Sunday, October 31

On Being Real


I recently received this comment. It, and how it affects me, has consumed my mind in the days since.

I started reading your blog before the general conference posts which brought thousands of people to your site. I liked your posts a lot more before. They were real, specific, less preachy and more vulnerable. This allowed me to feel a little more connected to you as a person.

I don't really check this blog anymore because I know what I'll find. Some great spiritual comments, advice to focus on God and rely on him, and a lot of general statements... and then pages of comments (usually from adoring girls, telling you how great you are, and how much they needed what ever you said.)This is fine, but it no longer is helpful to me…

Like you have mentioned before, we don't need people to teach us or tell us what's right, that's what the Savior is for. However I feel this is what you are doing.

I am glad people are growing closer to the Savior through your words, and hope it continues. I would just remember the counsel your Bishop gave you along time ago... be careful of your influence and how it influences you.

I'm a prideful person and maybe I'm just projecting my own feelings on to you. I could see myself coming home from school/ work and sitting down to my computer to see what blog comments I got today. The positive ones would make me feel good, like I'm making a difference. I would feel grateful for the Savior for helping me and restate that I'm doing this to help others to Him. I would read negative comments, and think that there may be some truth to that and try to correct the problem. I would then think of another post, conscious (you're a bright guy) of the words I used, basically able to predict the comments I'll get. Maybe you do this, maybe you don't... but you know you have your faithful followers who will believe pretty much whatever you will say, and will think "look what's he's doing, he's right, I'm going to do that to, what an inspiration."

Okay now I'm rambling, I know that and I'm sorry. You're trying to help people and you are. So good job. I just want to let you know what would help me as another guy struggling with SSA who is also faithful to the Lord and his Church.

I want to know why life is extra tough for you? (you claimed it in your title) What does a bad day look like for you? What are you afraid of? What is going on in your life that you can't explain? What brings you hope and what destroys it?

I want to see a real person again. (Booos from the crowd) Guess what, you're not perfect, let us see that and don't try to sugar coat it. (When you have claimed imperfection recently it like you're doing it to even be more likable.)

There are people here who think "Oh he's so wonderful, he's so humble, I'm sure he makes mistakes, but they're so endearing I'm sure. He's an example, he's doing his best... oh if more people could be like him, etc. etc."

You know you are helping others and continue to do it... it's just starting to sound a little condescending because you make it sound like you have it all figured out and now just need to endure. I'm probably wrong. I hope I am. I hope you are really as humble as you make yourself sound.

I hope something I say has helped you.

- Anonymous


Whoever you are, thank you. Thank you for being willing to share your feelings, your thoughts, and your frustrations to help me… for the courage that took, and the love that I can feel from you. I’ve wondered recently if this blog is still the place I wanted it to be, and your words did help. A few comments recently asked how readers could help me and ‘people like me’ – how to help people who seem, on the surface, like they have it all put together. This is how you help them. You’re totally and completely honest. You share your true feelings. You realize that they still need lots of help… and you try to help them in any way possible because you love them.

I haven’t shared much of my life here recently because I’m afraid of sharing something that would be a red flag for my close associates – some who read this blog and even post comments. I value my anonymity so much that I’ve even edited past posts to remove random shards of potential personal information. But I can see the importance here of being a real person, even if I never share my name. And so I’ll try to answer some of your questions… and include them in the future. And hopefully something I can say can again resonate in your heart.

Some days I wake up with the fear that I have sinned so greatly that the blessings that God has promised me – in my Patriarchal blessing and personal revelations – won’t ever happen. That Satan has robbed me of my birthright for a mess of pottage. I’m afraid that, because of my choices and my actions, I’ll be alone forever… that it will be my fault… that I won’t have a family, will never fall in love, and will never return to God. And that I’ll never be able to make amends – that I am totally and completely lost. I’m even crying as I write this.

And the reason why I am so afraid is because it could happen. I’ve felt the despair. I’ve seen the darkness. God will always fulfill His side of the promise. If I choose to do what is right, He will bless me. But what about when I don’t make the right choices? What about when I’m falling asleep at night, and the Spirit tells me to read my scriptures… and instead I look at pornography? It’s happened before. I’m still recovering. And though my ability to resist has grown, the urges seem to get stronger and stronger with time.

Sometimes I feel like I am on top of the world – and I feel like I finally have everything worked out in life – that I have mastered my temptations and I can move on to the next stage in life. That God will fulfill His promises because I am keeping His commandments. But I still fall. And when I fall, I feel as if I’ve betrayed my only Friend for nothing… that I am living in a dark pit of despair from which I’ll never return. And that perhaps I’ve crossed beyond the point of no return – the spot beyond which I could never return back to God and receive His blessings. That is my fear. And when I fall, that is a bad day for me. I am wracked with the pains of a damned soul, I feel like a complete and total hypocrite, and no amount of listing my accomplishments or numbering the people I’ve helped can lift my spirits. I look around at my outside world and everyone expects me to be a shining example, to live a great life, to share a smile and a comforting word and something profound that I’ve learned. People ask me for advice, for prayers, for blessings, for guidance in helping them to share the gospel with others. Thousands of people read my posts each day. And realizing that I’ve lost my ability to communicate with God and do His will, even temporarily, by an action of my own choice, is the worst feeling I have ever felt… and, in the end, I feel totally and completely alone.

Since I began this blog, I can’t remember a worse time in my life. I’ve gone through weeks of being homeless, unemployed, friendless, and stressed beyond anything ever before. There have been days at a time when I didn’t have time (or a place) to sleep and weeks when life felt like it would cave in and destroy me.

Through it all, when I follow God, somehow my life feels better. But when I don’t, when I try to go alone and turn away from Him, my life is awful. My talents, blessings, and everything else in my life disappear in an abyss of darkness, isolation, depression, and despair.

Do I know everything? No. Do I have it all figured out? No. Right now I don’t even have a job or a direction in life. I don’t what is going to happen – if I’ll ever get married, have a family, or even if I’ll be able to stay faithful and return to live with God.

But my life really isn’t awful. Because the one thing I do have is God. And that’s why I write so much about Him... and I leave the rest alone. Even now, as I listen, inside my heart the Lord is still speaking to me:

“In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer… For the mountains shall depart, and the hills shall be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee” (Isaiah 54:8,10).

