A Path of My Own

By Jordan Lawson

Be sure to also listen to Jordan and his wife share their story. Watch video here.

Jordan is a twenty-nine year old man who experiences same-gender attraction. He and his wife live in northern Utah and are expecting a son in late December.† Jordan was raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and loves the Church and the God he believes in.† He is the lead vocalist in a local rock band and†works in manufacturing. Jordan has a bachelorís degree in Visual Art from Brigham Young University-Idaho.† He loves to spend time with friends and family.† He enjoys reading and writing.




Life's greatest teachers sometimes come in the form of trials, struggles, and weaknesses.† My experience with same gender attraction has been a trial that has taught me greater self-worth, a struggle that has provided great blessings, and a weakness that has blossomed into many strengths. The lessons that I have learned from striving to stay upon the gospel path have been priceless. I'm grateful for the many opportunities to prove my own strength to myself as I've striven to live a life close to God while learning to understand my feelings and His will for me. My loving Heavenly Father has blessed me with these experiences and has guided me in my understanding of who I am and who I am meant to be. He has been there every step of the way and has led my walk of life in the direction of hope and greater understanding.

Childhood



Childhood was a beautiful time Ė there was never a doubt in my mind that I was loved. I was raised in a home with a family that always cared for me and wanted the best that life had to offer for me. At an early age it was very obvious that I was different from other boys. In general, I had more interest in what the girls were playing than what the boys were doing. One example of differing interests was that I liked butterflies, not basketball. My loved ones recognized these differences, but didn't seem to mind, so I chose not to either.

My best friend during my youth was a girl that I spent much of my time with. Many of the virtues and standards that I have held close are because of her friendship.† She taught me the importance of being true to myself and to be confident in the beliefs I stood for. It was strong female influences like her, my mother, and my sisters, that caused me to greatly value the companionship of women. At a very early age, I had a great desire to marry a woman one day. With the faith that was instilled in me during that formative time of my life, I knew that I should someday be married in the temple for time and all eternity. This knowledge was important to me and I have kept that understanding very close to my heart.

Things that mattered to me at this age didn't seem to concern the other boys, but I have always been one to do things my own way. Within my heart I knew what was right and always did my best to follow what I knew to be good and true. Perhaps that made me odd and different. It didn't matter and I didn't care at that age to be different. The fact that mattered was that I was accepted and loved for who I was. The incongruity of my interests and that of the other boys were of little importance until I grew a bit older.

Adolescence



Around the age of nine or ten, I started noticing the differences between myself and the other boys. Not being a very athletic person, playing sports at school made me very anxious. If I threw a ball and someone was able to catch it, I considered it a miracle. Although I had some guy friends at this point, as well as many amazing male role models, I began to keenly feel a rift between myself and the general male population. I didn't understand men and they didn't understand me. That rift felt like it grew wider as I went through puberty and advanced into my teenage years. I felt like a black sheep when I attended my different meetings at church. My attempts to fit in or to befriend the other boys were strained. The connection that I wanted seemed unattainable. Conversations left me feeling hollow and wanting so badly to connect. The desire to have some close friendships that had more substance to them beyond the simplicity of hobbies and activities was out of reach. There existed a feeling within me that I was a completely different creature from the other guys in my quorum. Scouting was bearable because of the phenomenal leaders that I had. While I felt that I understood women at this age, men were quickly becoming a mystery.

During all of this development, something had been forming under the surface. As a child, I had developed a passion and love for art. I loved to draw and use my imagination to create.† Unfortunately, I discovered that I could become sexually aroused by drawing certain images. This was something that I discovered on my own when I was around the age of ten. Using my skill as an artist to create my own brand of pornography, I began to develop a strong sexual reaction to a portion of the male anatomy. At the time, I did not recognize that these were perhaps the first experiences with same sex attraction, nor did I realize that I was feeding something that would develop into strong addictions. While I continued to explore these strange new feelings, my skills as an artist improved. When I would draw an image I would destroy it shortly afterward, not wanting to be discovered. What I was doing was something that I didnít understand and I certainly could not make sense of the feelings that I was experiencing.

