Thursday, November 11

The Things That I Can't Do

When I first began this blog, I had no idea what I would write about... or if anyone would read the things I wrote. I still have no clue what to write about. But, at least part of my reason for writing is the vision I have had - something I've seen and want to make real in the world.

There are lots of things that could change in the world - things that would have helped me as I faced the reality of being attracted to guys in my teenage years... and yet weren't available then, and some of which still aren't available now.

The first was a reliable, understandable source of doctrine as it relates to the topic. I read every handbook the Church I could find, including segments of the General Handbook of Instructions, trying to understand exactly what I was supposed to do with my struggle. I wanted to know why I felt the way I felt, if there were other people who felt the same way, what I was supposed to do about it, how I was supposed to repent, if it would ever change, and how all the principles of the gospel and the blessings of the eternities applied to me. Ultimately, I wasn't able to find the information I felt I needed in anything I read, so I turned to God... and slowly learned from Him. Today, there are a few more resources for understanding the doctrine of the gospel as it applies to same-sex attraction, and efforts to compile them at and other locations have so far been worthwhile... but there are still tons of people who don't understand how the gospel applies in their lives.

The second was a personal connection and example. For years and years, I thought I was the only person in the world who struggled in the Church with this issue. Every other temptation seems to be talked about from the pulpit and in the classroom, from lying to cheating to stealing to staying out past curfew with a girl. But there was never any mention of my trials in Sunday School, never any mention in success stories in the Ensign, New Era, or Friend. I felt like I didn't exist... or that I was an anomaly - something that shouldn't be - in the society of the Church. I just wanted someone I could talk to who could show me that it was possible to live my life and be faithful in the face of my trials. Someone I could confide in, who would truly understand my pain, not just stand on the sideline of my life. And yet I had no one. I finally turned, again, to God, and learned that He understood my pain, could inspire me to become better, and could help me carry my grief when no one else in the world seemed to understand.

And the third need I felt was a way to share what I had learned with the world. If I had a breakthrough and kept myself from suicide, I had no one to tell. If I felt the love of God and better understood how I could apply the scriptures to my life and my predicament, there was no one who would understand the story. And so I kept those things in my heart and tried to share simple things I had learned about the gospel, apart from the circumstances in which I learned them. When I got up to bear my testimony, I spoke about the love of God... not sharing the story that had prompted it.

I'm just now realizing that the three things I wanted from my participation in the Church were, ironically, nourishment of the word of God (doctrine as it applies to my life and my circumstances), friends (people to love, who understand my circumstances, and will help me to achieve my goals), and the ability to serve (and share the blessings that God has given me along the path). That's exactly what President Hinckley said that all members need in order to thrive in the Church. I had pieces of all three - plenty of callings, plenty of friends, and plenty of doctrine. But there was a piece of each, as it applied to same-sex attraction, that I could never find inside the building... and instead found by going to the Head of the Church - to God Himself.

Here on this blog I guess I wanted to try to fill parts of those needs - to try, somehow, to be an influence in someone else's life. To fill my need to share my story to lift and inspire others. To create a personal interaction with someone - to become friends, in a way, to lift and teach one another. And to try to share the doctrine that I've learned with the world.

But there are things that I can't do. I can't be a source for doctrine... because I'm not a Church official. Anything and everything I say is just that - something I've said. I can't answer questions or requests for advice with authority; I have to simply say, "This is what I would do." I also can't be a friend to everyone. As universal as my story may be, I get emails every day from people who don't feel like they can relate to me. I'm being honest. This is who I am. As much as I wish I understood everything that was going through everyone's heads and could meet their needs... I realize that I don't understand your problems and maybe you don't understand mine. It's an inherent problem with being only one person... and not having experienced the pain, trials, and sufferings of all men.

Perhaps the biggest difficulty is that, since this blog is not part of the Church, there's no way to reach the people who are struggling most. The 14- and 15-year-olds who are struggling, or the 18-year-olds wondering if they should serve missions, or the returned missionaries who are wondering what to do with their lives when the two dichotomous societies are tearing them apart... have no way of hearing about the message (except through Facebook... which was an answer to prayers).

Maybe someday there will be another official resource in the Church designed specifically to help us apply the gospel in our lives, to our struggles. An anonymous online question-and-answer page where we could learn official doctrines and promises of light and hope and how they apply to our lives and can help us to find peace. A forum full of stories of men and women who are living the gospel while facing the things we face, people we can talk to who could help us see perspective... people who understand what we are going through because they've been there. And an opportunity to lift and serve others through our own examples and testimonies... inside the community of the Church, where we could find friends, opportunities to serve, and the ability to be nourished by the word of God.

I don't know if that will happen. But I do know that, even though we as a people are still growing, God makes up for our deficiencies. The teachings and examples of members of the Church helped me develop a relationship with God and then to turn to Him in my times of need... and He has helped me to thrive even while the people around me weren't yet able to meet my needs. I hope that someday we, as a people, better follow the teachings of the Church... and reach out more to befriend, teach, and serve one another. But I am grateful for the lessons I've learned anyway... and maybe that's what I needed to learn, and what each of us needs to learn - the faith to turn to God when conditions aren't ideal and to let Him make up for the things that we, and others, can't do.


  1. Wow. I think this is my favorite blog post of yours. I sincerely hope members of the church find themselves capable of reaching out and supporting those in their wards, the 12-14 year old teens, the 18 year olds, the RM, regardless of their challenges. But specifically, I hope most for members is a loving understanding and respect for those who deal with this issue inside of the church.

    One day...

  2. From the Book of Mormon Jacob 4:14 But behold, the Jews were a a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.

    This verse has always helped me deal with SSA. I realize that if I keep focused on "the mark" or on Jesus Christ, then I will not stumble. It is when we start allowing our own desires to remove our focus on the Savior, that is when we sin. That is when we start to want to act on our desires. That is when we seek the worlds opinion and teachings. That is when we fall. As I read this post, it explains very well what I feel. I often think who can I talk too? I wonder who can share in my victories, or in my failures? I feel that I too can only turn to God.

  3. "I realize that I don't understand your problems and maybe you don't understand mine. It's an inherent problem with being only one person... and not having experienced the pain, trials, and sufferings of all men." I love that. Because the only one person who can is the Savior. He is the most loving expert of all, for all. *B

  4. I agree, one of my favorite posts. I would like to see links on your blog to useful, official church documents.

    One of my favorite places to go is the gospel topics section "Same-Gender Attraction." A very amazing article is by Jeffrey R. Holland called "Helping those who struggle with same-gender attraction" I think every member of the church should read it. I also think that every member should read God loveth his children.

    Anyway, it might help people who read your blog to read official church stuff too.

  5. Thank you for this breath of fresh air. Your blog is captivating and real. I appreciate the hope that you exude amidst such a difficult trial. I have already referred it to a dear friend who is struggling with SSA. Many thanks from MT.


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