Even when I sin and turn from Him, He is always waiting for my return. And there is no point of no return - as long as I am willing to repent. Even if I never marry or have a family in this life, the Lord will still keep His promises: “Neither let the (guy who is attracted to other guys and is never able to get married and have children) say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the Lord unto the [men who struggle with SSA] that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 56:3-5).

I don’t know what will happen in my life. But the only thing I have left to hold on to is my faith – my knowledge that God will keep His promises as He has in the past… if I am willing to sacrifice everything to do what is right. Even with the gospel, my life is rough. Without it, my life would be impossible. And so I only hope that I’ll be able to keep the faith… and that, somehow, the men and women like me will find the same shard of hope that lights my life.

Friday, October 29

To Never Be Alone


"...that they may always have His Spirit to be with them" (Moroni 4:3).

I think that, as a society, we are becoming more and more alone. It would be easier to never look up from the sidewalk, to not stop by to see a friend and say hi, to ignore a person I know in the grocery store if he is ignoring me… or to never even acknowledge the presence of a stranger on the street, even when I walk two paces behind him.

I remember once walking down Main Street in Salt Lake City - going South just next to the Courthouse. It was probably 9:30 at night and a woman was a few steps behind me. I slowed my pace and cheerily began a conversation - sharing a bit of my day and asking how hers went. She stared at me, then gave a somewhat guarded answer. I kept talking, and within moments she was smiling and laughing. Then she looked at me again, this time with disbelief in her eyes, and asked, "Is everyone here this friendly?" She explained that she was visiting from out of state, had never been to Salt Lake before, and had only had a few hours to walk the city. She further explained that in her home town the only people who would ever start a conversation, in the middle of the night, with someone of the opposite gender, were somewhat unsavory. 

Her question caught me off guard. I countered by remarking that I didn't live in Salt Lake, either, so I wasn't completely sure. We parted ways and her question stuck with me. I realized that I have absolutely no clue how friendly people are… because, in my mind, it doesn't matter.

At 14, while struggling with a massive inferiority complex, depression, accidents, perfectionism, high school academics, sports teams, and the ubiquitous same-sex attraction, I turned to the Lord, and, from Him, learned a lesson that eventually changed my life.

I wanted to feel loved, appreciated, and understood. And similar to the time-worn Christmas saying, "giving presents is better than receiving them," the Lord told me that if I wanted to feel loved, understood, and appreciated I needed to spend my life loving, understanding, and appreciating others. 

I'll be totally honest. In my heart I knew that God had spoken to me. I needed to take the initiative for my own life. I needed to be a better friend and reach out to others. But in my head it sounded completely absurd, and that it wouldn't work. Everyone else had best friends without even working at it. Everyone else looked like they were understood, loved, and appreciated. And how would helping others help me have more friends? 

I tried it for the next few years of life, and my prophecy came true. I was a friend to others but had few friends. I organized my own activities, but was rarely invited to those of others. I was a counselor to others but had no one I could counsel with. And amid the crowds I still felt empty, misunderstood, and alone. 

I went back to the Lord and asked for help. Again, He told me to go outside of myself and love others. So I tried again, and returned feeling empty, worthless, and alone. Finally, I went back again, willing to do anything. I had tried to be a friend, to counsel others, to be an example, to do anything I could. And yet no one truly understood me.

And when the Lord told me to love them a third time, He reminded me that He would love me - and that nothing else mattered. If I would keep His commandments and do all I could to help His children return, He would be my constant Companion, my Friend, my Counselor. He would love me, and I would never be alone. In the end, no one else could ever perfectly understand me anyway - because only He had suffered my pains and seen the entire scope of my life.

It's true. The greatest blessings of love do not come from being accepted, honored, and loved by others. They come from doing those things myself. And so now I strive to love others - to reach out and be a part of their lives. Yes, I have friends and family members who support and encourage me. Yes, I appreciate their love and admiration. But, at the end of the day, when no one else can ever truly understand the workings of my soul, I talk with God. With Him, I feel loved, understood, worthwhile, and whole. He is my Friend, my Father, my Counselor, my God. And with Him at my side, I am never alone.

Simple Indulgences

I think it's really important to find ways to splurge in life on things that are inherently good. To find things that I value and enjoy... and that, perhaps I wouldn't normally do, but sometimes feel the desire to do anyway. Like going to sleep tonight without writing a lengthy post here. I could spend the time writing, and maybe something good would come out. But I've been going without a break since early, early this morning (it's after midnight) and tomorrow is another busy day. So I'm going to pray, go to sleep, and post tomorrow.

In the meantime, there are 89 other posts you can read (or re-read) tonight or tomorrow morning; maybe one will match what you need to hear. You can try using the search bar or the tag list (I've been trying to tag posts with topic headings, but many of them don't have tags yet) or just read something at random. But that's enough writing. I really am going to splurge and go to sleep without writing any more. Really.

Thursday, October 28

News Story on Utah KUTV 2 Tonight

A reporter from KUTV2 asked me to post about a story that is airing tonight. I haven't seen the entire thing, so I can't say exactly what it will be about, but she assured me that the story was very similar to mine. In the reporter's words:


"The story is about a LDS wife & mother who struggles with same-sex attraction.  She has had 2 homosexual affairs.  But she has decided her religion is more important to her and has gone through a church disciplinary process and is now in good standing as a member of the church.  It is her story about how she has chosen to true to herself by remaining a member of the LDS church despite her struggle."


The story tonight, on KUTV 2 - Utah - at 10:00 Utah time. I'm not sure how to get it outside of Utah. But I think it sounds like it will be worth watching. I'm glad to see that there are other voices willing to share the message of hope, peace, and repentance.
I've attached the trailer here.


video

Wednesday, October 27

The Miracle of Forgiveness

Repentance would be so much easier if I were perfect. But I'm not. And this post is for those of you who have felt like me - standing before the throne of God, wanting desperately to return, and having nothing to give Him but my ever present sins and struggles. And feeling like there is no way back.

