Sarrah GrovesMy name is Sarrah Groves and I wanted to be a part of this because I feel there are people out there that hopefully will understand me and need to also feel confident in who they are. Regardless of our sexual orientation, we can be righteous daughters of God. I have been praying a long time to know that I am to do this. I would hope that anybody that hears this would also be prayerful so that they take it in the light and the spirit in which itís intended.
From a really young age I knew I was a child of God and this is a great blessing to me, to know that I am a child of God. I knew that I wanted joy, peace, and happiness in my life, even as a small child. Those two things, knowing that Iím a child of God and knowing that I wanted joy, happiness, and peace Ė those things are sort of the foundation of my life, and then life can get complicated as we get older. My life got complicated and for lots of different reasons Iím sure.
I knew as I reached high school age that I was definitely attracted to women and not men, and to a pretty great degree. In my era you saw those around you and you saw the life that they were living and you knew the gospel principles youíd been taught were true, so youíre in a situation where you feel internal conflict. I prayed many times and I donít know that I ever asked Heavenly Father to take it from me. Luckily I knew that was just a part of who I was and that I could cope; coping mechanisms kind of kicked in to high gear. I did try to model my life after other people, I tried dating guys, but guys just made me more convinced that I wasnít attracted to them.
During my prayer life I felt sure that Heavenly Father had a work for me to do. I thought I would seek counseling and I found a counselor who when I had told him how I felt he said I couldnít live a life denying who I really was. Like a lot of people during those years I thought, ďOh, okay, Iíll try that. Maybe that will be fulfilling.Ē
I sought female companionship. Those female relationships darkened my understanding and pulled me far away from the gospel. I had a lot of anguish and sorrow, but I could not associate it back to those relationships. Part of that then led me to other paths; it led me to seek relief through drugs and alcohol. You have to remember I was searching for happiness and fulfillment and that took a long time; that took a few years.
My mother prayed. I am sure that my mother was praying for me. As far as I was away from the gospel I had a unique experience. I was living in San Francisco and a knock came to my door and I opened it up and there were two people standing there and one of them said, ďAre you Sarrah Hurst Groves?Ē I said, ďyes,Ē and he said, ďDo you want your name stricken from the church records?Ē I was shocked and I said, ďNo! I donít want my name stricken, I know that the Book of Mormon is true; I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is on the Earth and I know itís been restored. How could you ask me such a thing?Ē He said, ďWe just wanted to know,Ē and he just turned around and left.
On my doorstep that day I had to really check myself and it was an abrupt reminder that I was a long way away from the gospel Ė far far away. It was like being flooded with emotions Ė recognizing that I had been running from who I really was. It did shock me and it hurt me. I think of a scripture that says, ďCut to the very quick,Ē and I was cut to the very quick, my very center was rocked.
I called my mom and I asked her and she was very clear with me. She knew I was hurt and she told me that she didnít believe that was customary, but she felt somebody was inspired and that I should consider what it means to me. After being hurt and having days, if not weeks, of anguish you have to remember when youíve strayed so very far that an awakening that this was all wrong, that you are now not validated for making those choices Ė it hurt so much you donít want to go there; it hurt so much that you want to pretend that doorbell never rang, but it did. It hurt my feelings but I got over that pretty quick because I thought, ďI need to look at my life, I need to spread it out and look at it.Ē That is what caused me to stop in my tracks and turn around to the scriptures. That is when I thought, ďIíve tried everything in the world, Iíve tried all these different methods to find joy,Ē and the whole time in the back of my mind have known where it was; Iíve known there was joy in the gospel and I knew that I had to accept that.
I severed a lot of relationships and that was difficult. I had a lot of opposition as I made my Ė itís not that the journey is ever over Ė but itís that I had a different direction to go in and that created a lot of conflict among my social group. I like to say I began my ascent and it was painful because the more I turned back towards the right direction the more wrong everything else that I had tried seemed to me. It looked awful in contrast but I didnít give up. Iím still just as gay as Iíve ever been. That wasnít separated out of who I was; it wasnít going to change. That was my feeling that I was now going to try and own what I truly am, and that means all of me. It doesnít mean that Iím going to be dipping back into a lesbian lifestyle or a lesbian relationship. It just means that I accept that is part of who I am.
