Awake And Arise: A Call To Action

Awake And Arise: A Call To Action

Finding peace, happiness and fulfillment as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who experience same-sex attraction or identify as LGBT can be a difficult and complex process. How do we SSA/LGBT saints fit into the Gospel plan? Why are we the way we are and what is God’s plan for us? This article seeks to answer some of these questions, and to urge my fellow SSA/LGBT saints to awake to their true potential and arise to their critical role in building the Kingdom of God and establishing Zion.

AWAKE AND ARISE: A CALL TO ACTION

Bennett Borden

President, North Star International

PRINCIPLE 1

WE HAVE AN ETERNAL PATH TO SPIRITUAL PEACE AND SALVATION

Why are we the way we are? Why were we born into this world with the complex and wonderful bundle of characteristics that make us who we are? Why were we born with knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Billions of people have been born unto this earth who do not have this knowledge. In fact, according to scientists, more than 100 billion humans have been born on the earth. Why is it that we, out of those 100 billion, were given the gift and the responsibility of a knowledge of the gospel? And, most critically, what does that mean about our responsibilities and obligations while we are here on this earth and beyond?

The Why? question is central to everyone, but perhaps especially to all of us in the SSA (same-sex attraction) and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) LDS communities. Why? Why am I the way I am? What is its purpose, and what is its meaning for my life and God’s plan for me?

Our dear friend, Tom Christofferson, perhaps best articulates our challenge:

“We often feel like we are caught between two truths: the truth of the Gospel and the truth of us as LGBT LDS people. These sometimes feel like incongruent, irremediable truths.”

Tom Christofferson

That We May Be One:
A Gay Mormon’s Perspective On Faith and Family

We know, however, that truth cannot conflict. Rather, truth is circumscribed into one great whole. As such, if something does not seem to fit, it means that there must be a piece missing from our understanding. This is why our mission at North Star could be summed up as working to help our brothers and sisters find the understanding that creates an eternal bridge between these two seemingly incompatible truths. It is time for us to grasp this understanding and awake to our essential importance in building the Kingdom of God and establishing Zion.

PRINCIPLE 2

GOD HAS LONG PREPARED YOU FOR THIS LIFE AND ITS CHALLENGES

Eons ago, all of us “were born of heavenly parents and reared to maturity” in the preexistence, long before we arrived on this earth” (The First Presidency, The Origin of Man, 1909). During those eons, we were raised, taught, and prepared. The Doctrine and Covenants makes clear that, “even before [you] were born … [you] received [your] first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:56).

From the Book of Mormon we learn, “In the first place [meaning the preexistence], being left to choose good or evil, therefore, having chosen good and exercising exceedingly great faith you are called…” Alma 13:3. From this we learn that during our time in the preexistence, we spent eons of time, we were reared and taught, we were allowed to choose between good and evil. Through our choices of what we studied, learned and applied, we were formed and honed into the beautiful and complex beings that we are today. We were prepared, and prepared ourselves, to come here and serve the Lord. We were hand-crafted for our work in this estate.

“During the ages in which we dwelt in the pre-mortal state, we developed our various characteristics, we showed our worthiness or lack thereof and our abilities.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection [1970], 50–51) What does this mean for us in answering the question of why we are the way we are?

People come to this earth with different interests and personality traits. Some people like math and some like science, some like music, some are better at art, some are more analytical, some are more compassionate. All of these differences have a purpose. What is that? It’s because we purposefully developed every one of these traits before we came here. We spent ages learning, choosing, developing, exercising faith. Everything that makes us us is on purpose. Our combination of talents and perspectives makes each one of us unique. We were hand-crafted before we came here to be placed precisely where we needed to be and where our Heavenly Parents needed us most.

“Knowest thou not that thou art a spark of deity struck from the fire of his eternal blaze . . .? Knowest thou not that eternities ago thy spirit, pure and holy, dwelt in thy Heavenly Father’s bosom and in his presence and with thy Mother, one of the queens of heaven surrounded by thy brother and sister spirits in the spirit world, among the Gods?”

John Taylor (The Mormon, as cited in Daniel H. Ludlow, comp., Latter-
day Prophets Speak (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1951, p.8).

