Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Love and the Christian Imagination: a way to Understand Others who are Different as Taught by Christ.

Hello Everyone,

After I recently came out on this blog I have been overwhelmed by all the positive responses and wonderful declarations of support. I am planning on writing more on this blog about many different topics that are important to me.  However with school starting up I may take a little longer to update the blog.

So in the mean time I thought I would post a wonderful talk given by Robert Reese Ph.D. an active Latter-day Saint who has been an ally for LGBT Mormons for a long time.  This talk gives a very thorough and wonderful insight into what it is like to be an LGBT and Christian.  He calls on both sides to build understanding and love for the other.  He also speaks on an interesting subject that I am guessing the vast majority of people probably haven't thought of before.  I encourage everyone to read this talk. I hope that it can open hearts and promote greater love and understanding for all of God's children.  Enjoy!

Love and the Christian imagination 
~ Robert A. Rees, Ph.D.

Part of what it means to be a Christian is that through the grace of Christ we have the capacity to imagine what it is like to suffer as another person suffers. It is impossible to do this if we have anger, hatred or revulsion for the other. Such imaginative projection is possible only within the context of love. Thus, those who revile and persecute homosexuals, who treat them as if they are flawed or have some kind of sinister agenda, cannot possibly take on their suffering, cannot possibly hope to feel what they feel, but those whose compassion is inspired by Christ, can feel, at least to some degree, what it must be like to be anathema to society. We can imagine what it must feel like to be taught to hate our own bodies, to be condemned for feeling what we naturally feel, to be denied normal fellowship within Christ’s kingdom, and to want to blot out our deep soul suffering through suicide.

Reviewing the sad history of homosexuality among the Mormons, I conclude that where we are today as a Church and as a people, though in many ways advanced from where we have been, can best be described as a failure—a failure of faith, a failure of courage, a failure of imagination, and most of all a failure of love.

I want to talk about two aspects of that failure today—the failure of imagination and the failure of love. I don’t think one can have a truly mature faith that isn’t to some degree graced by imagination. We don’t often speak of imagination and Christ in the same breath, but I read the gospels as the product of a great and fecund imagination. It isn’t just the inventive language, the subtle irony and humor, and the fresh narratives that flowed from his expansive heart and mind that make Jesus of Nazareth such great imaginer, but especially his capacity to imagine each of us caught in the snares of sin, lost in the tangled wood of mortality, each uniquely in need of love, mercy and grace. Beyond this was his god-like capacity to imagine each of us as glorified beings, each of our futures a reflection of his present. Only such an imagination, I am convinced, could have emboldened him to descend into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and ascend to Calvary the following Friday.

If we share some of Christ’s imaginative gifts, as I believe we all have the capacity to do when we take on us his name, then we can use such gifts to expand his work in the world. We can imagine not only that, but how, we can be better disciples than we are and the Church a better institution than it is. The Church I imagine, like Joseph Smith’s view of God, can be “more liberal in [its] views and more boundless in [its] mercies than we are ready to believe.”

The way in which I believe we have failed you our LGBT brothers and sisters is that we have not used our Christian imagination to try and understand your experience or to understand our stewardship in relation to you. Instead of seeing you as Latter-day Saints who have made heroic efforts to conform to Church requirements, we have instead characterized you as rebellious and unrepentant.