As I grew a bit older, I realized that I wasn't developing attractions to women as my guy friends were. This became very distressing as I gradually noticed greater attractions toward men. Because my fascination was not with a sexual organ and more with a body type, I was further confused with these strange desires and feelings. At school the term gay was used frequently in a derogatory sense. This filled me with a deep sense of fear concerning my attractions and I repeatedly denied the fact of these feelings to myself. An addiction to my behavior of drawing images and fantasizing about them grew. I was trapped. The shame of what I was doing was so great that I didn't dare tell someone else about it. Since I figured that it was a personal problem, I decided that I would deal with it in a personal way. Turning to my faith, I prayed so often and pleaded with God to take this attraction away. Many tears were shed and many prayers were said from my bedside. For some reason I felt that I couldn't tell my bishop about it. I was terrified that I would be excommunicated from the church or that something awful like that would occur. Already feeling like the odd one out, I certainly didn't want to make matters worse.

Somehow, without ever recognizing any sort of answer through prayer, I knew that God loved me and that somehow things would work out. The gospel of Jesus Christ was true. In my heart I had a testimony that the Atonement could make anything right. Though I didn't know how, I believed that in some way it would be made right for me someday.

Preparing for a Mission



My struggle with my addictions increased as the Internet become more accessible. Because of the things that were then readily available, I soon discovered that there were others online that had the same interests that I had, an entire community devoted to the very thing that I couldn't seem to leave behind. My preferred brand of pornography was just a click away and there were many who had made it plentiful and varied.† I hated myself.† Feelings of worthlessness plagued my thoughts because of my addicting behaviors.

I continued to silently battle this addiction.† Fear kept me from being honest to myself and to others at this time of inner turmoil.† Unsure of my worthiness, I left to serve a mission and prayed many times asking that God would take these feelings away if I willingly served a mission.

The Mission



My mission was an amazing time of drawing closer to God and truly coming to have a testimony of the Savior and His gospel. I came to know of the veracity of the Book of Mormon and of the role of Joseph Smith as a true prophet of God. I was not a perfect missionary. There were times of struggle where my heart was not in the work. There were also many times that the spirit was strong, miracles occurred, and many joined the church due to my efforts and those of my companions. Though I was flawed, I was able to make a difference by being where the Lord needed me to be.

Many wonderful companions who were kind and patient with me entered my life and helped me to understand what being a missionary meant. The friendships I gained and the memories that I share with them will always be cherished. It is because of them that I feel that I understand what it means to be a man in the gospel due to their examples of hard work and diligence.

The mission was the first time in my life that felt that I was on par with other men. My attractions and addictions, for the most part, weren't prevalent as a missionary. I was repressing and ignoring them, but I often wondered about my worthiness and standing before God. At times I was able to teach powerfully with the Spirit and that helped me to know that I had made the right choice for serving and that my heart was in the right place.

Coming Home and Adjusting



One of the hardest things I've ever done was leaving the mission field. I had come from a place where what I did really mattered. To come home to my own life that seemed so pointless compared to the important work I had been doing was utterly depressing. The sense of purpose and meaning that I had discovered during those impactful two years was gone. This caused me to flounder and struggle because I felt so directionless. The sense of belonging that I once had was gone. As a missionary I knew who I was and I knew where I needed to stand. Being at home had taken all of that away somehow. This didn't feel right and it wasn't enough for me. Slowly I slipped back into being more selfish and began to pull away from spiritual things. I was returning to a life that I had left behind and was forgetting the many valuable lessons that my time of serving others had taught me.

