Sunday, December 22, 2013

Lifted Spirit

Hold me and love me, tell me that you care
Keep me, lift me, help me feel you there.
Can you truly lift it? This burden that I bare?
Can you show me love that I never knew was fair?
I’m writhing and hurting, walking in circles in the fog
Breaking and hurting, lost deep inside this smog
Lift me up and carry me away from all this pain
Tell me that I’m worth it all, make me feel the same.
Hold me when I’m lonely, give me rest from all this strife
Tell me where my true love lies, warm me from the ice
I’ve heard of your great love for me. Tell me, is it true?
Can you forgive all the wrong that I always seem to do?
Can You, would You, love me. Love me, well, for me?
The faults I have, the weakness plain
The sins I’ve committed, do I ask in vain?
I know thou hast all power, for you command the sea.
Calmed the storm on raging waters. Can you calm the storm in me?
You were there when the world’s birth took place, held me when I wept
You were there with me before this life, this life so short and kept.
Though humble I have tried to be, my weakness remains strong
That weakness shown in prides blind eye that tells me all is wrong
Blind I’ve been to life’s true meaning, distracted by my cares
Yet still You’ve loved me perfectly, You’ve never left me bare
What then, can I, imperfect, broken, offer such a man?
Who gave His life for me, Him, the perfect untouched lamb?
To Him I bow in awe and wonder, kneeling at His feet.
I know through Him I’m saved, the enemy, He beat.
Though shackles may still hold me captive, He can set me free
For none, save Him, can understand me, or love me perfectly
Christ, my Savior, brother, friend. My dear Lord, Everything
I know I’ll meet Him in the end, and know of His love for me.
-Mitchell Linford Clark

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Where Have I Gone? Where Do I Go?

     Needless to say (and it seems this is the start to almost all my blog posts now) I haven't written anything for a long time. I usually write when I feel prompted to, and when I can feel the spirit direct me in what to write. That hasn't been the case for quite a while.
     Yes, with my new job, and busy life, I haven't had much time to sit down and write anyway, but the main reason is because each time I think to write something, I just don't feel it, or something gets in the way, and I never write anything. I've been distant from God recently. Not necessarily because I've been having a hard time with sin, but just because I've slowly been letting myself drift further from God. I haven't been praying or reading my scriptures like I should, or focusing on God like I know will bring me happiness. And so, I've been distant.
     The other day I was spending time with a very close friend. He and I are able to share our struggles openly with each other and give and receive support. I was having a hard time that night, and was feeling distant, but also tempted. I mentioned this to my friend who, to my surprise (as this was not something I had done in the presence of a friend) told me to kneel and pray until I received help. At first I told him that sounded weird, and I didn't want to do it. He urged me and encouraged me with love to turn to God. Finally, with reluctance I knelt at the side of his bed and starting to pray.
     I think he was on the computer the whole time, I'm not sure, but I tried to focus on talking to God. I started by explaining to God how I was feeling, the things I was struggling with, etc. I asked God for help, asked Him to help me feel close to him, etc. I don't know how long I was praying, but I was on my knees for some time, saying multiple prayers, asking God to help me and guide me. Finally, when I finished my prayers, I laid down on the floor next to where I had kneeled. My friend came over and held me while I wept. As much as I had tried, I didn't feel God or the Spirit like I had been able to do just a month earlier.
     I told my friend about my experience, and how I hadn't felt what I wanted to. He held me while I thought things through and calmed down a bit. When I was calm, I asked my friend to give me a blessing. He had me sit down, and placed his hands on my head and gave me a blessing.
     I felt the spirit stronger than I have in some time during that blessing. Some of what was said really hit me hard, and really let me know that God knows me, and that He loves me, even if I'm imperfect. I was reminded that I need to do my part to be close with God.
     I think the part of the blessing that hit my hardest was when he said "God wants you to open your heart. He knows you've been hurt in the past, but He wants you to be open to Him." Wow. Just wow. When my friend said that in the blessing, it confirmed to me that God knows me, and knows what I needed to hear. Sure, my friend knows I've been hurt in the past, and sure, God wants everyone to be open to Him, but the spirit confirmed to me that it was not my friend telling me that he knew I had been hurt, and it wasn't the "textbook" answer telling me to be open to God. God knew what I needed to hear. God knows pains I've felt that no one knows about, and that no one, save Him, could understand.
     I was then told and promised in my blessing that if I do the little things, if I pray and read the scriptures each day, and especially pray, I will be close to God again. I was told that yes, while it will take time, that I will be close to God again. I was told that eventually I will be able to hear God's voice again. What a neat thought, to think that I can hear God's voice if I but do His will and allow myself to be close to Him through the things I do.
    There were a lot of other amazing things in my blessing, but just one more that I'll share. I was promised that God can fulfill all my needs because He knows me perfectly. I've had a hard time with letting God/Christ be my best and closest friend. Not because I don't want them to be necessarily, or because I don't believe they can be, but because sometimes I highly value what other people can offer and unconsciously put that above what God can give to me alone. Now I know that God can give me everything and more than any human on this earth could, that's not what I mean, I just mean that sometimes I rely on others more than Christ, and that's where the issue lies.
     Through my experience at my friends house, I've learned that God needs to be my priority again. God has a work for me to do here on this earth, I've had that confirmed to me, and if I am to do His will, and do His work, I must be close to Him.
     It is my testimony that God loves me and every human on this earth. I know that He exists, and that He can speak to us through prayer, blessings, spiritual promptings, and many many other means. Love you all!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What Love Really Means

     I found this song a few months ago on my way to work listening to the radio. I was only able to hear a couple lines of the song before I arrived at work, but I had already been touched and had decided I was going to buy the song
P.S. If you're on a mobile device, for whatever reason, the video may not show up. Click here to visit youtube to view the video.

"What Love Really Means"

He cries in the corner where nobody sees
He's the kid with the story
No one would believe
He prays every night
"Dear God won't you please
Could you send someone here
Who will love me?"

Who will love me for me
Not for what I have done
Or what I will become
Who will love me for me
'Cause nobody has shown me what love
What love really means

Her office is shrinking a little each day
She's the woman whose husband has run away
She'll go to the gym after working today
Maybe if she was thinner
Then he would've stayed
And she says...
Who will love me for me
Not for what I have done
Or what I will become
Who will love me for me
'Cause nobody has shown me what love
What love really means
What love really means

He's waiting to die as he sits all alone
He's a man in a cell who regrets what he's done
He utters a cry from the depths of his soul
"Oh Lord, forgive me, I want to go home"

Then he heard a voice somewhere deep inside
And it said,
"I know you've murdered and I know you've lied
And I have watched you suffer all of your life
And now that you'll listen I'll, I'll tell you that I..."

