No, I am not just blissfully ignorant. I wish I was. It was so much easier then.
No, it’s not that I am blissfully ignorant about the church’s stances, history, or what real people have to go through and how the church can (and has) negatively effected them. I wish I was still that inexperienced. It was so much easier then. Yes, I do experience “cognitive dissonance”–that term so many who have left the church despise because it does not simply explain their reason for leaving, as many who are still in the church may believe. No, it’s not that the “Kool-Aid just tastes THAT good” (yes, somebody really asked me this question before).
Let’s be honest here. Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints can be so amazing and wonderful. But, for the most part, it is difficult-as-all-heck, especially when life throws you a crazy curve ball. My curve ball came in the form of a homosexual brother, several chronic illnesses, and the inability to accomplish what I originally planned for in life.
Before, I never gave much thought to illness because I took care of myself. I ate healthy, exercised, was very active, never smoked, never did drugs (I would even avoid things like Ibuprofen if possible), never even drank soda, and never had a lick of alcohol. I thought illnesses happened to other people who did not take care of themselves, or those who were older–not twenty-flipping-years-old. And yet, here I am.
Before, I never thought too much about the LGBT+ community because I had no personal experience with it. I knew it must have been extremely difficult to be gay, lesbian, transgender, etc. while growing up in a conservative or religious household. But since it never hit too close to home, I could just pretend it wasn’t real. Then my brother told me he is gay. I grew up with this boy, knew him better than anybody else in the entire world–as most situations with siblings are. I knew this was not something he chose, not in this life anyway. I knew this was something he was born with. I knew that poor, scared kid had prayed and begged Heavenly Father for years and years to take his homosexual feelings away. But God would not do it. Why?
Let’s be honest again. *looks around to see if anyone is watching and whispers* I want to leave the church so bad. Yepp, even me: author of a Joseph Smith book, just wishes to leave sometimes. Gosh, wouldn’t that be easier on my heart and soul? Wouldn’t that cognitive dissonance go away? I would no longer have that conflict in my mind constantly telling me that gay + mormon=??; it is a difficult equation that doesn’t seem to add up. Maybe it would be much easier. It could solve some of these internal problems. And yet, here I am. Why?
I’ll be honest with you one last time. I can’t leave. I would be lying to myself if I said I didn’t still have a testimony. I would be lying to myself and you if I said I didn’t feel God’s presence every single day. I would be lying to myself and you if I acted like the Book of Mormon isn’t the most true book on earth. I would be lying to myself and you if I said I don’t love the Prophet Joseph Smith with all my heart. I would be lying to myself and you if I didn’t tell you that I have seen Joseph Smith for who he is–not a perfect man and not even necessarily a good man all the time. BUT! I know that he translated the Book of Mormon and is a true Prophet of God. How do I know this? I cannot express to you all enough that I have seen it with my own eyes.
Regardless of all that, I still pray to Heavenly Father all the time, asking if the whole church is true. I just want to believe that somehow, the church lost their way and that gay marriage is ordained by God and everyone can be happy and live their truths while also living with the gospel in their lives. And I want Heavenly Father to confirm that to me so I can just leave and live by the Book of Mormon’s teachings but not by the church’s. But He won’t do it. Why? Because, apparently, the church is true. Honestly, this is pretty much all I know:
- God is real. I have seen it. I have heard it. I have felt it. I know it.
- God loves EVERYONE: gay, straight, male, female, and even somewhere/anywhere in between, majority, minority, rich, poor, ‘good’,’bad’, famous, infamous, or ‘ordinary.’ Seriously, no matter what. No matter who you are or how you choose to live your life.
- The Book of Mormon is legit. It is true. It was translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith. I have seen it. Don’t just take my word for it if you aren’t convinced. Read it for yourself, do your own research from reliable sources and come to your own conclusion. Yes, I have prayed about it and felt the spirit tell me it is true. Nonetheless, it still makes sense logically, too. When you really study the facts (innocent plug for my book here), the chances of Joseph Smith making it all up on the spot vs translating it with the help of God…the answer is simple. Living life based on these principles is the difficult part.
In the Bible, we read about Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. Looking at that before life’s curve balls were thrown at me, I thought, “God would never really force anyone to make such sacrifices.” And yet, here we are. I am not even willing to sacrifice my little brother’s happiness, let alone my own baby boy. I would not be a good Abraham. I would not be a good Heavenly Father, either, as He really did have to sacrifice his son. “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten son…” I can’t help but feel like for some reason, we need to experience and make sacrifices like Abraham was asked to do. But if we can’t, that is what God sacrificed His son for.
“If our love is tragedy, why are you my remedy? If our love’s insanity, why are you my clarity?”Zedd feat. Foxes
My favorite song of all time is “Clarity” by Zedd. I highly recommend it. I feel like I can relate to it on so many levels, but one of the most prominent connections I feel is regarding my relationship to Heavenly Father and the Church. The chorus goes like this, “If our love is tragedy, why are you my remedy? If our love’s insanity, why are you my clarity?” Ironically, I believe this song was written about homosexual relationships. So, I feel extra connected to it in that way.
It seems like, from an outside perspective– especially from those who know my entire situation and know that I still choose to be an active member of the church– I seem like an odd ball. People who have left the church look at me and think, “how can you still be a part of this, when you have been through all you’ve been through and seen all that you’ve seen?” People who haven’t left the church but haven’t had too many curve balls thrown at them yet, especially something as life-altering as having a close family member or friend come out, look at me and think, “how can you still support your brother like that?” But I know God loves me as much as He loves anybody else, regardless of who they are or how they choose to live their lives. I know the Church is still true.
I am not the typical mormon anymore but Heavenly Father and even the Church still give me clarity. In fact, God is my best source of clarity. As confusing as everything else seems to be, Heavenly Father just keeps pulling me back in to say, “trust me, I’ve got this.”