A Mother Gives a Message to Her Ward

I was TERRIFIED. I had to lock my knees so they would stop shaking. I’m sure if you put a microphone up to my chest, my heart would have sounded like a jackhammer. But it had been on my mind for weeks, and just kept coming back to me that I needed to do it. Earlier this morning before church, I asked Jordan how he felt about me bearing my testimony, and he said he was fine with it and wanted to be there to hear me. (But I told him it wasn’t a for sure thing because I was really scared and I might chicken out.) When we got there, I kept looking around the chapel at all the people. I remember some of the rejection and hurtful comments. Some people already dislike me enough. I didn’t want to make it worse. But then, for some reason, my little 7-year old daughter, Emma, kept asking me over and over to bear my testimony. (She’s never done that before.) So I did. But as I was walking up I was thinking, if this ends badly at least I’ll go out with a bang!

This is about what I can remember saying:

Good afternoon, Brothers and Sisters. My family and I have been in this ward now for several months, but this is my first time bearing my testimony here. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Wendy Montgomery. It’s interesting – I speak in public quite often, but I’m usually not nervous. Right now, I’m absolutely terrified because of the things that are in my heart that I feel to share with you. They are not easy things to say in a setting like this. The past 2 years have been some of the hardest I have ever experienced. And that’s saying something, because I have had a difficult life.

We found out about 2 years ago that our oldest son, Jordan, is gay. (This is where all the air got sucked out of the room.) I apologize for bringing this topic up because I know it makes many uncomfortable. It made me uncomfortable 2 years ago, too. My intent is not to make anyone uncomfortable, but to ask for your help.

(This is where I started getting emotional)
My son has a very hard time being here. It is extremely difficult for him to be in a place, week after week, where he feels unwanted and unloved. He doesn’t know where he fits. Or where he belongs.

As parents, I’m sure you all feel like I do and want this same thing for your children: I want Jordan to know what I know – that his Heavenly Mother and his Heavenly Father know who he is and love him exactly the way he is. I want him to have a deep and lasting relationship with his Savior, Jesus Christ. I want him to come to church and feel God’s love and be around people who see what a beautiful person he is. Outside of our home, these things can happen best at church.

But it is not happening for him. So I ask you to help me. Please. Please love my son. Treat him the same as other young men here. Look him in the eye. Offer him a smile, a hug, a handshake. Please be his friend. Because I want him sitting with me and the rest of our family in church each week, if he is comfortable there.

Jordan has lost many friends. Both LDS and non-LDS. From a boy who is worthy of the Aaronic priesthood that he holds, who keeps the Law of Chastity in every way, and is living his life in accordance with everything the church asks of him, I cannot understand why he has lost friends. It seems like the most un-Christlike of things to do.

I am grateful to those of you who have reached out in friendship to my family. I know our circumstances are difficult and uncomfortable for people, so I am very grateful to those few who have been willing to put aside their own discomfort and befriend and welcome us.

I have a testimony of this gospel. It has taken a beating in the last 2 years, but there are some things that haven’t changed. I believe God lives. I believe He knows me and loves me. I believe in Jesus Christ. I love him deeply. He has carried me through some of the darkest moments of my life. I have spent every day of my life as a member of this church and I have always loved it. There is much here that is beautiful and good.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

Reactions

 

-Testimony given right after mine:  “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such courage displayed in a Sacrament meeting before.  It must have been extremely difficult for her to say the things she did in her testimony, but I for one am very grateful that she had the strength to share her story with us, and I hope we can all do what she is asking of us.”

 

-The second testimony given after mine:  “What an excellent reminder Sister Montgomery’s testimony was of what Christ-like love looks like, and how much better we could be at showing it to others.  Everyone should welcome in our church, no matter what.”

