Friday, December 30, 2016

When the Answer is No

I thought about titling this post "When Prayers Go Unanswered," but it wouldn't have the same connotation.

You see, there have been many times in my life when I've felt like my prayers were ignored by God. However, as I consider these experiences, I can see that rather than disregarding the pleas that I had made, Heavenly Father was actually giving me an answer, the answer I didn't want:


Please take away these overwhelming attractions. Please heal me of my chronic illness. Please help me to forget traumatizing memories. Please help me to fit in. Please help me to be accepted by the guys in my quorum. Please help me be good enough to be a leader in my mission. Please help me to get the dance solo. Please let me get an 'A'. Please bring my friend back. Please free my loved one of crippling addiction. Please help me get married.

Perhaps in time God will grant me the fruition of these desires. But for better and not for worse, the Lord is not a Santa figure, nor a spoiling parent. He is the omnipotent ruler of the universe, and sometimes the answer is simply "No."

We all have a thorn that we'd appreciate the Lord removing. However, all of these denials mold our souls into the deities we're becoming. The harrowing rejections we face forge the steel of our testimonies.

My friend Judy knows this all too well. Her well-organized life was all going according to plan until one fateful night. Listen to her story:

Judy begged and pleaded to spare the life of that young boy. She had great faith. She had tremendous trust. But the answer was "No."

This brings us to the painful fact that we must have faith enough to accept the denial of healing, stability, and answers, sometimes temporarily, sometimes throughout mortality.

As I've probably referenced before, I often ponder over the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, wherein they are forced to choose between idol worship or painful death. These three young men knew the risks of discipleship. They recognized that the Lord could easily choose to let them die.  Despite the deadly consequences of such a decision, the three took the chance and surrendered their wills to the Father:

17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3:17-18)

Do you have faith enough to continue believing after the Lord says "No"? I promise that the Lord is well aware of our dedication and rewards us for our battle-tested faith.

(P.S. Judy asked me to be in this clip with her, so you can actually see me in action!)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Preparing for a Mission with Same-Sex Attraction

Going on a mission is a daunting proposition for anyone. Long hours of often fruitless labor, isolation from mainstream entertainment and culture, distance from family, spending 24 hours a day with a stranger, facing rejection, and desperately trying to help individuals and families keep commitments and change their lives to align with Christ's will is not easy. 

When you experience same-sex attraction, many of these issues are accentuated. The vast majority of LGBT individuals experience some form of emotional disorder at some point in their lives (can you blame us?), and serving a mission with a mental illness is extremely difficult. In addition to that potential issue, many missionaries who experience same-sex attraction are terrified that they'll be living 24/7 with someone of their same sex for extended periods of time, with good reason! While some believe that they might not be able to control themselves (which honestly is rarely a problem), most have reservations about the torture they might experience should they be attracted to their companion. 

This is a valid concern, one which should be taken into consideration. I was blessed to not have attractions for my companions, but other missionaries...yeah...ANYWAY - If this is your main concern with going on a mission, I don't think you need to worry too much. 

However, mental health is not to be taken likely. If you think you might be experiencing a disorder of some kind, I heartily suggest looking into counseling. You have nothing to lose (well, except some dough) by seeking professional help. Another thing to take into consideration is that every mental health professional is proficient in particular aspects of counseling, so it make take a couple of tries before you find a therapist that's right for you. There's nothing wrong with making your progress your first priority - counselors will understand if you seek help from someone else. 

Additionally, speaking with your bishop is vital. There are often resources he can make available to you that will enable you to combat your mental illness. He also can give you inspired advice on how to handle your attractions. However, it's important to remember that your bishop is most likely not a licensed professional and should not be relied on as such. He is a mortal man with an inspired calling. While he can help you meet your spiritual needs, there is a limit to how much help he can offer for your mental health.

Another resource is your parents. I can't speak for everyone, but in my personal experience my parents have been deeply supportive of my efforts to stay true to the gospel and they respect my struggles. Likewise, your parents can offer you similar affirmation (for the most part - obviously some parents aren't prepared to handle such situations). Having a support network is absolutely necessary to being a healthy Christian experiencing same-sex attraction.