It wasn't long after returning home that my addictions and attractions came back with full force. I wasn't at all surprised that my attractions were still there. It was a bit frustrating and disappointing that they were something that I was still dealing with. They weren't something I wanted in my life but I didn't know what to do about them. I did what I could to get my feet under me and get some more education. Feeling it to be the next step I should take, I attended my second year of college, the first having occurred before the mission. This kept me busy and occupied for a while, yet I felt that something was lacking. Because I was still living at home and not feeling like my life was going anywhere, I decided to take a leap of faith and go to school out of state for my remaining college education.

Attending BYU Idaho



Going to a church school was probably one of the smartest decisions I ever made for myself. To be surrounded by so many members of my own faith that were outwardly living the teachings that I loved was so refreshing. I was very fortunate to have roommates that I got along really well with and had a lot of fun with them. The friendships that I developed greatly blessed me during this time of my life.† These friends helped me to keep balanced and happy.

While I roomed with these friends, I learned some things about my attractions. One such discovery that I encountered was that when I felt attracted to someone new in my life, these feelings would diminish and ultimately fade as I developed a friendship with them. If I cared for someone, that lust would no longer be an issue in regards to that individual. Some of my happiest and also the darkest times were during my time at school.

While continuing my education, I realized that marriage with a woman was still something that I desperately wanted. It was the next step on my lifelong to-do list. It was to my great pleasure that I met some amazing women at school. The attraction I felt to these women was usually nothing more than a spiritual attraction. These women had a spiritual beauty to them that I was drawn to. They stood out because of their standards and the way they lived. An air of goodness surrounded them that I found very appealing.

There was one girl in particular that I dated quite seriously. I was attracted to her in many ways. She was everything I had been looking for in a wife and I believed that she would be the one for me. Things ended with her breaking up the relationship after a few months. It was very heartbreaking and left me feeling distraught. I thought she would be the one to 'fix' me. In my mind I had supposed that by being in a relationship with a woman that I would experience more heterosexual attractions. The hope that I would discover those feelings was shattered when this woman I had cared about did not return those sentiments. It was hard for me to believe that I would ever find a woman to care for me enough to love me despite my weaknesses and issues. That relationship was very hard to get over and to look past. I didn't think that I would ever be able to care for another woman like I had for her.

Delving Into the Depths



After the relationship with that girl ended, my attractions for men began to be more and more intense. It was so disheartening to fail with each attempt at dating women that I grew more disillusioned with the prospect of finding a woman that would be willing to marry me. While I continued to try and date, my heart was no longer in it.

By seriously considering the idea of pursuing a relationship with another man, I began to delve further into the world of my attractions. The idea of a temple marriage and a future family was something I had stopped caring about. Repeatedly I would fantasize about finding another man like me who would want to be with me. Instead of placing my energy into meeting a potential wife, I began frequenting the websites of the community of men that experienced the same interests that I had. The attempts to get to know these men were done primarily through email. All of these interactions were so shallow and empty. Anyone that I talked to seemed to be so lost. The realization slowly dawned on me that in order for any of these men to be attractive to me, they would have had to have the same spiritual and religious background that I had. This knowledge taught me that I needed and wanted those qualities in a companion. Of course, none of these men had the qualities I was seeking besides being physically attractive.

As I went further down this shadowed path, I started to become depressed and apathetic towards everything. Thoughts of suicide entered my mind frequently and I grew miserable due to a sense that I had nowhere to turn. The light that had once filled my life was gone and I felt the pain of having the lack of the Spirit in my life. Self-hatred grew because I wasn't being honest to myself or anyone around me by living a double life. It was time to leave the path that was destroying me from the inside. It was at this near breaking point that I finally decided to talk to someone about my issues.

My final semester at college I went and spoke to my bishop. With all I had experienced, I didn't truly know what I had been dealing with up to this point. He told me that it sounded like same gender attraction. It's funny that I didn't really recognize that fact until he said it out loud. I was finally able to admit it to myself and to actually have a name for what I had been feeling. By denying that piece of me, I had somehow blinded myself to it. As soon as someone that I trusted told me what I was experiencing, it was like a light was turned on and I could see myself for who I was. It was shocking but at the same time very relieving.

