I first met Jessyca when I married her uncle. She was about seven years old at the time. In junior high she regularly began coming over to our house to help me with the children. That’s when our friendship began to deepen. I spent more time talking to her than I did getting any of my chores or errands done.
Through high school and college, we stayed connected. But her life got busier and so did mine. Depression hit her during her second year of college and continued after she graduated and moved home. Simultaneously, my husband was in a motorcycle accident and broke his ankle, so he was in bed for months and on crutches for years. So the tables turned, and this time she was helping me. We began talking all of the time.
She spent months staying at my house, during which time we would spend countless nights staying up late confiding in each other.
Not only did she need someone to talk to, so did I.
It wasn’t until after Jessie’s mission that she told me she was dealing with same-sex attraction. It wasn’t a huge surprise to me because over the years, she had mentioned different situations—not about herself, but about others who were experiencing same-sex attraction. I knew the topic was on her mind, and the puzzle pieces began to come together, like why our long conversations were never spent talking about boyfriends or dating. I was heartbroken for her. She was devastated. As she cried and cried, I could see that it was excruciatingly painful for her. She was and still is slowly trying to accept it herself, something she has tried for so long to deny. Fortunately, she has some great friends, support, and an amazing counselor who is helping her to work through her feelings.
The hardest part for me about finding out that Jessie was gay was grieving the loss of things she would not have in the future—marriage and children—things that have brought me the most happiness in this life. This is what we are taught in the gospel to seek. It is our goal.
Jessie lives an obedient life. The confusion and the loneliness she continues to feel are heartbreaking. She has been through some tough things in her life already. She had a difficult situation with her mother growing up, and she deals with OCD, anxiety, and depression, as well as some health problems. She just deals with these trials and overcomes them as best she can. Others on the outside would never guess the life Jessie has had. She laughs more than anybody I know. People are drawn to her.
As a result of Jessie’s experiences, I’ve developed a lot more sympathy for the hurt and the rejection felt by people who are gay.
Instead of judging, I want to have sympathy for what I don’t understand.
I’ve been grateful for the connection and open communication that Jessie and I share. Because of our relationship, we have the ability to talk openly with each other. We can ask each other honest and sincere questions and respond truthfully without worrying about offending the other or being judged. Because of this, I have been able to gain a greater understanding. Even though I still don’t understand everything, I know that I don’t have to.
All I am asked to do is love as God would love.