This connection is also vital in combating addictions. I can honestly say that I've never had an issue with pornography and entered the mission field free of addictive behaviors. Unfortunately, many of the saints I've interacted with have this burden when they start their missions. Don't be ashamed of this; know that you're not alone. Again, your bishop is gold when it comes to your spiritual health. I'm told the Church's "addiction recovery program" (ARP) is very helpful as well. I plan on writing a post specifically geared to pornography, but I needed to put this little blurb in here.

Something that has helped me tremendously is the temple. Last night I interviewed a young man who recently returned from his mission because I wanted to know what sustained him during his service. He adamantly testified that the temple was the main source of strength and motivation for him. After coming out to his bishop, he was advised to attend the temple every week before his mission. This was quite a commitment as the nearest temple was hours away. However, by taking his bishop's advice my friend was able to gain a strong testimony of the divine truth manifested in temple work. During times of trial on his mission, he was able to remember the Spirit he felt within the walls of the holy temple, which gave him the might to push on.

Similarly, I've gone to the temple every week since I've been home from my mission. It certainly provides an incentive to not act on my attractions in an inappropriate way (I still listen to Britney Spears, okay? Get over it). I know that I can't have my cake and eat it too, so I've chosen the temple over a homosexual relationship. Likewise, you can find strength and motivation by doing temple work or even pondering on the temple grounds. I promise you that.

So, there aren't a ton of resources for prospective missionaries experiencing same-sex attraction in particular, but I've found a few videos on YouTube that you may find helpful:

The Church's official website,, is great for understanding same-sex attraction. Hopefully the Church will continue to develop resources for those struggling with their faith and feelings. For now, I'll do my best to help out.

So here's a little list to go over.

1. Talk with your bishop
2. Talk with your parents
3. Seek professional counseling
4. Attend the temple and participate in family history efforts

These, of course, are in addition to the expected preparations dictated by your Church leaders (i.e. developing a testimony of the atonement and gospel of Christ, learning to live on your own, budgeting, physical fitness, etc.).

For those who have served missions while experiencing same-sex attraction, is there anything that has helped you in your journey? Comment below!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

10 Tips for Parents

On occasion parents will contact me asking for advice for their son or daughter. These parents are coming to terms that their children's lives might not look like they had planned since their infancy. It is greatly difficult to address each concern that these parents have brought up. I intend to address them more specifically in future posts. However, the Church's new website has some excellent starter tips for parents. With my italicized commentary, I've included these tips here for your convenience:

Ten Tips for Parents

As a parent, you may sometimes feel inadequate. Although you may not always know how to respond to the struggles your children face, you will never regret reaching out with love and understanding.

You will never regret saying “I love you.”

You will never regret throwing your arms around your child and hugging him or her. You will never regret listening. You will never regret trying to understand.

From an insider's point of view, one of the most terrifying prospects of coming out to my family and friends is that rejection, confusion, and even disgust are possible reactions. Establishing from the get go that you love the individual sharing their feelings with you is absolutely vital.

You have been entrusted with the care of a precious soul.

Learning to be a parent on this journey will stretch you. As you seek the companionship of the Spirit, you will draw near to God, your child, and, if applicable, your spouse. Remember to honor agency. If your spouse disagrees with how you want to handle things, work it out respectfully. If your child makes choices you disagree with, kindly let them know how you feel. Never try to control or manipulate them. Give them your time and assure them of your love.

I'm so grateful for Christlike parents. Just as I feel that my same-sex attraction is a sacred trust from the Father, I believe that my parents have a similar responsibility to Him in their stewardship role as parents.

Did you overreact, get angry, or say things you regret? Don’t be discouraged.

This is one moment in a lifelong conversation. It’s never too late to apologize.

Remember that dealing with this issue involves a rather steep learning curve, so have patience with yourself and your loved one as you learn together.

If you learn about your child’s same-sex attraction secondhand, don’t take it personally.

Talking about one’s same-sex attraction can be terrifying and confusing. Your child may not have known how to talk to you about it.

It's utterly terrifying to feel like your parents' love for you is in jeopardy. We have no manual telling us how to begin such a difficult conversation.

It’s natural to grieve.

Do you feel your dream of the “perfect” LDS family slipping away? Do you fear losing a close relationship? Are you afraid your child won’t be treated with kindness? These feelings are natural. There is no shame in grieving.

