Monday, January 30

Hidden Struggles

Yesterday in one of the classroom discussions at Church the conversation turned, as it often does, to marriage. I'm sure that other wards can't talk about it as much as we do. Maybe. Some people hate it. I love it. I mean, if I'm going to be the world's best husband and dad some day, I'm definitely need a ton of preparation. I welcome all the help I can get. Among the topics that came out in the swirling discussion were pornography, honesty, fidelity after marriage, being open with others, dating (our dating stats are probably about as good as our hometeaching stats - dismal), and how to change our lives if/when we find ourselves in the pit of despair due to our own sins. I listened for a reference to homosexuality, and it came up for a second as the teacher shared a story from a friend, but then it disappeared in the discussion that followed. The teacher definitely didn't live with same-sex attraction, and I doubt that he realized that any of us did either.

That thought made me stop and ponder for a moment. If my trials aren't readily apparent to anyone else... then the same is probably true in the cases of others. I found myself looking around the room, realizing that here, in the boundaries of my ward, there are people with countless hidden struggles - pornography, depression, disability, illness & pain, and everything else under the sun. I'm pretty sure there are other men and women who live with same-sex attraction. They sit next to me in Sunday School, speak in my Sacrament meeting, and work with me on projects and activities... and I have no idea about the troubles they face.

What would I say if everyone in the classroom lived with same-sex attraction? How about if they struggled with pornography or fought depression on a daily basis? I'm definitely not a callous person, but sometimes I'm exhausted from life and don't take the time to ask people about their lives and listen to their responses (and give them plenty of time to respond through small talk), even though I know I should. I ask, and of nothing seems wrong then I respond in kind and move on - unaware of the trials hidden beneath the surface and not developing a relationship of trust deep enough to help them come to light.

I need to get better at that. I need to remember that everyone was sent here to Earth and given trials beyond their ability to bear alone. Everyone has major problems. Maybe they're not visible on the outside, but they're there... and as I do my part to help people without seeing their struggles, I am doing my part to help my brothers and sisters - including those who live next to me with same-sex attraction. I need to get better at a lot of other things too. I'm way too un-excitable in my life. I don't smile or laugh enough. I probably over think everything that happens in life, and I'm really bad at telling people how much I care about them. I'm way judgmental of my own actions and mistakes, and hold myself to a high standard, and I think that sometimes people assume I feel the same way about their flaws. I'm bad at giving constructive feedback and I don't give enough compliments or praise considering the caliber of people with whom I associate. And beyond that I'm still a sinner.

But that's all I really can do. Put people's names on the temple prayer roll, pray for friends and strangers by name and by trial, be kind and outgoing and understanding and a good example and try to befriend others notwithstanding my weaknesses and frustrations in life. And, in the end, I need to realize that this is not my work. I'm not a superhero who is single-handedly saving the world, or even saving one person. I'm a servant, a worker, under the Master of all mankind - the One who will save us and redeem all of humanity. I don't need to save the world - because He already has, and does, as He answers prayers and heals hearts through the millions of people who open their lives to following the counsel of the Holy Ghost. This was His work long before it was my work, and He cares about His children far more than I can. He will move Heaven and Earth to ensure that each and every man and woman has the best possible chance to grow and return to Him. I just need to do my part - be willing to follow God and use my own talents, trials, time, and faith to build the kingdom one by one... and He, whether personally or through others, will always take care of the rest.


  1. A couple weeks ago in Relief Society, we read this quote out of the George Albert Smith book, and it just came to me as I was reading your blog: "We look upon all men as our brothers, all women as our sisters; we look upon the face of every human being that is in the world as a child of our Father, and believe that as each is in the image of the Father, so also each possesses a spark of divinity that if developed will prepare us to return to His presence" (13). I think this is true, and if you keep this in mind, that each man is our brother and each woman our sister, then how can you not want to reach out and help. If you knew your brothers and sisters were struggling, would you not reach out your hand to help them? :) I think it makes it easier to help people when I think about it that way.

  2. My favorite part of this post is, "I need to remember that everyone was sent here to Earth and given trials beyond their ability to bear alone." I always used to think that we'd only be tested as far as we can bear it- but it's not for us to "bear it" alone! It's beyond that! It's being tested and tried to the point where we realize we MUST turn to Our Lord and Savior, to His strength, if we are to make it. He magnifies our strength with his! He loves us so much, no matter what our trials, and is just waiting for us to open the door and let him in! Thank you for shedding light on this for me today!

  3. When I told my father about my same-sex attraction over Christmas break, this is exactly what he said to me. He said that everyone has trials of substantial caliber that we don't see. That he has had struggles that nobody else knows about, and as a result we all need to treat others more compassionately, and stop thinking that our own trials somehow demand more attention than those of others, or make us more unique than others and thus more noble in our efforts to live righteously.

    By the way, I LOVED what you said here that, "I don't need to save the world - because He already has." We need to remember that we are the servants. He's willing to let us help Him, but He's still the one in charge ultimately. We epitomize pride when we try to take the Savior's job into our own hands.

    My best,


  4. you are so insightful! a few nights ago a patient came through ER radiology and had a family member with her. the visitor stays outside the room for safety from radiation so the door was closed and we could all hear yelling from the patient who was a female young adult. the visitor suddenly spoke to us and informed us that her daughter inside the room has a head injury and inquired if the technologists knew of her condition. as that moment we all realized who the visitor/family member was, a nurse who works in ER but in her street clothes and with her shock of blonde hair down we previously did not recognize her. anyway it made us all think, wow you really don't know other peoples struggles….

  5. Hi,

    I just found your blog and I think you are amazing! I know of several guys that have been members of the church, but when they came out of the closet they "quit" the church. I was always sad that they chose to embrace that side of themselves rather than try to change. I've always wondered if it was possible to be gay and yet, remain faithful. So thank you for your example! This gives me hope that maybe my friends might be able to find their way back to the fold. Thank you. <3

  6. This is an amazing post. I'm SO glad I came across your blog. Please, don't ever stop posting. I love your optimism and amazing testimony. I can't imagine how much you must help others - sharing experiences like this. You're absolutely right about some day being an amazing father and husband. No doubt about that!

  7. I love your post! I definitely understand the feeling of exhaustion that comes with life. Sometimes I'm so caught up in my own deep trials that I fail to realize that other people are probably caught in trials just as deep.

    I seem to remember a General Authority (and I'm probably totally misquoting this) saying that if I treat a person as if they were in great distress, I would probably most likely be right.

    Probably some good advice for me to be applying in my life.

    Thanks again for the reminder!


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