There have been times in my life when I felt totally unworthy to even speak to God. I've been so blessed in my life - I should know better than to sin. I should know better than to make stupid mistakes. I should be stronger than the things that pull me down. The Lord has given me so many things... and yet the mistakes I make are the same ones - over and over and over again. For whatever reason, I turn against Him. I go against a prompting of the Spirit, knowingly. And then, in my despair, I feel as if I shouldn't even talk with God - that He wouldn't want to hear from me when I've turned so completely away from His presence. I feel the Spirit leaving... and just let the feeling of warmth disappear, then curl up in a ball and cry. The guilt sets in, the pain and depression comes back, and I wonder if I have made any progress at all in my life.

I've learned since that these moments - the moments when I feel furthest from God - are incredibly powerful moments when, if I turn to Him, He is willing to teach me and help me find a way out of the struggle I am facing. Yes, I'll need to repent. Yes, it will take time for me to be worthy of His Spirit again. But it's worth it. And He will always help me feel His love when I am willing to return to Him, confess my sins, and forsake them.

And so I've begun a practice that has helped me in my life - something that makes repentance actually happen, and keeps me closer to God. Whenever I feel like not praying, I pray. Whenever I feel like praying, I pray. And when I find myself feeling the guilt that follows sin, I pray. It's sometimes really hard... because if I've just made a massive mistake I feel worse than the dust of the Earth. And I am. But He still wants to speak with me. He hears my prayers. And, even though I don't merit His blessings, He continues to bless me in every aspect of my life.

It amazes me that God continues to forgive me when I've made so many mistakes in life - when I've had so much knowledge and turned away from the truth. It amazes me when He gives me second, third, fourth, and fifth chances to choose the right, or when He helps me to find a path out of a temptation I shouldn't have been facing in the first place. The only thing I do know is that He loves me. And He always will, no matter what I do. And, because God loves me, He will do anything to help me choose the right, follow the prophet, and return back to the pathway of righteousness. The miracle of forgiveness, in my opinion, is more than just the peace that comes when you are finally at the end of the path. The true miracle comes in the courage, faith, and hope that God gives me as I find the faith to pick up the pieces of my shattered dreams and move forward from wherever I am, hour by hour, day by day.

Tuesday, October 26

Q&A #2

If I were your bishop* what would you want me to know or understand before you came to talk to me about SSA for the first time? (* by "your bishop" I mean that very generally, as in, the bishop/relief society pres/EQ pres of someone in a similar situation to yours) 

I can't say what would be the best things to know for everyone. We're all different, and even among the men who live with same-sex attraction, our struggles and trials vary. But I can tell you what I wanted when I first spoke with a Priesthood leader about this. Thankfully, he had been prepared.

  • Therapy may have potential benefits in certain situations. But therapy doesn't usually fix spiritual problems. 
  • I am not just going through a phase. 
  • I am absolutely and totally terrified while I talk to you. Not of you, but of how telling you, or miscommunicating, could jeopardize our relationship and how you think of me. 
  • My struggle with same-sex attraction is not going to go away just because I reach a certain level of righteousness. It might change over time. Or I may live with it, faithfully, for the rest of my life. 
  • I need you to listen to me, affirm me for the good I do in the world, and simply love me. 
  • Don't give me advice unless the Spirit compels you to do so or I ask point-blank. 
  • Pray before we begin, and always keep the Spirit. 
  • Ask me searching questions. Be specific. Look me in the eyes. Help me know that you love me, and make me answer difficult questions. If I am coming to you as the first person, I probably need to confess my sins and repent of them. 
  • Let me talk. 
  • Focus on helping me repent of my sins and helping me see the love of God in my life. 
  • I am trusting you more than I could ever explain; you must never, ever, ever tell another soul. 
  • I am not deficient in the gospel just because I life with SSA. I can still serve with the young men, and probably will have a greater ability to understand their trials. And I want to serve - to do anything I can to help others rise from their pain. 
  • Bear testimony about your own life. Let the Spirit witness to me which parts apply to mine.
  • Don't ever bring this topic up, mention it, make reference to it, have me speak on it, or anything else. If I want to talk about it, I will. Just listen to me and support me in choosing the right.


How do you feel about the media, or when you watch tv shows and movies? Almost everything has a gay or lesbian person portrayed. 

I'll be totally honest. I don't make time for pop culture. I don't watch TV or most movies. I just feel like there are things that are so much more worthwhile in life. There are sometimes good things portrayed in the media, and even some good movies and TV shows. But I prefer being with real people or creating my own story in my own life. As far as the portrayals of people in the media, few seem truly real-to-life. And the real-life stories make me feel compelled for a few moments, then disappear with the next commercial.

When peers (in church, specifically) make tact-less remarks about gay or SSA sterotypes, how do you handle it? How do you find the balance between maintaining a tactful discussion and keeping your own privacy? Do you ever fear that you are showing too much of yourself?

I've found that the answer is to always engage in every conversation as a voice of reason - to see the good side, to always push people to do what is right and think the best of others.

As far as speaking out, usually people are more teachable in smaller settings and when they are listening, not when they are the center of attention after a tactless remark that makes half the group laugh. From that perspective, it doesn't make sense to immediately object to gay jokes or speak out when I know that it will distance me from the other person instead of enabling me to make a bigger impact. Instead, I make a note and, later on, when I can see he is listening, voice a compelling comment on the importance of loving everyone, no matter who they are and what they choose. Will it immediately lessen the amount of tactless remarks? Maybe not. Will they still be painful? Yes. But simply helping others by teaching good principles (as the Church does) helps them to think more, to develop the right traits, and slowly the number of tactless comments will lessen on their own. If the Spirit directs, then I'll give direct feedback. If not, I try to teach correct principles and be a good example. That's the only effective long-term solution at my disposal.

Do you think/know if your co-works, peers, casual relationships know/can sense your same gender attraction? Do you think the girls you date have any idea? Either way--is this hard for you?

No one knows unless I've told them. And no, it isn't hard, because it means I can be myself around them - just someone who is trying to choose the right.

Lastly, how do you feel about the sterotypical "gay" men--fashion and styles specifically. I know you do not equate gay with SSA (which I like!), but do you feel the need to wax your eye brows and use the clinique mens facial line? (I'm doubting it.) How do gay sterotypes affect how you connect with others? 

