This “open letter” is to my friends who struggle with same sex attraction while simultaneously desiring to live the gospel as taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This post isn’t about trying to convince anyone to live that way or to try and discuss what’s right/wrong about the approach the church (and its members) take. No, the only point of this post is to encourage those who have already decided that the church is what they want. Even when you’ve made that decision, I’m sure I can’t begin to fathom how hard it is.
I’ve often thought about the plight faced by my friends who struggle with same sex attraction. I went to dinner with one of these very dear friends where the subject turned to same sex attraction. The people we were eating with began to speak pretty harshly on the subject. It was difficult to sit next to my friend who has chosen to sit quietly on her struggles during this conversation because I knew it couldn’t be easy for her to listen to the criticism. As we left the home that evening, I asked her if she was okay. She told me about her struggles as well as her testimony and choice to live the way the church prescribed. I mostly sat quietly and listened because I had no idea what to say. I wasn’t speechless from being uncomfortable; I was merely at a loss for words as to how to comfort someone in a situation that is not going to change in this life.
How was I supposed to comfort her? How was I supposed to tell her it would all be okay? I face this problem even more so now than I did that night. I’m happily, faithfully married to a man who is my best friend. I find companionship, intimacy, and fulfillment in my marriage. How am I, as a blissfully married, straight woman, supposed to tell my gay friends that “it will all work out?”
For the record, I truly believe that it will all work out. I’ve never struggled with same sex attraction, but I have struggled with other things that won’t be resolved in this life. I’ve come to gain a testimony that Christ can overcome all. Unfortunately, trying to express this to a friend taking up their cross every single day is more than difficult. No matter how much I personally believe it, the promise that “Christ will make everything better” comes off empty unless they have come to that testimony too. It feels like I’m promising a fairy tale that I can’t deliver.
I was sitting in church this past weekend and the messages in sacrament meeting echoed that of last Easter Sunday – the Resurrection and Atonement. However, I was given a new insight that I hope helps those who are struggling.
Mary was the first to see the Resurrected Savior. She was told to go and tell the disciples that Christ would come and meet with them, and she did just that. And guess what? They didn’t believe her.
Some people may criticize these disciples. They had seen miracle after miracle, and yet, they didn’t believe that Christ was back despite the fact that He promised He would be? But when I take the time to look at where they’re coming from, I find a lot of parallels to our day.
1) Jesus cast seven devils out of Mary. Perhaps the disciples thought she was delusional again or that her grief was convincing her of a fairy tale that Christ was back.
2) Perhaps they were too overcome with grief to allow themselves to believe that He could be back. They didn’t just lose their Savior. They knew Him. He was their friend. He had healed them, fed them, given them compassion when no one else had. They lost someone they loved personally in a devastating, excruciating way. To give yourself hope that He could be back would be traumatizing if it wasn’t true.
3) Maybe they wondered if they had done something wrong. Maybe they should have stopped the soldiers from taking him. Maybe they should have tried to be there to defend Him. Maybe they shouldn’t have let Him go out walking in the evening when they knew that the Jews were after Him. Little did they know, it was all part of the plan. Christ was supposed to die. It seemed unfair and heartbreaking, but it was part of the plan (and it seemed to work out in the end!).
Now imagine if they had believed her. Imagine if they were able to set aside their grief to hope for relief. Imagine if they had taken a second to remember the miracles they had witnessed, and if they let it buoy them up. How much sooner would they have found joy?
Perhaps my friends have faced similar situations as the disciples.
1) Maybe when they try to believe that the Savior can give them a happy ending, people think they’re delusional. Maybe they’re convinced that believing in a happy ending for themselves is to believe in fairy tales.
2) Maybe they’re so pushed down by grief that they don’t dare to hope. They don’t dare to hope that on the other side, all will be made right. They will find fulfillment. Their loneliness will be gone. Perhaps the potential of disappointment is so great that it’s easier to live in doubt.
3) Maybe they wonder if they’ve done something wrong. I find this one fascinating and hopeful because that is a lie from Satan. You didn’t do anything wrong to have found yourself with these struggles. You didn’t sin in the premortal existence and so you suddenly find yourself with a hard life. It may be unfair to be faced with this trial, just like it was unfair for Christ to die. But it’s part of the plan. YOU, exactly as you are now with all of your struggles and weaknesses, are a part of His plan. And I’m not just saying that God wants all of His children to be missionaries and do what’s right and come home to Him (though He does). What I’m saying is that YOU. YOU YOU YOU YOU are a part of His plan. You have a specific role to play, exactly as you are. He doesn’t need some perfect version of you that you have envisioned in your head. He needs you now. He needs you as much as you need the church. There may be weaknesses that come with your plight, but there are also incredible strengths. You’re not a mistake. You’re a part of the plan, and this plan has a happy ending.
Imagine if you could let yourself believe that. Imagine if you could believe that you are important to the work, right now, just as you are. Imagine that you can get a happy ending. You will still struggle. You will still face these problems, but you can live with peace and happiness knowing that your time is coming and my friend, let me tell you, it will be glorious.
I don’t know how Christ intends to fulfill His promises of happy endings. No clue. We haven’t received that doctrine yet just like we don’t know the mechanics of how Christ was resurrected. BUT we do have the promises that the happy ending will come just like we were given the promise that Christ would live again. He fulfilled that one; believe that He can fulfill His other promises.
In the beginning, I said that it felt empty to try and make promises to my friends who seemed to struggle more than I could comprehend. This could be an empty letter to you. Some may think I’m delusional, but the awesome part is you don’t have to take my word for it. He can tell you Himself. Find your testimony of these promises. You may have a testimony of the Restoration and prophets and The Book of Mormon, but have you asked Christ is He can give you a happy ending? Have you received that answer? That is the only way that any of this will come to mean anything to you. Ask Him. If you’ve received that testimony before but you’ve had some discouraging days, ask Him again. He will answer again.
Also, if you ever find yourself in need of someone to sit with or talk to, hit me up. Don’t sit on it alone. Don’t struggle with dark thoughts on your own. I would love to sit and talk with you.