Most LDS parents share common dreams for their children. That their child will fall in love. Get married. Have children. They believe in the power of falling in love. They believe this is Heavenly Father’s plan for their child to become their best self and live their best life.
When your child comes out as LGBTQ those dreams don’t just disappear.
So if you are LDS this puts your brain into cognitive dissonance. The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the mental discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes.
You believe that doctrine of marriage and you also believe that your child would have a more fulfilled life being married.
You want you child to progress in the gospel but you also want them to live a whole full life. In the gospel, we believe that the highest level of happiness in this life and in the next life includes a spouse and creating a family.
This conflict of the brain causes feelings of unease or discomfort. I don’t know of a LDS LGBTQ parent that doesn’t experience this. You want to be faithful but you also want to support what is best for your child’s well being. This puts us in a space that feels unchartered with the Lord.
Historically LDS families have felt there were only 2 paths. Some choose to leave the church because they felt like in order to support their child they couldn’t keep their membership. Others felt like in order to stay that they couldn’t support their child, so essence they left their child.
I believe there is a third path and I am seeing more families forge their way on this path. There is no map for this path, so to find your way you have to increase your skills of hearing Him. You learn to trust the Lord in a new way. And most importantly you learn to find grace why you “wait upon him.”
I knew the answer was not to leave my son or the gospel. In order to stay and support my son my relationship with the Lord had to change. I had to learn how to “Be Still and Know” and most importantly to “wait upon Him.” To find peace on this third path I needed to develop a new level of spiritual maturity.
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
I have learned that one of my life tests is how I choose to act while "waiting upon the Lord". I can’t control the Lord’s timing but I can control how I act while I am waiting upon him to answer my prayers. While we are waiting, we can either act like a typical 2 year old at the grocery store throwing a tantrum because their mom won’t buy them a candy bar or we can learn to grow our patience with faith. If we handle the waiting with grace we find what we are capable of and our blessed with renewed strength.
The Lord expects us to do all that we can do while we wait upon Him and here are 3 things to focus on to help you grow your faith in "waiting upon the Lord":
1. Actively Seeking God
2. Trust in God’s Plan for your Family
3. Choose Faith and Hope everyday
Actively Seeking God
Seeking is an action word, a verb. It means to go, to acquire, to search, to discover. TO DO SOMETHING. This takes action on our part. In Jeremiah 29:13 the Lord tell us: “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
The Lord tells us that if we takes actions to seek Him, we will find him. I have found many situations in our LGBTQ journey that are similar to the hymn “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go.” These words:
But if, by a still, small voice he calls To paths that I do not know, I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine: I’ll go where you want me to go.
Those lyrics represent keenly the journey of an LDS LGBTQ parent—the “paths that I do not know”-I knew the answer was not to leave the church or leave my son. I have great desire to learn how to support both. I needed to be tutored by the Lord, sometimes daily. I have had to seek the Lord in a much more active way. This included prayer, scripture, temple and time to ponder and listen. Don't discount these simple things - when I spent time actively doing them they became the game changer in Hearing Him on this path.
Trying to Understand God’s Plan for our Family
We thought we knew what the right path was for our son, but we were wrong. The plan God had for our son did not match what we had envisioned but we have learned that together, with the Lord, we can create something even more remarkable than what we had envisioned.
What this looks like for each family is different. One of the best ways we can support our LDS LGBTQ families is to not judge the decisions they make for their family. Revelation is personal and different for all of us.
At BYU Women’s Conference in 2015, Elder M. Russell Ballard pled:
"Each of you must come to know what the Lord wants for you individually, given the choices before you. . . .Once you know the Lord’s will, you can then move forward in faith to fulfill your individual purpose. "
Then he posed this question: “Is it possible for two similarly faithful women to receive different responses to the same basic questions?” He emphatically responded:
"Absolutely! What’s right for one woman may not be right for another. That’s why it is so important that we should not question each other’s choices or the inspiration behind them."
John and I had to be open to revelation that seemed surprising to us. To letting go of our control in Nick's story. We had to find out what our part was and what part was the Lord's. I promise you that if you go the Lord often with even the smallest cares of your hearts, that He will bring you comfort and direction.
We choose FAITH and HOPE
The opposite of faith and hope is fear and every time we choose faith, we minimize fear.
If we are feeling worry, fear and resentment that comes from not choosing hope and faith.
Professor Clark explained: “What is the source of fear?” I think it is rooted in the assumption . . . that I must solve all my problems and face all my challenges alone, using my own resources. That is frightening, because deep in my heart I know how limited those resources are. . . . Knowing that I am not capable of changing myself or my circumstances for the better, I stand frozen in fear."
We are not alone. The Lord has given us the invitation to trust Him. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5)
There is much I didn’t understand about my son being LGBTQ but when I choose faith and hope, he blessed me with more understanding. Having faith has given me the courage to ask questions and to question what is the best decision for our family. It has taken me off auto pilot parenting and has helped me discover new ways to think about things.
“Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning [you]” (D&C 58:3).
There has been many moments where I received peace and understanding that my natural eyes could not comprehend but that doesn’t make it any less real or faith affirming. I know God has great things planned for my son, I just need to trust in his greatness.
Everyday I have to wake up and re-choose faith and hope. It is not a one time event. It is a choice every single day. This is where the skill of managing my thoughts helps me focus on what I can control and how I think.
Watching my thinking helps me create the emotions that I need to to show up for my son. I can't control my son's journey but I control how I show up for my son. How I minister to him. And when I choose to act from faith and hope my actions and words are more aligned with the Saviors. From this place my son then feels His Saviors love through my personal ministering to him –I have learned that this is my most important part in his story.
President Uchtdorf taught:
"We may share the same gene pool, but we are not the same. We have unique spirits. We are influenced in different ways by our experiences. And each of us ends up different as a result.
Rather than attempting to force everyone into a mold of our own making, we can choose to celebrate these differences and appreciate them for adding richness and constant surprises to our lives."
Seeing ALL of Nick for who he was and not trying to fit him in a mold gave me the opportunity to embrace the beauty of his differences. I was able relax and enjoy my son and all of his amazing gifts. His sexuality came with unique and beautiful gifts. God made us different because He loves us. Our differences are meant to enhance our world.
Our differences are not contrary to God’s plan they are God’s plan and God has a specific plan for each of us.
President Holland in his last conference address shared his apostolic promise while we are waiting-“So while we work and wait together for the answers to some of our prayers, I offer you my apostolic promise that they are heard and they are answered, though perhaps not at the time or in the way we wanted. But they are always answered at the time and in the way an omniscient and eternally compassionate parent should answer them.”
I now see the "waiting upon the Lord" as the opportunity that it is, the chance for us to grow into a better version of ourselves. I'm not saying I have done it perfectly, there has been many moments where I would resemble the 2 year old having a tantrum in my actions and thinking. But in the waiting I have gained wisdom. He has taught me so much and I'm excited about the lessons that will come. The "waiting" doesn't have to be a painful place for you and your family, in fact, that is the last thing the Lord wants for you. If you need help in managing the "waiting" please reach out to me, at Jenie Hunter Coaching I would love to share with you the tools I have found that has helped me.