By Jake Abhau (Also published at his family blog http://theabhaus.blogspot.ca/)
Let me tell you a story. It is one found in The Book of Mormon, a book that we Mormons believe to be a spiritual non fiction account of real events. Now before you stop reading, let me explain something.
- If you are a believing Mormon, you are familiar with this story and you believe it as a historical truth.
- If you are not a Mormon or simply a Mormon who doesn’t believe it, just look at this story as that; a story.
Fictional or not, you will clearly get my point.
Background Story of Alma
The Book of Mormon is a record of the happenings that took place here, in North/South America from about 600 BC to 400 AD. This story is about a prophet named Alma who had a defiant son who carried the same name. Alma (the elder) was the equivalent of a Governor or local leader/prophet. In the story, his son is referred to as Alma, the Younger, for distinction. You get the feeling that he was a rebellious teenager, basically going against what his father taught just because. In modern days, I would imagine that he was out egging houses, destroying mailboxes, and causing all sorts of vandalism and destruction in his neighborhood. And all in the name of hatred for his father and everything he stood for. So this was not the type of behavior, becoming of a spiritual leader’s son. So, through much prayer and fasting by his father, a miracle happened.
One day, Alma the Younger was visited by an angel and rendered unconscious for 3 days. During this period, he was told to stop his behavior and that his sins were forgiven. He was converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his eyes were opened. He was a changed man. Saved, if you will. And from that day forward, he began acts of repentance and righteousness.
And what is most notable is what he did with this gift. He chose to go and serve those who were unlike him., outcasts. He knew they were also children of God and needed to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. He did this, even after having been warned about the dangers of that. But it didn’t stop him. He knew he had to show pure Christlike love to everyone.
This story is told in Mosiah 27: 8-37
Click here to Read the original story
Alma, the Younger did nothing to deserve this gift. He was horribly disobedient and a disrespectful young man. He never worked hard at changing to become a better person. And while many of us work our whole lives trying to become better people, it is a task that takes an eternity to achieve. But Alma had done NOTHING for this. He wasn’t deserving based on his merits. Not at all. Even still, he was given a gift, the gift of knowledge and understanding And with this gift, he did many wonderful things.
When my son told me he was gay, I didn’t understand. I had thoughts of anger. Anger towards God for doing this to him. For doing this to me. It didn’t seem fair. Suddenly, the future for my son became very muddy and unclear. Many of the hopes and dreams I had for him vanished. Being our only child, I lost hope of having grandchildren, of having a daughter (in law). I had many selfish thoughts throughout this and my emotional ability to grasp this new thing in our life had become very very challenging to accept.
But then something amazing happened. A week after he came out, he was given a school assignment to make/sew a pillowcase. So, I took my son to the store to by fabric. Cliche, right? We both laughed about what we were doing and could see the humor in the stereotype of this activity: my gay son had to go buy fabric so he could learn how to sew. Yes, it was very funny to us both.
But when a 23 year old African American male walked up to us and asked if we needed assistance, we gave him our fabric and he began cutting it. Now, I know that stereotypes exist for a reason and no one likes to be put in a box because we are all unique in our own way so… Based on all of the stereotypes surrounding gay people, I used simple deductive reasoning to determine that this young man was certainly gay. I would go as far to say that it was obvious, whatever that means.
So as I watched him cut our fabric, I had an interesting response, one I had not anticipated: Love. Absolute and overwhelming love. And it wasn’t only because he was gay. It wasn’t because he was black, tall, his brown hair, or any of that. It was because he was a true child of God.
Previously, I never considered myself as discriminatory but at that moment, I realized just how prejudiced I was. And why did I suddenly feel so differently? I had done nothing to gain this insight -this perspective. I, too, was undeserving. I AM undeserving. And it feels unfair.
I will always be grateful for what having a gay child has done for me thus far. I don’t deserve all the love that I have been around over the past few months.
Like Alma the Younger, I have been given a gift. The gift of having a gay son. I am luckier than most people that way. And I am so much less deserving of my new perspective. It is my prayer that I don’t squander the reason I have been given it. But I am forever grateful. Forever grateful to my son and mostly grateful to my Heavenly Father.