental illness and I've felt just as you do. I know Heavenly Father has the power to cure him but if he chooses not to do so in this life we will carry on in faith with the knowledge that we will all be resurrected with a perfect mind and body. I will pray for healing in mortality for you as well as my son but continue in faith that the Lord understands our trials and that there is purpose in them.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful!!! While I don't struggle with SSA, I have many other areas in my life that this example of faith can be applied! Thank you for your blog!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your insights and feelings about living as a faithful mormon man who is also gay. Your faith is inspiring and you have created a place here where homosexuals and straights alike can feel comfortable in discussing sensitive subjects respectively. Thank you for your courage, I agree with all of your thoughts on President Packer's talk and I hope that others will take the time to truly think about his intent behind his words instead of automatically assuming he meant something negative. Thank you again for sharing your perspective, I would hope that everyone-gay or staight, mormon or non-mormon could read your writings.

Anonymous said...

Talk about likening the scriptures unto ourselves?! I am really, genuinely enjoying reading your posts! Thank you.

Heather said...

You are seriously my hero. I have my own issues, but I can not imagine what you must go through. I am grateful for your testimony and faith, you truly are amazing. Thank you for sharing!

Scott Hullinger said...

I'm here because I tried to commit suicide 18 months ago. I was in a coma, and now I have what you might call amnesia. But I didn't forget everything.

leannewitney said...

I appreciate this post. I was just having this conversation with a few people the other day. I struggle with fertility issues, and even though it isn't as bad as it could be, it is really hard to go through. I've come to understand that even if my faith was strong enough to move mountains, or fix my fertility, if it isn't God's will- it won't happen. The atonement CAN and DOES change people. I know from experience, but sometimes the trial doesn't go away. What has to change is how I deal with it. I'm learning that instead of praying to get pregnant (because it will happen when it happens) I will pray to be less bitter and angry about my situation. Pray for understanding in other people's situation. Pray for the strength needed to endure these trials. I'm grateful that I've started to view things differently. It has helped in my attitude towards my situation. Keeping an eternal perspective helps as well. I know that this trial won't be with me in the eternities. Right now, it is just part of my mortal experience. And knowing that makes it a little better.

Gerritt+Laura= Meagan and Madilynn said...

I believe your words will help so many. What a wonderful Son of God you are. And though I don't know you personally, I am thankful for your strength and example. How proud our Father in Heaven must be of you.

Marianne and Ryan said...

I want to thank you for your words, and strength that you have. You have an amazing testimony despite the struggles you face. Your faith and strength is an example you set for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Again you share a magnificent spirit and understanding that many don't fully realize. Thank you my brother.

Anonymous said...

If you feel you have same gender attraction, do you think that it has to be that way the rest of your life, Do you believe that those feelings could be changed through the atonement?

Anonymous said...

THE GOSPEL ROCKS!

Anonymous said...

I am so inspired and touched by your posts. You bring so much clarity to your situation. My heart aches for you, but also rejoices in your strength and determination. Thank you for being a shining example of what the brethren are trying so hard to communicate!

Lalis said...

I have just added you to my blog roll and posted an entry just about your blog. Please stay faithful!

DeNae said...

This is one of my favorite subjects to teach (I'm an institute teacher). It speaks to the very core of discipleship, and stands side-by-side with Christ's "nevertheless" as perfect moments of complete submission to the will of the Father.

All of us, regardless of our circumstances and personal trials, will at some point have to find within ourselves the faith to say, "But if not..." or "Nevertheless..." And when we do, our purpose and potential are often revealed to us.

These are words of pure consecration.

Anonymous said...

I apparently live in a hole! I had no idea that there was so much controversy going on over this talk. I found out thanks to FB. As I listened to Pres Packer's talk I didn't even hear the aspect of Same Sex attraction because I was applying his words to the struggles in my own life. I thank you for your perspective. Thank you for your words of encouragement, and your testimoy. Life sure isn't easy, but I'm also sure that just because another's life appears to be easy, doesn't mean that it is. You have given me hope to take with me as I strive to overcome the trials that are mine.

sharpest family said...