I will love you for you
Not for what you have done
Or what you will become
I will love you for you
I will give you the love
The love that you never knew
Love you for you
Not for what you have done
Or what you will become
I will love you for you
I will give you the love
The love that you never knew

     What Love Really Means is composed of 3 stories; of a young boy who has already lived a hard life, a woman who recently lost her husband, and a convict who's awaiting the death penalty.
     There are many reasons I love this song, one of the most prominent being that I relate to each story. I also love the message sent through the song about the importance of not judging others, and even more so, the infinite love Jesus Christ has for each of us.
     The first story of the boy really speaks to my young self. As a child, I was bullied and made fun of. I was an easy target because I was different than everyone else. It was easy for me to be friends with girls, and I had a hard time talking to guys. I was shy, emotional, awkward, and sometimes just plain weird. Confusing and hurtful things were done and said to me. Boys scared me. I had been betrayed, rejected, hurt, and abused. I used to cry to God to send me someone who could love me & be a friend to me. My prayer was answered and I was given a best friend.
      She and I had a lot of fun together, and when we were hanging out, we didn't worry about what others' thought. We were best friends, we did most everything together, and were as weird as we wanted to be. Part of me, however, still needed something more. I longed for a male in whom I could trust and love as a best friend. It wasn't until much later in my life, when I was 18, that God truly answered that prayer, and when He did, I was answered with an avalanche of blessings and changes.
     The second story, of the woman, spoke to me regarding the rejection I had experienced in life, and the mask I used to wear. It touched me regarding my body image issues and self-worth. Sometimes I don't feel good enough. Something happens in my life and I look inward and try to determine what I did wrong, even if it wasn't my fault. I beat myself up, try to change things I can't change about myself, and sometimes I wish I was someone else. "Maybe if I was thinner, better-looking, kinder, stronger, heterosexual, not an addict, etc. then they would've stayed. Then life would be easier, then I would love myself."
     If I could understand that to Christ, those aren't qualities that qualify me for love, that the people who really matter in my life lift me up and love me, not tear me down and judge me, and that I need to be a good friend to myself. I often put up a mask to make people think I was someone I wasn't. People used to ask me if I was "gay", to which I would quickly and sharply say "No!, Gross, Never, etc.". I was ignorant, I was a liar, I was scared. I used to be the nicest, quietest, most obedient person on the outside, which I'm not saying the nice and obedient part is bad, but I'd get into trouble behind the scenes, and when someone found out, I would deny my involvement, and the blame would be passed on someone else because adults didn't believe someone so "well-behaved" and "respectful" could ever do something wrong.
     And the final story of the convicted man awaiting the death penalty. I loved this one because it truly highlighted someone at their lowest point, at their 'rock-bottom'. In the lowest moment, the man in the story opened his heart to be touched by the Savior. In his lowest moment, knowing what would soon come to pass, he longed to feel loved, he wanted to go home. Our real home. Living with our Heavenly Father. "When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change." -Avatar Aang
     I remember my lowest point, when I was absolutely broken inside. I couldn't rely on my own will-power anymore, I had to somewhere else, to someone else. Someone whose strength and love was infinite. I had to turn to God and Christ. Though I would continue to fall and make mistakes through life, Christ would be there to pick me up, hold me, and guide me through this life. He would love me and forgive me, even when I made mistakes, even when I made big mistakes. He could show me What Love Really Means.
     Just today while I was on my way to lunch during work, I was listening to one of my favorite radio stations, and I was reminded of His love, and the importance of forgiving others. What I got from it: If I'm a believer, I have to forgive, no matter what, no matter who. I'm just as guilty no matter what someone does to me. I need to forgive myself too. Christ forgave His murderers, Christ forgave us all.
     If there's a story you feel you connect to, feel free to share it in the comments! I think interaction would be fun, that is if you'd like to post a comment ;) Love you all!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What do I Mean to You?

     I want to talk about something today, something that has been run through the news and media, been the topic of political decisions, had lots of attention in the courts, and been a subject of conversation among certain people, and it is the subject of same-sex (gay) marriage. I want to talk about it today because it has been ever present in the world around me, and today I've decided to take a different approach on it. This post will be controversial, this post will be direct and from my heart. I will do my best to be kind, careful, and aware of others' needs and feelings, but I can't make any promises.

     I wanted to write somewhat in the form of a letter. A letter addressed to everyone (as everyone is affected in some way by this topic) but most especially to people of authority over others, people who advocate or are on the fence about advocating for gay marriage, and anyone and everyone else it may concern.

     Dear sons and daughters of God,

     I have something on my mind I need to get out and explain from my own personal standpoint and experience. Over and over I hear gay marriage brought up all over the news, all over public and social forums and communities, and strewn over various other media and social situations and sources. It is something that, despite my stance on it, does still affect me greatly.

     How, you may ask? Or perhaps you know how. It affects me because whether you realize it or not, you have an influence on me, but even more important to know, you have a big influence and impact on every single person who hears about it, and especially those who deal with SSA or who know someone directly who deals with it. You may not realize it, but your decision to advocate for or against marriage equality may greatly affect someone's choice to advocate for it themselves, or even affect their life choices. Maybe your choices and actions were the driving hit that sank the wedge into their decision regarding it, for good or bad.

     Now do people still have free agency? Of course! And God recognizes that. Blame for another persons actions can not be pressed in full against you. Everyone, no matter who or in what circumstances, has free agency and will. However, outside forces, including and especially peers and authoritative figures can have a great impact on one's thoughts and choices.

     What I want you to know is that if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or even if you're not, and you advocate for marriage equality, you affect me, you hurt me. The sad thing is that many LDS advocators for marriage equality are in direct contact with someone who has SSA, and as a result, they have a strong influence on how said person thinks and feels. Again, I emphasize free agency, but there can always be influence to choice.

     One thing I've learned in life is that there is a difference between enabling love, and true love. Enabling love is when you care more about how someone feels about you, or how you perceive they will feel, than who they are as a person and what they actually deserve. It means you put the way they treat you above their own well-being. For example, I learned about this in my treatment center. There were drug addicts there who talked about their "friends" who would sell them drugs, and that in that way, their "friends" "loved" them. Selling drugs to an addict is not love, it is enabling them to pain, suffering, destruction, and in some cases death. If someone asked you to go against what you know to be right in order to show them that you "love" them, would you? Or would you realize your salvation, as well as theirs is more important than worldly respect or "love"?

     True love, on the other hand, means that you love someone enough that you put their well-being above all else. My parents, for example, loved me so much that they sent me to inpatient treatment. It was a very hard decision for them, and a very very hard thing for me, but my parents did it to keep me safe. They did it because even though I was very upset with them, they knew it would help me and save me.

     Christ is the ultimate example of true love and real friendship. True friends to not let you continue in bad behavior, they do not enable you. Christ does not enable anyone to make bad decisions. No, He does not take our free agency, but He shows us the way and teaches us to improve our lives and choices.

     Anyway, I'm getting a little off topic. Back to my letter. 

