As I go through each day, I pass people on the street. I see them all around me. People. Brothers and sisters. I didn’t always think about people. But as I have seen the Atonement take effect in my own life, I’ve come to realize the truth in an insight given by the prophet Joseph Smith:
“A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race” (History of the Church, 4:227).
Many people have asked me, “How can I support a friend or loved one who struggles with same-sex attraction?” In His last quiet conversation with Peter, Christ gave the formula that I now try to follow in my life:
“When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32).
The first piece is Preparation. Each day, I pray for help so that I can be a better person. So that I can be converted, have the Spirit with, me and make a difference wherever I go. I read the scriptures every day without fail. And I ask for the opportunity to help others, and the courage to act on those opportunities. When I am prepared, the Lord is able to inspire me to know what to do and what to say (and how to say it)… and I am more in tune with the Spirit so that I can see the needs of others.
The next piece is Action. When the opportunity comes to do something good, I do it. Whether or not the Spirit inspires me. In anything. The Lord intends that I become more like Him – and so the question I ask myself is not “is this prompting to do good from God?” – it is “is this prompting to do good of God?” Whether or not it is from God doesn’t really matter (see D&C 58:27, Moroni 7:16).
I don’t have a lot of time, so I choose actions that will affect the people around me. I could write a personal letter to the prophet, telling him that I support the things he says… but that doesn’t make the world a better place. Instead, I could send a letter to a high school teacher thanking her for her example. Or call a distant relative and just talk. Or simply spend more time with my family and friends. Or share an inspiring message with family and friends. I choose actions that will bless the lives of others, and usually that means that I reach out to people. To me, people are more important than projects or programs. Always.
The third piece is Love. The motivation for everything I do should be love. Sometimes it’s because I’m tired, or hungry, or whatever else. But, at the heart of helping others, is love. Using that love to shape my words and actions enables me to bring the Spirit into difficult conversations… and to love people unconditionally. My goal is to love all men, no matter what choices they make.
The last piece is Sharing the gospel. True love inspires me to help others find happiness. I have seen so many blessings from the light of the gospel… and so I share my testimony and reach out to the world. It takes courage to share the gospel, especially when there is a chance it could be rejected or there's a lot of pain involved, but I know that following its light will bring blessings and happiness. Whatever it costs, it’s worth it. There are lots of ways to share. Sometimes I blog. Sometimes I just talk with a friend, face-to-face. And sometimes I post on Facebook, Twitter, and every other social network known to man.
Together, the pieces of supporting a friend or loved one who is struggling make the word PALS... Because the way that I support someone who is struggling... is just to be a friend. If I am true to my principles, do good for others, love others unconditionally, and share the good news of the gospel, I can help my family, friends, and strangers… no matter what their trials in life.
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