Sunday, February 17, 2008


A friend of mine working in a campus counseling center told me about a lady who came to him in the throes of a depression. She wasn’t aware of anything that precipitated her . She all of a sudden was wiped out and feeling down. After a few sessions she mentioned that the anniversary of her husband’s death had occurred shortly before her depression. As she talked about it my friend observed that she seemed very angry. “I’m not angry!” she snapped back at him. “I’m depressed!” He commented that depression often is anger turned on one’s self. Over the next few sessions she slowly realized that she was angry. “I am angry. I am angry as hell that he died and left me alone with the children. But this is irrational. He didn’t want to die. He didn’t cause it. He loved us and he loved life. I shouldn’t be angry at him, but I am and this does make me feel guilty and angry at myself for having these feeling towards that wonderful man. I am angry at God for letting this happen. I shouldn’t be angry at God.”

My friend helped her to see that all feelings are irrational. We don’t need to justify them. We just need to understand them and cope with them as best as we can. The flip side of all pain and loss in our lives is anger. If we deny and bottle up those feelings, many times they are unconsciously turned on ourselves, resulting in depression.

He helped her to see that it is OK to be angry. It is a normal reaction to her loss. As she talked out her anger and learned to accept it and to find healthy ways to burn out her stress through talk and exercise and to let go of it through meditation, her depression left her.

I had a bout with depression and was almost emotionally paralyzed by it. I was faced with the reality that my Same Sex Attraction was not going to disappear, that I would be attracted to men the rest of my life, that I would never be physically attracted to women. I would never be “normal”. (Years later, after counseling with hundreds and hundreds of LDS young adults, I have sometimes asked myself, “What is normal?”) I was depressed because, even after living a fairly righteous, celibate life and fasting, praying for a change, the miracle was not going to happen. My mission didn’t do it. I was married to a wonderful, patient, accepting wife who knew of my struggle but could do nothing to help me change.

My anger towards God caused me to turn from Him for a period of time. I acted out, not by sinning but by trying to doubt Him or at least the Church. It didn’t work. I knew that He was my Father and loved me. My convictions about the Church with all of its human imperfections were too deep. But I do understand when people do leave the Church over this issue.

Counseling helped me to realize that it was OK to be angry at God, OK to be angry at all those self-righteous homophobic people who unknowingly made me feel queer and perverted and wicked. But it is not good to be angry at myself for something I didn’t cause. Being able to talk to a counselor, who didn’t try to change me, but accepted me, helped me to accept myself. My wife knew from before our marriage and she still loves me. She is a wonderful blessing to me.

A friend told me of a mission experience he had. They were ready to baptize a family they loved dearly. When they went to take them to the baptism service, they were told that some anti-Mormons had gotten to the family. They said they didn’t want to see the missionaries again. The crestfallen elders went to their apartment. My friend suggested that they pray. He offered a perfunctory prayer and ended. There was a long pause before his companion prayed. “Dammit God!! Why has this happened! We loved that family.” My friend panicked. He had never heard someone talk to God that way. He feared that lightening would strike. But his companion continued expressing his anger and challenging God. His companion then wept and ended his prayer. My friend said that a wonderful peace encircled them. They both felt as if God was saying to them, “It’s OK to express your pain and anger. I also love that family. My heart also is broken. I love both of you. Thank you for what you have tried to give them.”

I, too, have learned that it is OK to cuss out God and He understands our feelings. He is glad that we can be open and honest with Him. I, too, have been embraced by His love and peace, even at times when I didn't feel that I deserved it. His tender mercies have overcome my guilt.

We live in an imperfect world. I don’t know if God purposely sent me into a body whose chemistry causes me to be sexually attracted to men. I don’t believe that God controls everything. He permits agency. Perhaps in this polluted earth , while I was in the womb, my mother randomly encountered something that caused me to develop in this way. I don’t know.

I do know that He has helped me to accept my SSA. He has helped me to be sensitive to and to help many of His children who are struggling with a variety of problems. I have served in many bishoprics and have been a bishop more than once, have been a scoutmaster and young men’s leader, primary teacher and many other callings. I am grateful that He has trusted me to serve in so many ways. My struggle with SSA has helped me, has humbled me, has given me compassion. I have a large family and a wonderful wife. Truly I am blessed!