     I want to emphasize as well the devastating effect you can have if you aggressively and cruelly oppose gay marriage. I personally oppose it, and I myself have SSA. What I mean, however, are the people who dehumanize, demonize, and attack gays and lesbians because of it. I personally have been hurt by ignorant comments from people towards gays. Making fun of someone is never ok. Being cruel and needlessly angry and offensive/defensive is not a good choice either. Be cautious of your words and actions, but don't let caution override truth. Do not deny the truth in a moment of fear or pressure. 

     As is the story of Peter the apostle in Matthew 26, "69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came into him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.

70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.

71 And when he was gone out to the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.

72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for the speech bewrayeth thee.

74 Then began he to curse and swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crew, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly."

     I know I have been guilty before of denying truth. Denying what God has given me, and my faith in Him because I feared the judgement of others. Luckily that isn't often the case for me anymore. I've been able to find confidence in standing as a witness of Christ and His teachings.

     I recognize that everyone has free agency, that what I say/write may have little to no affect on you or your choices and beliefs. What I hope to accomplish in this post is to open eyes to the affect you can have on others even if you don't realize it. We all have a responsibility to love those around us, not with enabling or conditional love, but with true and righteous love turning always to the Savior. Christ's law WILL NOT change, and allowing people to more freely break His eternal law is not right, is not love, and is not fair to those you influence. 

     True love; pointing others to truth and righteousness, is what we should be showing to everyone we come in contact with.

     I'm definitely far from perfect, but I'm trying to improve and learn. I'm trying each day to be more Christlike. 

     With love, prayers, and hope; a young son of God who hopes to influence others for better,

          -Mitchell C.

Just one more thing I want to note: while I appose gay marriage, I do not hate those who advocate for it, nor do I hate or show disrespect to people in same-sex relationships. I love them as fellow sons and daughters of God, and I mourn for them in their trials and pray that they may find happiness and truth.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Beauty in the Unknown

     There has been a lot I've learned these past few weeks. Things I've learned about myself, things I've learned about others, things I've learned about God and my relationship with him.

     One things, which to a degree I knew before, but hadn't really had it hit me as hard as it did this week is that I accepted this life, knowing I would have trials, maybe even knowing I'd have these specific trials I face. I knew to a degree what I would potentially face, and I accepted it. I willingly came here because I followed God's plan in the pre-mortal life. I fought in the war in Heaven. I earned my place here on this earth.

     I might just be all over the place in this post, so I apologize, but I want to delve into a topic that was brought up in this months' CES fireside with Brother Russell T. Osguthorpe. He had a lot of great things he talked about during the fireside, but for now I just want to focus on one specific thing he spoke about; agency. There was a lot he shared about agency, in fact it seemed to be the main topic of the fireside. One thing he said that particularly struck me, that we do have agency, we do have will. We can change our desires, our very nature, through the healing power of Christ. But I had questions rise after he said this. What did he mean? Did it apply to same-sex attraction as well? Could it really be changed? Should it?
     As I sat there in deep thought, questioning what he meant, something clicked inside my brain. I've known and accepted for some time now that same-sex attraction is very likely something I will deal with for a long time, probably my entire life, but maybe.... maybe what he meant was a slow process. Not an all at once *boom* you're changed. Maybe not even a full change in this life, just a "lessening". I started thinking of it more from an addict point of view. That does not mean that I'm comparing same-sex attraction to an addiction. Let me try to explain...
     I know heterosexual people (AKA "straight") who are sex addicts. They see a good looking person of the opposite sex, and almost immediately an unclean thought can pop into their head. Then they have to choose to dismiss the thought, or entertain it. I can see a good-looking guy (trust me, it happens), but I can choose not to objectify him. I can choose where I take my thoughts.
     Going off that same topic, I've seen people, heterosexuals, feel a lessening in their attraction through the healing power of Christ and trusting in Him. Does that mean they aren't attracted to the opposite sex anymore? No. Does it mean their attractions just displace, and suddenly they're attracted to the same-sex? Definitely not. They still have attractions to the opposite sex, but their ability to cope, their wandering eyes and risky thoughts become less and less frequent, and when they do resurface, they're easier to conquer. It's like the scripture Ether 12:27 27 "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
     Maybe it's not a matter of losing the attraction, losing the addiction, losing the behaviors, whatever the trial may be; perhaps it's a matter of trusting in God and Christ to make that which is weak into a strength. I know that for me, my same-sex attraction has, in so many ways, gone from a huge weakness to a huge strength. A great blessing I am eternally thankful for. my same-sex attraction once caused me to question the worth of my life, caused me to question God's love for me, I questioned my worth to others. Now, however, I realize I am worth more than I could ever comprehend here on this earth. My same-sex attraction allows me to love and empathize with people in ways few people can. I am able to be humbled more so than I would be without it. I know my Savior in ways some people don't while here on this earth. What was once a curse, a weakness, is now a blessing, a weakness, that I rejoice in God for.
     Does it come with hardship still? Sure! I have accepted that I cannot be with a man romantically if I desire true happiness, and sometimes that can be hard, though ultimately I am happier without romance with the same-sex. I still deal with rejection and exclusion. There are still people who do not understand and do not accept me or others like me. I deal with pressure from others, even members who claim to be "active and faithful" in the Gospel, to just live out life following my desires. To get with a guy. That's one thing that appalls me: people who claim to be active, faithful, God-fearing members, yet actively seek to lead people astray. That openly and actively oppose such an important teaching of the Church and God, the institution of the family. True love is not enabling, but pushing others in a loving and Christ-like manner to repentance and truth. But that's a topic for later. Point is, I still have struggles.
     As a very wise Apostle once said: "Doubt your doubts, before you doubt your faith." -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

     Ultimately I truly know God loves me. I know I have divine potential. I know I have worth. Christ's love is eternal, the atonement never ends. I truly love you all, and I know Christ loves you all perfectly. God bless you continually!

Friday, October 25, 2013


     I realized something yesterday. Something a little scary to me. I have depression. I was diagnosed when I was 15. I've been on anti-depressants since said time. Well, I forgot to take my medicine yesterday, and was already having a hard week anyway. It seems like me missing my pill sent me on a emotional spiral downwards.

     I've gone through "episodes" like that before, so it's nothing too new for me, but this time really shocked me because of how quick I seemed to turn. Though I had been having a hard week already, yesterday threw me completely out of whack. I got extremely hopeless, depressed, and lonely. I ended up resorting to one of my old addictions, self-harming.

     Self-harming has been one of the hardest addictions for me to talk with others about. It seems almost everyone I've ever opened up to about it just tells me I have issues and just need to stop. I've been told I do it for attention, that I'm disturbed for doing it, that I'm unbalanced and need help. I will admit, when I first started self-harming it was for attention, but even so, there were other reasons behind it.

     I do not want anyone who has never self-harmed before to ever try it. It may not seem like it, but it can easily become addicting. It offers the body a physical release, and causes the body to react by releasing hormones which in many ways can act almost like drugs. Self-harming is not something I'm proud of, it's not something I want to continue to indulge in, but it's still a struggle I personally face.

