Attention and Acceptance, Part 2

Now, continuing forward with how we give attention and acceptance to our SSA, I must emphasize that I do not believe that enjoying, celebrating, or being grateful for your sexual orientation is wrong. In fact, I fully support such attitudes and will discuss these and other mindsets towards SSA later. The only issue I have towards this subject is that some individuals take it further than is necessary or emotionally healthy, not to mention conducive to the Spirit.  Some members of the Church believe it okay to flaunt, constantly discuss, joke about, or otherwise make light of their sexual orientation.  Spiritual boundaries govern our behavior in regards to sexual orientation, however.  If you flaunt your sexual orientation by dressing fashionably, socializing more frequently with men than women, and declaring that you love your sexual preferences, that is fine.  I don't think God particularly cares whether or not we display confidence in our sexual orientation; in fact, I believe He encourages it.  For those struggling to find self-acceptance in their journey with SSA, I also believe it healthy and even essential to discuss their feelings.  People with mental illness, for instance, find it good for them to attend therapy and talk things out with a professional.  At the same time, though, someone like that -like me, for instance- only speaks about their difficulties when it becomes excessively burdensome or troubling to them.  Constantly spouting out one's problems doesn't alleviate the pain and suffering- quite the contrary.  When you center your mind on such negativity, it draws more negativity.  Whatever your mind thinks about, you will feel and eventually become.  "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he", according to Proverbs.  How, then, I may ask, can one afford to keep focusing on their issues when they desire to find a solution?  Push your energies towards solving problems, and you will find solutions.  When you're resolving an equation, you don't ask yourself which variables are not going to help.  You ask yourself which ones WILL help.

In my previous post, I mentioned that faithful members with SSA do two things with it. First, they define it within gospel standards, and second, they view it as part of themselves to be accepted in faith.  To begin with the first, what does it mean to define your sexual orientation within gospel standards?  One might more accurately say you define it within the truth of God's word.  Some things remain unknown about SSA, but there are a few things we most certainly do know.  President Kimball taught that it is not something we are born with, due to being created in God's image.  Elder Oaks taught that we should refrain from regarding it as a permanent condition, because doing so denies the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Elder Holland taught that because it is part of our mortal probation, it will fall off of us in the next life.  Elder Hales taught that those who do not get married at no fault of their own in this life will have that opportunity in the next.  And finally, multiple prophets and apostles, both modern and ancient, have taught that everything we suffer through in this life will be compensated for in the next life to those who endure faithfully to the end. Taking these principles, we can have hope and assurance that all will be well eventually, if we exercise faith in Jesus Christ.  Furthermore, such principles can strengthen us in walking uprightly before the Lord- keeping the law of chastity, refraining from same-sex dating and relationships, sustaining the prophets, and so forth.  Keeping the commandments may look different for various same-sex attracted members because of life circumstances, but the truth we live by will never vary.

Expounding on the second principle, viewing SSA as part of yourself versus most or all of yourself can prove challenging, but it is worth it in the end.  Personally, I see it as a potential challenge because SSA can seem all-consuming in your mind and heart.  It can influence a major part of your life, and thereby presents this overwhelming, powerful presence.  Because I believe God when He advocates mental and emotional balance in our lives, however, I refuse to believe that we must remain in such a state.  The more I affirm to myself that God is my Father, and Christ is my Elder Brother, the more my identity as a son of God solidifies in my mind, and the less my sexual orientation takes hold.  My journey led to peace when I started to do this...when I realized that my Savior saw me as so much more, and I began to accept His view in my heart.  I hardly think, brothers and sisters, if we were to hold a conversation with Christ, that He would only desire to talk about our SSA and its various components.  I do not doubt the subject would likely present itself in due course, but my heart tells me my Savior would express far greater interest in what my spirit had become versus what my sexual orientation had caused me to experience.  When we discuss our "meeting" with the Savior in the next life, we talk about Him questioning our intentions and actions, asking us if we loved His children and did our best to follow Him.  As I've said, most certainly the subject of SSA would spring up somewhere in that conversation.  But again, I definitely see most of the conversation being about how I chose to follow Him and thereby refined my spirit through His grace.  Brothers and sisters, our sexual orientation is a part of us.  You do not define a populace by a single person. Similarly, we do not define ourselves by one aspect.  We are far more than our sexual orientation. We are creations of God, filled with vitality, creativity, imagination, love, laughter, friendship, family ties, and more.  Do not sell yourselves short, my friends.  You are more than that.

As a final thought, I once read something in a book that intrigued me.  It said, "What holds your attention holds you."  For some individuals, giving all their attention to their SSA, meaning living the openly gay lifestyle, satisfies and fulfills them.  I do not judge such individuals, though I do believe they are missing out on far greater joy and fulfillment in Christ.  Referencing the saints, in stark contrast, I have often witnessed the needless suffering that results from excessive attention given to sexual orientation.  It may seem counterintuitive for some to set this on a figurative shelf, because they say to themselves, "How am I going to be at peace with this without talking it out?"  But that is not what I am saying.  Feel free to talk it out, but do not make it the subject of multiple conversations with your gay friends, your family, and goodness knows who else.  Find other things to talk about, and focus on self-affirmation towards your divine identity.  As you go through with this, you'll discover that the peace of God will enter your heart, because He will speak to your heart and let you know that it's okay to be yourself.  He appreciates and loves you precisely as you are, and the sooner you give room for God to express that by taking down your walls of pain, the sooner you'll find peace.   Give yourself this gift, and start today by placing your attention and acceptance towards the One who matters most- your Savior, Jesus Christ.  I love you guys, and wish you a wonderful day!  :)

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