Monday, May 20, 2013

Voice(s) of Hope, Part 2


I’ve had a hard couple of days, so I decided the best way to deal with it was to do another Voice(s) of Hope post. The ones I decided to do today have been really powerful. As promised, I’m going to summarize three videos and one essay, but please please please visit the website itself and watch the videos and read the essays. I can only capture a small portion of the Spirit that they portray.

"I thought I could probably [make a gay relationship work],
but the Spirit had shown me something different." --Jeff Bennion
I’m going to start off today with Jeff and Tanya Bennion’s video. They both also wrote essays for the Voice(s) of Hope book (the last two, in fact) and their essays together are probably my favorite ones, as far as how couples where one partner has SSA should react. I’ve met them both in real life and they are AMAZING people and Jeff has helped me out several times when I’ve needed support. I could relate to a lot of what Jeff said in the video. He talked about how he was first “forced” into accepting his SSA by the Spirit while on his mission, because it was inhibiting his ability to be an effective missionary. That step was incredibly important for him. After returning home, he began telling people slowly. Telling people about his sexuality slowly rewrote the story in his mind that “They wouldn’t love me if they knew my secret.” I can relate to that. After I told Garrett about my SSA last summer, I knew I didn’t have to be scared to tell anyone else; my best friend still loved me, so who else mattered?

I loved what Jeff said about sacrifice. On a daily basis each of us make the decision between what the carnal body desires and what the Lord assures us will make us happy. Though maybe not consciously, each day I make the decision to sacrifice acting on my homosexual feelings in order to feel the blessings of the gospel and submit to the will of the Lord. From what I know of Jeff and Tanya’s story, I really admire their AMAZINGLY open communication. Even just the fact that Tanya was able to ask Jeff if he ever wanted to live in a gay relationship is powerful. Though I do think that Jeff’s perspective on the question is just as powerful, basically telling her that a better question is “Do you wish you weren’t married to me, so that you could be in a gay relationship?” to which his loving answer was a simple “No.”

"Any area in our life that we know is broken, the
Savior can fix it." --Cedric Phan
Second one today: Cedric Phan. As always, I am always so impressed by the men and women who leave the gay lifestyle in order to join the church. I can’t imagine making that sacrifice, had I not been raised in the church. However, one thing I loved from Cedric’s video was that it wasn’t hard for him. He recognized that the gay scene did not make him happy. What made him happy was being accepted and loved and feeling at home at church and in the gospel. I love that Cedric brings up what it means to be a man, a concept that I believe is totally skewed in our society. A lesson that Cedric learned, which I wholeheartedly agree with, is that being a real man is becoming a Christ-like man. I loved that he talked about how much he has grown and learned from being in the church, because it would DEFINITELY be easier to leave the church at times. At BYU, it’s really hard to feel hounded with the marriage and dating talk. Sometimes it feels like it’d be so much easier to not go to church and not deal with that lecture again. However, I keep going, because I know that I can find immeasurable strength there. To close his video, Cedric quotes a song, “Broken” by Kenneth Cope. This past week I have felt broken, so this song brings me hope and peace: "God loves broken me. Praise His name; my God loves broken things."

"I couldn't have the testimony of the Atonement that I have
without ... same-sex attraction." --Stephen Larsen
Final video for today is of Stephen Larsen. Of all the videos I watched today, I felt that Stephen spoke really specifically of the blessings of gospel in his journey. Like him, I can say that if it wasn’t for the gospel, I would not have made it through the lonely years of third grade through the end of high school. If it wasn’t for the gospel, I would not have survived at BYU as a 19-year-old and later a 20-year-old RM. Like Stephen, a lot of my peace has come through having support, having brotherhood, and having friends. I loved Stephen’s affirmation that it’s okay if he, if I, or if any man or woman cannot get married in this life. Singleness is not the end. One of the things I try to work on is the concept of being happy regardless of whether I’m currently interested in any girls (which I currently am, I suppose), whether I’m dating someone, or whether I’m married. I’ve been told (and I believe it) that if a person isn’t happy single, they won’t be happy married either.

The essay for today really touched me and really tore at me. It was by Ed Hayward, who has a transgendered child. His daughter Eri was born a boy who they named Eddie. Over the years, Eddie had crushes on boys and thought he was gay, finally coming to understand that he was not gay, but transgendered. The heartache and struggle that Ed and his wife went through in accepting the struggles of their son going through the process of physically becoming a woman. These stories always hit me differently. I don’t understand transgendered feelings much. Last before this last year, I didn’t know anything about it at all until one of my childhood friends told me that he was going through hormone therapy to become a woman. I admit that I still don’t understand. It has taught me a lot about how I suppose straight people feel about SSA, not understanding how it’s possible or how it could possibly feel, but still sympathizing as best they can.

I am grateful for the hope I feel in reading the Voice(s) of Hope essays and watching the videos. I have felt the love of my Savior and my Father from it and it continues to things get better. As I trust in Him and do my best to take care of myself, I see that it gets better.

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