PRINCIPLE 3

THE PURPOSE OF LIFE IS CLEAR

What is the purpose of life, anyway? That really encompasses two questions. What is the purpose of life generally and what is the purpose of our individual, specific lives? The purpose of this life, generally, is God’s purpose, which is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) Everything that He does is to further us, to make us the best version of ourselves that we can possibly be, and to bring us to joy, because we know that “Men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25) Our whole purpose for being here is to become more like our Heavenly Parents whose purpose is to further us and to make us into our best selves.

Each life on earth is a process of purification and sanctification, of learning and focusing, and honing yourself to be the best and most effective instrument of God’s purpose that you can be.

“If you love me, keep my commandments.”

John 14:15

To be clear, purification is not always easy or pleasant. When discussing this process, the scriptures employ analogies like the “refiners fire” and “fuller’s soap” (Malachi 3:2). Being refined by a fire hot enough to literally melt rock so the valuable parts can be extracted and the dross – the worthless parts – can be discarded, does not sound like a pleasant process, does it? Nor does the process of being cleansed with fuller’s soap. Fuller’s soap was a caustic concoction used to “full,” or to deeply scour cloth with the purpose of making it perfectly clean and pure.

“Love one another, as I have loved you.”

John 13:34

But our refining and cleansing is a central purpose of our life, and it happens through the process of living – our experiences, our joys, our sorrows, our encounters with each other. It is through this process, one planned and designed just for you, that we become more like our Heavenly Parents.

Our Savior advanced this principle powerfully in his last instructions to His disciples just before He performed His atoning sacrifice, as recounted in John 13 – 17. It is in these last instructions that He tells us that we are to become one with God – that we are to live so that the Savior can be in us, as He is in the Father. We do this by loving one another as He has loved us. If we love Him, we are to use our agency to keep His commandments. And what are the primary commandments to which all others appertain? To love God and to love one another.

This concept of agency is critical to understanding our purpose on earth. What is an agent? An agent represents and carries out the will of the person they represent. During our brief, probationary existence on this earth, our purpose is to become God’s agent – to do what He would do. Just like a talent agent with a mission to advance the interests of their client, for example, our purpose is to advance the interests of our “client,” our principal. In other words, to fulfill God’s plan in bringing about the eternal salvation of all mankind. This means becoming the very best we can be, and helping others do the same. Through our choices and through our experiences we become increasingly purer and become more like our Heavenly Parents – which means what? We become agents of other people’s exaltation, purification, and learning as well.

The twin pillars of this existence are the Fall and the Atonement. These two pillars created this earthly estate where we can exercise our agency to develop ourselves and others. “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25) Because of the wise and courageous choice made in Eden by our dear Mother, Eve and Father, Adam following her example, we came to this earth. 

“And the Messiah cometh in the fullness of time, that He may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon…” (2 Nephi 2: 26)

The second great pillar of our salvation is the atoning sacrifice of our Lord. Because of Him, we are freed from the effects of the fall and are given this probationary estate wherein we are free to use and develop our agency, to learn good from evil, and to become one with God. We are free to become whatever we want, and all things are given them which are expedient unto man, (2 Nephi 2: 27), which means no matter where you’re born, no matter what situation you’re born into, the way is there for you. There is nobody who is born without a path to salvation, without a path to joy.

And what is our reward for fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives? In a word, everything. We will receive all that our Father hath and will become heirs to the Kingdom.

PRINCIPLE 4

THE PURPOSE OF YOUR LIFE IS ALSO CLEAR

The general purpose of our lives is clear. But what is the specific purpose of your life? What has God called you to do? What is your mission? God wants us to become the best version of ourselves and to bring us to joy. We also know that God wants us to work to become more like our Heavenly Parents.

The truth is that each of us are born in a manner, time, and place that was meant for us – and only us. The circumstances of your birth were explicitly designed with the “foreknowledge of God the Father” to bring about your perfect development, growth, and learning (1 Peter 1:2). God placed you exactly where and how you are supposed to be, with your personality traits, your abilities, your intellect, your love: all the things that make you you. It is these things that together God has given you so that you can further His divine will. 

“To carry forward His own purposes among men and nations, the Lord foreordained chosen spirit children in the preexistence and assigned them to come to Earth at particular times and places so that they might aid in the furthering of the divine will.”

Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New
Testament Commentary, 2:268

If we think about the circumstances of our birth, where and when and how we are born are just as purposeful as all of the things that make us up, our personalities and characteristics. The circumstances of our birth really have two parts to it. One is the inner circumstances; what kind of person am I? What are the things that make me me? And the other part is the outer circumstances. When are you born? How were you born, what country, what century, what family?

