I’m not a picture person. Reading my blog will tell you that pretty clearly. And it’s always been that way. The walls of my bedrooms, offices, dorms, and hallways have always been empty. During my mission I even shied away from drawing out the Plan of Salvation for fear that my poor drawing skills would drive away the Spirit.
But some people are picture people.
There are people who dedicate their lives to art – to crafting perfect photographs and painting landscapes for hours on end. People who chronicle the history of mankind with photojournalism and others who look deep into space to find stories about the beginning of the universe. Even other guys who happen to get the fashion and interior design perk that often accompanies homosexuality (can I call unfair? I’m beyond remediation in both.) For those people, visual imagery mean a lot.
And the fact that there aren’t in this blog post may mean a lot (negatively), too. Without pictures, they may be unable to concentrate… unable to listen… unable to get over the fact that the message has so few visual references.
But it’s the same with the fact that it’s written in English. And the fact that it’s written from a solid-stalwart LDS perspective. And that it’s not in a song. And that it addresses homosexuality and Mormonism in the same breath.
Each of those introduces a dual-edged sword. It makes the message more meaningful to some… at the expense of others. For every person reached in English, there are others in Spanish, Chinese, German, French, Arabic… who read this message in a language other than their native tongue. For every faithful member searching for answers on homosexuality, there are hundreds who will never follow that kind of link.
The reality is that each message cannot be everything to everyone… and, in fact, in many cases the deeper it goes in one direction, the fewer people hear it in others. As we choose to speak, we have to determine both breadth and depth – I can either reach more people… or reach more deeply into the hearts of those who choose to listen.
I’ve found that the truest messages, though, aren’t ones that are generalized to reach everyone. They’re not platitudes that could be spread across all of humanity or trite sayings that go viral on Twitter. The messages that change people and transform them are personal stories, personal feelings, and personal invitations from people who have been through the same roads in life. When those people speak, their brothers and sisters can hear it… because they are speaking the language of the soul.
I think this is what the Lord meant when He prophesied that in the Last Days, the gospel would be preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. Not just the simple act of having missionaries in China or Iran, but having a host of messages… messengers… that speak to the individual needs and experiences of people all over the world. The steps in fulfilling that prophesy, then, are learning to speak in the language of the soul (sharing our own thoughts and experiences, stories and testimony), and then speaking out.
In a way, this blog – and each of us trying to share our own message – helps to fulfill that prophesy. It speaks to a people with a unique language… a people who, for a long time, have had to listen closely to hear how the gospel applies in their lives.
When I was growing up, I would have given anything to talk with someone who “spoke my language” – someone who had experienced what I was experiencing, and was willing, if even in passing, to acknowledge that my life was hard. I had no idea that you could faithfully live in the Church, attend the temple, and have all the blessings God promised while living with same-sex attraction. I had heard the message that God loved everyone from the pulpit a million times, and had heard it over and over again from people who loved me. But none of those people, for whatever reason, could get through the noise… because they didn’t speak my language.
The only language we can speak is that of our own experiences… And I want to add my own voice to share the message of the gospel. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church of God on the Earth. I know that through the Atonement of Christ, all men can be saved – and find happiness and peace in this life – by living according to the teachings of the Gospel. I know that God lives, and loves us, and hears and answers our prayers… even when we don’t deserve it. And I know that the Gospel applies just as fully… or perhaps even more… to those of us who live with trials and imbalance in life. The Gospel was designed to make imperfect men perfect, to bring us closer to God, to change us and teach us to be happy no matter what the circumstance.
(insert picture of heaven here)