One of the most difficult things for me to believe growing up as a Christian was that God truly loved me. Rather, much of my Christian life was lived with the sense that I could never be lovable to God. I was too imperfect, too wrong, unable to live up to the standard of perfection I thought I should obtain before I could be lovable to God. I believed that the road to reprobation was the road I had been cursed to walk because I thought I must be too disgusting for God to actually love. I experienced what seemed to me the darkness of God, the distant, black cloud of His inscrutable cursing on my life for being so imperfect and remaining so imperfect, which then seemed to manifest itself, to my despairing horror, in my sexual orientation.
It was that thing which followed me, which would not change, despite all my desperate prayers for it to be changed, which further confirmed for me that I must certainly not be one of His children. I believed I was an outcast from His love, destined for an eternity of hopeless, raging despair–a creature destined to curse God in a raging hell forever. If I could just not be attracted to men, if I could just become a normal man with normal attractions–but that desire for normalcy (which was ever elusive) became the source of a deep self-loathing, and I projected my self-loathing onto God the Father–the inscrutable one–who I believed found me to be completely loathsome.
What I so desperately needed was to know a Father who truly loved me, no matter what. I did not know that I had already known Him. This knowing was already deep within my soul, memories veiled in mortality. But there came a time (in the fulness of time in my life) when the light of that truth broke upon me, piercing the seemingly impenetrable wall of my utter self hatred. Missionaries of the Father’s love were sent to me by the Father of light, in whom there is no darkness. In the simplicity of their faith, they introduced me to the possibility that I had previously existed with God as His spiritual son from unknown eons in the past–as always one of His beloved children. Not as a mere creature created for His pleasure, but as an actual son of God, nourished by and bathed in the unconditional love that is His very essence.
When I learned of this possibility, my mind so wanted it to be true, but I could hardly believe it because I had so long believed the lie that I was not truly His. Deep within my spirit though, the truth of it was like water to my desert-parched soul. It tasted good. It tasted like truth. It tasted like life. And my spirit seemed to shout within me, “Yes! It must be true!” It seemed to touch a deep, deep memory already residing within the very core of my being. And when I chose to begin to believe this, suddenly my life made much more sense, suddenly I saw that my sexual orientation was not necessarily a curse of reprobation, but an opportunity to grow into knowing His love for me more deeply, and growing in His love for all others. By knowing He had always loved me, then I could also know that He must have always loved them, my brothers and sisters, as much as He loved me. Love eternal, this love, above all other loves, which had always been poured freely upon me from the time I had become conscious of Him as my actual Father and I, His actual son, having lived with Him in His home (my home), bathed in His eternal, perfect love from eons past.
This is the memory, deeper than the marrow of my bones. This awakened and ever awakening memory of His love, too wonderful for words, is always, ultimately, inexorably, drawing my wilderness-wandering self back to Him. He is my truest home.
The often imperfect and painful life I now live has become (not a sense of eternal separation from Him), but a deep well from which I can draw upon the waters of His eternally, thirst-quenching love. There is no other water better than the living water of my Heavenly Father’s love, which can satisfy the deepest thirsting of my soul. And there is no other Church I know of, which teaches this truth as clearly as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Truly this is a doctrine He has revealed to His Church, which can bring, most powerfully, the certainty of God’s unrelenting love for me and all others.
He is and always has been my Father. He is and always has been your Father. What can separate us from His love? Nothing outside ourselves. If we believe the lie that He does not truly love us, always and forever, then His love for us may become obscured.
Look up. He is there. His arms are always open to embrace us if we but come to ourselves and begin the journey back to Him. See Him there, in the distance, sprinting toward you, to take you up in His arms, shouting exultantly, “My daughter who was lost is alive! My son who was lost is alive!” We each can know His eternal love.
We are only truly alive when we know He truly and always loves us.