I have absolutely no sense of clothes fashion whatsoever. So that is not usually an issue in communicating with others; it's just not a topic I often talk about. And I think I am doing pretty well at subduing my lifelong obsession with body image in favor of "my body is a temple of God." (side note: from my observations, obsession with body image is much more common than obsession with fashion. Fashion is sometimes just a subset of body image)

As far as my feelings on the matter, I don't think there's anything wrong with fashion, style, or buying specific brands. It's like being up to date on the latest pop music or the most recent news - totally acceptable as long as it doesn't hinder your ability to keep the commandments or distract you from the more important things in life. In my case, though, I would rather write my own story than read, hear about, or buy clothes that tell someone else's.

Monday, October 25

Answers to Questions

Some questions from the Topic Suggestion page, with a few of my answers: (probably a recurring post as more suggestions filter through)


Are you single?
Yes. I'm not even in a serious relationship with anyone, so I'm even single in that sense. But being single doesn't mean I attend a single's ward. Or that I don't.


What types of things do you do to content yourself when there are VERY few friends and activities to do?
I used to rely on other people to structure my life for me - to schedule activities and reach out and be my friend. Then I realized that everyone else was doing exactly the same thing - waiting for others to take the initiative. Now I try to take it on my own, and find people who are passionate to help me make things happen. It means that I'm almost never without friends or something to do.


But sometimes it does happen... and then I go to the temple or read the scriptures or write for hours on end. Or work out for 6 hours straight. Something worthwhile and intense. 


Are the other members of your congregation aware of your feeling and intentions in the future? Unless the Lord Himself has told them, no.


How do you feel when comments from other bro's and sis let you know that they suspect gays of recruiting their children or stalking them?
This world is not a safe place for raising a family, no matter who you are or where you live. I would rather have parents in the Church have a overly heightened sense of awareness about the circumstances around their children than to be on the sidelines or apathetic. If anyone were stalking my family or friends, I would be concerned.


Now, there is a difference. Assuming that spending time with people = stalking or recruiting is a long shot. But, at the same time, who am I to judge them for judging others? I would be doing the exact same thing I can't stand in their conduct. My code is to enable people to see the good side in all things, and to think the best of others. Most of the time, that focus can change their views and help them much better than any argument or presentation of facts.


When did you first realize you were attracted to men?
That's a complicated question, if you've read my very first post. In retrospect, the signs were there long before I was a teenager. But I didn't put a name to it, and understand it for what it was, until after high school.


How did you come to the understanding and perspective you have now? Did you ever feel like giving up on God? Or have you always been blessed with such incredible faith and courage?
Whatever I have, I gained from turning to God. Have I ever felt like giving up? Yes... there have been times when I curled up in a ball, crying, wanting to just die from the pain and disappear forever. But, somewhere deep inside me, I knew that God was there for me. I knew that He loved me. And I knew that, no matter what happened to me, if I followed Him, everything would work out for the best. I look at my life and I believe the greatest blessing God gives me is the lens through which I see life. And I guess that's the answer - by the grace of God. Why me? Why do I understand the gospel and the next guy over struggles to see a purpose in life? I don't know exactly why, but I know that God is in charge. And that He will never give up on us.


I'm dying to know how old you are.
If I told you my age, I might alienate readers for being too old or too young. I usually don't want to know how old people are - it makes it way too easy to pass judgment on them. And sharing my age would take a shot at my anonymity.


Does your family know? If they do, do you talk openly like you do on this blog? If they don’t, is it easier to deal with if no one knows? Do close friends know?
No, my family doesn't know. I wrote a post on that once. And yes, it is much easier to deal with alone (at  least in my case). I can make my own goals, turn to God for my support, and grow in my own way. I'm not sure that my family could understand, and they already love and support me. In the best case scenario, nothing would change. Worst case, someone loses his or her testimony because they don't understand it like I do.


Some of my close friends know, because I've told them. But only because they needed to know that I understood them. It's not a burden I would give to someone else just because I needed a shoulder to cry on. I used to wish that were possible, but now I look to God for all of my support... and He's enough and to spare... and then I find others to lift along the way.

Sunday, October 24

Hard work

There is something incredibly appealing about hard work. The kind that makes me sweat and my muscles burn and my breath run shallow. And it's more than just endorphins or feeling a rush of adrenaline. It's a spiritual feeling that I've done something well.

This week definitely entailed hard work. I have blisters on my hands and my body is incredibly sore. I sleep like a rock. And yet, at the same time, I feel more enabled than anything. Right now, I feel like I could do anything. Maybe that's the power of hard work - it empowers me to do and accomplish more in my life.

Hard work isn't restricted to digging postholes or laying pipe, though... everything in life is symbolic. And if I look at the sheer effort required in physical labor, it makes me suddenly cognizant of the amount of effort that it could take... or should take to develop a personal relationship with God, or to receive answers to prayers, or to accurately speak or write with the Spirit. If it will take a long time and a lot of effort to develop that relationship, am I willing to make the spiritual effort?

This afternoon I was sitting in Sacrament meeting, thinking about my life. Wondering about how I could improve and what I need to do better. Each Sunday, as the Sacrament is passed, I bow my head and pray for each of you... and for the men and women in the world who desperately need the gospel and don't know how or where to find it. The people who are in excruciating pain inside... and have no one in the world to heal their wounds. For the men and women who live, like I once did, wondering how their own trials and struggles fit into the Plan that God has for them. Today I got an answer. I felt an incredible wave of love wash over me, and heard the Spirit speak to me, simultaneously hearing the words that were given to Enos and Moroni in their similar prayers:

"I will bless them. I will not leave them alone... because they are mine. I will protect them and teach them as I have taught you... because I love them as I love you... and because they are mine."

With tears streaming down my face, I realized that, at least in part, I am coming closer to the Lord. I'm finally turning to Him for guidance and trying, truly to accomplish His will. And I've finally laid everything before Him - my sins, my fears, my pride (still working on it), and my inhibitions. The first speaker got up and my conversation with the Lord continued:

"Welcome back, Mormon Guy. You're finally fully on the path - both feet moving forward."
"Yeah. I've taught people about this feeling for years. But how many years did it take me to reach this understanding? I'm just getting there now? To be able to say that I honestly and truly follow God and that He is guiding my course? So many years... and yet, somehow, He was always there, waiting for me."
"I am always waiting. My hand is always outstretched."

