By Ellen Koester (also published at her blog http://the-noncommittal-philanthropist.blogspot.com/ )
That’s how I prayed. It’s almost masochistic. And every time, I felt the same feeling. Cold. Miserable. Empty. I couldn’t understand why. So that day, when I was praying in the temple, I threw up my hands, in quiet desperation, and instead asked like this, “God… is it ok for me to be a lesbian?” And immediately after those words left my “mouth” I had an overwhelming feeling of warmth. Comfort. Assurance. Love. The feeling was identical to the feeling that I had when I first prayed about the Book of Mormon. I was stunned. There was no other emotion. So I asked again, mostly to confirm that I had heard the Spirit correctly. I got the same thing. So I went out on a limb and asked, “God, do you want me to be celibate? Do you want me to be alone?” No. A very clear no. But the Spirit continued… it testified, clear as day, that I needed to get married. That I needed to prepare to have a wife, and to have a family.
That day, I received a testimony of personal revelation. I didn’t really believe that the average, everyday person could receive revelation from God through the Spirit. But that day, I gained a testimony. But more importantly, I received a testimony that I am created just the way I’m supposed to be. That God created me in His image (or should I say in Heavenly Mother’s image… but my feminism is for another day). That revelation saved my life.
I want to make it very clear, that I am not claiming to receive revelation for the Church as a whole. No way. That power lies with Thomas S. Monson, the Prophet and President of the Church, and in him alone. But, I do believe that God gave me this piece of personal revelation, because He knew that I needed it. So that I wouldn’t leave the Church in frustration (which I had seriously considered). And so I wouldn’t feel the need to take my own life. Because for a while, I genuinely thought that it would be more pleasing to God, to have me dead in a box in the ground, with my virtue still intact, than to continue in this life living dishonorably, and unworthily. Because I still believed, that regardless if I stayed chaste and celibate in my life, I would still be considered less worthy than the straight, married woman with 5 kids, at the day of Judgement.
I’m not alone in my thinking. While I am no longer in that state of mind, because I have finally come to accept myself for who I am, there are countless young LGBT Mormons who are going through this line of thinking. Too high of a percentage of them end up attempting to take their own lives, and too many of them succeed. We are losing my generation of Mormons, because they believe that they have no place in this Church… they believe that God would love them more if they died, instead of living a full and meaningful life.
I want to make a difference in the Church. I want to make a difference in my community. I want to help. I want to be a resource of Christ-like love, and acceptance. Because the only “tolerance trap” that exists on this earth, is to believe that people only deserve our “at arms reach” tolerance. People deserve so much more. You deserve it. I deserve it. Your sons and daughters, deserve it. Your brothers and sisters deserve it. The young woman in your ward, the neighbors down the street, the kid in your history class… they all deserve it.
Love one another. Treat others as you want to be treated. These are principles that every person, from any faith or walk of life can embrace.
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