So, what does that mean? That means you were born into a time, manner, place, family, century, continent that is meant for you to bring about your best development, growth, and learning.

The second purpose of your specific life is to further the divine will. And what is that will? To bring about the immortality and eternal life of mankind.

What all this means is that we are placed exactly where and how we are supposed to be, along with the personality traits that we have, whether we’re good at art, math, science, empathy, intellect, all the things that make us us, as well as the time, manner, country, continent, family, place, of our birth. All of these things are purposeful both to bring about your exaltation, to bring you forward into the best you that you can be, and also to further all the people around you, all the people you come in contact with, and your stewardship within your space. That is why you were born.

“The very nature of each person…requires that the [circumstances] of birth would fit the caliber of his or her person…Thus to bring about birth into mortality there must have been a plan to calibrate birth in a lineage and manner best suited to the need of potential growth and development in the Second Estate.” 

Elder Alvin R. Dyer, The Meaning of Truth, pp 23-24

PRINCIPLE 5

Each and every part of you,

including your same-sex attraction, is an inextricable part of what makes you God’s perfect and unique instrument for fulfilling His divine purpose

I have spent a great deal of time thinking about what makes me me. And I realized that I have an unusual balance of traits. I am courageous. I am strong. I’m adventurous. I’m analytical. I’m intelligent. I’m curious. But I am also compassionate, sensitive, creative, empathetic and nurturing. I have this balance of traits that I don’t think is typical of non-SSA people. As I’ve worked with so many of you in this community and hear your stories, there is a common theme. Even as children, we say, “I wasn’t like everybody else. I didn’t like the things they liked. I wasn’t good at the things that they were good at. I had a different perspective. I had different tastes and interests than the typical person.” Why? 

“My brothers and sisters, I truly believe that those of us born with SSA have been uniquely blessed with a powerful and unique combination of capabilities and perspectives. I think that our very otherness” is part of our essence and can be a great source of strength. If we were born into mainstream society, we would have developed a vastly different perspective. We would be very different people. There is power in living at the edges of the bell curve.“

I believe that our SSA is an inextricable part of who we are; God knows that and has brought us into this world at this time and place to use us as unique tools to further his kingdom and establish Zion. Some tools can do almost anything. In our home, for example, we use the humble kitchen knife as a universal tool for everything from a screwdriver to finally tighten up that annoyingly loose handle on the kitchen cabinet to a pry bar to extract the jar of pickles that somehow got stuck to the shelf at the back of the fridge an embarrassingly long time ago.

On the other hand, some tools are highly specialized and can do only one thing. They are unique and purpose-built. For example, I love to do woodwork and scroll work in particular. I am currently making my wife a walnut keepsake box with intricate cutout patterns on all sides. I could not do this with a kitchen knife. Well I could, but it would look more like something I did in kindergarten and would not make a great gift. No, in order to make this box and bring it into reality, I need very specific and purpose-built tools – a specialized scroll saw with very specific features, and blades and sanding tools that can only be used for this kind of project.

I know many of us who, right now, are suffering because of our SSA, find it may be hard to accept that our sexual attraction is part of God’s plan for furthering His Kingdom. I see this over and over in our Voices of Hope video series – the heart-wrenching personal stories that so many of us have in common. So how could this possibly be a blessing and part of God’s plan for us?

I spent much of my life asking the same question. But I have come to realize that my SSA has several benefits that help me fulfill my life’s purpose. For example, a lack of sexual desire for women puts me in a unique and useful position in both my personal and professional life. My judgment and my actions are not clouded by desire. This enables me to interact with and treat my sisters in Zion as their advocate, as a man who can relate to them in different ways simply because I am not distracted or driven by my sexual desire for them. In our current #MeToo moment in history, I count this as an enormous benefit in doing the work of our Lord.

I also see and interact differently with my brothers than does a typical male. I have the ability to draw close to them in a righteous, spiritual bond that is different than others. This means my views and perspectives, my very diversity of thought, bring a different perspective in fulfilling all of my roles as man, husband, father, counselor, and friend.

As I look back over my life, I see the tremendous impact that my being gay has had on my family, on my friends, my spouse, my community, my country, the legal system. Me being the way that I am, my very existence – our very existence – is an agent of transformation.

