"Love...As Thyself"

When you see the scripture, "Love thy neighbor as thyself", I'd imagine your first thought would turn to serving others, and admirably so.  If you look at it from a perspective of loving others as yourself, just with that little emphasis you discover an important mindset.  Your love for yourself should equal how you love others.  For some this may mean loving others more, for others, it may mean bringing themselves out of a low self-esteem, a poor self-image, and self-deprecation.  I wish to focus on the latter, and show how loving yourself as you would a good friend directly relates to the journey of same-sex attraction.

What are your thoughts regarding the phrase, "Be gentle with yourself", I wonder?  Because in all honesty, that is the mindset that will carry out the principle of loving yourself.  Some people may think of a gentleness with self in terms of the physical-taking a nap, resting up, etc.  Others may view it emotionally.  For example, you may relax through recreation, uplift yourself through positive self-affirmations, and so on.  How about when you are called upon by God to shoulder a heavy burden, a confusing/conflicting experience, or other oppositional circumstance?  I personally believe that sometimes, in my life, I've expected far too much of myself instead of allowing myself that gentle state of simply existing and communing with God.  Though I've often devoted myself to the service of others while experiencing same-sex attraction, those feelings still hold sway over me.  I can selflessly focus on others all I want, but they will still be there.  In my experience, it has been quite a journey to just be okay in the moment of everything, including unwanted, confusing, or even just annoying attractions to other men.  I would like to share how I've learned to let go of harsh treatment with myself, and instead given way for the healing of self-acceptance.  Everyone's journey with same-sex attraction varies, but we all work under the direction of the same gospel principles, and will all end up exalted if we stay on the beaten path to God.  Mine centers on one principle.

In recent weeks, I've had trials pile up on me as I have submitted myself wholly to Christ to maintain my worthiness of a temple recommend.  Old addictions, reminders of really old sins, unkind individuals, work stress , discouragement, loneliness, social rejection, and worse plagued me for 3 months.  Finally, when I had my nervous breakdown due to all the stress, I ended up having a dark evening where I lost nearly all my desire to live and hope for life.  I wrote a large suicide note on Facebook, contacted my friends and family and told them goodbye...all of it.  However, my mother persisted until finally she got a hold of me.  As we talked on the phone, I sobbed my heart out and tears poured down my face, totally breaking down emotionally.  Such is what happens when you bottle up intense emotion and just square your shoulders to the task, without ever stopping to take care of yourself and return to balance of mind, body, and spirit.

With a soul filled with gratitude, however, I watched as miracles happened.  My mother was going to pick me up, since I had calmed down quite a lot.  However, the police came to pick me up 10 minutes before she did, and I did not know who had called them.  Nobody knew where I was, and I'd checked my environment to be sure nobody knew.  Furthermore, when the police came to take me to the psychiatric ward, they informed me of the Facebook post and texts they'd seen.  How I ended up getting picked up, I still cannot say-except maybe that God was watching over me.  Other things happened too.  An eligibility specialist came to me at the hospital, and as we talked she found out I qualified for Medicaid, told me she'd file all the paperwork, and that as a result, my hospital bill and outpatient mental health services would be paid for entirely.  She further referred me to a company who has a 97% success rate in filing disability claims, where I filed an application.  Plus, I received other temporal assistance and income through a benefit of my work that kicks in when you become emotionally incapacitated like me.  Best of all, however, they figured out what was going on in my brain and I've been emotionally stable and truly, consistently happy for the first time in years.  What a gift.  I've been seeking that for what feels like forever.

Although God's children may experience exceptions due to a restriction of freedom (i.e., mental illness or learning disability), joy is typically a choice.  This results from our capacity to find happy events, people, circumstances, and so on even when life hands us the severest of trials.  When I've centered my thoughts around gratitude, it has relaxed me and pointed my path towards love for God, myself, and others.  The self is the most notable of them, since love of self rests at the core of gentleness with self.  Think of your gentleness with a baby niece or nephew.  It arises out of your love for him or her as an innocent, beautiful bundle of life.  That same sort of emotion, though more well-developed and internalized, has come about I've allowed my mind, heart, soul, and body to be okay with being loved.  That proved to be a life-changing mindset, for as I have loved myself, I've loved God more and opened myself up to Him.  I literally have fallen into the arms of my Savior after that, trusting in Him and knowing that "all things work together for the good of them that love God".  Anyone who reads this can walk in that same pathway of peace, for being gentle with yourself as you experience same-sex attraction will be a rod to hold onto, no matter what you feel, say, think, or do.  We all are progressing and learning.  Love yourself, and the world will follow after.  Until next time!  I love you all...

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