Seeking Help and Understanding



This first step began a long process of coming to terms with what I had been dealing with my whole life. Immediately, I began searching for resources in an attempt to understand what I was experiencing. One resource I discovered was the organization called Evergreen International and through it, a support group for men with same gender attraction that I could attend. It was amazing to find that I was not alone. It amazed me that I was no longer the only member of the church who had attractions to the same gender. It was freeing to encounter people that I could talk to who understood what I struggled with. They became a support system that could understand and empathize with me.

To continue to get greater help with the things that had been haunting me for many years, I began to meet with different therapists. The process of reaching out started as I began to share my feelings with close friends and a few family members. Some people were completely surprised as I shared this part of my life with them while others had seemed to already have guessed.

Finally, I told my parents about my attractions and they took it as well as could be expected and gave me their love and support. Each time I opened up to a person, I shared my goal to live the gospel and live my life the best I could. By no means was I about to abandon a God that had never abandoned me. He had provided me with so many countless blessings that I felt content with my status as a bachelor.† It did not seem possible that I would ever meet a woman who would be willing to marry someone like me. That sort of person only existed in fairytales. Miracles tend to happen when we least expect them to.

Meeting Kylie



During the summer of 2012, I met Kylie. She was doing a summer internship at my fatherís business.† Because she lived in my parentís ward, my father arranged that Kylie and I would carpool together that summer. On our commute and at work, we began to get to know each other. Kylie was down to earth and had casualness about her that I found very refreshing. This was a woman that I could joke around with, and not feel any pressure to be someone that I wasn't. There was no reason to put on a front for her. Surrounding her was a feeling of safety and peace that I hadn't encountered in very many people before. When we met, she was a young, nineteen-year-old and I was twenty-six. Even with the age gap, she was fun to be with and very sincere. She was so easy going that it was easy for me to be myself around her and her with me.

Kylie reminded me a lot of the girl I dated in college because she was sweet, soft spoken, and very thoughtful. As I came to know her, I gained a lot of respect for her. If I had any thoughts of dating her that summer, I must have brushed them aside because I didn't feel that I was ready to have a relationship with a woman.

God had other plans for me. At the end of the summer, I had a prompting to move to a different city and I followed that prompting. Following that prompting, I moved and consequently the only person I knew there was Kylie. I would visit her and her roommates and we had fun together. Eventually, Kylie got up the nerve to ask me out on a date. I honestly didn't see it coming, having believed that she only saw me as a friend. The age difference and the nature of our friendship had blinded me to the fact that she was interested. I agreed to go on the date and I began to see her in a different light.

The date was fun and I was finally convinced that she was interested. Before meeting Kylie, I had decided and was determined that if a woman of her caliber showed up in my life and was interested in me, I would pursue a relationship with her and be straight forward with my attractions and addictions from the beginning. I believed that it would not be fair to a woman to learn that information later in a relationship.

On our second date I came out to her and shared a little of my experience. Kylie seemed to handle the information very well. Even though she was surprised, she was calm and collected to all I shared with her. After sharing my experiences, I told her that we could either continue dating or we could remain friends at the very least because I knew that my issues would very well be a deal breaker for many had they been in her shoes. As we talked, I told her that I would be okay if she wanted to talk to her parents about what I had shared with her and to pray about it if she needed to. We enjoyed the remainder of the date, and Kylie called me the next night and told me she wanted to continue to date. Her response amazed me because I had thought that I had scared her off with what I had shared with her. There was much that I would soon learn of the steadfast heart of this angelic woman.

Shortly after this we began dating exclusively. It was a whirlwind experience that occurred over several months. At the time, I didn't feel like I was ready for a relationship or that I was worthy of a woman like Kylie. It was all too good to be true and I did not feel that I measured up. Yet it felt like God's hand had arranged our meeting. It was a time of prayer and seeking for assurance that things would be okay. I received that comfort several times through the dating experience. Eventually, we got engaged and we were married in the temple a few months later.