Instead of seeing you as exercising faith in promises made by Church leaders and therapists that if you were only sufficiently faithful, you could change your core identity, we have tended to see you as willfully disobedient and unfaithful.
Instead of honoring the often heroic efforts you have made to prove to God and the Church that you were worthy of such a miraculous promise of change, we have accused you of not being sufficiently righteous.
Instead of applauding you for spending years and in some instances decades in therapy trying to deal with your depression, despair, and existential angst over your identity, we have accused you of not being sufficiently valiant.
Instead of seeing you as people who have made amazing sacrifices to fit in with your family, friends and congregations, we have stereotyped you as lustful, narcissistic Sybarites bent on indulging in and celebrating a “life style” that we have labeled outrageous, deviant, and predatory.
Instead of seeing you as desiring the Mormon ideal of fidelity in marriage, we have characterized you as desiring something unnatural and uncivilized.
In short, instead of seeing you as fully human, we have tended to see you as alien and other.
We have failed to imagine what it must have been like for you as children or adolescents when you first recognized that you were different from your peers and the societal norm you were expected to conform to and how frightened you were of telling anyone about your feelings. According to the recent survey of 1,600 Latter-day Saint homosexuals conducted by Dr. William Bradshaw and his colleagues, on average, participants report a ten- year gap between the time they first realized their romantic or erotic attraction to those of the same sex (around age 12) and their first disclosure of this to another person (around age 22). We have failed to imagine the exquisite fear and loneliness you must have experienced during that long, lonely decade—or how painful it was when you did finally muster the courage to tell someone, only to discover that they rejected you, driving you deeper into your loneliness, despair and alienation.
Nowhere has our imagination failed us more than in our refusal to place ourselves in your lives, in your hearts, your minds, and your bodies, to imagine how we would feel and act if we were asked to do what we have asked you to do—forego all romantic love, intimate affection, erotic expression, marital companionship and parent-child relationships for the duration of your mortal lives. Failing to consider the complexity of same-sex orientation and identity, we have encouraged (and even pressured) some of you to bind yourself to another person for whom you have no such desires or hope of any. We have also failed to imagine how it must be for you to suffer opprobrium, denigration of character, and alienation from the families, friends and congregations you most want to be a part of. We have failed to imagine how you feel on Sunday mornings when you want to be worshipping with your fellow saints and singing the songs of Zion.
Finally, we have failed to imagine the despair, the hopelessness that has led so many of you to take or attempt to take your own lives.
In a talk I gave over twenty-five years ago when I was bishop of the Los Angeles Singles’ Ward—addressed to the heterosexual members of the ward--I cited Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire,” in which Hopkins says that each of us
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is—[that is,]
Christ. For [he says] Christ plays in ten thousand places, Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.
What Hopkins means is that Christ as our advocate takes our part, acts on our behalf before the Father, letting his light shine through our features and faces so that the Father may see us as Christ sees us—lovely in limbs and eyes (that is, body and soul), in spite of our weaknesses, limitations, and sinfulness.
Since we have the light of Christ within us, since we take on his character when we are born anew through him, thus becoming his children of light, then beyond expressing who and what we are, we also express who he is. Christ justifies us to God, and it is through His grace that when we act before the Father, in a sense we become Christ, because his light shines through us. Christ plays in ten thousand places and through many times ten thousand faces which he makes lovely to the Father through his grace. Those faces Christ plays through are both heterosexual and homosexual. He would bring us all to God.
The Gospel of St. Matthew shows us that Christ intends for us as his disciples to imitate him in this way—that is, that we are to see one another as he sees us, to consciously engage our imaginations as he employed his so that we, like him, can see the very essence of one another’s being, in Latter- day Saint terms, see the light of Christ in one another’s faces. When we do this, our only response is to love one another with as pure a love as we are capable of manifesting. As the novelist, Francisco Goldman says, “The great metaphor at the heart of the Gospel According to Saint Matthew is that those who suffer and those who show love for those who suffer are joined through suffering and grace to Jesus Christ.”
I concluded my remarks to members of the Los Angeles First ward with these words:I pray the Lord will bless us as brothers and sisters in the Kingdom of God, as those who have taken upon us His name, that we will let Christ's light shine through our faces, that we will make of our community a wholeness, that we will seek that common ground of peace of which Paul speaks, and that we will learn how to love and serve the Lord by celebrating who we are, his heterosexual and homosexual sons and daughters. Because we are all his creatures, we are all born with his light. I pray that we may let that light shine among us, that it might grow, that we ourselves might be its beacon, and that, as a Church and as individuals, we not only will pray to the Lord for greater light and understanding, but that we will turn ourhearts with greater charity, love and acceptance of all of those whom we might consider strangers.
In Matthew 25 Christ puts Himself in the place of the stranger--of the homosexual, if you will, saying in effect, "Inasmuch as you have done it or not done it unto the least of one of these my homosexual brothers or sisters, you have done it or not done it unto me" (25:40).
What does this mean for you, my homosexual brothers and sisters? I wish I could say that you just have to be patient with us, your unimaginative, incomplete and wounded fellow saints, that you just have to continue to endure our spiritual immaturity as we strive to become more enlightened and more loving, but the fact is, you too have this role to play—you must also see us, those who have despised and rejected you, who have belittled and banished you, who have failed to find you in our imaginations—you must see us in the same way Christ calls us to see you. That is, even as we continue to cause you to suffer, you are called to imagine our lives--our fears, ignorance and prejudice that characterize our un-Christian treatment of you. That above all is what it means to be a follower of Christ. With him, we are to replace, ignorance with knowledge, error with truth, injustice with justice and, most of all, hate with love.