 

-Comments said to us after Sacrament meeting was over:

 

  • “Thank you so much for what you shared.  I felt the Spirit so strongly as you spoke.”
  • “The only problem I had with your testimony was that you apologized for making people uncomfortable.  Don’t EVER apologize for your son, and your support of him.  It doesn’t matter if you make people uncomfortable.  They need to be made uncomfortable, especially about this issue.”
  • “I have a daughter who is gay.  It has been immensely painful for our family because we have chosen to have nothing to do with her and her choices and lifestyle.  But we still pray for her.”  (I asked this woman if she had been to the Church’s website www.mormonsandgays.org.  She said no because she already knew the Church’s position on this and didn’t need to go to the website.  I strongly encouraged her to go to it, hoping it would at least help soften this woman’s heart toward her daughter.)
  • “My high school boyfriend was gay.  He was perfect for me.  I was devastated when I found out because I loved him and could have married him.”
  • “I have a gay nephew.  This needs to be talked about more.  Thank you for helping me see what this is like through your eyes.”
  • “I worry my young son could be gay.”
  • “Thank you for your reminder to just LOVE.”
  • “The Spirit was so strong when you bore your testimony.  It was like touch it-taste it-feel it strong.  But there was just enough of a subtle ‘Stop being a douche’ in it to make the haters feel guilty and ashamed.  I hope some will get it now.” (This was probably my favorite comment.  It made me laugh out loud!)

 

 

I received many more comments via email and Facebook.  Almost all of them were positive and supportive.  Bearing my testimony about having a gay son (especially in front of many of the people who have said some pretty awful things about me and my family) was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.  But through all of these responses I feel like maybe I made a small difference for some.  Maybe a few eyes were opened.  Maybe a few hearts were softened.

 

I think this is how change happens.  One heart at a time.

21 comments for “A Mother Gives a Message to Her Ward

  1. Brett
    April 8, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Well done! These things need to be said. And they need to be said more often. Thank you for your courage.

  2. April 8, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Beautiful, Wendy. You’re an inspiration. Thank God for Mormon pioneers such as yourself.

  3. Becky Coombs
    April 8, 2014 at 9:06 am

    “(especially in front of many of the people who have said some pretty awful things about me and my family)” It really disturbs me that anyone who has taken upon them the name of the Savior through baptism, and renewed that covenant through the sacrament would say awful things about anyone. This is clearly taking His name in vain. Kudos to Wendy and her family for their forgiving, persevering, loving attitude. They are a powerful example.

  4. Sue
    April 8, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Thats my girl!! So proud of you and the strength of your trstimony! Couldn’t love you more

  5. Tristen
    April 8, 2014 at 9:23 am

    ❤️❤️❤️❤️ Love my warrior mama friend. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  6. Gina
    April 8, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Thank you for including the reactions. (I always wonder what they are after reading different posts from others). I hope that mom who rejected her gay daughter takes that seed you planted and lets it grow. (Let it grow! Let it grow! Can’t stay dormant anymore. Let it grow! Let it grow! Don’t stay buried por favor.) LOL

  7. Jeremy
    April 8, 2014 at 10:01 am

    My best friend in high school was gay, but I never knew until after serving our LDS missions. He came home half way into his mission and after I returned he came out to me. Although I was able to still love him and enjoy our relationship, it took years for me to realize his sexuality wasn’t a choice. Meanwhile his LDS mother and Utah community had such a hard time accepting him he fled to San Diego where he spent 10 years before coming home.

    Thank you for being a mom that sees through the unimportant things. That sees a child who is lovable and important and capable of all greatness even though he fits a different mold than the standard LDS mold. I loved reading your testimony. But reading the post-testimony ward member comments is where I really lost it. Thank you for touching my heart today.

  8. April 8, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Thank you for your courage! Every time we stand for being more Christlike is a good thing! :D

  9. Jana
    April 8, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Wendy, you inspire me! I have not yet been brave enough to share my family’s situation with many and staying in the Church has been challenging at best. So maybe the change I’m wanting so badly needs to begin with me. Thank you, thank you for setting the example.

  10. Jeanne
    April 8, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Wendy, I don’t think we can tell you enough how amazing you are. You will be a big part of the CHANGE inside the Church. Jordan is an amazing young man and I can see where he gets it! You and Tom are amazing. Thank you so much for ALL you do. Mostly thank you for loving your son.

