Over the weekend, like some of you, I attended the fabulous and deeply informative North Star International conference. Though the first conference ever, board members had planned it for months and consequently it turned out to be a marvelous success. I befriended several people, saw old friends I had not seen in some time, learned much, and laughed much. On the whole, this conference lifted me to heights I have not been at before, and taught me how I can be a healer of souls and a minister of grace on my journey with same-sex attraction, even as my Savior is right now. For really, if one contemplates all that the Lord did, it is quite possible that included ministering to individuals with this experience-even if it was but a few. And because of His Atonement, Christ perfectly understands in love how to aid us in our journey with SSA, and that with compassionate hands.
One of the speakers at the North Star conference spoke on a particular subject that moved me somewhat, because oftentimes my focus on this journey had been inward. Few of my friends fully understood what it was like to experience this, I reasoned, and so I coped with it mostly on my own. At the conference, however, I realized that now is the time for me to really start turning my focus outward, to be vocal about same-sex attraction in the Church with a spirit of boldness and love. It is also time that I really start to make an additional effort to be the healer of souls and minister of grace that I mentioned earlier, because heaven knows we all can use healing and grace in such a world as ours. Today, I wish to expound somewhat on that topic from the conference, which focuses on helping others through missionary work of a sort. The principle the speaker talked about is, "If you are struggling to believe or 'cannot' believe something the Church teaches, act as though it is true." Now, I intend this to be a spiritual experiment...one that indeed imitates one we can find in 32nd chapter of Alma.
Alma urged, "But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words." (Alma 32:27) Now, he is not saying, "Okay, just pretend as though this principle or that principle is true because you want to believe it, and then you'll eventually believe." No, the essence of this is that we are testing the principle out, similar to test driving a car or stepping out into a lake before swimming. When one does that, we would not say, "Oh, that guy is just pretending to drive a car", or "He's just acting like he can swim". That would be ludicrous! It is the first step of what I believe to be open-mindedness towards belief, whether that is a temporal belief such as "this car is the right one for me" or "this water is the right temperature". Both hold the commonality that we are trying to see if they are going to meet our expectations. This is what Alma is saying- to test the waters of belief so that we can see that experiment will not harm us, thus leading to openness about receiving the word of God.
When it comes to SSA, some of us (including family members and friends) have difficulty receiving the word of God, because it often appears difficult and, at times, seemingly impossible for us to obey. We are told that God loves us the same as everyone else, and yet we find that hard to understand as we bear the burdens associated with not having children, spouses, sexual expression, and more. Sometimes people act in insensitive, careless, or just downright cruel ways about the attractions we experience, and it gives us cause to wonder the purpose God may have-if He has one at all, we say- behind it all. I testify that as we keep clinging to the Iron Rod, though those mists of darkness may blind our eyes so we are confused and cannot see immediate solutions, we will prevail. It may seem like the darkness draws us away, with whispers of self-doubt, depression, discouragement, and even despair. However, the Light of the World has promised us that His shining influence will always be at our side. Jesus Christ will help us have strength when we cannot understand the wise purposes in Him for letting us continue in pain, or for lengthening out the days in which we are confused about the purposes of certain doctrines and practices of the Church. Sometimes, our pain is lengthened to strengthen others in their pain, and often our confusion is there to test our faithfulness to Christ, to see if we will hold onto what we do know and center our focus and spirit on that. If we do not understand or think we can understand why certain doctrines or practices are there, or why some of us suffer in our journey with SSA, let me testify of something to you.
This testing of the waters of belief I have spoken of is no simple task, meaning that you won't just go and do, then...ta-da! you will know it's true or right. No, you will live it and likely experience much opposition as Satan does his worst to confuse, misdirect, and otherwise destroy you. It is no simple task, other than the simplicity of being able to see the fruits of what comes out of living the gospel of Jesus Christ with a child's mind and heart. If you humbly seek out your Savior while "acting as though it is" true and right, I testify to you with all my heart that you will come to know why it is true and why it is right. You will feel the light of Christ fill your life, and as Alma expressed, you will say to yourself that it expands your soul, enlightens your understanding, and even becomes something delicious to you. The sweet influence of the Spirit will distill upon your heart and soul, and you will understand that acting as though it is true and right, though testing the waters of belief, really only ever was living in the light shining down from Christ Himself. I testify of the truthfulness of this principle... I truly have seen it fulfilled in my life when I didn't quite understand something or think I could believe it. But still, God revealed the truth of it to me. I pray you may come to that understanding if you have not yet. Have a beautiful Sabbath! Until next time...