I know it is not just for you to have to respond in this way to an institution and individuals who have treated you in unkind, unjust and, yes, un- Christian ways, but if we are to find our way out of the labyrinth we are in, which I think we must do together, it is incumbent upon us all to do what Christ calls us to do. It is through this work that we reform both ourselves and our Church. It is in this constant reforming that we prevent both ourselves and the Church from becoming idols. Thus, in order for this to happen, we have to get out of our social and religious ghettos, see one another’s real lives and try to understand one another’s lived experiences. I love the old Shaker hymn titled “More Love,” which includes the following lyrics:
If ye love not each other in daily communion, How can ye love God whom ye have not seen? More love, more love;
The heaven’s are blessing
The angels are calling O Zion! More love.
If in the Church we can imagine change beyond policy and practice, beyond culture, perhaps even beyond currently accepted doctrine, we may become agents of change and thereby help transform the Church, perhaps liberate it from some of its less enlightened traditions, and even glorify it in new ways, thus demonstrating that we are indeed ready and anxious to receive on this subject new revelation regarding "great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." As the humanist Ihab Hassan says, "Liberations come from some strange region where the imagination meets change. . . . We need to re-imagine change itself, else we labor to confirm all our errors." Or, as Saul Bellow’s Henderson says, “All human accomplishment has this same origin, identically. Imagination is a force of nature. Is this not enough to make a person full of ecstasy? Imagination, imagination, imagination! It converts to actual. It sustains, it alters, it redeems!”
In his powerful essay, "Notes of a Native Son," James Baldwin speaks about the rage he felt as he went through a series of humiliating experiences as a young man living in New York [City]. He was refused service in a number of restaurants simply because he was black. Finally, the accumulation of humiliations caused him to react with a kind of unconscious violence . . . . I saw nothing very clearly but I did see this: that my life, my real life, was in danger, and not from anything other people might do, but from the hatred I carried in my own heart."
Later in the same essay Baldwin concludes, "In order to really hate white people, one has to blot so much out of the mind--and the heart-- that this hatred itself becomes an exhausting and self-destructive pose. But this does not mean, on the other hand, that love comes easily: the white world [and here one can substitute the straight world] is too powerful, too complacent, too ready with gratuitous humiliation, and above all, too ignorant and too innocent for that . . . . Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated and this was an immutable law."
Twenty-one years ago I gave the keynote address at the Affirmation national conference in Palm Springs. In that address, I made an analogy between what was happening in the Church in relation to homosexuality and what had transpired in American and Mormon culture in relation to blacks. I quote from that address:  In a letter to his nephew, James, written on the hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Baldwin writes, "There is no reason for you to try to become like white people and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you. The really terrible thing, old buddy, is that you must accept them. And I mean that very seriously. You must accept them and accept them with love. For these innocent people have no other hope. They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it. . . . We cannot be free until they are free."
Have any of you ever considered that part of your work for humanity might be teaching heterosexuals how to love better? It may not be fair that you are asked to do this, but I believe that it is God's will that you do so because, like blacks and other hated groups, you have experienced the deprivation of love in a profound way, and that depravation has given you a gift which, if you will use it, can bless your lives and the lives of others. Having been subject to rejection, ostracism, and even hatred, you may understand something about the importance of love which others do not. I believe that it is in rising through our suffering to such love that we attain holiness.
I would like to close with a story that illustrates this principle, Raymond Carver’s “A Small Good Thing.” In this story a couple, the Weisses, make preparations to celebrate the birthday of their only son, Scotty. They order a cake from the local bakery. On the day of the party the boy is hit by a car and lapses into a coma. The parents wait anxiously by the bedside day after day but their son never awakens and, after a short time, dies. The baker, unaware of the accident, continues to call the parents to come and pick up the cake. Grieving, they do not return his calls. He continues to call and leaves abusive, threatening messages on their answering machine. Finally, one night they go to the bakery to express their outrage at the Baker’s behavior. When they tell him that their son is dead, he is embarrassed and ashamed. A simple man, he does the only thing he can think of—he offers them some of his fresh-baked bread. As they sit in the darkened bakery eating, he reveals his own life of loneliness, of being childless, of working sixteen hours a day baking thousands of wedding and birthday cakes and imagining the celebrations surrounding them, none of which ever touch his life personally.
Finally, he takes a fresh loaf of dark bread from the oven, breaks it open and offers some to them. “Smell this” he says, “It’s a heavy bread but rich.” Carver writes, “They smelled it, then he had them taste it. It had the taste of molasses and coarse grains. They listened to him. They ate what they could. They swallowed the dark bread. It was like daylight under the florescent trays of light. They talked on into the early morning, the high, pale cast of light in the windows, and they did not think of leaving.”
This is a powerful story of loss, grief, death, forgiveness, and most of all of love. It is also a story of redemption. The association in the story of bread with light reminds us of Christ who is both the bread of life and the light of the world. Partaking of the bread of life each week, we too taste of his light. (Here I would add that if you do not feel comfortable partaking of the sacrament in a Latter-day Saint congregation, find one that welcomes you and partake of it there.) It is a small good thing we do and is akin to all of the other small acts of understanding, forgiveness and compassion we give to one another. Such acts of love, it seems to me, have their genesis in the light of Christ which is in every one of us. It is our sacred calling to magnify that light in our hearts and souls and to carry it to and receive it from one another as we receive the emblems of Christ’s sacrifice, that is, with gratitude and hope.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
More love, more love; The heaven’s are blessing The angels are calling