I was determined to do very simple things like read my scriptures; I was determined to do that. Years passed with me doing that and as I did that I gained enough courage to attend church and I gained enough courage to talk to my bishop. That was really hard. Iím sure it is for everyone because everyone looks so perfect on the outside. I had a wonderful bishop and he was loving and kind and told me it was going to be okay. I felt peace. I donít think I quite got to joy yet, but I had peace. Forgiving myself has been a lifelong endeavor, but I have. I wouldnít wish it on anyone else. I wouldnít wish them having to go that thorny path, but it is part of what makes up me.
My new attitude was that I was just going to try one step and just leaving the rest to Heavenly Father, not feeling like I had to find the solution, not feeling like I had to get all the answers. I just had to do a couple of things. I just had to read my scriptures and say my prayers; it was such a simple thing. Iíve often wondered, ďWhy didnít I think of that before?Ē
The other thing I put as my mission, my mission was going to be to love. I was going to love everyone. As I did that I found meaningful relationships with people that were eighty and people that were three. I found that my life was filling up as I decided I was just going to love everyone and accept everyone. I noticed that Iíd begin to have joy, Iíd begin to get happy, and I found that people were the source of much of my joy, much of my happiness Ė serving them, accepting them, and loving them.
It didnít change my sexuality. It was just like throwing myself into the gospel instead of trying to find all the answers. I just lived the gospel the best I knew how. As I did that I found friends that understood me, but what happened was kind of surprising because one of the people I was dear friends with, it deepened and developed and this was a male Ė this was male. He understood me, I donít really know if he saw me as female, he assures me he did, but I didnít get that feeling. This is hard because I would like to address females and we can be the object of so much attention and that becomes sort of degrading and that sort of grates on you the wrong way, but this person wasnít like that. I never felt like I was being looked at that way. We were sharing real life and real experiences with each other and that relationship deepened and I knew I loved this person but I wasnít necessarily attracted to that person. I went back to my scriptures and I started reading again. I thought, ďOkay, I love this person.Ē If I could take away their outside Ė I know that sounds horrible Ė but I had enough courage and faith to let it be, let it become whatever it was going to become. It was still hard and a little bitÖI was squeamish.
After a year of being the bestest of all friends with this guy he and I had a conversation about getting married and having kids and what that would really entail. What we would really do to have to make that happen Ė if I could do it and if I could be comfortable there. There was a lot of prayer and a lot of taking what I desired, the righteous desires, and then taking physically what I felt I could do Ė what were my limitations. I took one step at a time and I went forward looking for that sameÖwhen youíre seeking joy and when youíre seeking happiness Ė when you see it you recognize it. I thought, ďIs this not joy? Is this not happiness?Ē I can talk to this person. So I took a leap of faith, and I agreed to marry this person in great hope and anticipation that I could do it.
I donít know how much of my attraction to women took years to bridle or diminish. I was thinking that would just go away, but it doesnít just go away. I wish it did but it doesnít. You begin to understand itís a lifetime endeavor to endure to the end Ė itís a lifetime. It took the pressure off of me to realize that if it took sixteen eons, thatís how much time I would have. It was going back to that thought that I had to find all the answers. That happened again after I got married because I thought there were expectations here and I need to fulfill somebody elseís physical needs. I was able to work through that and was able to successfully unify the physical and the spiritual. To take that spiritual desire to be righteous and to wrap it up into the physical, before I separate it out, categorize things, put things into boxes and said ďOkay, this is that part of you.Ē I brought them all together and began to understand that Heavenly Father has a plan for me and procreation was part of that plan for me.
We got pregnant which was a completely unnatural thought for me. Weíve had two children and I knew that because of my background that was going to be detrimental to my children. I needed to make sure they had knowledge, that they were loved, and that they had a Heavenly Father that loved them. I have to say, it sounds kind of funny, but even though you have children, a husband, and that youíve been married, you have the gospel of Jesus Christ and you know your direction and where youíre going Ė youíre still attracted to who youíre attracted to. That to me has been kind of shocking. I guess I always thought that would just go away sometime. Youíre always looking for the day that just goes away, but Iím here to tell you it doesnít just go away. Youíve got to keep working at it your whole life, and thatís okay.