So, why was I born gay? Perhaps this fantastic bundle of characteristics that I have only comes in that package. Maybe it is that I can’t be both strong and courageous and nurturing and empathetic and sensitive without same-sex attraction coming with it. I don’t know. If that’s the cost, I’m all for it. If that’s what creates my unique perspective and abilities, this balance of male and female energies, this thing that makes me me, then I’m okay with that because I know that the Lord has prepared a way of salvation for me.

We are also truly agents of transformation in our society, in our families, in our country, and in our communities. Because when people encounter us, they encounter the very blade of the scythe that separates the wheat from the chaff. Knowing us requires more than it does the average person. My family has been greatly affected by my being gay and have largely loved and supported me. They became better and more Christlike people. Others in my life were not that way. They were rejecting and cold and exclusive and I believe their souls were wounded because of that. I believe that is true of every person that we meet, that we are literally an agent of other people’s purification and sanctification – that either they step up or they step down because they encountered us.

I counsel and encourage all of you, my brothers and sisters, to think deeply about your SSA and the role it plays in your life and the role God designed it to play in your life’s purpose. Pray and ponder on these questions: Why are you here and why now? Why are you on this planet, in this place, at this time, with your totally unique characteristics, and how can those further the Kingdom of God?
I believe that this act of faith will be rewarded manifestly.

PRINCIPLE 6

AWAKE AND ARISE!

I think one of the greatest evidences of just how powerful we ar e is how hard Satan tries to diminish us and to define us as something we are not. Our adversary and the philosophies of men seek to define us by one, very narrow aspect of what we are – our sexual attractions. Why is that the thing that defines us? Why is that the thing that makes us us? It isn’t! I believe that it is our unique bundle of characteristics, this balance of traits that make us powerful, that happens to come with same-sex attraction. By defining us only by our same-sex attraction, it pulls away our power and makes us less than what we are. It defines us in terms of what we cannot do and what we cannot have. That is not what we are – it is how Satan keeps us from shining through with the power that we do have. 

“How many more brothers and sisters need to take their own lives before we act? Before we introduce the world to a new narrative? Before we seize the hallowed ground upon which our SSA/LGBT brothers and sisters can take their stand as God’s children and work faithfully to bring about Zion? I say no more! Not one more!”

The world would tell us that because we experience SSA, our lives have to be lived a certain way – that we have to act on those attractions and find a same-sex partner. Why is that the only legitimate choice for us? Why is it that this world that celebrates free choice and says that love is love is love, does not recognize that our choice to live according to Gospel Principles is just as legitimate as their choices to live their lives the way they choose? And why isn’t the love that I share with my wife in our mixed orientation marriage just as valuable as theirs?

When we define ourselves by what we are not or what we cannot have, we eat away at our true potential. It also leads to ideas of shame and self-hatred, and that is where this epidemic of suicide and shame and despair and depression comes from. We need to write a new narrative – to assert that there is a different path for us, that we are not merely our sexual attractions. We are powerful agents of transformation. We have perspectives that nobody else has because of our same-sex attraction and those wonderful characteristics that come with it. But most importantly because of our life experience.

What are you going to do to bring this about? Why are you here and why are you now? Think about what your life is like, what situation you’re in, what your ward, your family, your community, your job. What can you bring to bear that nobody else can? Why has God put you there and made you his agent in that space? Because all we have, my brothers and sisters, is time and the only way we can spend that time is by the choices that we make. Those choices can either further other people and ourselves or they can tear other people down.

It is time for us to AWAKE and ARISE. 

“Awake and arise from the dust, put on thy beautiful garments. Awake and put on my strength O Zion.”

Moroni 10:31

This beautiful bundle of characteristics that make us us, are our garments and our strength. The dust from which we must arise is the falsehood of Satan and the philosophies of men. It is time for us to define ourselves and to take up our rightful place in Zion.

I pray the Lord’s blessing on all of us as
we take up this call to action.

Bennett Borden

President, North Star International

October 2018 Fundraising Launch

October 2018 Fundraising Launch

Donate Today and Help North Star Fulfill Its Critical Mission

North Star provides resources and a sense of community to Latter-day Saints who experience same-sex attraction or who identify as LGBTQ, as well as their families, friends, and Church leaders. This effort is one of the most important works of these latter days.

This year alone we have presented at more than 30 firesides, 5th Sunday lessons, and leadership training sessions throughout the United States and in the United Kingdom. We have rebuilt our website and launched a new one. We created new Facebook groups, began a Church leader outreach program, held our first Spanish-language fireside, and are building a Spanish-language website all in an effort to reach even more people. Our annual conference in March was the largest gathering to date.