O Zion! More love.

Monday, January 13, 2014

My Mormon Coming Out Story

 This blog is written from the perspective of a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I have tried to put my words and my story into terms that all Christians and those of religious affiliation hopefully will understand.  I also hope that those who are not religious may  be helped by my story as well.

My Mormon Coming Out Story

So I have decided to officially come out and say something that most of my friends and my immediate family already know about me.  I am same-gender attracted, or I am gay.  I have known I was gay since I was about 10 years old, at that time I could tell that I was a bit different from the other boys at my school. As other guys were starting to develop interest in girls our age I didn't seem to care at all.   During this time, I was friends with both boys and girls, and I was content with that.  When I started realizing I was different, I basically ignored those feelings initially because I was at the end of elementary school and I didn't understand sexuality up to that point except for what society told me that guys were only ever supposed to like girls and girls were only ever supposed to like guys.

It wasn't until I had reached middle school that puberty really hit hard and my attractions became more noticeable, which in turn made me react by suppressing my sexuality.  Before in elementary school, I was a very mentally healthy boy who loved spending time with friends.  I was as social as any boy in elementary school is. I was a little shy around strangers, but as I warmed up to people, I quickly lost that shyness.  With the transition into middle school, I started to become quiet.  I started finding it difficult to talk with people when before I never found it to be an issue.

The transition between elementary and middle school is typically a difficult transition for children.  This was especially true for me.  A lot of my old friends from elementary school were in different classes than I was.  The building was new.  The teachers were new.  I had to navigate what felt like an alien world to me.  This was all the more challenging because I knew I was different and I refused to accept that reality.  The refusal to accept it spiraled me into a long period of very low self-esteem.  I was pretty sure my parents suspected I was gay at a very young age and being the loving parents that they were and not having a complete understanding about what I was going through, they tried to coax the gay out of me whenever I displayed any signs of non-masculine behavior, although this never happened often.

As middle school continued I tried to reconcile my faith and my sexuality.  I am Mormon, which I think a large amount of people reading this blog will be.  For people who aren't that means that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  As part of that, I go to church every Sunday, and I was  in the Youth Program.  When I was young, I was surrounded by a super heterosexual culture.  The boys would be flirting with the girls all the time, I just followed along but didn't participate because I didn't see the point.  So every Sunday never failed to remind me that I was different.  So instead of focusing on the social aspect of church I focused my energy toward scripture study, prayer, and church attendance.

At about the 7th to 8th grade I was in complete suppression of my sexuality, which caused my self-esteem to continue to plummet.  At this time, I fought to find out why I just didn't like girls the same way other guys liked girls.  So I made the excuse that the reason why I didn't like girls at the time was because I was preparing for my mission and that I wouldn't date anybody until at least the age of 16 anyway if not 18 or after my mission.  I would take girls to school dances and have a great time with them but have no desires other than to have a good time with friends.

So I coasted . I put all my suppressed energy into other things.  I did a lot of acting when I was younger and was in many plays with a private acting troupe,  I also performed at my school where I played lead roles through middle school.  I focused on my studies and got straight A's.  Also, I put my greatest attention into my spiritual life. I felt deep down that God didn't make me this way and that maybe if I prayed more, did more service, and participated in everything I could, I would gain an attraction to girls like I had with guys because I still denied that that attraction was permanent and therefore I thought it to be unnatural.