Somebody said something to me sometime that they had a problem with, I think it was lying. They just lied and lied and lied and they didnít want to lie anymore. They just kept lying and when I was listening to him tell me that I thought, ďOh, okay, you just keep working at it.Ē Thatís my feeling. I donít think there is a magic wand that makes it go away. I think it is part of who we are and I think that we can sacrifice that which the physical body wants so that the spiritual body can thrive, that is what I believe in my heart. I have looked into various belief systems and all the ones I could find required sacrifice. So when these feelings would come over me I tried to temper them just like you would temper any other temptation. I would just bring myself back to center and delve more into the gospel of Jesus Christ when those hard times come.
As Iíve aged I recognize that those feelings have diminished and I believe itís the spiritual taking over the physical. But that sacrificing for Heavenly Father, Iíve never been asked to do what Abinadi did; Iíve never been asked to do what Joseph Smith did. That brings me comfort; Joseph Smith History brings me a ton of comfort. This is just for a little while.
I raised my children the best that I knew how and they have their own challenges. I feel fit to be their mother. I do not believe that the life I led previously and my life now are for a vain reason, I donít think anything has been in vain. Iím sure the older I get the bigger broader view Iím going to have of things, but at this point I can really see a reason why, I can see why I did the things I did. I can connect to my children better because of my own challenges and I have more compassion. Iíve always loved everyone I could love but having compassion and being completely void of any kind of prejudice or judgment on others Ė I think thatís what the atonement does for me. It helps me see my own flaws and Iím not so worried about everybody elseís.
I asked myself, ďWhy am I doing this? Why would I put myself out there like this? This is crazy. Why? Why?Ē I could just be at my potterís wheel making a pot. But I thought, ďBecaue there has got to be somebody else just like me. Somebody that doesnít have the same support system, that doesnít have maybe the same background, but has torn feelings if it will ever go away.Ē
I want to assure people that happiness, joy, and peace can be ours if we will take one step at a time and stay on a higher road Ė Exchange the physical desires for the spiritual desires and then the two of them will finally come together. Iím looking forward to the day where I finally care more; I just cease to have other desires because I have so much desire for Godís will. Thatís what I want; I want Godís will over my own.
If there is anyone that needs the atonement in their life, itís me. As much as Iím crying Iím actually a very happy person. This is just a hard thing for me to do, but thatís where I have found peace and joy and happiness. I have found it in the gospel of Jesus Christ and no other place, and Iíve looked other places.
If there is need for courage it will take everything we have to endure to the end in these days that are getting more pronounced. It seems like maybe there was something good about my generation. Now is good because we can be of a help to each other and we can speak out. In my generation we kept things in which is hard, but those battles became such an inward struggle we didnít have a lot of release, a lot of just airing our struggles. We didnít put it out there for the whole world to see. There are some negatives to that but there are also some positives. The positives would be that we have to look inward, we have to find our solutions, and I donít know if that has changed even today when we can have so much support.
Having a group of LDS people who are gay that want to love each other and accept each other and that they have a place to go Ė they have a place to go right online. I just called somebody last night who is forty-five years old and lived his whole life without one person and I said, ďHere is this site, go to this site and find that support.Ē I had to ask myself, ďWhy do you feel so strongly about this? Why is Heavenly Father prompting me?Ē It comes down to Ė I donít know the people who watch, I canít know them personally, but that is what I really wish because that is my outreach. I want to embrace the person that needs me and that can gain strength from this. Itís a simple story. My life is pretty simple when I stand back and look at it. You pray as a child to know itís true, you know itís true, but you get engulfed by the world and that point of view, and then you come back to what is true and everybody lives happily ever after.
The thing I would say to anybody that listens to my story is a couple of things. One, hang on. Two, listen to the spirit and not to the physical. Take it one step at a time and when you fall pick yourself up, repent, come back and move forward again. Heavenly Father is there to forgive us however many times it takes. I would say to you that we are children of our Heavenly Father and He never forgets us and in our darkest darkest moment He is there for us. He is there when we canít see. He is there; hold on, hang on. Donít let go of the gospel. Try and block out the world in one sense. We hear so much of what is right and how we have to do this and that to gain joy. The path to find joy and happiness, to be able to really rejoice Ė that is a direct result of living the gospel.