Learn to surrender to God the things that you can't control. My mother cried when I told her about my struggles, as I assumed she would. But I knew that she needed to process those emotions to come to terms with things. So don't beat yourself up for experiencing grief.

Don’t blame yourself for your child’s same-sex attraction.

This is no one’s fault. Blame is neither necessary nor helpful.

What's done is done, and sexual orientation is too complex to really determine your influence anyway.

As a parent, the least productive prayer is “why?”

A close second is “please, take this away right now.”


The most helpful question you can ask is “how?”

How can I help? How can I be the mom or dad my child needs? How can we learn from this?

Your child likely doesn't really know what his/her needs are completely, but having a companion on their journey will make all of the difference.

Surround yourself with people who build you up.

Some people care. Some people are curious. Answering questions can help build understanding but can also be exhausting. Be sure to charge your spiritual battery by spending quality time in sacred places. And no one cares more than your Father in Heaven.

There are many within the Church who have a very different perspective on this issue than the Brethren and will plant doubts in your mind. Sorry - it's the truth (if my experiences count for anything, anyway). There are resources and loving brothers and sisters that will enable you to fulfill your role in a righteous manner.

Peace and perspective go hand in hand.

Seek knowledge, and learn all you can. Speak with your bishop or branch president and receive counsel from an authorized servant of the Lord. If you feel impressed, ask him for a priesthood blessing to help you meet the needs of your child. Some people find perspective in support groups or through temple attendance. In fact, there is no better place to find peace and perspective than in the temple.

Priesthood leaders can be immeasurably helpful. Don't have unrealistic expectations, because many are not experienced in this field yet. You will likely need to grow together. Almost all of the bishops I've met with have asked me to teach them about this issue and how they can best help. You may find yourself in a similar situation.

I've gone to the temple every week since the beginning of January 2014, because it's the only thing that keeps me sane most days. It gives you strength and perspective. It gives me a goal that if nothing else, I WILL be temple worthy. Other blessings are guaranteed to follow.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Trust in You

Life has been insane lately on so many levels. I've turned in art projects and a few long papers. I've taken some scary tests. Lots of pressure, but I guess that's why so many people don't get advanced degrees!

If that was the only complicated thing in my life, I'd be grateful (I should be grateful anyway, oops!). However, I am very concerned with the fate of my country. As someone whose patriotism is an integrated aspect of his identity, I love America and hope for her survival. This election is horrifying to me, because for the first time in my life I don't know which candidate is the better. Corruption and wickedness are so mainstream that my conscience will be pained no matter who I vote for.

I always turn to the Lord before casting my vote, because I know that my feeble mortal mind is easily misled, and I believe if everyone cried out in prayer that we'd be lead by righteous men and women. I therefore have been praying consistently throughout this election as my choices became more and more limited.

I shudder to know that either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will become the most powerful individual in the world as president of the executive branch of the United States. A single veto or approval in their hands can override tens of thousands of voices in the legislative process and appoint life-time Supreme Court justices.

I know that the world is going to come apart before the Second Coming. I just wish I didn't have to be here to watch it burn.

As I communed with the Lord, I prayed for peace in the midst of this storm. I was inspired to listen to the "Top Prime Christian Songs" playlist on Amazon. Normally I shy away from Christian rock/pop because often the artists are too casual with the Lord's name. However, I immediately recognized this thought as a prompting when I listened to the first song on the list, "Trust in You" by Lauren Daigle.

Trust in You

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior, King of the fight
No matter what I face, You’re by my side

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So, in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation; the rock on which I stand

Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go, You’ve not already stood

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

I will trust in You!
I will trust in You!
I will trust in You!

I love this song for so many reasons, but mainly because it came as an answer to my prayers. I have so many goals and dreams for myself and for my country, but I know that the Lord has the best plan of all. The faithful must be tested and proven, and that means that such faith must be put through the refiner's fire. When I want God to take away my afflictions and temptations, He often doesn't remove the thorn. However, just because He allows me to suffer doesn't make Him any less loving or benevolent. He knows what I need to endure in order to be perfected; it's different for each of us. So even though my attractions sometimes drive me crazy and the world seems to be falling apart around me, I have a steady hope that God is in control. Surrender to Him.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Learning the Language

As I may have mentioned previously, this has been a particularly difficult summer. My family has had some close-calls, and my personal medical issues have flared up. This is all in addition to my classes, which have been the hardest I've taken so far.

