With the New Year comes a new spirit of freedom, self-acceptance, and self-confidence on my part. I have opened up and let the world know of my struggles with same-sex attraction and my intent to live the standards of the Church. As my blog clearly has indicated, my views on same-sex attraction, though loving towards all of God's children, will never compromise His standards. Indeed, I have done my best (though certainly been less than perfect) to communicate that hope shines for anyone in any situation, regardless of whether they are living the way Christ would have them live or not. I must say, however, that my blog may have appeared forceful, critical, or perhaps unkind to some individuals. But I have not ever intended my words to speak anything but charity and truth. From what the apostles and prophets have taught, tolerance is balanced with absolute truth-including that of compassion, acceptance, pure love, humility, and other very important virtues. To my readers, I sincerely hope to improve in these areas and others as I communicate my personal testimony and views on the gospel. Nothing I say has any permanent authority, because I hold no stewardship in that regard. However, I will say that the words of prophets, apostles, and scriptural sources does hold that authority, and I do my best to back up my tolerance with the absolute truth that Saints are required to have when exercising that two-sided virtue (see "Truth and Tolerance by Elder Dallin H. Oaks) of tolerance. Moving on...
Although I have often pondered on the concept of change and being converted to Christ, I have not really examined it much through the lens of SSA until this point in time. As I have thought again and again about why members of the Church with SSA struggle in their definition of who they are and where they are going, the answer astounded me. Indeed, I saw the point so clearly and the problem was resolved so quickly that I frankly almost returned to it in doubt. But I recovered myself soon after gaining that answer, and realized that it is something we have all been taught from a very, very young age. Regardless of the behavior of church leaders, family members, friends, coworkers, or whoever, I would venture to say that a very large percentage of us have been taught from a very moldable age. This principle is the definition of all we have been, are, and can become-our divine identity. Each of us is a literal spirit son or daughter of God, with infinite potential. When you read these words, do they resound with your spirit and stir your righteous desires and aspirations? Or do they simply just sit here as a meaningless combination of letters? I would urge you, if you cannot feel the love of God and your personal worth & potential when you read that statement regarding your divine identity, I have a request for you. Please, go ponder, study, and then pray about whether God loves you, if you are indeed His child, and if that is something meaningful to Him and for you. I know that if you will do this with honest intent and a humble heart, your Savior will wrap you in His arms of love, in a personalized way for you, and He will witness truth to your heart.
My brothers and sisters, though we may struggle with issues of gay marriage, same-sex dating, coming out to people, loneliness, doctrines of the Church concerning marriage, chastity, and family, or anything else-I bear my testimony that I know what defines us is our worth and potential as God's beloved sons and daughters. This trial, though part of us, is NOT us in our entirety! We are amazing!!! And as we move forward, remembering the Lord's words in Ether 12:27, we can be confident that weaknesses can be turned into strengths. In other words, this can become an asset, while yet remaining as a temptation at times. My addictions are healing and turning into spiritual assets as I bring people unto Christ with compassion, acceptance, and charity. And so have my mental illnesses. Any weaknesses or human faltering as a result of the fall of Adam can be turned into a strength through Christ. I have seen so many SSA members utilize this and turn into an instrument of compassion, healing, charity, patience, brotherhood and sisterhood, courage, faith, hope, and so much more.
As Paul stated in Romans 8:15-18, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." The pains of this life are nothing compared to being a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. We have access to His grace through the Atonement, and the best part is, it is based on His love-so it is free! The principles and ordinances of the gospel are there not to save nor exalt us, but rather to change us into a being like Jesus Christ, so that we may be able to joyfully and comfortably dwell within His presence after this life. It is also to bless us with our righteous desires and needs in this life. Rely on the knowledge that you are a son or daughter of the living God, and able to be a joint-heir with Jesus Christ by virtue of that truth. Find strength, comfort, and divine assistance through the Atonement of Christ-it is there by calling upon the Lord in prayer. I know this. I pray we may all know it, in our own way and in our own due time. I love all of you. More posts ahead for this abundant, rich, blessed, and marvelous year! :)