Two truths of the restored gospel have become very meaningful to me. The first comes from father Lehi as he taught his family about the Plan of Salvation.
“[…] Men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25)
The second comes from modern-day prophet Howard W. Hunter.
“Christ’s way is not only the right way, but ultimately the only way to hope and joy.” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Howard W. Hunter)
Consider these statements in the context of your life’s purpose. God, our loving Heavenly Father, created and placed us on Earth to live joyfully! He sent His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to teach us by word and example the only way to hope and joy. God knew we would make mistakes along the way, so He allowed His perfect, sinless child to atone for us so that we might grow through repentance. It’s a beautiful plan, isn’t it!
If that’s the case, why does life sometimes feel anything but joyous? Throughout my life I have observed many friends and loved ones struggling through bitter trials and difficulties. I’ve observed voices promising joy and happiness outside of the gospel path. These voices can be persuasive and compelling.
Within the context of our community – men and women seeking to navigate sexual orientation or gender identity with faith in the restored gospel – I’ve heard voices calling to us that sound something like this:
“The leadership of the LDS Church doesn’t understand you. You will never find happiness there. Why do you stay?”
“If God made you this way, why would He be opposed to you choosing what feels natural?”
“You are not being true or authentic to yourself. Accept who you are and live accordingly. Until you do, you will be miserable.”
These are powerful voices that seem to have broadly permeated our societies, yet just last General Conference we received the following reassurance:
“If we do the best we can to live the gospel, then tomorrow—and every other day—is ultimately going to be magnificent, even if we don’t always recognize it as such. Why? Because our Heavenly Father wants it to be! He wants to bless us. A rewarding, abundant, and eternal life is the very object of His merciful plan for His children!” (“Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders Among You”, Jeffrey R. Holland, April 2016)
So how then do we find this promised joy? How can we truly thrive instead of just struggling to get by? First, we must believe that it is possible. That is the mission of North Star – “to empower individuals and families […] to authentically and joyfully live the gospel of Jesus Christ and keep sacred covenants.” We are a community of believing Latter-day Saints bound together with this great hope – that the gospel of Jesus Christ will bring us incomprehensible joy – now and in the eternities.
To assist you in this endeavor, I announced at our recent conference the creation of a new North Star initiative called Project THRIVE. This project will feature the creation of a gospel principle-based framework designed to specifically address the common challenges and pitfalls regularly experienced by men and women navigating the complexities of sexual orientation and/or gender identity and their LDS faith. The framework will highlight key gospel principles that have helped members of the North Star community live authentically, find peace, and make and keep covenants. Individuals will be encouraged to apply these principles in a personal, unique way under the guidance of personal revelation from God. We plan to create resources for each demographic starting with men who experience same-sex attraction or identify as gay.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
The creation of this framework will be a process and will require many dedicated hands. If you are passionate about helping individuals in our community find peace and joy through living the restored gospel – we need your help! I have included below a link where you can apply to join the first team which will create the men’s resources. If this message has touched your heart, I pray you will consider joining our efforts. We will be needing volunteers in other demographics in the near future.
I testify that there is a place for you in God’s eternal plan of salvation. God placed you here on this earth to experience joy! I know that you can learn to thrive in your individual life as you make and keep sacred covenants. If you make mistakes – as we all will – the atonement of Jesus Christ will heal you and enable you to grow and become more like our Heavenly Father, for you are His child.
Interested in helping? Click HERE.
President, North Star International