Discovering Hope



Our first year of marriage had many highs and lows. Sex was an issue for us. After several months, we went to a therapist as a couple for a while and got things figured out. I still felt undeserving of my marriage and shame for my attractions and addictions. There was much that I didn't understand about my feelings and I didn't have any resources because I didn't know where to look. Even though the first year was hard, it was exciting to get to know each other.† We began to learn what being married entailed.† It was a time of a lot of discovery.† There was peace in knowing that I was no longer alone and that I had a companion who would help me fight my battles with me. Feeling like my problems were mine alone to deal with had become detrimental because I had tried to struggle on my own for so many years with my issues.† It was critical to learn that I needed to allow her to help me, although bit by bit, I began to open up to her and to allow her to see the deepest parts of me.

Sometime after our first anniversary, I had become discouraged that my attractions were not going away within my marriage. I thought that perhaps they would go away and I would be straight after being married for so long. I began searching for more resources and in doing so I discovered North Star International, People Can Change, and the Voices of Hope project. I was amazed with all of the information available. With the latter resource, I watched every video that was available at the time within a few weeks. Within a month of finding these resources, I attended the experiential weekend, Journey into Manhood, and found it very beneficial. One of the most beneficial things I learned on the weekend was the detrimental nature of toxic shame and how that had affected my life.† Coming away from that experience taught me that I was okay being who I am and that my attractions were something to learn from and not something to feel shame about.† That idea was so liberating.† There was great power in learning that I could love me for being me.† Coming away from that weekend, I felt a deep sense that I needed to continue to reach out and connect with others who have walked a similar path. This became very pivotal to my happiness and understanding.

The many resources available through North Star International provided a safe place to begin to seek greater connection through the community. Many opportunities to mingle with others who have walked a similar path became available to me through attending firesides, temple trips, and becoming involved with support groups that the organization provides.† Now more than ever before, I have a place where I am understood and heard within a community of other saints who really know what it means to battle for their faith. My involvement in the organization has blessed me with a feeling of purpose and belonging that helps me to better live the gospel as I seek to serve those in the community. It has been such a blessing to have met so many wonderful people by becoming involved with these different resources.

As I have affiliated with people who are striving to serve and love each other as the Savior would want us to, I have grown as a person. We all have struggles and imperfections that we cannot come to terms with alone. The Atonement is there for each of those things. At this point in my life, I am not perfect and my attractions and addictions are still present in my life. Some days are hard as I continue to struggle with them. Something however is very different within me that I never thought would be possible. I am okay having my attractions, and I am grateful for them. Now I see them as something that has taught me so many wonderful things. I am attracted to men, but I am not ashamed of that fact. Regardless of my attractions, I can live the gospel and love my wife. I am so grateful to have Kylie as my eternal companion. There is no one I would rather spend eternity with, man or woman. God sent her to me in a time when I felt I was beyond hope. She is a gift that I will treasure forever.

God has never abandoned me and I will never abandon Him. Because of Him, I have strength where I once had weakness. Though I still have much to learn and a lot of room to grow, with a God of miracles I can and I will thrive in this life. Heavenly Father loves all of His children and has and will continue to do all that He can for their happiness and salvation. My life is a testament of that fact.

I have hope.





return to the top of this page




Beth
14 Aug, 2015

thank you for sharing. May you continue to be blessed just as you are blessing others.



Name
Comment






Warning: include_once(gostatstracking.php) [function.include-once]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/content/n/o/r/northstarlds/html/ldsvoicesofhope/pageFooter.php on line 40

Warning: include_once() [function.include]: Failed opening 'gostatstracking.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/local/php5/lib/php') in /home/content/n/o/r/northstarlds/html/ldsvoicesofhope/pageFooter.php on line 40