It is easy to feel that I am far too stupid to get a degree, particularly in my major. So many people have told me that I'll probably give up and have permanently set my life in the wrong direction with a worthless degree. If I had a $100,000 for every time I rolled my eyes in this situation, I'd be rich.

Anyway, my point is that it's discouraging because "it's all Greek to me!"

However, this isn't the first time that I've encountered a situation that's daunting to navigate. For a long time I thought I would never be accepted as a man because I wasn't athletic. My parents pressured me to play sports all through school (mainly swim team - *gag*) and I was always the last one picked because of my bumbling marshmallow skills. I ha It hurt my self-esteem a lot and I still have residual shame because of it.

(Okay, that sounded like my parents were tyrannical helicopter parents. They just wanted me to be healthy and fine-tune my abilities)

However, after I quit the swim team, I eventually unlocked athletic skills after countless hours of humiliating practice and punishment at the hands of coaches. I fought my way into being a starter on a varsity sports team and was very successful. It was crazy how people started noticing me because of athletic abilities I always told myself I'd never have!

Another example is cars. Ugh. I remember as a teenager absolutely hating working on cars. My dad would make me help him and it always seemed to be a hot, sweaty, grungy experience without much success. However, he taught me that being a man meant learning to do hard things to support your family.

Before I could drive, my dad made sure that I knew how to change tires. Then he taught me to drive at the age of ten (don't press charges, please). Pretty rudimentary, right? I thought I'd never get beyond that, but he insisted that I learn more so that I could be more self-sufficient and serve others. I learned how to check and change the oil, where to put which fluids, how to change taillights/headlights, and even some tricks to save money in regards to car maintenance (my parents taught me at an early age to escape from a locked trunk, but that's a story for another day). Now, I kind of like to work on my car. There's something so gratifying about being able to do something for yourself that others would charge you money to perform.

In my teenage years I decided that I needed to learn the language of politics (if you aren't fluent in this language, you're bound to be taken advantage of. For example, human history). I became competent enough to have intellectual debates with my teachers and peers, and have since have participated in dozens of political campaigns and do at least an hour of political research every day.

As a missionary, I had a ton of insecurities (which, as it turns out, is rather normal). Aside from experiencing same-sex attraction, I was very much introverted (I still am, frankly) and terrified to speak. Eventually, I forced myself so far out of my comfort zone that I had a hard time finding my way back (I've often described my mission as one big awkward moment) and learned the language of missionary work. I memorized scriptures and the basic structures of lessons. A common strength that my companions commented on in companionship inventory was that I always instigated conversations with strangers despite my shyness.

In high school I really struggled my first semester in anatomy. I felt so dumb and I was under so much stress from sports and health issues, but eventually I became one of the best students in the class, usually getting 100% on my tests where others failed miserably. I learned to speak the language of anatomy and flourished when before I thought I would die.

So, while I feel far behind my peers, I know that I'll eventually learn the language of statistics (although I think math will forever be my kryptonite).

Almost like the gift of tongues, our Heavenly Father enables us to learn the languages of things foreign to us. This allows us to relate to those around us and to overcome weaknesses associated with our bodies in a fallen world.

I might be going on a limb here, but you could say that I know the language of same-sex attraction. I understand how it feels, the longing, the urges, the shame, the confusion, the disconnect. I know how to recognize a good-looking man and I can recognize when I have a crush on one. I understand the attraction I have toward certain characteristics.

Could it be that same-sex attraction is just something I know how to do? By that same token, could opposite-sex attraction something that I could learn? (see Who knows. But as I've worked at learning the language of manhood, I believe that I'm becoming the man that my Heavenly Father intends for me to become, albeit at a significantly slower pace than He'd prefer.

We can learn the language of the aspects of life that we don't understand. Perhaps we won't become experts in such fields (okay, we're probably gonna fall pretty short of that standard), but we can at least understand and taste enough of another's experience to exhibit empathy. We aren't limited to our first language. We can all become poly-lingual in our mortal journey toward the kingdom of God.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine

This blog post has been floating around Facebook and I finally decided to check it out. I'm so glad I did!