There were a few girls through this experience that I really liked and enjoyed spending time with, but it was exclusively a close friendship and I had no desire for nothing more.  So I kept going through my pre-teen into my teenage years.  I was still suppressing my sexuality, and therefore my identity.  As people grow as adults their personality grows naturally through their experiences.  Mine felt forced into a box that felt unnatural and suffocating.  I felt that I would be rejected by my friends and my family if they knew.  I was afraid that God hated me because of who I am and it seemed like everything at church pointed to this  idea.  This was because there was no one there to speak on the subject, and if it was spoken about, it was spoken very negatively.  So I assumed that God was against it.

Near the end of my freshman year, I started developing depression.  I don't remember exactly when it started.  I just remember my world getting darker and darker.  My life seemed to start being caught up between two worlds; times where I felt fine and days where I would sink into a pit of unexplainable sadness and fear.  I grew distant from people.  I felt alone and my thoughts turned inward.  I had always been a quieter kid, but now it felt so pronounced and horrifying.  I felt everyone was going to hurt me.  I would find excuses to lash out at others especially those people who cared about me the most.

There came a point where only two people kept me going, and that was God and a wonderful friend.  My depression lasted for a while and into my sophomore year.  Around my sophomore year, I dropped into one of the worst phases of my life.  I decided that it would be better if I could just die.  My life felt like a never-ending pit of despair with no exit.  Their seemed to be no other way.  I felt like I was unworthy of love.  I had seen and heard how gay people were thought of in my church, and everywhere I went.  They were dirty, sinful, deviant, unnatural, without hope of salvation.  That was who I was.  Through no fault of my own, I was gay.  I had been caught up in believing that God didn't love me because he hadn't taken my attractions away  from me.

One day I got home before everyone else in my family.  I had made the decision to kill myself, and I was on my way to do just that.  There wasn't anything lethal at my house except pills, so I decided to do an overdose.  That whole day, I was praying to God to take everything away from me. I told him that I wouldn't kill myself if God would just fill this horrible hole that I felt inside of myself.  Continuing to pray, I passed by the telephone on my way to the cabinet, and as I did I had strong and powerful impression to call my friend.  I stopped and looked toward the phone.  At this point, I really had no other avenue.  I was going to kill myself or seriously damage my body.  So I dialed up my friend and talked to him.  After an hour or so, this person was able to convince me not to kill myself.  He truly showed a Christ like care toward me and showed me that Christians could care  for someone like me,  and if other people cared maybe God would too.  For the first time in a while, I walked away from the cliff that I had been prepared to jump off of.

I began to accept myself.  Slowly but surely, I started walking out of the haze of my self-hatred and depression.  Life started to be worth living.  I started enjoying the simple things and delighting in what Heavenly Father had blessed me with.  I still hadn't told anyone else about who I was except for a few people, but even then it had been kind of a confusing explanation because I really didn't understand it myself, and I had no role models or people who felt the same way I did.  So at the time, I thought I was bisexual because I could love women (although it was a brotherly love and not romantic).  The years went on where I felt that I was still stuck.  However, what was new was that I accepted who I was.  But just accepting myself wasn't enough.  I needed others to accept me, which I felt they would not.

This view I felt was very legitimate considering how the word gay was used in a derogatory way in regular converstaions.  How people would talk about gay people as if they were something different and sinister which was very dehumanizing for me.  It frankly terrified me for the longest time that I would be treated less than human.  But, even through all this haze, I felt God continue to move me forward in my life and help me find my way through my confusing and difficult childhood.

 Throughout this time, I sought to date a small number of women.   However, nothing came out of any of these relationships, kissing was awkward and weird, and I felt once again as if something was wrong with me.  At this time, I still felt that I was bisexual, because I still held onto a hope that maybe I could find a way to escape who I was.

It wasn't until my freshman year of college that I started reaching out to see if there were others like me.  I started finding blogs and other materials.  A source of wonderful hope for me and strength was the It Gets Better videos from BYU students.  Here were LGBT Mormon students, my age, who were seeking to do God's will like I was and who had found a loving community that understood them.  Many of them shared their coming out stories and how they found that most people were accepting and truly interested in their well-being. Amongst all these good stories however there were examples of people whose families rejected them and turned them away.  Their were some who went through extreme trials, and almost every single person on the video had contemplated suicide just like I had.  These shared experiences gave me comfort and helped me know for the first time that I wasn't alone.

