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.