This post greatly reflects my own personal experiences, and it's so refreshing to hear a similar perspective from a young man from a different branch of Christianity.  As much as I'd like to juxtapose my commentary after every line, I think you'll get the picture without it:

"I have heard a lot about how mean the Church is, and how bigoted, because she opposes gay marriage. How badly she misunderstands gay people, and how hostile she is towards us. My gut reaction to such things is: Are you freaking kidding me? Are we even talking about the same Church?

When I go to Confession, I sometimes mention the fact that I’m gay, to give the priest some context. (And to spare him some confusion: Did you say “locker room”? What were you doing in the women’s . . . oh.) I’ve always gotten one of two responses: either compassion, encouragement, and admiration, because the celibate life is difficult and profoundly counter-cultural; or nothing at all, not even a ripple, as if I had confessed eating too much on Thanksgiving.

Of the two responses, my ego prefers the first — who doesn’t like thinking of themselves as some kind of hero? — but the second might make more sense. Being gay doesn’t mean I’m special or extraordinary. It just means that my life is not always easy. (Surprise!) And as my friend J. said when I told him recently about my homosexuality, “I guess if it wasn’t that, it would have been something else.” Meaning that nobody lives without a burden of one kind or another. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel said: “The man who has not suffered, what can he possibly know, anyway?”

Where are all these bigoted Catholics I keep hearing about? When I told my family a year ago, not one of them responded with anything but love and understanding. Nobody acted like I had a disease. Nobody started treating me differently or looking at me funny. The same is true of every one of the Catholic friends that I’ve told. They love me for who I am.

Actually, the only time I get shock or disgust or disbelief, the only time I’ve noticed people treating me differently after I tell them, is when I tell someone who supports the gay lifestyle. Celibacy?! You must be some kind of freak.

Hooray for tolerance of different viewpoints. I’m grateful to gay activists for some things — making people more aware of the prevalence of homosexuality, making homophobia less socially acceptable — but they also make it more difficult for me to be understood, to be accepted for who I am and what I believe. If I want open-mindedness, acceptance, and understanding, I look to Catholics.

Is it hard to be gay and Catholic? Yes, because like everybody, I sometimes want things that are not good for me. The Church doesn’t let me have those things, not because she’s mean, but because she’s a good mother. If my son or daughter wanted to eat sand I’d tell them: that’s not what eating is for; it won’t nourish you; it will hurt you. Maybe my daughter has some kind of condition that makes her like sand better than food, but I still wouldn’t let her eat it. Actually, if she was young or stubborn enough, I might not be able to reason with her — I might just have to make a rule against eating sand. Even if she thought I was mean.

So the Church doesn’t oppose gay marriage because it’s wrong; she opposes it because it’s impossible, just as impossible as living on sand. The Church believes, and I believe, in a universe that means something, and in a God who made the universe — made men and women, designed sex and marriage from the ground up. In that universe, gay marriage doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the picture, and we’re not about to throw out the rest of the picture.

If you don’t believe in these things, if you believe that men and women and sex and marriage are pretty much whatever we say they are, then okay: we don’t have much left to talk about. That’s not the world I live in.

So, yes, it’s hard to be gay and Catholic — it’s hard to be anything and Catholic — because I don’t always get to do what I want. Show me a religion where you always get to do what you want and I’ll show you a pretty shabby, lazy religion. Something not worth living or dying for, or even getting up in the morning for. That might be the kind of world John Lennon wanted, but John Lennon was kind of an idiot.

Would I trade in my Catholicism for a worldview where I get to marry a man? Would I trade in the Eucharist and the Mass and the rest of it? Being a Catholic means believing in a God who literally waits in the chapel for me, hoping I’ll stop by just for ten minutes so he can pour out love and healing on my heart. Which is worth more — all this, or getting to have sex with who I want? I wish everybody, straight or gay, had as beautiful a life as I have.

I know this isn’t a satisfactory answer. I don’t think any words could be. I try to make my life a satisfactory answer, to this question and to others: What are people for? What is love, and what does it look like? How do we get past our own selfishness so we can love God and our neighbors and ourselves?