     I guess my hope in writing this post is to help people realize that we all have different struggles. The best way to help anyone is just to love them. Love without judging them, but at the same time trying to turn them to God and following His commandments.

     I woke up this morning feeling monumentally better than i did yesterday. I questioned why I ever decided to harm myself yesterday, why I was even feeling so low, and I just have to realize that life happens. I have my bad days, as does everyone. I make mistakes, I sin, I'm imperfect, but I can get back up again. Life isn't over, Christ loves me infinitely and unconditionally, and He can forgive me for my shortcomings and mistakes.

     I love you all, and hope to start posting more often (and more positively while still keeping it genuine). May God bless you continually!

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Sunday, October 20, 2013


     Well, it has been some time since I've been on here. I feel the need to get on and write this post, not because I want to, but because I feel I need to. Life recently hasn't been easy, but really, life is rarely easy.
     Many feelings I am all too familiar with are coming back into my life causing me to question. Not question my beliefs, not question the existence of God, or even my testimony, but causing me to question myself. Question my worth, my ability, my shortcomings, my failures in contrast to successes, etc.
     There's a lot of pressure on me right now. I'm starting a new job next week (which I'm excited but nervous for), my Voice(s) of Hope video and essay are due to be published soon, I'm almost always packed each day with stuff I need to do (chores, family time, etc.), I've been spending a lot of time with friends, I recently joined a YSA ward and am now a home teacher so I have responsibility to work with my companion and go out and teach our members each month, etc. Many of these things are good things, things that bring me joy, happiness, and blessings. Things that bring me closer to God. Yet I'm still stressed.
     Sometimes I just don't know if I'm doing all I can. This week has seemed to highlight my shortcomings. I've been reminded of how terrible I am at standing up for myself, and even standing up for others. It seems every time I've tried I either haven't been able to, or I do, but end up being too harsh or unnecessarily defensive and end up hurting others as well as myself. Standing up for myself has been a life-long struggle. I was bullied basically my entire school career. People always told me I just needed to stand up for myself, and that I was bullied because I reacted too much. Well, whenever I tried standing up for myself I'd cross the line and get in trouble with someone. I never hit anyone, never used physical force, but my words and actions were often what caused so much pain and heart ache for those around me and to myself.
     It's something I've beat myself up for time and time again, the innate ability I seem to have to hurt those around me that I never meant to hurt, and hurt them far beyond what I ever intended. I remember back to my childhood dealing with this as well. I would always find a way to do something wrong, to hurt someone in some way even if it was a complete accident. I broke expensive decorations while playing with my friends, broke a baby doll my neighbors had which was given to them by their grandmother before she passed, I gave bruises to people I was just trying to tickle or tease, I made people cry, I influenced others to make poor decisions and then hid in the background as they took all the blame. Most all of what happened causing damage and pain was accidental, yet still I look at myself trying to figure out why it seems to happen all the time.
     I lose contact with people too easily sometimes. It's not that I stop caring about that, or even that I forget about them, we just seem to drift apart. I don't text someone for a week and it's like they've fallen out of my life completely unless I see them in my weekly life at Church or work. I feel like I'm either too overbearing, or not there for them at all. I go through phases with people. It seems to go from acquaintances to friends and sometimes to best friends, then back to friends and eventually to acquaintances, and sometimes to almost strangers again.
     Well, there are the struggles I've been facing recently. I didn't mean to make this post into a venting session, or a pity-party. All things considered, life is great, it really is. I just have things which have come up that I now need to work through and process. What can I say? I'm human and imperfect, but I'm trying.
     Now I'll try to focus on more of the positives.
     I went to my 12-step meeting (aka ARP) tonight. We were working on step 3. There was one sentence in there that stuck out to me; "You may not be able to change some things in your life, but you can change your willingness to trust in God and obey Him." That really hit me, considering all that is going on right now. There are things going on in my life, even things about myself, that I can't change, but I still need to trust on God and obey His commandments.
     I published the Voices of Hope promo video which featured me, and the feedback I got was incredible. People I haven't talked to in years send me comments and messages thanking me for touching their lives and being willing to be open and vulnerable to share my experiences, faith, and hope with the world. It wasn't even my personal video, just a video I was featured in, and yet I touched lives. It was so great and comforting to see that God was able to use me to help others. I'm a little nervous now for when my actual video is released ;)
     And now my writing ability is starting to fade. Maybe I'm just tired or lazy, I don't know. Anyway, just want to end on a positive note. Life really is amazing, even for me right now, though it seems hard. God loves EVERYONE. Every single human being on this earth is loved by Him beyond worldly comprehension. I know God has blessed me, and is still a part of my life, even if I struggle, even if I fall.
     I have a testimony that I cannot deny of Jesus Christ, and that He atoned for everyone's sins, even mine. I know that God is real, and loves everyone. I know that there is life after death, and that true happiness is found only through following God and relying on Christ. I know that Christ is the Savior of the world, and that I am loved infinitely, as everyone is.
     Love you all! May we find Light in the darkness

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Voice(s) of Hope Promo Video

     Well, first off I haven't posted on here for quite a while. Life has presented all sorts of things to keep me busy and on my toes. New job, new responsibilities, family and friend activities, etc. It has been enjoyable, definitely, but exhausting nonetheless.
     The Voices of Hope project recently released a promo video, which I was featured in. To be honest, I didn't know I was going to be featured in it, but I feel so blessed that I had the opportunity to be. I definitely owe the credit to my friends and family who have guided me along this journey of life, and most especially to God who has been there to help me through every situation.
     Well, here it is;
(P.S. If you're on mobile, for whatever reason, the video doesn't always show up. You can click here to visit the video directly; )
Love you all!

Monday, September 30, 2013

I Love You...

     So much for me saying I wanted to blog about this the day after my last post "Update: This Crazy Week I've Lived". Well, the past few days have presented their own form of crazy. Lots going on, not enough time to get on the computer to type. So this is why I'm finally taking care of this post today. But lucky me, I got to go through some more experiences that better prepared me to do this post.
     As stated in my last post, I've fallen for one of my best friends, and he has expressed that he shares those feelings towards me. It has been hard not to pursue a relationship with him because part of me wants that, to feel close and intimate with him beyond what a friendship can bring. There has also been a large part of me, however, that realizes that is not what I want spiritually, and it's definitely not what I want for him.
     I was thinking the other day about what would happen if I were to pursue a relationship with him. He and I had both expressed a desire to be with each other beyond friendship, but if we were to take that path, what would it bring? Where would we both be later on if we made this decision? Would I actually be happy?
     One of the biggest factors for me regarding my decision was my feelings for him. No, I don't just mean attraction or infatuation, I mean the actual love for him that I have, the part of me that sees him as a son of God, that sees the infinite potential he has, and that desires him to be happy and successful in every way. That part of me, that desire I have to see him reach the highest level of glory and happiness is what has driven my decisions. As good as it may feel to cross the line with him, either by pursuing relationship or by acting out, ultimately my desire to see both he and I reach the Celestial Kingdom is more important to me than mortal gratification.
     I truly believe and support the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I agree with their teachings on marriage and morality. It is because of this belief, because of the testimony and personal revelation I have received that I know the choices I'm making regarding my relationship with him is right. I have never felt the way I feel about him before, but it is because of that love that I am able to see his potential, and I am able to care about him spiritually rather than simply physically.

