Monday, June 28, 2010

The Fireside--A Game Changer

"Man, that guy has bleach blonde hair and a blue dress shirt. Just like Lance from church today. What is it with SGA guys and blue shirts and bleached hair anyway?" I thought as i parked my car to attend the Idaho Falls Fireside, held yesterday.

"Hey the woman with the guy is waving at me."

"OH Crap. That is Lance and his mom, dad and sister."

"I guess the Cat is out of the Bag"

Joy in the Journey--A Fireside put on by the East Idaho Stakes, was an uplifting experience. It also has changed my relationship with this issue. Before I was comfortable with people knowing about my challenges who also struggled, or were far away from my homeland. But this fireside was there, just a few miles from the homestead. But I'm glad I went.

After seeing Lance and his fam, i headed in the Stake Center adjacent to the temple. Making my way to the chapel I ran into another kid from the same street I grew up on. (Lance was the first). He wanted to know if this was the only fireside going on tonight. I told him, it was the only one I knew of. Then he offered, "I'm just here to listen to a friend's musical number."

Good for you Buddy.

Later on I saw my parents' stake president, and a member of the high council. I used to deliver newspapers to both. And the stake singles branch president. I'm only friends with 2 of his 6 kids, so no big deal.

But really it wasn't as big of a deal as I thought. Sure the idea the land of my near-nativity, being compromised by the secret i buried there so long ago was enough to get the nerves going, but I decided a year ago, before i went to my first Matis Fireside, that while I would prefer not to have everyone I know, know I'm attracted to men, I'm not going to let it keep me from getting support and giving support.

I went into the chapel looking around for other people i knew. Not sure what to do when I did run into them. Not seeing any others, i found a seat barely into the gym. As soon as I seated myself the program started. We sang, I need thee every hour and have a few opening remarks from Keving Lindley. Nothing really stood out to me there. Just typical stuff. Then I saw my parents come in and sit on teh far side of the gym. I had told them about the fireside, and they had wanted to come. I called them after I left for the fireside; they'd forgotten about it.

Anyway I was glad to see them. After Kevin told us where to break up, I went over to see my parents. By the time I got there, my mom was hugging Lance and talking to his family. Its no secret that Lance spent about 8 months living the lifestyle, and has just started trying to come back to the Church. He just graduated high school with my littlest brother. They've been friends, adn still are, even though they don't hang out alone much any more.

We left for your groups. My parents went to the leadership one, headed down to the Men's one.

I loved the Men's group. It started with a older gentlemen, who has been a stake pres, bishop, mission pres, yadda yadda. (I mean yadda in a respectful way). His son has been dealing with this a while. He said some good things, but seemed to keep his remarks very general. So general that sometimes I wasn't sure what he meant. But at the end when he had his wife read part of a letter from their son, i was touched. They have always loved their son, even when he was sowing his oats, and to see him returning to the fold touched me. His testimony was touching, and powerful.

The next speaker in the Men's group was a counselor from BYU-I. Where the former mission pres was very off the cuff, in the style of someone who has spoken to groups their whole life, the counselor read prepared remarks. He spoke of how sensitive our nature is as SGA members, and how we can be damaged by things that wouldn't normally hurt someone. He shared his love and spoke of our heart. How we can have a Heart of Anger, or Shame, or Fear, all responses to the challenge of SSA, but he finished with a Heart of Hope. How we can have that with our Lord Jesus.

That message was the change that went in me because of the fireside. I have had anger, shame, and fear hold a monopoly over my heart. But the fireside helped me find the heart of hope he spoke of.

We then moved on to the Q and A. Ty Mansfield and Kevin Lindley joined teh two speakers. Good questions. One was "What is our responsibility and what is God's in regards to SGA?"

I thought I knew the answer, we have to fight, and God has to redeem, save adn change.

Ty Answered that its different for each person. That we need to stay close and the Lord will let us know how we must deal with the challenge.

He was right. The Lord looketh on the inside of a man. He knows us, our trials, and if we are doing our best.

The counselor chimed in that the atonement is really needed by all.

A question posed about marriage. Ty recapped his courting and engagement to his wife. He also spoke of most of his friends who first are friends, then become intimate, and are able to have a wonderful life. based on Love, not attraction. He also spoke of Love, and how all love is Christ love, between man and women, and man and man. We just learn to express that love in the ways God wants.

The other point of the Q and A that interested me was when Lance asked "Can someone who has been immoral still go on a mission?"

The former mission president spoke to this one. He said, it depends, on how many partners and the length of time. He said if it has been one or two partners there is a good chance, but if it has been on going, they may be asked to serve a service mission, or as a ward missionary.

The Q and A ended too soon and we moved back to the chapel. I found my parents in the padded seats and sat with them. We had some pleasantries, don't quite remember what. But they seemed impressed with their session. They did talk about marriage, and finally were impressed that SGA doesn't just leave with marriage. We were able to have a good discussion about it. I've tried to tell them the same thing before, but I guess they needed to hear it from someone else. They also like some of the stuff that Steve said.

A musical number started off this session, called "You are Loved" The guy who performed it has a great voice and it was a good message. It was a little rough at parts. I could tell he was nervous, but his spirit shone through, and communicated the message of the piece.

Then Ty got up to speak. He had a good message. Got my dad to laugh. I loved his point comparing SGA to Adam and Eve partaking of the Fruit. Satan came and told them to hide. He worked through shame to keep them from progressing. To keep it in the dark. God called them out of shame and got them progressing again.

But were Adam and Eve proud they took the fruit? No, and Ty compared that to the whole gay pride movement. Really that was the message i found. We don't need to be ashamed of same gender attraction. And the culture of the church, and to be fair, the USA has pushed shame on us for so long. But at the same time, we shouldn't be prideful, and ignore the truths of God. It is a balance that I think is the key to finding joy in the journey.

Ty said alot of other things that escape me right now. It was a great talk. Glad I heard it.

The Stake President then gave some closing remarks. Brought up the Corinthians 6:

9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

His focus was how these saints had been these things, but they were washed by Jesus. How there is no hole so deep that we cannot climb out of it.

As soon as he was finished the guy next to me said, "oh S@@@ I've got to leave". Dunno what that was about.

We finished with Carry On. My Mom wanted to go with me, but I told her I was going to hang out for a bit. I wish I would have taken her up on that.

I finally made it home. Woke up this morning adn had a good breakfast chat with my parents about the fireside. It was really good.


Just a few more points

-I really felt that alot of the content was SGA 101, stuff I've heard already, but it was very good for the people who were learning for the first time about this stuff.

-A major push seemed to be members of the Church need to be more accepting of us. Not the life style, but of those who struggle. Excellent i say

-I really wish I'd seen teh Matis's in teh Family and Friends. That sounded Powerful

-I guess I need to talk to my family before they hear it from the kid down the street.

I'm blessed to have gone to the fireside. I loved it. I don't think i captured what happened in a way that gives is justice. I feel like my descriptions have been sloppy. I hope you can understand enough of it and feel the Spirit like I did last night.


  1. Have we met over there? I'm almost convinced that we did.

  2. We may have, I didn't talk to a ton of new people, but i did help put up the chairs with a few guys, or maybe you were the "oh s@#$" man. And I ran into the group that came up from Utah.

    So I guess the answer it maybe.