North Star leadership has also been holding regular meetings with senior leaders of the Church, providing a valuable perspective and feedback on the needs of LGBTQ/SSA Saints, their families, friends and, especially, the needs of local leaders. North Star is impacting and changing the lives of thousands of Saints.

All of this work is performed entirely by a volunteer force and funded by your donations. We simply can’t do it without you. We have significant plans in the coming year, including our first-ever conference to be held in Latin America, several regional events throughout the US and UK, and training events for local leaders. But to do this, we sorely need funding.

In this season of thanks, we ask that you consider what North Star has done for you and all the work we are doing in this part of the Lord’s vineyard and donate anything you can to support our mission. Even the smallest donations make a big difference! Donations can be made here: https://northstarlds.org/give/donate/

Thank you for all you do to support this great work.

Bennett B. Borden
President, North Star International

The Law of the Harvest: Planting Seeds of Faith

The Law of the Harvest: Planting Seeds of Faith

Bennett Borden, North Star President

September is the first month when we begin transitioning from summer into fall, and this time of year often calls to mind the seasons and cycles of life.  When God organized this wonderful Earth and placed it in its station, He established these seasons and cycles to teach us that there are times of rebirth and new growth, of planting and tending, of reaping and harvesting, and of quiet resting and recharging. As we move into this season of harvest, I have been thinking a lot about the law of the harvest, and in reaping what we sow.

 

Nearly six years ago, Becky and I first considered returning to the gospel after having lived for more than 20 years in an openly gay lifestyle.  We both longed for the peace and joy of the gospel, but were terrified of the process of coming back, and even more terrified of how we could live according to gospel principles.  There seemed to be so many obstacles in our way, and the distance we would have to traverse seemed unbearably far. How in the world could we do it?

 

About this time, we were reading in the Book of Mormon, and came upon Alma 32.  This is the sermon where Alma compares the word of God to a seed. He says that if we make room in our hearts by simply having the desire to believe, that the word will grow and swell, it will enlarge our souls, enlighten our understanding, and become delicious to us.  Alma 32:28.

 

When we read this, the spirit touched my heart deeply, and I knelt down and prayed.  I told the Lord I had no idea how we were ever going to make it back, and I wasn’t sure I believed that we could, but at least I had the desire to believe.  And, most importantly, I told Him I trusted Him, and would do whatever it took to come back.  I will never forget the peace that poured over my soul during this prayer. I saw the path back to the gospel shrink down from this long and arduous road to just a series of small choices, one tiny step at a time.  That, I could do.

 

I look back over the years since that pivotal moment and see the great spiritual harvest that has come from planting that tiny, quivering seed of faith.  Becky and I were rebaptized, my blessings were restored, we were sealed in the temple, we adopted an amazing daughter, and our lives are filled with thousands upon thousands of precious experiences working with the LDS SSA/LGBT saints, their families, friends and leaders.  Our lives are full to bursting with the harvest of tiny seeds of faith we and you have planted along the way.

 

My dear brothers and sisters, we SSA/LGBT saints have been blessed with a truly unique earthly experience.  We have been blessed with a capacity for strength, love, empathy and understanding that is sorely needed in building the kingdom of God and reaching into the far corners of His vineyard.  Sometimes this path may seem hard and to traverse untrod and unproven ground. Sometimes we may not even believe we will make it.

 

But, we have the Lord’s promise that even if we don’t believe today, if we only desire to believe, and plant a tiny seed of faith, nourishing it along the way, it will grow.  And, we will pluck the fruit which is most precious, reaping the reward of our faith. Alma 32: 42-43. May the Lord continue to bless you on your path, and may your harvest of faith be rich and abundant.

 

The Gift of Grace: Finding Empowerment Through the Atonement

The Gift of Grace: Finding Empowerment Through the Atonement

Bennett Borden, North Star President

We, as Latter-Day Saints are expected to do a lot.  We have family obligations, church callings and demands at work. We try to do everything we’re counseled to do including going to the temple, doing genealogical research, and finding service opportunities.  We try to eat healthfully and exercise. And, most demanding of all perhaps, we’re expected to love one another, even those who offend us. How do we keep up with it all? The good news is we don’t have to do it without help, and we have been given plenty of time and space to practice getting it right. That’s really the whole point of this existence.

