This is part of a series of letters to those who may feel lost. Sometimes when we are down, discovering something in the mailbox is just the thing.
It reminds us that we aren’t as alone as we think.
Today I write to the friends and family of a man I call Jack who is attracted to the same sex. Well-meaning though they may be, they probably don’t understand how much pain they can cause.
It’s time to stop it.
And replace it with what Jack does need.
Dear Jack’s friends and family,
You know Jack: hard working, good looking, always ready to help you out.
My guess is that you sincerely want to help, and offer encouragement as often as possible.
You just need to be careful that your encouragement isn’t discouraging.
“I know the perfect girl for you.”
“Oh, don’t worry. Someday it will all work out.”
“You just haven’t found the right person yet.”
“Just hang in there. Look at all the other things in your life that are great.”
Your heart is in the right place; and your words could actually be valid.
But they still hurt Jack more than they help him.
We are all still feeling our way as a society and as a congregation through loving those who hurt and at the same time living our beliefs.
Jack already knows he’s different. He feels it all too acutely.
You treating him as if he’s dying from some horrible, incurable disease isn’t going to make that any better.
Look, at the end of the day you have things that are just as hard for you to grapple with as does Jack.
The difference is that his may just be more visible than yours.
So, treat him as if they aren’t.
And he won’t treat you uncomfortably about, you know, that thing that’s hard for you.
Every conversation doesn’t have to focus on same-sex attraction, nor does it have to uncomfortably avoid the topic.
Ask Jack what, as your good friend, he needs from you; and let Jack know, as your good friend, what you need from him.
Know each other well enough to be there to help each other with things that are hard; love each other deeply enough to allow the hard things to be forgotten as often as possible.
You know, to be one of the gang, just a regular guy.
Jack doesn’t want to be labeled as the gay member of your group; he just needs to be recognized as a valid member on equal footing – trying to improve and grow just like the rest of you.
Elder Christofferson taught that a quorum is three things: first, a class; second, a fraternity; and third, a service unit.
Sounds like just the right salve for Jack, wouldn’t you think?
I guess that makes each of us irregularly regular.
And in that, Jack really is just one of the guys.
So, relax and treat him that way.