The one thing I found most interesting was how they talked about receiving a confirmation from God that they were loved and completely accepted by him, sexuality and all.  They felt the loving power of Christ comfort them, even when others around them hated and reviled them.  God still knew who they were individually, and he loved them unconditionally.  I decided to try this myself.

I kneeled down one night and prayed to my Heavenly Father.  I asked him if these feelings were acceptable in his eyes and whether or not he still loved me even if I was attracted to the same gender.  What followed would change my life.  A wonderful, indescribable warmth filled my chest and spread to the rest of my body.  I knew at once it was the spirit and that God accepted for who I was and would always love me.
All my life I had not only lived in fear of others rejection but God's rejection.  I found out beyond a shadow of doubt that night that God loved me and accepted me for who I was.  I came out of that spiritual experience with the knowledge that God accepted me.  This acceptance gave me the courage to eventually come out to my  family and friends.

Thanksgiving 2012
About 8 months after the revelation of God's acceptance, I decided to come out to my family.  With my twin brother (who is gay), together we told our parents what we had known for a long time.  And they accepted us, albeit after many questions from my mother who wanted to make sure that we were actually homosexual. They both accepted us and said they would love us no matter what because first and foremost we were their sons.  I was very grateful for their reaction, considering how many LGBT children, including from LDS homes, get thrown out on the street for confessing something that they had always had.

With my parents and God as my support, I started coming out to more friends that next year.  As I did this, I felt a wonderful spirit, and I knew God didn't want me to live in fear anymore.  The weeks that followed were wonderful and exhilarating.  I felt more comfortable around people I came out too. Not only that I felt my friendships strengthen through this process.  I also began enjoying coming to church more and felt more love, peace and, fellowship among the members there, even though I have only come out to a couple of them before this post.

One night a few months after this process started, I  found myself praying about where God wanted me to once again go.  After all the changes that had begun to happen in my life I wanted to see if there was more in store.  During this prayer, I had an impression to ask God if I was completely homosexual and not bisexual.  I had begun to question whether I was bisexual.  I think this came about because of my renewed confidence and affirmation from God and also my previous experience with women.  So I decided to ask God if I was indeed completely homosexual.  As before I felt a surging rush of warmth in me and utter joy filled me heart, and I knew that God was waiting for me to finally make this realization and once again God completely accepted me and loved me.

And now I come to this blog post a little more than a year after coming out to my parents.  After a lot of meditation and prayer, I have decided to write this blog in the hope that someone may read it and find hope in it, that a family member of someone who is LGBT may read this and understand the importance of love and dialogue in their relationship with their family member.  I am not writing this blog to stake a position.  I am writing this blog in the hope that it might save someone's life, whether they are a child or an adult, who feels alone and unloved not only by their parents but by God as well, that they may not be turned away from their families to live homeless on the streets.  I am here to tell these children, teenagers, adults; whomever they may be, that God truly loves them and that the only feeling that should be in anyone's hearts when it comes to this is love, acceptance, and the knowledge that God has a plan for each and everyone of us, that God created people with same-gender attraction for a reason, and that he has a greater wisdom than we could possibly have on this earth.  So let's discuss it.  Let's listen to each others stories and hopefully develop the charity that Christ showed each and everyone of us as he suffered and died for us in Gethsemane and was lifted on the cross in Calvary.  For He truly did die for each and everyone one of us not just straight people, not just gay people, for God is no respecter of persons and his love and grace are over all.  He died for everyone on this earth and he loved each and everyone of us equally.  How much more then should we do the same and follow his example to everyone not just people who are like us.

As I look at the diversity of the people of the earth, I see God's amazing grace and imagination.  I see his tender mercies, and I see him moving his people toward a greater understanding and greater love through these diversities.  I encourage everyone to take a moment and reflect on my story.  I hope that you will have gained something from it, and I hope it has encouraged each and everyone to go out into the world seeking a better understanding and a better love for all of God's children.  I was saved from a potential suicide because of an impression and a loving friend.  Many others, however are not with us now and many still need our love and support.

We only have one life to live.  Let's all fill it with love, kindness, and service. It's time to come together so that there may be no poor among us; whether they be poor in spirit, in love, in understanding, or in forgiveness for past wrongs, all are entitled to the tender mercies and blessings of God and his son Jesus Christ there are no exceptions.

Once again thank you for reading my post.  If you think someone may find peace and acceptance in reading this post please share it with them.  If not I hope that it inspires everyone to be more loving and kind in their service to their fellow families, friends, neighbors, and all humanity .  I hope that you all find, faith, hope, understanding, and love on your lifelong journeys.