Sunday, August 5, 2012
A Personal Email from a Good Friend
I got a message on facebook from a good friend of mine. We served together in the mission field in the early 1990's. For the non-LDS reading this, you've probably seen Mormon missionaries around your neighbourhood at some point, that was me :-)
My friend sent this message through this past week. I've removed his name for his privacy.
First of all, I've been thinking about this on and off for years, so I hope you understand that I wouldn't write this with the intent of being flippant or... I don't know. I've never written something like this, don't know how to address it, so I'm stumbling a lot.
Anyway, here goes. I have been reading a book recently, but over the past few years, for some reason I have been really engaged, almost "driven" to learn, read, ponder, and pray about issues with sexuality. I would think that a person would be more interested if they were experiencing/dealing with personal issues on the subject, but I have sometimes felt "impelled" to try and understand this topic more. I am grateful that in recent times, the leadership of the church has also been inspired to address this issue in their public statements, and express compassion about the difficult struggle and nature of those who deal with same-gender attraction.
So I'm continuing to ramble. This is the thing. I know I shouldn't assume, and I don't even know if I've created the sense for those around me that I am trying so hard to understand, empathize, and be a listening ear to others who live in a world (the church) where they feel as an outsider because of deeply set feelings that they struggle to understand. I want to be; I can't relate to them personally, exactly, but I can appreciate the depth of despair that I could imagine would come to someone in a situation like this.
Again, rambling... Derek, are you gay? I hope this question doesn't offend you, and I sincerely apologize if it does. The book I'm reading discussing a mother's experience with her son struggling with this, and eventually taking his life because he couldn't reconcile a life in keeping with his faith, and continuing to have the feelings and urges he had. I don't want anyone to have to feel that alone that the decision to take their life would be the only option they felt that they had. So I'm taking a risk with you, a dear friend to me despite our geographic distance. If I'm wrong, I hope you'll forgive me. If this is an issue for you, I want you to know that I love you, you are my brother, my friend, and if there is anything I can do to... well, whatever, please let me know. I don't have any answers, I'm not sure I know what I could do to help, but can tell you that I respect you a lot, you're are and have been a great example to me, and I think the world of you. That, to me, defines you far more than an issue like same gender attraction--it's really irrelevant in my mind in the context of you as a person, though I realize that in the practice of your life, it may be a constant issue that you have to address, so I don't mean to minimize it.
Okay, so it's out there, and again, please forgive me if I'm totally wrong on this--but I can't bear to think that anyone should have to suffer alone, in silence about this issue, and I hope to be a part of helping others in and out of the church to be more empathetic and compassionate towards others, and creating an environment of true love within our church so that anyone can feel accepted and loved within our faith, and truly feel that it is a place where they can find not judgment and scrutiny, but love and healing, or at least some measure of peace and solace.
You see, there are good Latter-day Saints and other Christians out there who try to live their faith. I think we need to have a little more faith in our Christian families and friends.