Dearest friends and family,
I feel like I need to start this letter with a joke. But then again, that hardly would be appropriate.
You see, what I have to talk about today is not something that will be easy to swallow. While I, of course, do not intend to offend anyone, I also can’t hold back any feelings that I have. It’s time someone speak up and take a stand. So, if you’re still with me, this may be one of the hardest lessons that any of you . . . members that may also be reading this may have to understand.
Yes. I said members. I did not mix up my words.
On behalf of all members everywhere, all across the world, I would like to apologize. With the most sincerity and greatest amount of love that I could possibly muster.
No, not a single one of us has answers to all of your questions, or the reasons behind anything you have ever questioned.
No, none of us have the right to judge you. Regardless of what you do, that is between you and God. Every. Single. One of us. Struggles. No exceptions. We all have our own vices and weaknesses . . . and we don’t have a right to claim that we sin more righteously than you.
No, not everything that will ever happen in our lives, nor in the Church will make sense. While some may never admit to it, part of trusting God is sometimes questioning Him. It wouldn’t be faith if we understood absolutely everything that can and will happen to us.
And finally, no, we don’t mean to make our living prophets out to be absolutely perfect people that we should idolize and follow to a tee. Only one man was capable of that kind of respect. He also was the only man who was capable of working out the salvation of every person that ever has been, or ever will be born.
We apologize for anything that we have said, implied, done or even thought that may have offended you. Even those who won’t admit to being sorry, are sorry.
Just like every one of you, we are just trying to live the best lives that we possibly know how.
And boy do we fail. Often, we fail hard. That’s the curse of life.
Ironically, it’s also the greatest blessing.
For now, I hope you can understand why any and all of these things happen.
What I hope you can see, is that the sincerity of church members is often just misguided and leads to saying and doing the wrong things. This is not an excuse for anything that might have driven you away (or is driving you away) . . . it’s just the reality of the situation.
We sincerely love the Gospel. We sincerely believe it’s the right way to live. We sincerely believe that all people, everywhere, deserve all the blessings of the Gospel in their lives. But this often comes out as “We are right, you are wrong.”
One thing I wish more people understood, both members and nonmembers alike, is the real problem isn’t in who has the most evidence, or the greatest reason. It definitely isn’t about worthiness or entitlement. In short, the problem isn’t about who is right or who is wrong.
The problem is the “Us vs. Them” attitude.
Life is not a competition that has to have one person or a group of people on top. We are all fighting the same fight.
Everyone loses loved ones and gets broken hearts. All of us battle financial struggles and health concerns. We all have our own mountains to climb and rivers to cross. And we do the best that we can do to come out victorious.
But that certainly doesn’t give anyone the right to prescribe to a person the best way to fight their battles, because there isn’t a single person on the planet that understands what you are going through.
But there once was.
Whether you are in the Church or out of it, whether you are Christian, Buddhist or Atheist . . . all of us need a lifeline throughout our lives. We can’t overcome all our tribulations alone. And the good news is that there is someone to turn to.
No, really. It is good news. It’s the Good News. That’s what Gospel means: good news.
The good news is that you have someone who has felt and experienced EXACTLY what you are going through. In fact, He descended below it. He suffered your pains deeper than you even suffer them. Not so that you can pity Him, but so that He can help you.
The message of the Church and church members everywhere is that Jesus Christ, the Savior, is the only source to whom we can turn for the comfort, strength, and peace we need to go through our life’s battles.
Admittedly, sometimes this comes out as “No we cannot tolerate homosexuality in any way,” or “really, you shouldn’t have been in the situation in the first place,” or “you’re just making an excuse so you don’t have to live the commandments.” That’s truly not what is meant. I least I hope it’s not.
Because the whole reason for the Church, the whole reason we have this passion, is because we believe in a perfect God with a perfect plan, who sacrificed a perfect Son to make happiness and victory possible not only in this life but also in the life to come.
So no, the reason you left (or are thinking of leaving) doesn’t really matter to me. I’m not judging you, and I certainly won’t ever step in the way and tell you how wrong you are.
All I’m saying is that you have a Savior who loves you, and knows everything you are going through.
Regardless of the commandments you break or keep, or the way you live your life. He will be there for every step you take. Backwards, forwards or sideways. And all that He is asking you to do is follow Him to receive every blessing and every ounce of happiness that you so desperately deserve. All of us are worthy of his love, no matter how worthless we feel.
Now, does that seem like such a terrible message? For just a brief moment, just for a second, put aside all of your concerns. Strip the teachings of the Church down to this basic essential.
Forget about all the commandments, and members, and historical facts, and reasons to hate or disagree with the Church, and just think about the one message that has been taught from the very beginning. One message, nothing else. Focus on it.
Jesus Christ lived, suffered, died and He lives again that all people may have joy in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
Do you feel any resentment or any hatred towards the message that you had someone who loved you enough to not only suffer EVERYTHING (and more) that you have or will have had to suffer in this life, but also willingly gave up His life so that you could live forever? (See also President Uchtdorf’s Come Join with Us)
If so, I hope you find this help and this strength in other ways. Don’t ever quit. Don’t ever give up. Life will bend you, but it can’t break you if you fight back.
If, however, like so many of us, you long for the healing and the power that comes through someone who understands your life and who you are and what you feel . . . then please, don’t go.
I have been offended, I have doubted, I have rebelled, and I have resented over and over again as I have tried my best to live the Gospel. But still, I stay.
I stay because I have made my greatest memories and best friends in this church. I stay because I believe in the promises of eternal families and blessings that come through living what I believe to be actual commandments from God. I stay because the principles of the Gospel teach essential life skills and self-mastery that truly make me happy.
But more importantly than anything else, I stay because it’s here I have, and here I always will find my Savior.
Related: Why I Stay
I am not one to say what you are going through. I don’t know. Which is why I will never blame anyone who decides to leave the Church. Your life may take you a different direction, and I am not a supreme judge. You live your life the best way you know how.
You better believe though that I will always fight for you to come back. Yes, that’s a touch dramatic, I know. But there’s nothing that I feel more passionately about than the need of the Redeemer’s love for everyone.
At the end of the day, we are all searching for exactly what the Gospel offers.
Faith. Hope. Love. Strength. Family. Power to influence and do good. Joy and Happiness
All of these, and much more, are available in the love of Him who descended below all things so that we could ascend above all things.
He is the Gospel. He is the Church. He is the reason behind all that we do.
Don’t leave Him. Let Him provide you exactly what you are looking for. I promise He has it.
Every (hopefully) member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints