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.
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.