It’s a work in progress."

Now, wasn't that nice? To read more of his blog posts, visit

I've been told for nearly a decade that my Church is cruel towards gays and that there's a witch hunt mentality in my religion. And I'm like, "Are we talking about the same religion?!" I've been a member for over two decades and in spite of my sexuality I've never been the recipient of hatred or bigotry. Ironically, the only source of animosity and hatred I've experienced in regards to my sexuality has been the crowd of people parading themselves as "tolerant."

I also appreciate that this author addresses that being a Christian with homosexual tendencies is difficult. Not getting what you desire isn't easy, especially in this case, but just because you want something doesn't mean you should get it. Sometimes (or all the time) the "natural man" wants gratification, but conquering, subduing, and controlling these urges prepare us to worthily meet God. One of the major characteristics of essentially any major religion is an element of sacrifice. The religion that doesn't require much of you doesn't have much to offer in return.

I'm proud to stand in solidarity with other Christians experiencing same-sex attraction and yet are committed to their conversion to Christ's gospel.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Obeying the commandments isn't about makin' yo self look good, OKAY?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

He Felt Our Pain Before We Ever Did

This week I attended the temple in earnest prayer. Life is hitting me pretty hard with family illness, increased academic pressures, and physical pain. It's easy to feel alone, particularly when your issues are awkward for other people to process. I'm grateful that I have an understanding roommate who isn't afraid to talk about difficult things. 

On the temple grounds I found a lily that helped me remember that there is a God who cares for us and mourns with His hurting children. Funny how nature teaches us such lessons. 

"The Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He felt and bore our burdens before we ever did. And because He paid the ultimate price and bore that burden, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy in so many phases of our life. He can reach out, touch, succor—literally run to us—and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do through relying upon only our own power."
—David A. Bednar

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Summer Soldier

We stand against what appears to be an unconquerable foe. 

I think that there is another war and allegiance to be recognized within Thomas Paine's famous quote:

"THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

We are combatants within a raging war against sin. In the crossfire between the gates of heaven and those of Hell we often find ourselves the recipients of wounds deeper than can be visually discerned. 

Despite these imperceptible pains, we must not forget that the war has already been won at the battle of Calvary. If we but endure to the end, we will at last know the gratitude of our peers and our God which we may not have recognized in our mortal service.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Miracles and Testimony

Yesterday, as we were touring Temple Square we came to the seagull monument. We told my nieces the story of how the farms of the early settlers of Utah were suddenly besieged by an enormous swarm of grasshoppers, which began to destroy the crops necessary for survival. Miraculously, a massive flock of seagulls descended and ate the grasshoppers and the crops were preserved. 

I have often felt a little uncomfortable when people ask when I discovered that the Church is true and that Christ truly lives, because I have to explain that the was never one singular conversion moment (unlike many people, who experience a miracle prior to conversion).

My conversion has been a lifelong process (and I assume it will continue to be such until the resurrection). However, I can say without shame that I have witnessed undeniable miracles, albeit after the trial of my faith. 

It struck me while we were pondering the miracle of the seagulls that I am grateful that my testimony isn't built on one particular event or miracle. To turn my back on the Gospel would be to pretend a lifetime of witnesses, great and small, were simply unreal. I'm grateful to know, then, that I have so much to lose. 

The path of discipleship is not the easy way; it is the ONLY way. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Rose Petal

Last semester in art class my professor had compose a rendition of different things in our lives that make us who we are and give us a reason to keep living. He told a storyline of an Iranian film, "Taste of Cherry," wherein a man on the brink of suicide rediscovers the simple joys of life (like the taste of a cherry). Since then, I've tried to pick something during the day that I usually overlook but that brings balance to my life. I was stressed out of my mind as I walked to school to take a psychological statistics exam, my mind jumping from my academic inadequacies to health issues to worries about my family, when I was shocked back into the present by a rosebush. It looked like an Arizona sunset. I started to walk away when I felt like I should bring some of this beauty with me. I knew it would quickly wilt after coming in contact with my sebaceous oils, but I picked one of the petals off the grass and brought it with me to the testing center. When I was feeling panicky during the test, I would pull it out and smell it and feel its silky texture. This story would be perfect if I did well on the exam, but the reminder that there is far more to this life than keeping scholarships or being smart enough for myself was a Godsend.