     I'm not trying to say it has been easy, in fact it has been very hard. It's hard to resist temptations and desires which are so strong and real. We've gotten close to crossing the line, but were able to avoid making mistakes together. It's because of these situations that we've been able to look at our friendship and reevaluate. We've both been working on boundaries in our friendship to keep one another safe. We've reached compromises and been able to take our relationship, as full of temptation and passion as it can be, and make it more healthy and spiritually fulfilling.
    It has been a process, and it's been hard. We are still working on it each day, and as painful as it can be sometimes, I've felt closer to God because of it. I've been able to open my eyes, my spiritual eyes, and see my friend as the son of God that he really is, and be able to care for him far beyond just physical and mortal matters.
    One question, concern, (whatever you'd like to call it), that has been brought up to me, and I'm sure will continue to be brought up, is why I don't just pursue a relationship with him. Why not give in? If you both love each other, is it really wrong? Who's to say the Church is correct in it's teachings? Why would God give you feelings for each other if it's wrong? And all sorts of things like that.
     My answer to all of those is that I know what is right and wrong, I have a testimony that I cannot deny, I believe in what the Church teaches, and I love my friend far more than just as an object or life-long partner. I couldn't enter a relationship with him knowing the consequences that will follow in the coming life for both of us. I just couldn't bring myself to harm him or myself like that.
     But Mitchell, if a relationship with him would bring you happiness (which to a degree, it would), why not just go for it? My answer to this question is that I have felt more love, more happiness, more fulfillment and belonging, more understanding and hope when I'm feeling the spirit, when I'm close to God, when I'm doing what I know God wants me to, when I receive a blessing, when I go to the temple, etc. than I have ever felt "fulfilling" my attractions towards the same-sex by acting out or even just considering a relationship. Even though I admittedly struggle with my spirituality at times, as I'm sure everyone does, I also know what it feels like when I am close to God, when I have those spiritual experiences. And I would not trade those for anything. I've received more fulfillment and happiness from God and living His commandments than anything this world could give me.

     I love you all! Storms may arise, in fact storms will arise, challenges will present themselves, doubt and fear may sink in, conflicting emotions and ideas may arise, but so long as I stick to what I know and believe, I will be ok, I will feel love and comfort in the Savior's arms.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Update: This Crazy Week I've Lived

     This week has been, well, interesting. A roller-coaster of emotions, new experiences, new challenges, re-evaluation, falling away, coming back, finding God again, self-searching, comfort, heart ache, love, pain, falling of tears, finding happiness, searching for answers, accomplishment, pride, humility, broken hearts, etc etc. In short, this week was one of the most filled weeks of my life because I went from happiness to sadness then back to happiness again.
     My video shoot for the Voices of Hope project was this Sunday. The entire process was a roller coaster in and of itself. I felt confident for my shoot going into it. I received an absolutely amazing and comforting blessing just before filming promising me so many wonderful things, and I felt sure it would go well. Halfway through my shoot I had a break to go outside and get some fresh air (I was super sweaty and stressed). One of my good friends had come with me to my shoot and came outside with me. I just stood there lost in my own thoughts.
     I wanted to quit shooting my video, I didn't feel like I was saying what I needed to, I didn't feel like I was being myself. The blessing promised me that I would be able to feel God's love for me, that I would be able to say what I needed to, and feel comfort and fulfillment when I was done with my shoot, but I just wasn't feeling it. After a long break of explaining my feelings to my friend, receiving his support, and finally making my decision to quit my video shoot, the crew came out to see if I was ready to start filming again, and I told them I wasn't feeling it today, that I didn't want to continue.
     One of the directors, who I consider my friend, took me aside and had me talk to him about it. He was actually the one who had given me the blessing. I expressed my concerns to him, told him I wanted to be done, and he told me exactly what I needed to hear. I felt the spirit so strong as he talked to me. He told me I was feeling this was because I had my whole shoot planned out, I had it rehearsed and knew exactly what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. I was relying on my preconceived idea of how it should go and not letting the spirit talk through me. He assured me that I could finish it, and that I wasn't feeling those promises from the blessing because I wasn't done fulfilling this task for God.
     After my talk with him, I felt a conviction to get out there and finish my shoot, even if it was hard for me, even if I didn't like how it went, I had to completely jump into God's arms and trust Him to lead me and trust Him to help it turn out alright. I was terrified when I sat back in front of the camera, but I finished my shoot letting the words flow from my mouth and feeling confident that God would help me through it. When my shoot was finally over, I felt comfort, I knew my part was over, that God would take care of the rest. It was a huge learning experience for me, and I will be forever grateful to God, to my friend who gave me the blessing and talked me through wanting to give up, and my friend who came with me to support me and helped me process my emotions.
     So yes, after much struggle and doubt, my video shoot actually turned out.
     I fell in love this week, well actually, have been for the past 3 weeks. This was such a big part of my roller coaster, but due to time and trying to gather my thoughts, I'll expound more on this in my next post. However, for now I'll leave it at this. Yes, I fell in love with a friend of mine who is male. No, I am not leaving the Church. No, he and I are not going to pursue any romantic relationship. And finally, nothing regarding my faith or relationship with the Church is going to change and he and I are going to work through this and put up boundaries with each other so that we can keep safe and not cross any lines.
     There is a lot more I want to blog about, but unfortunately I have to head into work now, so that'll have to wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I'll Keep You Safe...

     This week I've been taking care of my neighbors pets while they're away. They have a dog (to keep anonymity of my neighbors as best I can, let's call her Shadow). Shadow is such a sweet and loving dog, she loves to play and be with people. She's also terribly afraid of thunder, fireworks, and other loud noises that come from outside.
     Today there was a thunderstorm with heavy rain. As soon as I heard the thunder, I went over to my neighbors house as fast as I could. When I walked in, Shadow was panting and hiding behind the couch. I called her over, and she walked up to me shaking and scared. I sat down on the floor next to her and tried to calm her down, but she was still very nervous and shaking. I went and turned the radio up (background noise helps calm her as well as drown out the thunder) and I put her in a thunder-shirt which often helps her too.
      After that she seemed to calm down a little bit, but she was still shaking, panting, and stayed close to me. I sat down on the floor with her again and just held her in my arms and tried to calm her down. If it got bad enough, I'd have to give her a mild tranquilizer to calm her down and help her get through the storm, otherwise she could start tearing things up because of how anxious she gets, and I definitely didn't want to put her on the tranquilizer.
     As the storm started to calm down, I just walked around the house finishing up the other responsibilities I had, Shadow staying close to me. The storm ended up only lasting for about 25 minutes, and while it was slowly coming to an end and moving on, I sat down on the floor with Shadow one more time and held her in my arms and scratched and pet her. I started thinking about how happy it makes me to be able to hold one of God's creatures in my arms, human or animal, and be able to comfort them.
She's so cute and sweet! I love Shadow