I know that God lives. That He sent His Son to live, die, and live again for me. That the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true Church of Christ here on the earth today... and that if I am willing to put in the effort, I can make it in this life. It will be hard work. It will be the hardest thing I will ever do - much harder than any other alternative. And it will take my entire life. But He is always waiting. And I will be happy, successful, and receive all the blessings that God has promised me... if I choose to receive them... by my actions, hard work, and my faith.

Friday, October 22

Another (not-so-hidden) Weakness

I'm definitely not perfect. Far, far, far from it. All of you can probably tell. And any of you who may meet me in real life will know it for sure. But I'm trying. And hopefully I'm getting better.

Same-sex attraction isn't the only major issue that I battle on a daily basis. In fact, for most of the day in most of my life it doesn't even occur to me. It doesn't put stumbling blocks in my ability to create meaningful relationships with acquaintances or friends and it doesn't color how other people think of me. And, in most cases, it (along with everything else that came with it) helps when I try to empathize with others. When I look at my daily struggle, in most instances, being attracted to guys definitely takes a sideline role to other, more pressing factors.

The biggest weakness I have was elaborated by President Uchtdorf in General Conference - on his recap of the famous talk, "Beware of Pride." ...and it's something that I'm working on. I loved his talk, and wrote dozens of things that I need to implement in my life. But it's a constant struggle... and I often wonder if I am totally losing the battle.

Every day I feel like I've been overly blessed. I look at the perspective that the gospel has given me, my family, friends, and opportunities in life, and I think that life is wonderful. But alone, of myself... without God to stand by me? I would be nothing. Really. All my blessings come from God. He is the One who saves me and lifts me up. And the message I share here isn't really mine, but His. Sometimes I'm not very good at communicating that. I'm still learning how to share it in a way that everyone else can understand.

The reason why I choose this subject is because every recent negative comment has been based on the commenter feeling that something in my blog was arrogant or proud. Mentioning that my companions and I were successful in the mission. Talking about my ability to overcome weaknesses. Inviting people to share their own success stories.

One commenter was right when he mentioned that, of all the comments, the negative ones stick most. I don't think that is a bad thing - negative comments always contain something worthwhile. They're always sincere, and heartfelt from people who read a post and truly felt the way they did... and reading them and praying for guidance helps me to see the areas where I can improve.

So I'd like to apologize. When I say anything at all that seems proud or arrogant or whatever, please tell me. I'll probably change it, and your comments will help me be a better person. I'm sorry for anything I've written that displays any of those feelings. And for those of you I've turned away, I hope that I can regain your trust.

Wednesday, October 20

When Days Are Rough

Usually I'm incredibly optimistic. On most days people around me - family, friends, and even total strangers - can tell that I'm in love with life. But there is opposition in all things... and today was definitely proof of that.

It started out with major mistakes I made on projects over the last few days and the repercussions those mistakes are having on my life. It was amplified during multiple discussions throughout the day... which each brought up the question as to whether my current pathway is really the right fit for me and everyone else involved. Other people in my life decided that today was a good day to list all the things they didn't like about me, some suggesting (all-too-simplistic) methods to overcome massive obstacles in my life. And then I logged on here and found a comment from a guy who lives with SSA that read:

You are a fraud. I will not waste one more moment of my time reading anything you write.

I think I want to put my head in a paper bag and go to sleep.

I don't have any idea what tomorrow will bring in my life. Probably more frustration, anxiety, and pain. But, as much as I'd like to wallow in self-pity, there's something inside me that is, right now as I write this, trying to help me see a bigger perspective. Isn't this what life is all about? The Lord puts me in difficult circumstances so that I can learn and grow and someday rise above the things that currently pull me down. He gives me the strength and perspective to live through it one day at a time. Someday, I'll look back on the frustration I live with right now and think, "Mormon Guy, wasn't that an amazing learning experience? Would you trade the things you learned in life for anything in the world?"

Looking back right now... on the things that I've learned from the trials of yesterday and years past... I wouldn't trade the lessons I've learned for anything in the world. Somehow, God knew me well enough to create a life uniquely for me. From the talents He gave me to the trials I face, everything is custom to me. He knew what experiences I needed to have the chance to grow and develop into the man He sees in me.

I guess, from that perspective then, today wasn't such an awful day after all. Yeah, a few minutes ago I felt terrible. But while sitting here I've felt the simple truth that God loves me. I'm going in the right direction. The Lord is involved in every intricate aspect of my life. He wants me to talk with Him - to learn from Him - and to keep moving forward. ...and that's enough. When days are rough and the future is uncertain, I can stick my head in a bag or press forward. It's my choice. I don't know if tomorrow will be better, but no matter what happens, I am still in control of my destiny. The future is as bright as my faith.

Tuesday, October 19

I Hope They Call Me On A(nother) Mission

I’d go in a heartbeat.

I thought I’d reply to two suggestions at once - (1) tell about my own mission, (2) should guys who are attracted to other guys serve a full-time mission?

My mission was amazing. I served in the best mission in the world. Really. And of my slew of companions, some continue to be friends to this day. Many of my areas were renowned for their people – and notorious for a lack of the traditional markers of ‘success’… but I was definitely an outlier in that respect. With the Lord, my companions and I found people who wanted to learn about the gospel and make covenants everywhere we went.

Serving a full-time mission allowed me to practice gospel habits and skills in a structured environment. It’s like an apprenticeship program for becoming a teacher in the Church and a friend to neighbors and acquaintances. Everything I practiced in the mission field I can continue to use today. Following a schedule. Studying the gospel with people in mind. Praying for others, by name. Praying for miracles and having the faith to act on their happening. Talking with everyone and helping them become better people. Serving. Communicating with family and friends regularly. Keeping a journal. Helping people apply the gospel in their lives to face trials and temptations. Listening to the Spirit. Learning to love others, including companions, no matter what choices they make – seeing others as sons and daughters of God.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I think that serving a mission is the best thing any worthy, able young man can do. And that he should do it. The Church agrees. Specifically on serving missions, you can find this statement:

“…merely having inclinations does not disqualify one for any aspect of Church participation or membership… In this life, such things as service in the Church, including missionary service, all of this is available to anyone who is true to covenants and commandments” (http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/official-statement/same-gender-attraction).

I know, for a fact, that dozens of young men come into the MTC wondering if their inclinations bar them from the blessing of serving a mission. Others never submit their papers and feel the same burden.

Do we bar missionaries who suffered child abuse from serving? How about those who have lost family members? Do we ask those who were converts to the Church and have amazing stories of success to stay at home?

The greatest missionaries in the Church are those who understand the power of the Atonement in their lives, who have experienced the healing and comfort that comes from having a personal relationship with God, who have seen the blessings of living righteously in the face of temptation and trial. If you are worthy and able, serve a mission.

The mission didn’t make my trials disappear. But the habits I developed brought me closer to God and gave me strength to face the trials that came after my mission and the years since… and in the years since I’ve had hundreds of missionary experiences that rival and surpass the experiences I had on my mission. 

I was never released from the calling of being an elder in the Church... only reassigned to serve in a new capacity. And as a member, my ability to share the gospel only increases with my understanding and ability. The title of this post is “I Hope They Call Me On A(nother) Mission.” And I guess, when I look at the people I can serve in the world, He already has.

Monday, October 18

...and not to be acted upon.

I got this comment last night and it has been making me think. I thought that I would just share my thoughts, inline.


Hey. I have been reading your posts and I thought you could help me with problems I am having. I hope you read all of this, I have tried to put my heart and soul into it. Also, if anything here is offensive to you, i am not deliberately trying to do so.

I grew up in a strong and stable Mormon family. All my life I have had anxiety issues and depression issues. I realized early on that I was attracted to guys. I always was taught that it was wrong and evil, so I denied it and covered it up. my teenage years were full of depression, I didnt like myself, i thought that God didnt like me either. I still dont know if he does.


I spent a long time wondering about that. It seemed like a dichotomy - if God really loved me, why would He curse me? Had I done something horribly wrong to merit suffering and feeling so incredibly alone? I don't know all the answers, but I do know one thing: no matter who you are or what has happened in your life, God loves you.

In my darkest moments, when im curled up in the shower hyperventilating (i have severe panic attacks) i cant say that i felt the holy ghost comforting me. I can also relate to your being depressed and wanting to commit suicide, but not going through with it because it was also wrong. 

I have many problems with the church, some of them being about church culture and how everything is run, but i want to get your perspective and ideas on what it means to be gay and mormon, specifically in my situation.


I will be very quick to point out that the Church is different from church culture. The Church is the power of the Priesthood, the blessings of the temple, the scriptures, the gift of the Holy Ghost, personal relationships with God. Church culture is everything else, and is created by the people who profess to be a part of the Church. It even happened in the Book of Mormon. Either way, the Church is not the people, nor the people the Church. 

One of my issues is one of shame. I know that if i went into my sacrament meeting and told everyone there that i was attracted to other guys, i would be whispered about in the halls of the meeting house and that i would be called into the bishops office. I would probably also hear from my parents (i am away at an lds school) resulting in long arguments and probably a disowning. 


Dont you think that due to the social atmosphere of the church and the taboo that the church sets on "same sex attraction" is what leads to teen suicides?


I was a teenager, too. And while the pain of isolation, loneliness, and feeling worthless and taboo can all be factors, we can only judge our personal actions - not the intents or actions of others. I can only tell my own experience. When I struggled most, it wasn't because I felt unloved. Love is preached from the pulpit every day in the Church. The reason I struggled was because I hadn't yet learned to turn to God for my support... and because I hadn't found that support and understanding anywhere else. If someone had written a blog like this and I had read it, it may have changed my life. Hence why I'm writing now. But I didn't take my life as a teen... and it was the doctrines of the Church and the Plan of Salvation that kept me safe. Those same doctrines enabled me to counsel a dozen friends who had decided to end their lives... and, thankfully, help them come closer to Christ and regain a desire to live.


Dont you think that church members should show more respect and love to others, in following with jesus' teachings?


Of course I do. So do the Brethren. And every single priesthood leader or parent in the Church. Anyone who claims that imperfect Saints should be complacent, saying, "All is well in Zion, yea, Zion prospereth..." can read the Book of Mormon for perspective on that part of the pride cycle. And so we should do that. At the same time, our actions shouldn't be based on the choices of others. If everyone in the Church went apostate, should that influence my testimony or my actions? What if people in the Church go apostate... and stay inside the Church? What if they make mistakes or grievous errors or purposeful sins? Ultimately, my choices and my actions and my destiny is my own... not someone else's to decide.

I know that the common excuse is that "the church is perfect, but the members arent" but i think by now that is kind of a cop-out. I think that if more of the church was geared to teach kindness and love and respect that there would be more understanding and dialogue on these issues, instead of resulting in people becoming inactive or running away or killing one's self.


The focus on repenting is not "them." It is me. Talking about others and how they should improve doesn't ever actually improve the situation. Yes, the world is full of sinners. But I can't repent for someone else or change his heart. I can only change my own heart, and reach out to touch the people within my circle of influence. If I am more willing to be kind, show love, and respect, then I can make a difference, and inspire others to make a difference... and from that, change the world. The scriptures talk about acting, and not being acted upon. As much effort and pain and whatever else it requires, I take responsibility for my life, my actions, and my destiny. 

I know that in my case, whenever confronted with questions about why i hang out with girls a lot but never date any of them or why i would rather watch "what not to wear", i would always make up excuses. I would always avoid and kick up dust to end the conversation asap. I wish that i could tell them, but i know that if i do that they will never look at me the same again. i know that my mother takes a very strong stance on homosexuality (a very negative stance) and i have had a friend kicked out of her house because she told her parents. 

Another issue i have is that many members think that they have a monopoly on goodness. I hate how when members that i know express disgust, hatred, pity or have a feeling of superiority when they see people of other cultures or of different faiths. Shouldnt we be a self actualized church? shouldnt we, in about 180 years of "progress" have learned that hate and fear and intolerance are unacceptable? 


I used to love people less because they didn't love people as much or as freely as I did. Then I realized how incredibly ironic my feelings were. I was judging the people around me because they were judging others, and refusing to tolerate them because they were intolerant. That sounds like circular logic. I looked inside myself and realized that I, like they, needed to simply love people - even the people who didn't love me or tolerate me and who judged me without context - and help them to make good decisions. But, no matter what choices others eventually made, I still needed to love them. The Church is made of millions of people who are constantly changing. While the Church has lived 180 years, none of its members has, and so every generation has to learn the same principles. The best way to teach them... is to be an example... to love them and make a difference one person at a time. 

In the early years of the church we were on the receiving end of hate and fear and intolerance. Shoulnt we have learned from the past by now? my mother always tells me that my ancestors were lynched and murdered for their beliefs, and now we are doing the same to others. 

it brings me to tears thinking about all the other people that have gone through what you and i have gone through. i wish that every time i was in the pit of despair (so to speak) that i could feel the spirit comforting me. i wish that living on my parents borrowed light had ignited a fire in me. i wish that i could share my situation with more people, without judgement and looks of disgust. 

I cant see the way forward. I dont know what i want. I dont know what i should do.

Please help

Sincerely,
lost 


The fire is still within you, brother. It's within each of us. You light the fire by doing the simple things. Reading the scriptures. Praying to God each day. Keeping the commandments. Showing love to others. And sharing the light that you've been given.


You've already begun sharing your story with the world. But your story doesn't have to ostracize you. It's the testimony that you share in Sacrament meeting, telling about your personal relationship with God. It's doing your home teaching and helping someone feel the power of the Spirit. And, as time goes on, the Lord will enable you to touch the lives of the people who need you, sometimes without your even knowing.


The way that I moved forward was by turning to God. I wish I could answer all your questions, solve all your problems, and fight all your fears, brother. But there is One who can, and who is there to help you live each passing day, no matter what the people around you do or say. Know that I am praying for you.


Mormon Guy

Saturday, October 16

Living on Borrowed Light

I love understanding the world around me and applying knowledge to life. I’ve studied psychology, philosophy, human biology, natural sciences, history, languages, and everything else that lends itself to a humanities background. Most of the time, the truth I learn in the secular sphere interfaces pretty well with what the gospel teaches. Sometimes, though, popular theories and social pressures seem to contradict what I know to be true… or at least what I thought was true. It’s moments like these – breaking down the mental models and shattering the knowledge schemas – that enable me to better understand who I am, where my loyalty lies, and when faced with important truths from differing sources, what I really, really, choose to believe.

I think the first time it happened was when I learned that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. I couldn’t have been very old, but I still knew that the scriptures taught that, until after the Fall, there was no death or imperfection on the Earth. The Earth fell for the sake of Adam – to become a place where he could grow and learn – so where did dinosaurs fit in? The thought of Adam and Eve living millions of years ago, with dinosaurs, seemed a bit absurd. I wondered what the explanation was for the discord in logic.

After reading whatever was written on the subject, and thinking that most of the theories or conjecture from both sides was also a bit absurd, I made the decision that it didn’t really matter to me. It still doesn’t. Where dinosaurs fit in doesn’t affect how I live my life each day or the choices I make, so I can wait to sort out the pieces there.

But there are some things that do matter… topics that are a part of me and change my entire outlook on life. Same-sex attraction, and how it plays a role in my life and God’s plan for me, is one of those.

Helaman 3:33-35:
“And in the fifty and first year of the reign of the judges there was peace also, save it were the pride which began to enter into the church—not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God
And they were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren. Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction.
Nevertheless they [the faithful] did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God” (emphasis added).

There are people on both sides of the discussion who could definitely show more love. But, regardless of outside influences, as a member of the Church who lives with same-sex attraction I have to choose between listening to my heart… and listening to my soul. Some psychological authorities say that happiness only comes through “following who you are,” “accepting yourself,” and “not living a lie.” Other voices in the community say that someday the Church will change its doctrines. With so many clamoring for attention, and with an issue so close to heart, simply relying on the words, or even faith, of others doesn’t work. I have to turn to God and understand it for myself.

I’ve prayed to know the truth, and God heard and answered my prayer. And, from that prayer, I can bear testimony that God lives and that He loves us. Because He loves us, He gives us commandments to help us to be happy. As I found myself with my back against the wall, I had two choices: follow the world, or turn to God, put my faith in Him, and yield my heart to His teachings. In a time like this, I can’t live on borrowed light. No one can.

Friday, October 15

Likening the Teachings of the Prophets... Unto Me

I’ve been looking at my life recently, wondering how I could come closer to Christ. Now don’t get me wrong. I love my relationship with God. But part of that relationship is always trying to get better – never being willing to be complacent about anything. (Wow. I feel another blog post coming. Complacency…)

But back to the subject. My days are pretty normal. I wake up, maybe post comments here, work out, leave for the day, then come back between 4 – 5:30 to post some more comments, write a blog entry, maybe go on a date, read my scriptures, talk with family, do something in the evening, post the last set of comments and maybe write some replies, and go to sleep. Not a very majestic lifestyle.

It’s not that I want to do more – I mean, my life is just as busy as everyone else’s. I just want to find ways to do better things in life. For example – I really want to listen to all of General Conference a few more times. I watched President Packer’s talk again a few nights ago with a friend who hadn’t seen it, and I was amazed at how many things I had missed the first dozen times I watched, read, and listened to it. His message was truly inspired, full of hope and faith, and easily related to tons of trials in life. But I just haven’t made the time yet. I haven’t gotten around to putting it on something to take with me to the gym. And I don’t keep a set of headphones that I could use throughout the day to listen.

So I’ve decided. If I want to be able to liken the teachings of the prophets to my life, I need to have them on my mind and in my ears. It’s like the commitment to read the scriptures every day, without fail. I’ll just make the effort and the Lord will help me to find a way to keep it. I’ll load General Conference on to everything I have and take it with me throughout the day to listen whenever I have down time.

I have so many resources to turn to in life. So many things that the Lord has given me to help me grow and become a better person. So many sources of inspiration. I’m sure I can trade a few minutes of web-surfing or idle banter each day to listen to a prophet. When I do, I know the Lord will help me to find greater faith and understanding… by likening his words unto me.

Thursday, October 14

Finding the One

“If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray” (Matthew 18:12-13).

Over the last few days I’ve prayed about the topics I should address here. This blog, which was once a quiet place where each comment could expect a personal reply, has become a source of knowledge for a far broader audience than I ever imagined. The change is welcome, as my ability to make a difference in the world has grown… but I wonder. How can I meet the needs of a changing audience and also ensure that (Gay) Mormon Guy remains what it was intended to be – a haven where men and women who share my story can feel the Spirit and hope in their hearts?

There are hundreds of comments on my blog right now and a hundred more that need to be moderated or edited and reposted. Most of them are from good people who want to live better lives and understand their fellow men. And then, hidden amid the showers of praise, are the stories of men and women who have felt the Spirit here, changed, and now strive to live according to the principles they know to be true. The man who was struggling with same-sex attraction and, in his moment of need, found an ad posted in the personals section of Craigslist. The woman who had stopped attending church and was going to remove her name from the records. The man who was going to commit suicide. The wife who read each post, then learned the next day that her husband lived with same-sex attraction. These are the people for whom I write… the men and women who need the message most.

The Good Shepherd spent His time ministering to the people around Him. I can post a message of faith each day, but there are billions of people in the world who need the gospel. Even when I spend hours searching for people who need this message, my efforts are a drop in the bucket.

And so I’m asking for your help. Will you take the time, each time you read here, to share your testimony with someone who might need your help? To seek out someone who is looking for the truth? To share the light and knowledge that the gospel has brought into your life? As you read, ask the Lord for help in identifying people who are searching for light, and then follow the promptings that the Spirit gives.

I guess another reason why I am asking is because sharing my own testimony is the greatest thing I’ve ever done to overcome my trials in life. I know that, if I am struggling in life, sharing the gospel will help me no matter what trials I face. When I share the truth, the Lord blesses me. I can touch a brother’s life and help him come closer to Christ. I can find the one and rejoice with him. And together, we will walk the path to return to the fold.

Wednesday, October 13

The Manner of Happiness


Years ago, when I struggled with depression, I wondered if I would ever be happy. If I would ever feel content or at peace with my decisions and choices in life. I’ve always had everything the world could ever want – influence, intelligence, talent, money, honor, and fun – and yet none of those, when weighed in the balance, were worth anything at all.

And then I realized that I was looking in the wrong place.

In 2 Nephi 5:27, Nephi summarizes ten years of life, including wars with his brothers, thus:

“And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness.”

In Alma 50:23, in the midst of more wars between Nephites and Lamanites, there is a similar statement:

But behold there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of Moroni.”

And finally, in 4 Nephi 1:16, after the people lost everything they had ever known:

“…surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.”

The people in these scriptures had nothing. Some had lost their families, others their friends; most lived in abject poverty. They had seen gruesome wars that changed their lives forever. And yet, somehow, they had unlocked the greatest treasure of eternity. They had found true happiness.

When I was struggling to see the good things in life, I often listed the good things that God had done for me. I counted my blessings, outlined the talents and gifts He had given me, and named the people who loved me and supported me. I tried to see difficult things in life with an optimistic spin.

But, as time has progressed, I’ve realized that true happiness in life doesn’t come from blessings, talents, gifts, or even people. I could have all those things and feel awful. True happiness is linked to my knowledge of God and my actions in life.

“And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it” (Mosiah 2:41).

Today, my life is amazing. I’ve learned the truth about happiness – that it’s based on making good decisions in life. Today I’m truly, sincerely, and completely happy.

My life is not amazing due to the things I am given by circumstance or others. Life is amazing because of what I do with what I get. Because of how I think and see the world. Because of the changes I have made. Because of who I am.

Tuesday, October 12

How Can I Help My Family and Friends?


As I go through each day, I pass people on the street. I see them all around me. People. Brothers and sisters. I didn’t always think about people. But as I have seen the Atonement take effect in my own life, I’ve come to realize the truth in an insight given by the prophet Joseph Smith:

“A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race” (History of the Church, 4:227).

Many people have asked me, “How can I support a friend or loved one who struggles with same-sex attraction?” In His last quiet conversation with Peter, Christ gave the formula that I now try to follow in my life:

“When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32).

The first piece is Preparation. Each day, I pray for help so that I can be a better person. So that I can be converted, have the Spirit with, me and make a difference wherever I go. I read the scriptures every day without fail. And I ask for the opportunity to help others, and the courage to act on those opportunities. When I am prepared, the Lord is able to inspire me to know what to do and what to say (and how to say it)… and I am more in tune with the Spirit so that I can see the needs of others.

The next piece is Action. When the opportunity comes to do something good, I do it. Whether or not the Spirit inspires me. In anything. The Lord intends that I become more like Him – and so the question I ask myself is not “is this prompting to do good from God?” – it is “is this prompting to do good of God?” Whether or not it is from God doesn’t really matter (see D&C 58:27, Moroni 7:16).

I don’t have a lot of time, so I choose actions that will affect the people around me. I could write a personal letter to the prophet, telling him that I support the things he says… but that doesn’t make the world a better place. Instead, I could send a letter to a high school teacher thanking her for her example. Or call a distant relative and just talk. Or simply spend more time with my family and friends. Or share an inspiring message with family and friends. I choose actions that will bless the lives of others, and usually that means that I reach out to people. To me, people are more important than projects or programs. Always.

The third piece is Love. The motivation for everything I do should be love. Sometimes it’s because I’m tired, or hungry, or whatever else. But, at the heart of helping others, is love. Using that love to shape my words and actions enables me to bring the Spirit into difficult conversations… and to love people unconditionally. My goal is to love all men, no matter what choices they make.

The last piece is Sharing the gospel. True love inspires me to help others find happiness. I have seen so many blessings from the light of the gospel… and so I share my testimony and reach out to the world. It takes courage to share the gospel, especially when there is a chance it could be rejected or there's a lot of pain involved, but I know that following its light will bring blessings and happiness. Whatever it costs, it’s worth it. There are lots of ways to share. Sometimes I blog. Sometimes I just talk with a friend, face-to-face. And sometimes I post on Facebook, Twitter, and every other social network known to man.

Together, the pieces of supporting a friend or loved one who is struggling make the word PALS... Because the way that I support someone who is struggling... is just to be a friend. If I am true to my principles, do good for others, love others unconditionally, and share the good news of the gospel, I can help my family, friends, and strangers… no matter what their trials in life.