Six years ago I was on a spring break trip in Moab Utah with two of my best friends. The plan was to spend a week down there and do as much as we possibly could. We rock climbed, mountain biked, golfed, snuck into a hotel hot tub, we were just 3 young college guys having a blast.
One night we made a trip to the Moticello temple. When we arrived at the temple I told my friends that I had forgotten my temple recommend and told them I would wait outside, they thought nothing of it and went in. What they didn’t know was I had intentionally forgotten my recommend as I did not feel worthy to enter and could not bear the thought of telling my buddies the reason why. It was a secret I had been holding for years, I was attracted to men and had slipped into viewing pornography. I remember sitting outside the temple sobbing and pleading to God to please help me with this. I was at my end and suicide was a constant thought. I wanted so badly to have a wife and kids, and to be free from this trial but those things were seeming impossible for me. After the temple session we went back to our hostel to get ready for the next big day of activities. Little did I know that those activities would teach me one of the biggest lessons of my life and would save my spiritual life. Just remember to be carful what you pray for.
The next day we had a jeep trip planned. We had rented a jeep and were going to spend the day out on a trail called Hell’s Revenge, which is a rather coincidental name considering the events that followed. Hell’s Revenge was supposedly a pretty sick sand stone trail that is world famous in the jeeping community. As we were getting ready to leave we threw our rock climbing gear into the jeep just in case we saw a place we wanted to try climbing along the jeep trail. We headed off early in the morning and hit the trail. The day was amazing! The jeeping was a blast and gave us the thrill that all single college guys are looking for.
Towards the end of the trail we spotted a cliff that looked like something we would like to try climbing so one of my buddies and I hiked up the backside of the cliff so we could set up our ropes at the top. After the ropes were in place, instead of hiking back down we decided we would rappel down. I clipped into the rope and leaned back to make my decent but as I leaned back our entire rigging came apart and I fell backwards off the 50 foot wall, shattering my heel and scalping a section of my head. As I lay there, still conscious, my friends began trying to call 911. As one was on the phone directing the paramedics to us the other stayed at my side. At one point I remember asking my fried if my head was bleeding he responded by telling me “a little bit” he didn’t want to panic me but the truth was my head was squirting blood and when all was said and done I had lost about a liter and a half. Eventually search and rescue found us and I was life flighted to St. Mary’s hospital in Grand Junction Colorado. When I woke from surgery my two buddies were standing there by my side. I can’t thank Bryan and Ryan enough for saving my life that day and I can’t thank God enough for the lessons he taught me through this experience.
Up until this time suicide had been a regular thought. I thought that I could not find the joy I was looking for so suicide was the only option. But by having my life literally flash before my eyes as I was making my quick descent to the sand stone floor made me realized that I didn’t want to die and that life was worth living. Initially this was the lesson I learned but there were still other important lessons from this event that I did not see for over a year.
About a year later I was in another low spot and seriously contemplating leaving the church and living a gay lifestyle. During this time the events of that spring break accident became very clear to me and I began to see how that event had effected my life. I began to see clearly the lessons that God had intended to give me through that event.
Before this accident I was a rock climber, I defined myself by that title. It was part of who I was. Since the accident “rock climber” has become much less of who I am. After I had healed from the accident I tried climbing again. I was about half way up a climb and I began to panic, I began frantically checking my knots and the set up to make sure it was safe and I completely froze and was almost too afraid to let go of the wall to come back down. It was then that I realized, I’m not really a climber anymore. As badly as I want it, it is not who I am anymore. Today, I have worked through some of this trauma and climb a little but I still don’t climb like I did. I define myself by other things, like husband, father, and therapist but most importantly son of God.
A year after the accident I was “gay”, I began defining myself by that title, I thought it was who I was. I now realized that the only thing that is absolute in who I am is that I am a son of God. Nothing else has to define me. I realized that I didn’t have to be gay it wasn’t set in stone just like me being a rock climber was not set in stone. Once I made this realization I found a new freedom that I had not known. I saw that it was possible for me to have the things in life I want and that I believe God wants for me. I don’t believe God sees me as a man with SSA he sees me as a man who has trials just like every other man in this world. I don’t believe that God defines an alcoholic by his trial or a person with schizophrenia by his disorder. God doesn’t define me by my trial and does not expect me to make that who I am. He expects me to learn from it and rise above it.