"Turning Weaknesses into Strengths."

December 31, 1969

Of the Voices of Hope project, one man just sent the following post which he entitled "Turning Weaknesses into Strengths."

For the last year, I have felt my hope draining out of me. The sunset of my life was happening as I was nearing 30 and I did not know how to prepare for the 60 years or so of night time.

I had worked hard to accomplish my goals. I was a great student. I learned and mastered instruments. I served a mission. I came home and finished a Bachelors and a Masters Degree. During that busy time, I served faithfully in the church in many callings. I met hundreds of people and tried to make their lives better. I bore my testimony and tried to follow the Spirit to teach and serve them. I got a job and started earning enough money that I could pay off all my debts and start saving for a house.

All the way along, I worked on the goal of ridding myself from same gender attraction. I thought that if I was good enough and determined enough, I could make it go away. I went on tons of dates, trying to find the girl that would be my match and I could get married. I kept it secret, only telling a few friends and leaders when I couldn't bottle up everything anymore. I felt shame and embarrassed knowing that within a few years, I would have to explain myself. I would have to admit that I'm not a normal man. I would have to face the fact that I would not be getting married. I would no longer be able to be the strength to others as I had been. Everything that I had done to build my life to what it was would be wasted because I had failed in creating a family and moving forward with the plan of salvation. I was stuck. I did not believe in leaving the church. I did not believe in committing suicide. I did not believe in living a homosexual lifestyle. Although all of these starting crossing my mind as choices I could make.

I was mad that the Atonement would not change me. Why have faith in it if it couldn't change me and fix me? Why work so hard at loving others, when I loved the wrong way and could not be loved in return. Why was there not a spot for me? Why was I meant to be lonely, depressed, and losing my mind? Why was I sinking into giving into temptations that would only lead me to more frustration and self loathing? I was holding on to my hollow life, still working, still serving in callings, still making friends and pretending I was okay.

That is where the Lord came to get me, to bring me back, and to giveme Hope and purpose in my life again. A bold friend got involved inthe Voices of Hope project and was not afraid to post it for all tosee on Facebook. For days, the Spirit brought me to see those postsand prompted me to send him a message. I was scared, but I sent amessage to open the door. He responded with love and acceptanceinviting me to come meet friends doing interviews for Voices of Hope the next day. The timing was perfect. I decided that I would go andmeet them. Their testimonies were strong, their faces were smiling,they were full of contagious hope. I caught on quickly and loved beingthere with them. I did not want to leave. I came back the next day andthe day after that. They had no shame or embarrassment. They stillrealized the blessings of this life and were able to communicate themto me so that I could see them clearly too.

This was a changing point for me. One that I still don't fullyunderstand other than that I know that I have no reason to feel shame.I can still grow and change certain things in my life that will bringme more happiness even though I cannot take away the burden. I couldbe strengthened to carry it. I could help strengthen others to carryit as well as any other burden that life had placed upon them. I saw afew steps ahead of me again, and that has given me the courage to press on and try again.

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