Sometimes it's easy to get distracted.  In fact, it almost always is. Sometimes I feel like my same-sex attraction is a semi that I'm tailgating. I have to remind myself to apply the brakes so I can see the whole road and not worry about rear-ending the rainbow trailer in front of me. It is then that I can see the scenery: the mountains, rivers, and rose petals. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016


This month the Church released the world's largest virtual choir performance for the "Hallelujah" chorus from Handel's Messiah. I was able to submit a video for for both Tenor and Bass parts, and at least one of them made it in!'re welcome.

I spent this weekend back home in Arizona getting a family photo taken. While family photos are one of the most dangerous things we can do, I'm grateful that I did it. 

My mother always has me sing in sacrament meeting when I visit. Today the choir performed "Gethsemane," a children's song that quickly became popular among four-part adult choirs. The chorus is so simple yet so sweetly profound: "Gethsemane. Jesus loves me. So He gives His gift to me, from Gethsemane."

Thinking of the wonderful family that I've been blessed with, I've pondered over what it really meant to have a savior. I tried to wrap my head around the concepts of grace and reconciliation as I sat looking at a large painting by my dad of the Annunciation. Jesus was foretold by prophets and angels. His earthly ministry was so relatively short, yet its influence has reverberated across continents and oceans. No man has touched more lives and instigated more goodness.

Largely because of this, the Hallelujah chorus is possibly the most famous piece of music ever written, as many in other countries can recognize it over other English songs. I've had the pleasure of performing in Handel's Messiah as a tenor and as a bass, and both times my testimony of the divinity of Christ has been strengthened.

It is impossible with a mortal mind to truly grasp the infinite atonement performed by the Savior, but I know that someday I will. Until that time, I pray that I will have the trust to allow His grace to redeem me from my shortcomings.

There is no one on earth beyond the reach of His forgiveness. Hallelujah

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Baba Yetu

This week the BYU Men's Chorus released its newest music video, "Baba Yetu" featuring the amazing Alex Boye! It was such an honor and uplifting experience to be a part of it (I'm in there, somewhere, I promise!). The Lord's Prayer in Swahili, Baba Yetu has a deeper meaning for me and my journey. Something that Alex Boye shows our little world is that faith and devotion don't always take shape in cookie-cutter patterns. The Gospel is for all mankind. All cultures express their love to their God in their own respectful way(s).

I've constantly struggled with feeling like I don't belong, that if people really knew what I was struggling with they would judge me, and that my dedication to God would be counted as meaningless when considered in conjunction with my same-sex attraction.

This week I've thought a lot about how my life and future don't look like what I've always planned. Perhaps I'll get married to a woman and father children. Perhaps not. I'm doing the best I can with the cards I've been dealt. Sometimes, the "thoughtful" questions that people ask me imply that I'm studying a dead-end major or that I'm committing some sin of omission by not actively dating. Mind you, most of these negative feelings are simply stories I tell myself. I paint myself into a corner all too often. Juggling same-sex attraction, chronic pain, and the everyday demands of life often makes me feel like I'm not good enough for this world.

Something that struck me while working with Alex was that while many people I know (including, sometimes, myself) pick at how he sings so dramatically and ostentatiously that it takes the Spirit out of the hymns. In essence, I've downplayed his testimony because of his presentation.

It came as a slap to the face, albeit a soft one. Are words of love in another language any less genuine? Does presentation invalidate a testimony? Perhaps others see me when they find out that I experience same-sex attraction in an uncomfortable light, that perhaps if my testimony was stronger or my resolve deeper my attractions wouldn't need to be discussed (Again, stories in my head). Being a young, very single adult in the Church, my life may not look normal, and if I continue on this relationship-trajectory my lone wolf status may continue to puzzle those with whom I associate.

Whether others hold such perceptions of me or these are my misguided perceptions of myself, I think its a valuable lesson to learn that while many of our paths look very different from each other's, we are all trekking to the same destination. We can't walk another's path for him/her, but we can honor the life circumstances of our spiritual siblings by respecting their efforts to live their testimonies in an authentic manner.