I don't know why but I can't leave a comment on facebook for you. I just wanted to tell you how amazing I think you are! You truly are a bright, shining, beacon of light and hope for the entire world. I so appreciate your testimony and your strength to overcome this temptation. I have two male friends that have chosen to give in to it. It breaks my heart to pieces to see the way their choices have now affected their lives. I do not judge them, I love them still, but I am so sad for them. I was in the mtc with one of them and at times I still cry at night for him.
I quote one of your posts:
As President Uchtdorf spoke about pride, I looked inside myself and asked the same question: if the Lord asked me to do anything, would I willingly and faithfully follow His promptings?
You are doing this! I feel like this is exactly what the world needs...this blog. You are unique, you are fearless and faithful, you are hope, and you are amazing! I wish I could give you a hug and wipe away all those tears that have fallen. I will be praying for you. My spirit and soul yearn to tell yours that I love you. A spiritual love. The love I felt for the sweet people I taught and loved on my mission. Speaking of mission, I truly believe you have found one of your greatest missions in your life. To do just as you are doing. To show that it is possible. God be with you, my friend. I will be praying for you.

Anonymous said...

It's hard, I know, but don't give up trusting Heavenly Father to make it all right. One thing I do know is that He keeps His promises.

I used to be gay -- totally inactive in the church, very active on "the scene". But steadily, I found myself less and less thrilled by that lifestyle, and more and more eager to return to active membership. Eventually I did -- I never quite understood why: I remember thinking, "Lord, you'd better make this worth my while, because boy, am I letting myself in for a life of lonely singleness!

Then Heavenly Father took me totally by surprise, bringing back into my life a girl who I'd dated 13 years earlier. We were married six months later in the Idaho Falls temple. Four years on, our relationship is stronger than ever.

The Lord made us both wait a long, long time, but it was worth it. I'm not one of those who believes that there is one person specially chosen for you, but my wife and I are such a perfect combination, I do think that perhaps, in our case, the Lord had us planned together. There truly is nobody I would rather have a relationship with, and I'm deeply, deeply blessed.

We have a beautiful daughter, another one due next month, and nothing even comes close to rivalling my family for the joy and pride it gives me.

So it can happen, and my experience is that when the Lord fulfils His word, He generally likes to surprise us by doing it in the most sudden and unexpected way possible. The thing is, 13 years ago, when I was first dating her, Heavenly Father told me in a revelation that she would be my wife. That she later dumped me, with all that implied about my revelation, was one of the big reasons I went inactive in the first place. Today, I'm ashamed and embarrassed that I doubted Him. I wish I'd been more faithful.

WSS said...

That's an incredible post mate. I am so pleased I found your blog! Interesting that tolerance and love may be fostered BECAUSE of the 'talk'. Without it how many people would never have found your blog and the hope it gives?

So utterly impressed with your insight.

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing person l love your blog. Although l do not struggle with your situation my family and friends go through the same thing. Of course you have a
desire to have the miracles you set yourself for. Just remember that heavenly father knows you, he loves you. He knows where your heart is and he sees the desires of your heart and that's all that matters. Reading the scriprures heavenly constantly reminds us that he will never leave us. You are such a beautiful person. You might not find a girl to fall in love with but through heavenly father we all have a plan waiting for us. This is just the begining of the plan of salvation! Continue ha ing thy desire and sweet soul you're awesome!!
-tiare endemann

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

---(--{@ MSK said...

This is one of my favorite scriptures, when I was a Seminary teacher, I really tried to make it clear to my youth that this is exactly the wisdom of this earth life. You MAY be blessed with what you expect. . . you may not. When I was divorced after 22 years, it was a rod of steel for me to cling to, fingers hot and bloody and slipping at times, but still, I knew that 'But if not'. . . I could still remain true, it was MY choice.