  11. April 8, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience and the reactions. I’m grateful every time I get to know of goodness happening in our world. And this was goodness through and through.

  12. Nick
    April 8, 2014 at 11:41 am

    This is amazing. After coming out at BYU a few years ago, I need to hear stories like this.

    What I think is especially important is how many people were in your shoes, loving someone who is gay, but felt they were the only ones. This is an issue that we need to talk about, as churches, families, and a society.

  13. Lorian Dunlop
    April 8, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Bless you for standing up so courageously for your son, Wendy, and having the courage to speak your heart to a difficult audience.

    I look forward to the day when people can be this accepting and loving towards those gay and lesbian people who *don’t* choose the path of celibacy and denial of all marital love and intimacy. But you are doing a wonderful work in seeking to create a safe space for your son within your home, church and community.

    • Brian
      April 8, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      Thank you for your affirming words. They mean a lot! :>)

  14. April 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    One correction: Jordan lost some friends, but gained any army of other, better ones to replace them.

  15. LeAnn
    April 8, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Sister Montgomery,

    Thank you so much for not only sharing your testimony, but sharing it with us as well. I needed it very much. I’m very grateful that you and your family love and support Jordan.

    This issue does need to be talked about more, not only about our LGBT youth, but also our gay brothers and sisters who may have discovered themselves later in life. I am one such sister who discovered I’m gay in my mid 40’s. I too have been struggling with my testimony of the gospel and with not feeling very comfortable in the church. I know that our Heavenly Parents know who we are and loves each one of us exactly as we are.

    I must say that the last reaction you shared, “stop being a douche”, made me laugh out loud too! :)

    My thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family. I know you will be blessed of our Heavenly Father for sharing your testimony and supporting Jordan so strongly.

  16. Brian
    April 8, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    You are an inspiration, Wendy! With parents like you — brick-by-brick — the walls will fall down, and people will realize that their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters no more choose whom they will fall in love with than do their ‘straight’ church siblings. The time will come, too, when church members will realize that it is not God, but they, who have decided to treat a very tiny percentage of their fellow church members like 2nd-class citizens — and to deny them an opportunity they themselves would be unwilling to forgo: romance and marriage to a person they love!

  17. Reed Abplanalp-Cowan
    April 8, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Oh bless you. Waters parted that day in your congregation. Thank you for leading others through to the safety that I believe CAN and MUST exist if we are to live in the Lord’s peace. May your life continue to change others.
    Reed Abplanalp-Cowan
    Director, 8: THE MORMON PROPO$ITION

  18. Eric
    April 11, 2014 at 11:35 am

    I am fine with the discussion that was had but why am I having a problem with the fact that it was done in a Fast & Testimony Meeting? That is a time to testify of the truthfulness of the restoration, not to teach or admonish. There are other avenues for that.

    • Jeremy
      April 11, 2014 at 3:43 pm

      I understand your feelings about Testimony Meeting. I’m sure many people feel the same way.

      While the official line is the meeting is for “sharing of testimonies and faith promoting experiences,” ward members all the time regress and their hearts lead them to connect with the entire ward on a personal level. A baby miscarriage, a troubling illness, I’ve even been in a meeting where a guy won an automobile in a contest and praised the Lord for this blessing.

      There really is no other avenue for communicating something like this in the LDS Church. The bishop wouldn’t have brought it up. The Young Men’s President wouldn’t have broached it. And a General Conference talk cannot address a local need. I feel in this case that Testimony Meeting was the best (the only, really) way to connect with the ward, heart to heart, and express a sincere desire that they stop holding back because someone is different than the standard church mold and to ask for understanding, help, and love.

    • Jen
      April 26, 2014 at 11:07 am

      Eric–I am wondering if you have suggestions for other appropriate ways to approach this topic. I would love to follow Wendy’s example in the future, but am super open to many different approaches :)

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