I remember the commotion that followed when my oldest brother mentioned, in a sacrament meeting talk, that he had never heard our parents argue. Some people thought he was exaggerating. Others thought it couldn’t be done. Yet we couldn’t understand what the big deal was. Weren’t all parents like ours? I was used to an environment in which I knew Mom and Dad loved and respected each other, and we knew they loved us. I’m not sure how they did it, but it was a wonderful world to grow up in. With a good start like that, you would think that my life would have been outstanding. It wasn’t.
I had been home from a mission a mere 16 years when I met Laurie. A mutual friend introduced us, having just spent several months encouraging me to come back to the fold. I thought Laurie was very attractive and pretty hardheaded. She was no pushover. By that time in her life, she had gone through a long, hard slog to reclaim her faith and to go to the temple.
She had learned by experience what was important. I wasn’t quite there yet.
We were on a “date-a-month” plan for a while. I enjoyed her personality immensely. She was different—a type of person that was new to me. After a few months went by, I continued to look forward to the time I spent with her. I guess, at the same time, she was figuring me out, and it wasn’t all positive. One evening she let me know she expected more, telling me how important the gospel was to her and her concern that we didn’t share the same perspective. That’s when I had a startling realization. As we talked, I suddenly understood that I could have the same kind of relationship with her that my parents had with each other. I’d never thought that before. I didn’t know it was possible.
I told her I was interested in something more than the current state. She responded by giving me some reading material: her account of her life. I promised I would read it while she was away for the weekend. However, I took it home and didn’t want to touch it. For 24 hours it sat there and bothered me. Finally, motivated by the feelings I had told her of, I opened it and began to read. (It wasn’t until then that I discovered she was also a very good writer.) What I read that night was the hardest thing I have ever read. How could someone I cared for deeply have experienced such tragedy and I not have known?
The book also talked about her feelings of same-sex attraction and her struggles with the Word of Wisdom. As I read on, I came across a phrase that was unexpected: “It doesn’t matter how comfortable, how convenient, or how contented your lifestyle is;
if it doesn’t bring you closer to the Savior, it doesn’t matter where else it is taking you.”
If my regard for her was a wedge, then this was the hammer. The blow split the shell over my heart wide open, and I was exposed to life, the world, and pain. In clarity, I saw that I had a choice to make: I could continue on my current course and die, or I could choose life. I looked over the precipice, and with all my heart, I chose to live.
I knew at that moment I wasn’t worthy of or fit for a life with Laurie, but I knew I loved her. I tried to change as fast as I could. Change is a feature of the great plan of happiness. I am so grateful for the blessing of change.
Before we were married, there were moments of concern. Now that I knew her background, could I make it work?
I did experience some trepidation. I am a guy, after all, and she wasn’t too hip on guys.
Whenever I would start to worry, though, I would quickly be reminded that I wasn’t perfect and that I was grateful that she accepted me for who I was. If she was willing to do that for me, couldn’t I do the same?
I made a conscious decision that I would avoid worrying about her past, and I have stuck to that.
After two decades together, the surprising development has been that I have spent much more time wondering why I haven’t had to worry than I have actually spent worrying. It almost goes without saying that there hasn’t been a reason to worry—at least with regard to her past.
However, as we started our married life, we discovered so many other things to worry about. Children, finances, children, health. Children. The things we thought would be of great concern moved to the bottom of the list as the demands of family took over. Her experience establishing herself on the gospel path made her faith strong and very practical. I found her spiritual strength reassuring. It was devastating for both of us when, in the throes of depression (or whatever the several diagnoses), she lost that sense of feeling the Spirit. Still, she remained faithful against all odds.
I am blessed to be with Laurie. Our life together has been challenging but good. I haven’t quite reached the standard set by my parents, but I have tried. In our own way, we have found our world together. I am always secretly thrilled when I hear her say, “The gospel has not made me attracted to men. But it has helped me be attracted to one man.” That’s me.
It is more than I could have ever hoped for.