Thank you for being a voice that is sorely needed in this world of trials and temptations.

MSK

Gingerlylizzy said...

Thanks for the inspiration and the reminder that this life is not about receiving all of our desires but to be refined and become more Christlike. I remember hearing at a youth conference when I was younger that this life is less than 5 minutes in comparison to our eternity. You have an amazing strength and eternal perspective. Thanks for reminding the rest of us and helping so many of your brothers and sisters along their difficult paths!

Laney said...

Thank you for sharing such personal insights. It's a privilege to read your posts! I feel so edified. May Heavenly Father bless you in all your endeavors!!

Fay said...

I think we all reach this point in our lives: where we realize that the miracles that we want to occur are not necessarily dependent upon personal righteousness, but upon the will and plans of our Heavenly Father. This has been, by far, one of the most difficult and trying lessons that I have come to learn (and am still learning) since joining the church. In a way, I was grateful to learn that "stupid faith" or "blind faith" is not a prerequisite, instead, Heavenly Father asks, even commands, that we give Him every ounce of our ability and intention to change ourselves and the world around us to reflect the righteous desires of our hearts. You will, and I'm sure are right now, being blessed for your efforts. Our Heavenly Father loves us, and if He knows and sees us all, then He knows your will, your intent, and sees and cheers for every ounce of effort that you put into overcoming your challenges. I know that this may not count for much, but my family and I will be cheering for you too.

Anonymous said...

I just really wanted to thank you for your faith and example. It is through people like you that miracles come about. May the Lord continue to bless you as you walk in faith.

Queen Scarlett said...

You brought tears to my eyes with this post.

Thank you for teaching us...remind us this lesson. We all need to apply the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego to our lives. Thank you for your humble example.

Anonymous said...

You are teaching with light and love. So perfect and so needed. Thank you.

Shawnie said...

You have immeasurable depth. I am in awe. Thanks for this inspiration, it can be applied to a lot of us, in a lot of things.

Ryan said...

You have some great insight and understanding! I really appreciate your point of view. This is a great perspective on this story. I have learned a lot from your blog and pray that many more will do the same. Thanks for being a great missionary in preaching the gospel!!! I look forward to hearing more and sharing this blog with my friends.
Thanks
Ryan

Anonymous said...

My wife had your blog open tonight. I read a few of your posts. I have many friends from high school who have SSA and I have always thought about how challenging it would be to have this temptation. You are inspiring; keep fighting the good fight. You are in my prayers.

the emily said...

I had Elder Holland's son (Matt) as a professor at BYU and he gave this lesson in 2001--the "but if not" portion has stuck with me all these years. I have faith in those words.

Anne Marie said...

I am a new visitor to your blog came via your Elder Packer post. I am so impressed. This particular post though moved me to tears. Each of us has trials but few of us are willing to stand at the stake even if we are not delivered from them. This was one of the best messages of hope I have ever read. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

While my trials are nothing like yours, this post has brought so much strength to me. I loved that talk from the start, but had forgotten it until you reminded me how important that little phrase "but if not" can be.

alex dumas said...

My sentiments exactly!

Lindsey said...

I've been studying faith, hope and charity, and specifically the difference between faith and hope. I LOOOOOOVE your last few sentences about faith--they really ring true with me and help me to understand this huge concept better.

Thanks!

claudiadarosa said...

All I can say is: wow!

As an LDS member I understand you're feelings. There was a time in my life that I found myself divided: do I like boys or girls?
I never had an experience with a girl but I lived with that thought for three years. I tried not to think about it and avoid what was related to it. I asked for helped but I just wasn't "ready to let go" yet. It was torturing for me specially coming from such a strong LDS family.
Then I really decided not to feel attracted by girls. I prayed, read the scriptures, looked for better friends, tried to keep my thoughts, actions and words clean and as a result I found an amazing guy.
It was hard for me to let it go completely but so rewarding when I finally did.
I liked what Elder Richard C. Edgley said during this conference. He said: "But while I don’t know everything, I know the important." I don't know what God has in store for me and I don't what He has in store for you but I do believe that the Lord looks out for each one of us and He does want to bless us.
I felt touched by your posts. Thank you so much for sharing your faith!