What kind of help are we given?  The gift of Grace, through the infinite Atonement of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  “It is through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means.” Bible Dictionary, Grace.    Grace is an enabling power that allows us to do things we think are beyond our capability.  

There are many scriptures that encourage us in doing all that is expected of us:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  Philippians 4:13.

“I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” 1 Nephi 3:7  

“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men….” 2 Nephi 2:27

“My grace is sufficient for thee….”  2 Corinthians 12:9

These scriptures teach us that there is a way prepared for each of us to do all that the Lord asks of us, and that when we think we don’t have the strength to accomplish it all, the Lord blesses us with His Grace, His enabling power, to do so.

The adversary, our common enemy, would try to trick us out of taking advantage of this enabling power.  He would have us believe that the Lord only blesses us with Grace if we are without sin, and only after all we can do.  We think that if we have sinned, then we aren’t worthy of His grace. But that’s simply not true. The whole point of Grace is to help us overcome our sins and weaknesses.  The moment we begin to exert our efforts to make a good choice, that is when Grace begins to help us.

It also isn’t true that Grace kicks in only after all we can do.  Brad Wilcox put this best when he said: “Grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted.  Rather, it is our constant energy source. It is not the light at the end of the tunnel but the light that moves us through the tunnel.  Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road. It is received right here and right now.” His Grace is Sufficient, Brad Wilcox, September 2013 Ensign.

We in the SSA/LGBT LDS community are blessed with an invaluable set of skills, capabilities and perspectives that are uniquely suited to build the kingdom of God and establish Zion.  This is a theme I’ve spoken and written on a lot this year because I believe it is such a powerful truth. Because of the adversary’s intense efforts to destroy us and curtail our power, we often suffer shame, depression and anxiety.  But, my dear sisters and brothers, we must throw off these chains of lies, awake to our true potential and arise to our rightful place in the kingdom of God.

I know that our path can be a challenging one.  Remember that it is through the very strain and effort of walking this path that we find and develop our strengths and talents that are so sorely needed in these latter days.  “Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth….” Mosiah 4:9. This means that He has the power to bless us with His grace, and that with His grace, we can do all things.  May the Lord bless us all as we walk our path and help and serve those we encounter along the way.

Modern Pioneers

Modern Pioneers

Bennett Borden, North Star President

This month as we celebrate our pioneer heritage, I have thought a lot about how that heritage extends far beyond the Saints who made their way from Nauvoo to the Great Salt Lake valley in 1847.  It extends to the early Saints in New York making their way to Kirtland and then Nauvoo.  It extends to the Nephites who struck out and found Zarahemla, the Mulekites and Jaredites, and the people of Moses.  It extends to Abraham and Noah.  That heritage extends to our first parents, Adam and our great and courageous Mother Eve who consciously chose to leave the comfort of the Garden so that her children could learn good and evil by engaging in this mortal experience.

It seems that striking out into the unknown and unfamiliar is a key experience in our growth as children of Heavenly Parents and in achieving our ultimate potential to be like Them.

We in the North Star community are, in some ways, blazing new trails and walking in paths that are unique.  There aren’t Sunday School lessons, Ensign articles or General Conference addresses that talk about how to navigate this path.  There aren’t a lot of examples of people who have walked this path before us that we can look to and learn from.  We are the ones the Lord has trusted and chosen in this day to find the safe way forward and to make a path for others to follow.  Just like Orson Pratt and William Clayton in 1847, we are part of the vanguard company who are finding our way forward, wearing a path by our experiences and examples for others to follow.  In this effort we have a great responsibility and a great stewardship entrusted to us by the Lord.

Fortunately, we aren’t alone on this path; because our path is no different in many ways than anyone else going through this mortal experience.  “I am the way, the truth and the life,” said our Savior.  Just as all of our forbearers did, we will find our way forward every day by seeking and following the inspiration of the Spirit, by keeping ourselves worthy of receiving that inspiration, by loving and serving those around us, and by trusting that the Lord will show us the way.

My dear brothers and sisters, I know that sometimes this path is difficult, and the way can seem obscure.  But our Heavenly Parents have entrusted us with this great work; to blaze a path and to help others along the way and who will follow us.  We have illustrious examples of those who have gone before us in our great pioneer heritage. May we benefit from their example and become an example of perseverance and hope for those who follow us.