Strength From An Unexpected Place

Some time ago, I was studying the scriptures and came across a passage I must have read a hundred times.  However, this time a meaning from it struck me so meaningfully and deeply that I have not easily forgotten it.  It remains embedded in my spirit, for me to reflect on again and again.  You see, I had been struggling with what I believe many of us struggle with- a desire to attain to some ridiculous standard of perfection or golden excellence.  Due to my human nature, though, I was failing quite miserably and felt quite miserable to be honest.  The clouds were lifting, though, as I considered the following scripture:

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2nd Corinthians 12:9)

I love this scripture because the Lord revealed that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, which means two things.  The first is that when we rely on His grace in humble submission and unwavering faith, His power rests upon us and we are able to endure to the end.  That is the primary message that I would always take away from it when I read it before.  But as I studied the scripture this time around, I realized the second truth.  It teaches that our weaknesses are necessary for Christ to perfectly and beautifully demonstrate how His Atonement strengthens us in our mortal journey here.  In the words of C.S. Lewis, "Man does not exist for his own sake. 'Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.' We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the divine love may rest 'well pleased' "

To me, what this means is that God has given us weaknesses that we may be humble, not necessarily as groveling creatures, but rather as moldable sons and daughters of God who are willing to pass through the refiner's fine to release our impurities.  We are indeed His children, whom He guides, speaks to, expends His power upon, and more.  God is so involved in our daily lives that I think we scarcely realize to what extent He is engaged sometimes.  I am reminded of the scripture that states, "He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him." (2nd Nephi 26:24)  To me, a proper interpretation of this scripture speaks not only of the Atonement, but also that Christ lays down His life on our behalf every single day of His eternal existence.  He does not do anything except it is for our personal benefit, and this because He loves us so much.  God is not satisfied with our current state of things until we have reached our infinite potential, touching the celestial pinnacle of our purpose in eternity.  And here, I believe as my personal opinion that God does not rest even a little with His children until they safely arrive in the Church, and then He is off again, to maintain a defense against the wiles and devices of the devil.

How, then, does this apply to same-sex attraction?  In my opinion, same-sex attraction is a weakness, but not in the sense of a person having something that needs to be fixed.  Rather, it is more like the person who has a strong pull towards food, alcohol, sex, drugs, etc.  They have a weakness for such things, and it something to be coped with- not necessarily fixed.  Anyhow, if we are assuming that SSA is a weakness, then we can also safely assume that Christ has given it to us in order to beautifully demonstrate the strength His Atonement provides.  Also, we can most definitely see that the SSA is there to manifest the glory of His Atoning sacrifice, that others might see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven.  Regarding my personal desires to be "perfect" or strive towards some golden excellence standard, they dissipated as I realized that Christ wanted to show everyone how He was working through me in grace, love, and compassion.  I was a work of art that He wanted everyone to see, and as the Master Artist, He took great care to beautify my heart, soul, and mind in every way possible.  How amazing, I thought, as I studied.

Same-sex attraction might not ever leave in this life, and it might not even fade, but this I do know-that "all things work together for the good of them that love God, who are called according to His purpose."  And from what I can see from my own life, I have been able to inspire, serve, and bless many individuals who cope with SSA while striving to live LDS standards of chastity, dating, friendship, and so on.  It is never easy.  But if I can bring Church members closer to Christ and show them that selfish sexual gratification, disgracing marriage and family, and a lack of virtue are NOT the only way, then I have accomplished my purpose.  Every member of the Church touched by SSA in some way has a purpose, and all things will work together for their good as well.  But they all must remember that weaknesses of any kind in the journey of SSA are gifts from Jesus Christ, to be changed into personal strengths that will, in turn, strengthen others.  We are here to show that it is possible to hold up marriage and family as God intended, to preserve chastity, date wholesomely, form friendships honorably, and live decently as citizens of society.  And I know that my weaknesses are gifts from God, to rely on His Son, Jesus Christ, that His power may rest upon me. I know I can be an influence for virtue and light in this world, and I testify all of you can as well. 

1 comment:

  1. Spencer, among all of your other gifts and talents, you have a gift for writing. Thanks for expressing yourself so well. Thank you for living a worthy life and embracing who you are. May our loving Heavenly Father continue to bless you to find joy, peace and confidence as you move forward in life. And may the enabling power of the atonement continue to lift you to a greater understanding of who you are and what is promised those who make a keep sacred covenants!
    Much Love - Pres. Smith