What I’m writing is something Spencer has taught me over the years. It’s not any one specific thing that he did—it’s more like something that he has consistently done throughout the entire time I’ve known him.
But first, I need to give a little backstory:
I gave up on having good friendships with guys around freshman year of high school (around age 15), when the majority of my best friends got involved in things they shouldn’t have. When my family and I moved from Arizona to Florida, it made that detachment from them easier. When I started over again in Florida, I only became friends with guys on the surface level, really. The guys I got to know were just someone to see once in a while, have campouts and some fun with, but no real getting to know any of them. They came and went just as I left Florida and moved (yet again) to Michigan.
The same thing happened there. With my disillusionment of not really wanting to make friends with guys, and with my skyrocketing interest in girls, my focus during my last 2 years of high school naturally shifted to flirting, dating, and how to treat a girl well. I found girls thrilling, and loved going from one to the other—sometimes getting into a relationship, sometimes staying as friends, and sometimes becoming something “in-between.” I loved it. I made life-long friends with these girls and learned lessons about the dynamics of love. During this time, I had very few guys that I hung out with outside of the Young Men program in church. I found it hard for myself to trust others--girl or guy--and felt it better to remain “independent” and to not get too emotionally attached. And since at church I always heard about us guys needing to always treat girls well, and how we needed to date them, I felt justified in my coldness to other guys.
But after high school, things soon changed.
When I met Spencer at the start of freshman year at BYU, he slowly but surely reestablished the kind of solid friendship with guys that I didn’t know I had been missing.
I remember one of the nights in the beginning of fall semester, I had been planning on going with Spencer and a bunch of other guys from our ward to see a football game—but I noticed that Spencer wasn’t all that willing to go. I felt prompted to stay with him instead of going to see the game.
I took to heart what I had learned from Spencer freshman year, and used it with my companions on my mission, and it really helped me to get along with them and make friendships with them. I learned how to trust friends again, and I learned the importance of having friends trusting you.
And the best part was, my mission helped me in turn be a better friend to Spencer when I got back, and prepared me to be supportive for when he told me about his SSA.
Thanks to Spencer, I have a healthier balance between romance and friendships with women, and commradery with men. I can once again relish the kinds of friendships I had lost as a kid—doing funny and silly things, talking about hard and difficult things, talking about girls, talking about this, talking about that, and always taking care of each other.
Now we get to the lesson: that, more than anything, is what Spencer has taught me—that we are all here as brothers, children of our Heavenly Father, no matter what we struggle with (SSA or not), and we’re here to watch out for each other. Henry B. Eyring talks about this during a talk in the April 2009 General Conference, where in Priesthood Session he compares that responsibility to a group of soldiers who gave their lives to protect their fallen comrades during a battle in Somalia. President Eyring said of these men:
“The courage to act and their selfless service came from feeling that they were responsible for the lives, the happiness, and the safety of comrades. Such a feeling of responsibility for others is at the heart of faithful priesthood service.” (“Man Down!” –April 2009 Priesthood Session)
That is the kind of spirit that Spencer demonstrates, through daily and quiet actions, and it’s one that I’ve tried to apply as I’ve gained more and more guy friends along the way. As I’ve done so, I’ve become a better man. I will forever be grateful that Spencer is an excellent example of being a brother’s keeper.
To those who have SSA: remember you still have gifts—gifts that even your SSA might give you, and you can bless the lives of everyone you have around you with those gifts. As a straight friend, I have been blessed immensely because of the gifts Spencer has inherited.
I add my testimony & my voice to the several others that Jesus Christ is Our Savior, and our perfect example. He came to our rescue. Through Him, no matter what path of life you’re on, it will get better, if you let His Atonement make it better.