Tuesday, January 31, 2017

99 Balloons

This week a family member was put on hospice. She had appeared to be beating the disease she had battled for this past year, but her organs are now failing. She could pass at any time.

Losing her rattles my nerves. I don't know how I could live without any of my family members, and this occurrence simply reminds me of how short this mortal life is. I could part with any and all mortal possessions if the choice was between them and my family. 

An important question to ask is what would I not give? Perhaps the only thing that our Heavenly Father really asks of me - my will. 

Could I sacrifice a romantic relationship with another man if the choice was between him and my family?


In a world where homosexual relationships are paraded and celebrated, many may not understand why this is even a choice. I was even told recently that I was sinning by refusing to love and be loved sexually by someone (when I asked him to back that statement up doctrinally, he had no response).

When I compare this life to the eternities, I recognize that taking risks with eternal consequences should be given pause.

I wholeheartedly believe that in order for my family to be connected eternally, we must honor the covenants that we have made with the Father in the name of Christ.

And it's worth it.

Today my religion teacher shared this video with me. With last weeks "March for Life" fresh in my mind, this particular clip made me cry:

Eliot's parents obviously gave everything they had to keep him alive and comfortable for his short 99 days of life. I'm sure they would have traded anything to be able to raise him in this life. But their focus was not from a consumer's perspective. They didn't abandon their faith in God when they didn't get the blessings they wanted in return for their devotion. 

They recognized that God's ways are higher than those of mortals. They celebrated the tender mercies that were allotted them and hoped for their eternal reunion with their precious child. I hope that when I'm a father someday that I won't have to experience the loss of a child, but if I do, I'll pray to have trust in Christ of a similar caliber to this family and many others in my life who have faced similar hardships. My trials pale in comparison. 

I don't want to have any question in my heart when it's time for me to die as to whether I'll be with my family and Savior. So, while the passing of my loved one is causing me to weep, I know that our separation will be but a brief moment compared to the eternity that we'll share if I surrender my will to the Father.

What are you willing to give up for blessings which you may not receive in this life?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Jesus Asked For Help

This week has been rippled with tragedy as the world is being harassed by terrorism. Innocent police officers have been murdered in cold blood and our gay brothers and sisters are being executed in the Middle East. I have so many prayers to offer I don't even know where to start.

On a more personal level, each of us encounter adversities unknown to those around us. In my attempt to be perfect and independent, I avoid asking for help at almost any cost. I want to be the strong one. I want to be the older brother. Looking at the horrors which the families of this week's victims now face, I'm ashamed at my weakness to handle the simplest of trials.

I don't experience any addictions (unless you count facebook. #StereotypicalMillennial), and I often feel disconnected from many of my friends because it takes more effort for me to empathize with that struggle. I'm grateful that for whatever reason I haven't been sucked into that trap.

But this doesn't preclude me from tasting a swig of the bitter cup. I experience a profound loneliness more often then not, mainly because my chronic illness limits my day-to-day activities to the bare necessities of physical and academic survival. I want to connect with others, and I don't feel like I'm socially inept, which makes it that much harder to deal with the loneliness.

Sometimes (okay, almost all the time) I need a hug or to be held, to be told that I'm worth it and the sacrifices I'm making are worth it. However, I fear rejection, or worse, that I'll be perceived as a burden to someone else. I unfortunately base this off of relationships that I have with other guys in the Mormon SSA community, some of whom don't recognize that we aren't close enough friends for them to throw their troubles on me. I'm afraid that I'm that kind of person to someone else.

Along these lines, something that we often skim over when reading the New Testament is that the Savior Himself asked for help. The Messiah, our ultimate example, was perfect, yet instead of bearing all of His burdens alone, He involved those around Him.

He asked His disciples to help build the kingdom. He likely asked Mary, Martha, and Lazarus for food and shelter. He certainly accepted the help of many, like the boy with the loaves and the fishes.

