Monday, November 12, 2012

Just The Way You Are

One of my favorite Billy Joel songs goes by this title. The final verse goes:

I said I love you and that's forever
And this I promise from the heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are.



I've been reading accounts of the Circling the Wagons conference, and it brought back a vivid memory to me. That memory was the day I sat down in front of my Stake President and told him I was gay. I was terrified, actually. I didn't really know what to expect, how he would react, how I would react - the stress level was off the scale.  But what followed was one of the sprititual highlights of my life. After I had nervously spilled out my story, he began to systematically debunk some of the fears and misperceptions I had about myself, homosexuality, the Church and God. The most important thing he told me that day was; "You don't need to change anything. God loves you and accepts you just as you are." And with those words, the ton of bricks I had carried around for decades came tumbling off my shoulders.

I got a sense of that same message reading some of the conference addresses from CtW. Acceptance, love - unconditional love - these are the most important things gay Mormons need right now. From their families, from friends, from the Church (I blogged previously about acceptance Here). But we have a long way to go.

One of the problems in the Church right now is that families and leaders think they have to 'fix' their gay loved ones in order for them to be acceptable or worthy of love. When I look at the life of the Savior, I find no examples of this kind of thinking. His mandate:

John 13:34-35

 34. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
 35. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The first order of business for all of us is to love. Completely, unconditionally, universally. The fruits of that love will be acceptance, tolerance, patience, kindness, healing and happiness.

We cannot earn God's love, and God cannot love us any more completely and fully than he does right now. He loves us just the way we are - warts and all. Our challenge as mortals is to accept the Savior's mandate and learn to love each other as He has loved us. When we learn to do that, we can move on to other things...