Thursday, May 1, 2014

The night it all changed for me

When I ride my bike, I love to listen to my I-pod. The music helps me focus on many things as I ride. Recently, as I rode, "Our Savior's Love" came on. I almost forwarded through it- usually, I need something upbeat while I ride. Because of some of the things about which I have been thinking and how I was feeling generally, I decided to let the track play.

This song has been one of my favorite songs for many years. I first fell in love with it as a missionary in Southern Germany. I think it is haunting and beautiful, all at the same time. The lyrics and the music touch me every time I hear them.

I began weeping as I listened to the song. Our Savior truly does love us. His love lifts us and heals us.

As I rode and listened to this song, I thought back in my mind: X years ago this time of year, I was truly struggling with being gay and being a member of the Church.

Even though I have known since I was six years old that I am gay, it took a very long time for me to accept this about myself. When I finally did, I was then faced with a new crisis- what was I going to do? In my mind, I had only two choices: I could retain the Church and lose my gayness, or I could embrace my gayness and lose the Church. The conflict was great.

My then-therapist tried helping me through this intense struggle, but try as she might, it brought me no peace. I could not make any decision. After it had weighed heavily on me for days, weeks and even months, I finally told her that I could take no more. If I could not find reconciliation with this conflict within three weeks, I was going to cease to be. This frightened her, and she did everything she could to help me accept that I did not need to make any extreme decisions. Nothing helped.

Three weeks came and went. I was no closer to the peace I was seeking. That Sunday evening, in an agitated, angry and resentful mood, I got in my car and drove south. I drove with the full intent that I would take my life that night. My driving route was to take me up through a canyon, where I would commit my final act.

Because I have a car that has a lot of horsepower and speed, I like(d) to drive fast, especially if I was feeling any kind of agitation. On that night, my agitation was at an all-time high. Because of the speed I was driving, I got pulled over by a policeman (whom I had not seen). He approached my car and asked for my car documents. I did not acknowledge him. I simply handed him my license and registration. He then walked back to his car.

As I sat there, my anger rose in intensity. I knew because of the speed which I had been traveling that my ticket would be hefty. "I don't even care," I thought. "This will be a ticket I will never pay." When the officer came back to my car, he handed me my paperwork, told me he was not going to give me a ticket, to slow down and to be safe. For the first time, I spoke to him. "What? You're not giving me a ticket?" Again, he said no and to be safe.

I started up my car and began driving away. I felt in shock- why had he not given me a ticket? I had surely deserved it.

I had not driven more than twenty feet when the clarity of what had just transpired hit me like a ton of bricks. By not giving me a ticket, which only would have further fueled my anger and despair that night, he essentially and effectively saved my life. I began weeping. The tears were so great that I could not see to continue driving. I pulled off the side of the road. At that moment, I felt Heaven tell me, "You do not have to kill yourself because you are gay. We love you and it is not necessary that you kill yourself." The love I felt from Heaven was both great and searing. I sat in my car, on the side of the road, for many minutes, weeping and trying to regain my composure enough so that I could drive.

There in my car, I telephoned my therapist to let her know what had happened. She, too, was deeply touched by what had not happened to me. She was also very worried for my safety and wondered if I needed some emotional help, in a hospital. I told her I was alright, that I was safe and that I would do nothing to endanger my life. She made me commit to seeing her the next day, which I did. After speaking with her on the phone, I drove home. Exhausted and shattered, I walked inside, went upstairs to my bedroom, lay down and fell soon asleep.

That Sunday evening those years ago was a life-changing moment. Within a couple of days of it, I came to a full peace about being gay and being a member of the Church. I no longer felt suicidal. I have never looked back from that moment. I have moved forward with complete comfort and knowledge that I am loved, accepted and known by Heaven. Gone is my conflict between Church and self. Every day, I feel the joy of living and knowing the Savior's love.

"Our Savior's Love" (words included below the video)

1. Our Savior’s love
Shines like the sun with perfect light,
As from above
It breaks thru clouds of strife.
Lighting our way,
It leads us back into his sight,
Where we may stay
To share eternal life.

2. The Spirit, voice
Of goodness, whispers to our hearts
A better choice
Than evil’s anguished cries.
Loud may the sound
Of hope ring till all doubt departs,
And we are bound
To him by loving ties.

3. Our Father, God
Of all creation, hear us pray
In rev’rence, awed
By thy Son’s sacrifice.
Praises we sing.
We love thy law; we will obey.
Our heav’nly King,
In thee our hearts rejoice.