I have always found it difficult to open myself up to other people. I am the type of person who feels confident talking about anything--unless it is how I feel. The other night, a friend and I spoke about how developing lasting relationships requires us to open ourselves up to vulnerability and take the risk of trusting someone else. Both of us have had experiences in life that make it difficult for us to take the risk of trusting other people. I could tell that she needed to feel trust, and I knew that I needed to learn to trust others, so I took the risk and opened up. I told her about my my fears in life and even about my experience with same-gender attraction (SSA). I explained how this has impacted the way I view relationships and at times lessened my hope for the future. But I also shared the relationship that I have developed with God and how I have come to know Him better. She took it wonderfully and I think she left feeling strengthened, trusted, and valued. I left feeling more secure in who I am and more prepared to open myself up like that in the future.
Through this conversation I gained a valuable friend and acquired a few important insights. First, it was a demonstration of how far I have come over these past 6 months. When I first began this journey I could not even bear to admit this part of my identity even to myself. The very thought sent me into weeks of near paralyzing despair. As I continued on my journey I learned to accept myself more fully and open myself up to other people in small ways--a priesthood leader here, a friend there, and eventually my parents. Each time, however, it was shared out of a sense of self-preservation, social duty, or a desire for support and companionship. This time, though, my motivation was to help and lift another person. It was a special opportunity to utilize my unique experiences, trials, and struggles as a means of strengthening someone else. For the first time, I was able to see my experience with SSA as a stepping stone to overcoming personal weakness and a tool for helping someone else on their path of progression, rather than solely a personal stumbling block on my road to eventual perfection.
Secondly, I gained a deeper recognition of the ways which my experiences over these past 6 months have shaped my life for the better. There has been so much darkness, but it has helped me to recognize and appreciate the light. God has an intimate awareness of my specific needs. He knows the attributes which I lack most and sees my divine potential. Because of this, He knows exactly what trials and experiences I need to have to overcome my weaknesses, and I believe that living with same-sex attraction is one of the trials that God chose for me so that I could develop in a very specific, individual way.
I feel closer to God than I have ever felt before. I hear His voice more clearly when He speaks. I recognize the feel of His hand as it guides me through the night and shapes me into who He intends me to be. One of my favorite scriptures has always been 1 John 4:19 "We love Him, because He first loved us." At times I have felt such feelings of worthlessness and depression that I felt that I didn't deserve anyone's love--especially God's. I was weak, broken, and useless. But somehow, beyond all comprehension, He still loved me. He will always love me. And because of that, I will always love Him.
I am closer to God I could ever have been if I did not deal with the burden of same-sex attraction. I could not be who I am today with out it. It has refined me. I have felt a lot of things about my experience with same-gender attraction over that last months and years, but for the first time, I was able to view it as a blessing.
These realizations were powerful and profound, but I recognize there will still be difficulties on the road ahead. There will be tears, heartache, and loneliness. There could not be growth and development with out it. I do know, however, that I will never have to walk it alone, and neither will anyone who is willing to reach out to God in trust. He will never leave us, though sometimes we may leave Him. I love Him, and I trust that He will lead all of down the path to a brighter day.