      When I first got to my neighbors home, shadow was hesitant and fearful, and came running to me, but ultimately didn't seem to pay any attention to me, and was looking around in fear of the next boom of thunder. I got to thinking about how sometimes that's the way I act in my life regarding God and Christ. Sometimes I get scared, sometimes I get stressed, sometimes I have a bad day, or just struggling, and I get upset or expect God to just take it all away. I don't pay attention to God, I just look around waiting for the storm to pass without even realizing that the Lord is holding me in His arms and helping me through the storms of life.
     Sometimes it takes time for me to realize that God is actually right there with me, all I have to do is recognize that, turn my attention to Him, and let Him hold me and guide me. I have to take that leap of faith that I can let Him take the lead, that I can do my part, and trust in Him to make up for the rest.
     It also made me think about all the blessings God has placed in my life, in particular my amazing friends. So often they have held me or talked to me during times of hardship. They've helped me realize that I'm not alone, that God is there for me, as He is for all His children. My friends and family, such an amazing gift from God, have helped me feel His love and His grace.
     As the storm finished, I got ready to head back home. Said my goodbyes to Shadow and gave her one more hug and rub. Today is a good day, I'm thankful to God for this little reminder in my day of His love for me. Thankful that I had my heart opened to be able to recognize it. Thankful for all my blessings.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Why Remain LDS?

     First off, I apologize for the long wait in between posts. These past few weeks have been quite busy. I was working on my Voices of Hope essay, and finally finished it, spent time with very good friends, and was just working, going to institute, and keeping myself busy. It was a good kind of busy, but busy nonetheless. Anyways, here's my new post, love you all!

     There seems to be a theme in the conversations I've had with people these past two weeks. I've had multiple people ask me "Why are you a member of a faith that doesn't let you "be yourself"? Why don't you go out and be "true" to yourself and your feelings? Why not go out and live a life that makes you happy?" etc. etc. It has been almost funny to me that all these questions are coming up, that so many people automatically assume I'm either miserable or not living a happy life just because I'm LDS and deal with SSA. The thing is I am happy!
     I find it interesting that so many people assume that because I am attracted to men, but that I'm not dating men or planning on having any sort of romantic relationship with a man, that it somehow automatically means I'm denying my true self. An alcoholic craves alcohol, but just because he chooses not to drink because he knows that alcohol can destroy his life, does that mean that he isn't happy? Does that mean he isn't being true to himself? I'm not comparing alcoholism to SSA, however, the analogy is much the same.
     I recognize that some people may claim to find "happiness" in living a gay lifestyle, in being with a partner of the same-gender, but through what I've learned and experienced, that's not what brings me happiness, nor will it bring me happiness in the future. I, for some time, basically lived a gay lifestyle, in many ways. I became inactive in the Church, I acted out with another guy, I was defining myself by my attractions, I thought it would bring me happiness, I thought I was being true to myself. I soon realized, however, that that was not the case. I wasn't happy, if anything, I was miserable. I felt so disconnected and isolated, I didn't feel God's presence in my life.
     I realized that being true to myself doesn't mean acting on every carnal desire I have, it means reaching my full potential. Who am I? I am a son of our Heavenly Father. That is what defines me, that is being true to myself. I am a child of God, and because I love God and I love the blessings He has given me, I strive to live my life according to the standards He has put in place because I know that in so doing, I will be happy, I am happy, and it's a happiness nothing of this world could give me, including a man I could fall in love with.

     Why remain LDS? Because I love it. It is what brings me happiness, it's what I know to be true, it's what is important to me. My relationship with God is worth more than any romantic relationship I could pursue with another man, and I wouldn't trade my testimony for anything.

Monday, September 2, 2013

All This Time

All This Time
Britt Nicole

I remember the moment, I remember the pain
I was only a girl, but I grew up that day
Tears were falling
I know You saw me

Hiding there in my bedroom, so alone
I was doing my best, trying to be strong
No one to turn to
That's when I met You
 All this time, from the first tear cried
'Till today's sunrise
And every single moment between
You were there, You were always there
It was You and I
You've been walking with me all this time
Ooh, oh, oohh
Ooh, oh, oohh
You've been walking with me all this time

Ever since that day, it's been clear to me
That no matter what comes, You will never leave
I know You're for me
And You're restoring

Every heartache and failure, every broken dream
You're the God who sees, the God who rescued me
This is my story
This is my story

 I hear these people asking me
How do I know what I believe
Well, I'm not the same me, and that's all the proof I need
I felt love, I felt Your grace
You stole my heart that day


 Ever since the first tear cried
It was You, You and I
You've been walking with me all this time
     I found this song a little while ago, and it really struck a cord with me. It was a song I could really relate to. Even the first 2 lines of the song "I remember the moment, I remember the pain. I was only a (boy), but I grew up that day" I remember that moment for me, or rather moments, early in my life when I felt pain, when I was still young enough to not need to deal with that, but it caused me to have to grow up, to accept things and deal with things at that young age. "Tears were falling, I know You saw me."
     Then the next section "Hiding there in my bedroom, so alone. I was doing my best, trying to be strong. No one to turn to. That's when I met You" This section of the song hit me even harder. I remember those moments in my life, when life seemed to be caving in, when I was trying to be strong, but could only keep that up for so long. When I felt that I had no one to turn to, and finally the moment when I met the Savior, when I came to know God, and when I was able to turn to Him and rely on his atonement. There have been times in my life when I've forgotten to turn to Christ, times when I've turned my back on God, and yet He remains there waiting for me to turn back to Him. That is a love I cannot comprehend.
     And finally, one of my favorite parts "I hear these people asking me. How do I know what I believe? Well, I'm not the same me, and that's all the proof I need. I felt love, I felt Your grace" That's one thing that has solidified my testimony, as well as something I need to apply to my life even more. How do I know what I believe? Well, I'm not the same me, and that's all the proof I need. That statement seems so powerful to me. That's all the proof I need. Sometimes I feel like I don't know enough, sometimes I feel like I need more to have a true testimony, but is it really that I don't have enough? Or should the fact that I'm not the same me, that I'm happy, that I've felt love and grace be enough for me to say "That's all the proof I need"