Lizaruth said...

When I initially heard this talk, I hated it... I didn't want to think about "if not"... In time can came to see what a perfect message of hope it contained. thank you for reminding us of that!!

Also, I want to add my testimony to that of others... I don't know you, but I can feel that you have a beautiful spirit. The Lord certainly has the greatest of blessings in store for you, because of your great faith...

Nancy said...

I am so impressed by you. I love how you have the ability to take your trial and make it something not only that we can all understand, but that we can relate to our own trials. You seem to be a pillar of strength and understanding and light on a topic that is so schewed and twisted and difficult for people to get a grip on. If one of my children ever struggles with these issues, I hope above all hopes to have someone like you to help them.

Anonymous said...

I really feel the spirit reading your blog. I just sent it to a friend who just found out her father has struggled with SSA and hope it will bring her peace/comfort.

Continue to have hope for a family. So much of marriage, in my experience as someone who does not have SSA...but still..., so much of marriage is about friendship, companionship, love and teamwork. Physical attraction is one component of marriage, but it is not the only one--and often times not the most dominant one. I feel confident that if you righteously desire it...God can help you build a loving relationship with a woman and bring children into this world, even if the SSA never goes away. I read some blogs out there a while back about active LDS people who were married but acknowledged SSA...wish I had the links for you.

But really, enough of my ramblings, I'll just say again that your blog has a great spirit about it.

Anonymous said...

I have spent the last few nights reading your blog from beginning to end and I just have to tell you how incredibly inspiring you are. Many posts have moved me to tears as my heart breaks for the loneliness and sadness you feel at times. Your application of scripture stories and gospel principles in your life makes me want to be a better person. I just wanted to thank you for your example. You have shed new light on this topic for me and your message of hope and dedication to the gospel is beyond amazing. You are allowing yourself to be an instrument of the Lord and I thank you for staying so close to the spirit. You are in my prayers daily, along with the many brothers and sisters who struggle in similar situations. Keep up the good work friend, and know that the work you are doing is blessing the lives of many. Much love to you.

SBB said...

Thank you for your uplifting post! It is applicable across the board--my 'thorn in the flesh' is so different from yours, and yet the lessons are the same, the anecdote is the same. Even if we take it with us throughout this whole life, this life is not the end. Like Elder Wirthlin said: Morning will come.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog. I really needed to hear your voice this week.

Anonymous said...

Keep moving forward. I will always struggle with SSA but it is no longer the main all encompassing struggle it used to be. I am now married in the Temple and have a lovely wife and kids. I never thought this would be me, but now it is! My wonderful wife knows about my struggle and has since before we were engaged, and while temptation comes along every so often, resisting has become such a habit that sometimes it is only with hindsight I realize I was tempted. KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE SAVIOR. With an EYE single to God's glory, no temptation can over power us. Thank you for your blog and know that there are many others who fight this unique fight and Keep the Faith. Being Mormon Rocks!

Sandi said...

I heard a talk one time that compared the three saved from the furnace to the three virgins mentioned in Abraham 1:11. "These virgins were offered up because of their virtue; they would not bbow down to worship gods of wood or of stone, therefore they were killed upon this altar..." The talk pointed out that sometimes we are saved and sometimes we aren't, but if we want happiness in this life and in the life to come, we must be willing to be true, whether or not we are saved from our trials.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for all your posts. I really appreciate your optimistic outlook. Your great faith is an example to me and I am sure to many others. Please continue to post your stories and testimony, and please continue to be light.