Last night I felt like I had been run over by a half dozen emotional Mack trucks. Part of me wished their human masquerade could disappear, and they really had been trucks... and then they could have seen the damage. But not... it's just hard when... I know my emotional needs are way beyond what they're willing to give. I've rewritten this paragraph five times because part of me wants to label them, and everyone else in the world who doesn't understand, as callous and unkind, insensitive and rude... But I can't.

I think that's a big difference in the way I perceive others and the way many in the gay community do. When pain strikes, it's easy to label those who don't understand or agree as bigots, hateful, spiteful, unChristian, homophobic... and in applying those labels I would apply the negative emotions, hatred and spite and insensitivity, as answer to the same. By labeling the people who have hurt me, it makes them less worthwhile, effectively making the pain subside, since those inflicting it are less human... and less worth my interest.

But I can't do that. Just as firmly as I know that I am a son of God, and that He loves me, I know that God loves all His children - including those who have hurt me, purposefully, beyond their own understanding. They aren't monsters, or hateful demons, or bigots, or spiteful, or homophobic. They are sons and daughters of God... and when I follow God, I feel His love for them. I can't curse or hate or think less of a son of God.

So that puts me in a bind. My pain would be a whole lot less if I were to label my "enemies" as such, piling on enough epithets that I could honestly question their humanity. But I know they are children of God - with divine potential - and so I can't demonize them. That leaves me with a whole lot of pain, though, and nowhere to put it. 

The next easiest way to deal with the pain would be to do nothing - to let people step on me and just "deal with it," "get over it," or "suck it up." It was what the guy who called me a creep and others who don't understand the implications have suggested - just ignore it and it will go away. But where demonizing others turns me into a demon, becoming a doormat could be worse. The pain doesn't go ever go away, only building up to a massive explosion of fire and passion - the "coming out" talks in Sacrament meeting, or the anti-Mormon books written in secret and published simultaneously with a letter asking for removal from the records of the Church... or the suicide letters simply asking for relief. It never works in the end. The day-to-day pain never ends, and rarely gets temporarily better. And when they have had as much as they can handle, something breaks and men and women find themselves scarred with eternal pain, wondering if their faith is worthwhile. And if this is all it brings, then the answer is no. No faith that only brings pain is worthwhile.

So last night I found myself wondering exactly what I was supposed to do with the pain that I've felt - the pain of being misunderstood, ignored, and outcast, on purpose or by circumstance. In both choices, nothing would change. Only really good people honestly listen to those who call them bigots and hateful, and the people who are really good love everyone anyway. There would still be pain. And being a doormat would make everyone think that I'm just like everyone else. There would still be pain. And nothing would change. And then I found a third way.

It's by far the hardest way... but I knew in an instant that it's what the Lord has taught me all along. It's the message of the gospel, and the power that can give men strength to weather any trial: Be the change you want to see in the world.

It means giving the Lord my pain and loving others unconditionally - no matter what choices they make. It means loving them when they hate me, ignore me, and make jokes in Elder's Quorum. It means loving them when they send me hate mail or post videos on YouTube or deride me in public forums. It means loving all men unconditionally - no matter who I am and no matter who they are - and without reserve. And it means showing that love by being a part of their lives, supporting them, standing at their sides, inviting and lifting them forever. Befriending others when I need a friend, sympathizing with others when I need a shoulder to cry on. And sharing my voice and my love, unconditionally.

So last night, through my tears, I gave the Lord my pain and asked Him to forgive the others - all the people in the world whose ignorant existence makes my life a living misery. Forgive them, for they know not what they do. And even if they do know, they are still children of God, still worthy of my love. And I again committed to actively loving them - to being an influence in their lives and following the words of Christ - loving those who despitefully use and persecute me.

But how far does it go? What does unconditional love mean? There's a guy I know who seems to absolutely hate me, or be afraid of me, or be jealous of me, or something. "If you had the opportunity to sacrifice your life for his," the question came, "Would your love be enough to do it?"

This was without direct commandment from God to do it. Without assurance that my sacrifice would be worthwhile. Without assurance that he or anyone would ever know. But in that question I heard the voice of God speaking to another of His Sons - a Son who had felt all of mankind's sins and seen the depth of their iniquity. A Son who spent His life picking up the pieces of those who callously, or ignorantly, discarded their fellow men. And, when God asked Him, He said yes.

That's the power of the pure love of Christ. It throws out hatred and spite and the labels of the world, and replaces a desire and willingness to do anything to bless the lives of others - hence the quote from the prophet Joseph - a man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family only, but goes through the entire earth, anxious to do everything in his power to bless all men.

In a moment, I saw all the people in my life - the good and the bad - dressed in white, standing as a family. I saw the good that they could do, and the change they could be in the world. But, most, I felt God's love for them.

So would I do it? Would I give my life for an enemy, a stranger, a friend, or a guy who hates me? Yeah, I would. Even if really loving people makes me an outcast, even if nothing ever came of it, even if no one ever knew. We are family here - brothers and sisters - children of God. He, I, and all of us were worth the life of God's Begotten Son... so he's worth mine as well.
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