Friday, August 23, 2013


I'm at war within myself. Which side will win? Good or evil, does it matter? I know what I believe, I know what I know, but a side of me doesn't want to let it show. Part of me wants something else, something different. A contradiction, a front, a lie.
Which do I feed and which do I starve? The wolves at war within me, growing strong when I feed them, growing weak when I starve them. Which will I feed today? Good or bad, right or wrong, happiness versus misery, truth against lies. But this is me, not desire, not selfishness.
I am a son of God, that is me. I am Mitchell Clark. I am a warrior, a fighter. I have scars to prove it. I've felt pain, experienced heart break, felt hopeless and beyond saving. I've cried myself to sleep, wished I could die, thought of taking my life, hurt myself, but still I survive. I am a warrior, a fighter.
A voice inside me tells me to give in, to give up. Do I let it win me? Do I give up all I've worked for to please this feeling? Or do I hold my head up, realize all I have, and continue to fight as a warrior and son of God? The answer seems obvious, I know what I should be doing and what would bring me happiness, yet still the war rages on.
Fighting, I triumph, tire and rest, I fall. Feeding the enemy I slip, feeding my spirit I rise. This war is my fight, my choice. I could give up and surrender, for that would bring peace, would it not? Or would it bring further pain and misery simply disguised as peace? This fight, this war, it's mine. I accepted it when I chose God's plan. I'm elect and chosen of God, as we all are. I am an heir to God's powers and glory. I could choose lust, flesh, and temporary happiness and give it all away, or I can be true to what I know and believe.
This is my war. I am a warrior, a fighter.
I am a son of God.
-Mitchell Linford Clark

Saturday, August 10, 2013


     Today while I was out mowing my Grandma's lawn, I was listening to my music, and a song came on which I've heard multiple times before, but for some reason it hit me hard today. The song is You Never Are by Francesca Battistelli.
You Never Are
Lost your way and you don't know how it happened
So much time you wasted chasing satisfaction
Seems like there's no where else to go
Please, I wish that you would come home
Oh, don't be so afraid, you think that you're too far
But you never are
, you never are, you never are, are, are
So scared that you're too late, too hidden in the dark
But you never are, you never are, you never are, are, are
Grace is underestimated
All you ever really have to do is take it

God is bigger than the times we fail
So why can we not forgive ourselves?
Oh, don't be so afraid, you think that you're too far
But you never are, you never are, you never are, are, are
So scared that you're too late, too hidden in the dark
But you never are, you never are, but you never are
You will never be perfect, oh
But you're still worth it
You've gotta just believe
Oh, don't be so afraid, you think that you're too far
But you never are, you never are
Oh, don't be so afraid, you think that you're too far
But you never are, you never are, oh

 So scared that you're too late, too hidden in the dark
 But you never, you never, you never are, you never are
You never are, you never are, are, are
You never are, you never are, you never are, are, are
     And my writing talent has exhausted itself for today, so rather than try to dissect it and its meaning, I'll just leave it at that and I added highlights and bolding to parts that I think mean a lot and are cool.
     Anyways, love you all! May God bless you continually and may we come to realize that we are never too far for forgiveness through the grace of Christ.

Friday, August 2, 2013

"I Can't Do This (Sam)"

     It is at times like this when I feel the most vulnerable, when I feel utterly lost and worthless. When I feel that I fail at being a friend, that I can't do anything right, that I can't make a difference in the world. This is when I have to realize no matter how tempting it is to return to my past behaviors that gave me comfort, relief, even temporary "happiness" that it would only take what I already have and throw it back down again. I have to realize that no matter how much I hate myself right now, that I can't self-sabotage. No matter how alone, hurt, and/or betrayed I feel, that I can't isolate. I can't resort to self-harm, suicidal thoughts, indulging in my addictions, or any other destructive behaviors.
     To be honest, my family relationships are struggling, and I recognize that it is mainly my fault. My spirituality has been very poor recently. I haven't been getting down on my knees and praying at night, and it definitely hasn't been happening in the mornings. I haven't been reading my scriptures practically at all the past little while. I feel so blessed to have the wonderful friends I have now, and I do recognize it as such a big blessing, but I've been doubting myself and my ability to be a good and successful friend and to reciprocate in a relationship. All of these factors added together have led me to be struggling with myself emotionally, socially, and especially spiritually.
     Thinking about all of this today, I had a conversation pop into my head that happens between Frodo and Sam in The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkein. The first part of the conversation has actually come to my mind many times before when my life truly seems to become completely overwhelming and hopeless. Frodo despairingly turns to Sam and says "I can't do this, Sam." This is a feeling I know all to well. Turning to God, to myself, to a friend, and saying "I can't do this." and truly believing it. Feeling hopeless, feeling stuck and at a complete stop in life not believing there is anywhere else to go and that the struggles of life have become too much to bear.
     To Frodo, Sam then replies "I know." A surprising reply, to be validated that perhaps you truly cannot do it... at least, not alone. I truly believe that every person on this earth has struggles and trials that we truly cannot overcome on our own. We have to rely on others to support us and help us through, and more importantly, we have to rely on God and Christ, and the infinite power of Christ's atonement.
     The entirety of the conversation between Frodo and Sam is as follows;
“Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien,
The Two Towers
      This was what reminded me today that yes, you know what? I can't do this on my own. I've been pushing God out of my life recently, I haven't been praying or reading my scriptures, I've been struggling with relationships, I haven't been doing my best because I need to rely on God.
      I need to drop my stubborn pride, my fears, and whatever else, and turn myself back to God if I wish to overcome this and get myself back to a better place. It won't be easy, it'll be hard, but I need to realize that I can't do this on my own. I need support in my life, especially from God, and in order to receive that, I need to open myself to Him and be willing to trust him and turn to him.
      Sometimes I don't want to know the end, because looking in the present, how could the end of, or the future, of my life be happy? How could my life go back to how it was when so much bad has happened? I have the chance to turn around, to give up, to resort to old behaviors, but I also have the chance to say "No, I'm not going to let this drag me down. I will get back up, I will turn myself back to God, and I will fight this fight because there is still good in my life. There is still good in the world, and it's worth fighting for."
     So this is my commitment to my readers, but more importantly to myself and God. I will turn back to God, no matter how hard it may be, I will keep walking forward. My life is worth fighting for, and so I will fight for it. There is good in me, even if I can't currently see it, and I need to find that good and believe in myself.
     I love you all so much, even you people who read my blog that I do not know at all or who have never left a comment or contacted me. Just the simple fact that you have spent time to read my blog, my journey, brings me the feeling of love, support, and the ability to influence others for good. May God bless us all continually, and may we ever learn to turn to Him, even when it is hard, even when we are struggling. God be with you til' we meet again

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Happiness Amidst the "Pain"

