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.

Sunday, January 29

Something We All Can Do

I've been thinking a lot lately about what I would change in the world. Some things are simple - systems and processes and organizations that don't seem to make any sense in my mind. But others are far too complex to even hope that I could make a difference on my own. A recurring theme is wanting to help people who have the light of the gospel and turn away because their lives are too hard, too painful, too anything... and trying to determine what I can do, and what the world could do, to help them find faith.

If I could write a guidebook for all the members of the Church, or everyone in the world, it would encourage men and women to love one another - to find ways to get to know the hearts of others and to listen to them with open hearts and open ears. It would tell men to pray for others, to talk with them, to offer to be a major part of their lives whether or not something seems wrong. To withhold judgment and honestly care about people, and to care about them regardless of what happens in the end. It would push men to find the good in others and focus on it, instead of boxing them into types or labels or mass prejudices. If it took into account men who struggle with same-sex attraction as well, it would focus on the blessings of living the gospel, and the blessings of keeping the commandments (not simply telling them to get married... or even that their problems would be simply fixed) in the here and now.

But there are so many people in the world... and each of our experiences is so different and dynamic. I could never write a book or manual that would accurately touch on every potential aspect of life over the lives of 100 billion people. And so, anything I wrote would be filled with a thousand things that apply equally to everyone... and yet also have the strength to change the lives of individuals, the power to bring a man from sorrow to joy, from despair to hope, from fear to faith.

And while I could write something that maybe would make a difference in my life, or in the lives of a few people in humanity, I could never really hope to write anything that would either be truly applicable, useful, and personal to individuals in humanity and also make it universally applicable to generations and cultures over the expanse of time. Only someone who truly understands the principles of truth that underlie eternity itself, and can see the complex interaction of those principles in the lives of every person to ever live could do such a thing, could perform such a task.

And that's why God wrote the scriptures.
The scriptures hold the answers to all of life's questions. They reveal the truth of eternities as applied to my life and every life. They open the door to revelation and tune my heart and soul to listen to God Himself... and if I follow all His teachings and realize His plan, I find happiness, peace, hope, and joy, no matter who I am or what trials I face.

...and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Tuesday, January 17

The Juxtaposition of Hope and Reality

The last few months have made me wonder about my life, what really happens, and where I'm going. Part of the time I find myself inspired and lifted by hope - convinced that everything will work out in the near future and optimistic through the rough points of my experience. Other days, I find that optimism wanting, and, when people ask how I'm doing or I take a break from the stress of everyday, I honestly look at my life and realize that it is not ideal. Nowhere near ideal. I have so many unsolved problems that I wonder if I will ever make enough headway to be a profitable servant in the Lord's kingdom, and at least a hundred reasons for why I haven't found the right girl become self-apparent.

I think this juxtaposition - the optimism and forward-acting nature of hope and faith, versus the fatalism and frustration of my interpretation of reality - is a big source of my difficulties in life. If I were blissfully unaware of the happiness that family life and better relationships entail, perhaps I wouldn't think about my own state as much. But at the same time, perhaps that same bliss would deaden the sense of urgency to move closer to Christ and become a better person with each passing day. Hence the positive and negative... and the power of having both.

Looking at my own life, much of the good I have accomplished has been due to the balancing of these two forces, and ultimately learning to submit to faith. My commitment to help others came out of it, as did many of the habits I learned as a missionary and serving in the Church. So did my love of people, writing this blog, and a hundred other things in my life - all held in place because of two very real truths - through living the gospel I can find peace and hope, and my life is sometimes not peaceful or hopeful. Which means that with each passing day, I strive to find ways to better live by the principles that I believe.

This trial - life - seems so incredibly perfect sometimes. Hard enough to make you cry and want to give up, yet just bearable enough to allow you the strength to turn to God, find faith, and thrive. If I had designed my life, I don't think I would have chosen the facets I've seen in a thousand years... and yet the task at hand matches me so perfectly. Am I willin to put everything - everything on the altar of sacrifice? Am I willing to live my life according to the tenets that God has revealed, even when they seem disordinately different from my own experience? And can I develop the faith I need to live, thrive, and find happiness in a dichotomous environment? I guess time, and the decisions I make, will tell whether my hopes influence and guide my reality, or the other way around.

Sunday, January 8

CES Fireside Tonight - 6:00 MST - Elder Jensen

There's a CES fireside tonight; Elder Jay E Jensen will be speaking at 6:00 MST to young adults all over the world. You can watch the fireside live at or get the live audio feed at

I'll probably be tweeting the fireside live. You can follow me on Twitter - @gaymormonguy - and you'll hear from me tonight!

Wednesday, January 4

Even though it be a cross that raiseth me

I was just playing the piano and listening to the words of hymns in my mind, and the last one I played was "Nearer, My God, to Thee." For a long time I've known that all of the things the Lord gave me - same-sex attraction included - were gifts to help me somehow return to Him. But the music of this hymn, seems to break through the simple words I've used before and speak volumes to my heart.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E'en though it be a cross that raiseth me.

Still all my song shall be nearer my, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone,
Yet in my dreams I'd be nearer, my God to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

There let the way appear, steps unto heav'n;
All that Thou sendest me, in mercy giv'n;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Then with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I'll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

The Lord knows my heart, and He knows me as His son. He loves me, and because He does, He gives me everything I need to be happy and to come closer - nearer - to Him. The cross that lifts me is my own. I have been given trials and tribulations - steps unto Heaven, given by God through His mercy and love - intended specifically for me... and with the one express purpose of lifting me from the mundane world of mortality and raising me up to happiness, joy, love, and eternal life. With that in mind, I can look at my life, my circumstances, and who I am inside... and turn to follow God and become nearer to Him. And as I do, everything will work out.

Or if on bended wing, cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upwards I fly,
Still all my songs shall be nearer, my God, to Thee.
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Tuesday, January 3


I find that holidays seem to bring out the best and worst in me. The best, as I have the opportunity to spend a few days away from the stress of life - trying to relax. The worst, as I find myself brooding over the events in my life and wondering exactly which way I'm supposed to go.

This holiday season was no different.

I sat down to try to make goals for my life, and realized that, in many cases, I don't really even have a direction that I'm traveling. I'm just living each day as it comes. And without a direction, it's useless to create a goal to get there.

Living each day in the moment has some major benefits. I don't have to worry about what will happen tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. Keeping the commandments is far easier when you only look forward to the end of the day, and then let the next day fend for itself. But there are major drawbacks as well. It's hard to tell exactly what I've accomplished, how I've made a difference in the world (if any), and how I am changing in my life. Am I really any better than I was two months ago? Or a year ago? If so, how? Maybe I'm just really bad at remembering the things I write and the concepts they entail in my life, but I find myself wondering about if I'm even moving forward at all - and where forward is, if I'm moving there. And that's where I am today. Not really sure which direction I'm supposed to be going, in any of the facets of my life, and trying to stay afloat and on top of the commitments I've already made.

Somedays I feel like I am a living teeter-totter. Going back and forth and back and forth just because - with nothing really stable to hold on to. The gospel is stable, and following it's principles will always bring peace, but how those principles apply and what they mean to me seem to change with each passing day.

Wow. This post doesn't make a lot of sense. But, then again, neither does life sometimes. And there's the take-away: if I live my life the best I can, regardless of how much sense it does or doesn't make to me or others, the Lord will make it all work out in the end. All things will be for my good, if I serve God and keep His commandments. So that's the only direction that really matters. Stay close to God, come unto Him, and it will all work out. Nice.