Sunday, December 21, 2014

Instruction through Affliction

The following quote has been very important to me in my journey to find peace with my same-sex attraction.  I know it can apply to essentially any trial we face:

"You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructed experiences with the Lord in any situation you are in. Indeed, you can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life - in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and oppositions you have ever faced....Every experience can become a redemptive experience if we remain bonded to our Father in Heaven through it...Whenever these moments of our extremity come, we must not succumb to the fear that God has abandoned us or He does not hear our prayers. He does hear us. He does see us. He does love us. When we are in dire circumstances and want to cry "Where art Thou?" it is imperative that we remember He is right there with us - where He has always been! We must continue to believe, continue to have faith, continue to pray and plead with heaven, even if we feel for time our prayers are not heard and that God has somehow gone away."
-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Elder Holland, as always, says it like a boss.

Friday, December 19, 2014

How Angels Have Touched My Life

I have a firm testimony of the reality of angels.  I know that they have lifted me while I've struggled through life, both in regards to my same-sex attraction and to daily trials.

We have been taught that "Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they teach the words of Christ.  Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do" (2 Nephi 32:3).

Many people, when reading this scripture, latch onto the idea that Christ's teachings will show us the way in which we should conduct ourselves (which it of course does!).  However, in relation to angels, this scripture has a special meaning to me.

I have wondered how angels communicate with us mortals.  In the scriptures they described as messengers who majestically appear and speak with fiery tongues.  I haven't met anyone who has recounted a personal experience with such a heavenly being.  However, Nephi gives us an insight into how angels speak to us individually: "Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost." I could be wrong (but I don't feel that I am), but it seems to me that the Holy Ghost in this case is a vehicle through which these heavenly messengers reach out to us, like a bridge between two dimensions.  Because they speak the words of Christ, angels speak pure truth, therefore qualifying their use of the Spirit.

In addition to my musings as to how angels communicate with us, I have also often considered why angels would speak to me and how to invite them to do so.  In regards to this idea, I am reminded of multiple conference talks which teach that our ancestors plead on our behalf while others prompt us to do their family history work.  While I don't comprehend the entire sum of capabilities which these beings possess, I doubt that their ability to pray has been inhibited by their mortal deaths or lack of earthly experience.  I believe that their prayers are considered by our Heavenly Father just as ours are.

My testimony of this idea has grown as I have invested in family history work.  Shortly after I returned from my mission, I felt plunged into a dark and confusing time.  I was not as close to the Spirit as I had been on my mission and made subsequent mistakes.  However, I felt prompted to begin working on our family history as we had been promised blessings for helping our deceased ancestors through vicarious ordinances.

It was very slow at first and can still be frustrating to this day, but I felt assisted in my efforts.  Within a year of my being home, I had indexed over 3,000 names and prepared over 700 of my own relatives for work in the temple.  Because the massive amount of names that I now feel responsible for receiving ordinances for, I have gone to the temple once a week (sometimes more, sometimes less) since I've been home.

As I have made the temple a consistent part of my schedule, it seems that the Lord has penciled me into His schedule as well!  I hear the voices of these ancestors reminding me to do their work, occasionally even prompting me as to where to look for crucial information in regards to their families.

By doing family history and temple work, I can seriously feel the love of hundreds of beings on the other side of the veil.  I feel their prayers.  I feel their gaze as they watch over me.

I believe that there are other ways to invite angels into our lives, but I know that this is a certain method.  While my same-sex attraction often saps my spiritual and emotional strength, I now with surety that there are forces beyond my sight that are sharing the weight of my cross.

I invite you to do what you can (be patient with yourself) to open yourself up to the voices of these angels.  Even if you at this time are unable to enter the temple, prepare yourself and make necessary changes in your life to allow yourself that opportunity.  Without a temple recommend, you can still do the necessary research to enable your ancestors to enter the celestial kingdom, for which they will be eternally grateful and will pray for your prosperity.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

There is No Such Beauty as Where You Belong

For many years my favorite choral piece has been "The Road Home" by Stephen Paulus (who, unfortunately, passed way earlier this year).  I have had the opportunity to sing it in choirs in multiple venues, and it always speaks to my heart.

Tell me, where is the road
I can call my own,
That I left, that I lost
So long ago?
All these years I have wandered,
Oh when will I know
There’s a way, there’s a road
That will lead me home?

After wind, after rain,

When the dark is done,
As I wake from a dream
In the gold of day,
Through the air there’s a calling
From far away,
There’s a voice I can hear
That will lead me home.

Rise up, follow me,

Come away, is the call,
With the love in your heart
As the only song;
There is no such beauty
As where you belong;
Rise up, follow me,
I will lead you home.

From the point of view of a young man experiencing same-sex attraction, it has been very difficult to find a place where I belong, where I feel that I fit in or have a place.  It seemed that when I was young and unafraid I was on the right track, before abuse or puberty or whatever lead to the development of these attractions.  

Now that I'm older, Satan continually tries to convince me that I am lost, that I'm worthless because I don't necessarily fit the Mormon mold and I don't engage in homosexual behavior.  Life used to be so simple (I'm sure that most people can identify with that idea), but now I'm expected by our culture to get married (to a woman) or else I'm not following the guidelines of the Gospel.

However, I do hear the call of my Savior over the tumultuous noise of the world and the voices therein.  I'm trying to follow His voice by keeping His commandments with love.  The denouement of Paulus's song "The Road Home" testifies to my heart that Christ wants me to live with Him in the next life, and that the confusion of being lost will be swallowed up in the sense of belonging I will experience on that glorious day.  

In the mean time, I'm still trying to find my way.  I'm still seeking my niche in the Plan of Salvation.  But while I'm still trying to straighten some things out (no pun intended), I know that He is calling.