Easily the most profound example of Christ asking for help was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew that He was going to face the most painful experience known to man, so Jesus asked His friends to come with Him as far as they could. He repeatedly entreated them to stay awake so that He would know that there were others supporting Him. When His disciples failed Him, the Savior called upon the powers of heaven to sustain Him through the agonizing Hellfire in the garden that night. An angel was sent by the Father to give Him the strength He needed to complete the keystone of the Plan of Salvation.

Was this a burden to others? Was the man who held the weight of the world on His shoulders unjustified in pleading for help? While we face minuscule trials by comparison, the Savior recognizes our need for help.

If you knew the stories your friends tell themselves about their worthlessness, their ugliness, their filthiness, your heart would break for them. Would you not want to do all you could to heal them? To pull them out of their darkness? To tell them the truth?

I struggle with being the gracious recipient of help. Even more so, I dread the vulnerability of asking for help. Humble pie tastes like dirt, but I need to stop turning my nose up to it all the same.

I hope that we can recognize the struggles of those around us and visit them in their darkness from a place of empathy, and when we sense that our best is not enough that we will reach out to others for Christlike love and affirmation.

Monday, January 9, 2017


"Your Other Brothers" is a "faith community somewhere between gay and straight, the closet and the mountain top, the back row and the pew beside you." These Christian men share their experiences with same-sex attraction while asking important questions and exploring difficult topics. I'm so grateful that God let me find them! 

Their latest episode, "Male Envy," is my favorite so far! It addresses what I personally attribute my attractions to.



While I won't go into great detail with this struggle, I will say that envy probably causes me the most pain of anything I experience. I envy other guys' health, status, talents, bodies, testimonies, popularity, wealth, and most of all, confidence. For some reason, my mind sexualizes the gap between what I am and what I want to be. It's as if my body doesn't believe it'll ever compare to other men and the only way to heal that discrepancy is to be romantically codependent with a man. It's torture.

In our culture, looks seem to be everything. Much attention is paid to effects of advertising on young women in attempts to curb eating disorders and emotional distress in this demographic. Unfortunately, men often get overlooked in this regard. I was told all growing up that I was lucky to be a guy because I didn't have to worry about my hair or makeup, that women are held to a much higher standard.

I'm not arguing that a huge emphasis is placed on a woman's looks, but young men have their own set of messages barraging them. Hollywood and the media tell me that to be a real man I need to have a chiseled jaw, huge biceps, a tight butt, a ripped chest, and, most importantly, a six-pack capable of scrubbing laundry on. It's interesting to see how this expectation has grown so pronounced since the 70s.

Unfortunately, I'm no Arnold Schwarzenegger. My chronic illness makes exercise even more painful, a recipe that simply doesn't lead to physical perfection. When I scroll through my Instagram, I get to see photos documenting the fitness triumphs of many friends. It's great (*sarcasm implied*).

I remember being jealous of my siblings at an early age. I was always the chubby kid while all of my siblings were athletic and brilliant. Fortunately I discovered athletic talents in my later teenage years, but even then, I was constantly reminded that I wasn't the best on the team. As I do now, I compared my weaknesses to the strengths of others. 

J. Devn Cornish admonishes "Please, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. We torture ourselves needlessly by competing and comparing. We falsely judge our self-worth by the things we do or don’t have and by the opinions of others. If we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today—and even to how we want to be in the future. The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick."

I have to continually remind myself that there is more to life than being a jock. My worth isn't predicated on how many hours I spend at the gym each day or how many kilograms of protein powder I consume. But it's hard. It's so hard.

If only I could have the confidence that other men seem to emit. Confidence in their stride, their bodies, their emotions, their passions. I feel like I'm confident in so few aspects of my life. I delude myself when I think that being fit would secure this confidence, but it's so easy to get stuck in a cycle of "if only."

My teacher told us this last semester that "comparison is the thief of gratitude." I believe he's right. We are reminded at church to "count our many blessings" in order to find contentment. 

Obviously this is still something that I struggle with, but I know I'm not alone. Listen to the podcast for another perspective!