     Something I've been thinking about recently is all the happiness and blessings I have in my life currently. I've been blessed monumentally by everything that is going on in my life right now. My wonderful friends, my family, my job, my pets, God, the LDS church, the list goes on and on. Now I can't credit it all to SSA, I mean I didn't go into my job interview and say "hey, I have SSA, did I get the job?", but what I can say is for me, my SSA, addictions, and other trials and things I deal with have helped me grow so much. What was once something I considered a curse, a hindrance, even a factor that would eventually damn me is now something I view with humble understanding and lots of thanks to God.
     Through my feelings of SSA I have come to realize what it means to truly love someone for who they are, not what they are. Because feelings of attraction come with feelings of sexual desire, I have had to learn to bridle my lusts because I wish to live a life pleasing to my Heavenly Father. Through this practice of bridling passions and learning self-control, I have learned to change the way I view someone I am attracted to from an object for my own selfish desires to another human being, a Child of God who I can then learn to love and care for without selfish desires finding their way into my mind.
     Getting to know the person on a deep and emotional level has been a huge factor to me. Once I get to know someone, I learn to mourn with them, I learn our similarities and differences, I learn what makes them unique, what they like, who they are, etc. And once I reach this point, I begin to love them. I begin to care for them to the point where I would not be able to live with myself if I were to use them for fulfillment of lustful desires.
     I've had people tell me before that these feelings are something I need to work through, that eventually I need to get rid of. I've had people ask me if I could choose to not have feelings of SSA whether or not I would choose to get rid of those feelings or keep them. Many times I was unable to answer because I truly did not know much about it, but with the point I am at in life and the understanding I have gained through what I have gone through, I have decided with wholeheartedness that I would not trade my experiences or feelings for anything. Why? because they have brought me so much personal and spiritual growth. It has brought me friendships and relationships I never dreamed possible, and it has taught me to love everyone and to have and show empathy and understanding.
1 Peter 1:7; "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:"(emphasis added)
 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; 9 "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."(emphasis added)
     Now I understand and believe that Christ has the power to remove my SSA and addictions, this is something I know is possible, but at the same time, I would be completely content to live out the rest of my life continuing to grow and learn from dealing with these "trials". And if Christ sees it fit to eventually remove them from me, whether in this life or the next, then I will trust in his judgment and be thankful for all I have learned through the blessing of having them.
     Know that I love you all, and that I know that any trial in our life, if we let it, can help us grow closer to God and grow personally in our testimony and personal and spiritual strength. May we all strive to see life through a different pair of eyes and find the Happiness Amidst the "Pain".

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Physical Touch

     This Sunday while I was sitting in church, I had the feeling like I needed to write some stuff down, so I pulled out my iPod and wrote some stuff in my notes. 3 weeks ago, I joined an LDS based support group, called North Star, for people who deal with same-sex attraction and want to live by the standards of Christ's church and gospel. 
     Once I joined I got such a warm, welcoming, and loving response from so many members on North Star. For most of my life, I really thought I was the only one who was LDS who dealt with SSA. I felt distant, alone, and shameful. Once I joined North Star, my perspective and understanding widened so much. Since joining I've had so many people reach out to me with love and compassion. I've been given the opportunity to meet some of my brothers who understand me, love me, and care about me.
     I realize I'm taking a bit to get to the point of this post, but there's still one other thing I want to talk about, because it has strengthened my testimony so much these past 3 weeks.
     For much of my life I've struggled with making and keeping friendships with males. It's something I wanted and needed, but also hated and feared. I prayed so many times for help, guidance, for a friend I clicked with, but for years I saw no answer to my prayers. When I got my patriarchal blessing, it promised me I'd be blessed with normal relationships in my life, and yet I didn't see that promise fulfilled in my life to that point.
     I began to question why, I thought perhaps God was upset with me, and had therefore withheld that promise. Perhaps my patriarch was mistaken, maybe I was expecting too much of God, maybe this... maybe that... I became angry at God. I didn't understand why my prayers hadn't been answered the way I expected they would, and I didn't understand what my patriarchal blessing's promise meant or why it hadn't been fulfilled.
     It wasn't until about 3 weeks ago when I received my answer. Through divine intervention, I began talking to another guy who had SSA and who I had seen on a Voice(s) of Hope video. It was him who introduced me to North Star, and he was the first answer to my prayers. Since my joining of North Star, I have met and contacted quite a few other young men who share my struggles and beliefs and who I have become very close friends with. I feel comfortable to talk to them about anything, and that has been a huge help to me to have that support.
     God answered my prayers beyond what I even imagined possible. God has given me the blessing of people who love me and care for me and who I can relate to, and for that I will be forever grateful.
     Anyway, now I will get to the subject of this post. Physical touch.
     Now, as mentioned above, I wrote some stuff in my iPod Sunday, and I feel like what I wrote explains what I'm trying to explain better than I could explain it right now, and so I will just copy down what I wrote:

"...Physical touch was, for me, a huge taboo for a long while of my life.
It was something I feared and hated, and yet something I needed and craved.
For a long time, I believed the only way to get physical touch was to break my morals and boundaries, and go down a path I did not want to walk.
I only began to realize 3 weeks ago that physical touch and true emotional relationships between members of the same-sex do not require the lowering of ones standards.
I have received so much healing and support through physical touch and my wonderful new friends who understand its importance while also staying within moral boundaries set for us by the Lord.
Physical touch has benefitted me beyond what I considered possible, and has helped me feel the Savior's love for me in ways I never thought possible."
"To have someone's arms around you, and for them to tell you they love you, is a feeling which is so hard to explain.
To feel absolutely loved, completely safe, and to feel the Saviors love through a brother in spirit.
I cannot explain in words the importance of physical touch, quality time, and true emotional love shared between two individuals in a non-romantic, safe, and nonsexual way."
      Now I understand physical touch isn't for everyone. Yes, it can be triggering or dangerous, but then again, so can almost anything, that's why it is important to communicate your needs. My point is to explain something that has helped me personally.
     When I'm holding someone, I feel trusted, I feel a sense of importance, and I feel love and care towards the other person. I want happiness and success for them. That's what physical touch is for me, an expression of love and care. The same applies for when someone is holding me, in that case I feel trusting, I feel important, I feel loved and cared for.

     Physical touch and emotional closeness has been monumentally therapeutic and healing for me. This past few weeks have been some of the best in my life because I have come to truly accept myself as well as learned to love others in ways I never dreamed possible. I truly feel like I've grown so much and I feel so blessed.
     I'll include some scriptures too, because that seems to always help out right?
     John 13:23-25; "Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?"
     Genesis 45:14-15; "And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him"
     Even if healthy physical touch is not an option for you at this current time, or if physical touch is too dangerous or not good for you, know that there are ways to express and receive true and healthy love from others. I know God loves everyone, every single human being on this earth regardless of race, sex, choices, etc. Thank you for all the support and love you've all shown me.
      One other thing I'd like to add. I've learned that it can be very important to read more than just one opinion on a subject, and therefore I'll provide a link to another bloggers post on the same topic, just with a little different approach. The post is A Nice Thing about Guys with SSA by (Gay) Mormon Guy. His post is part of what inspired me to write mine, as well as all the blessings that have been given to me recently. One other link I'll include is a more standard look at the concept of male friendships and is not LDS based or even same-sex attraction based, and yet has a great point and some great info. It's The History and Nature of Man Friendships,. I love you all! Best of luck and God be with you all!