“And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith; for thou hast sought me diligently with lowliness of heart.” -1 Nephi 1:53 RAV, 2:19 OPV
The first question I would like to ask is: What do (or did) you have faith in? There are three key words here, the first one being: What. Some have complete faith in God, some in their church or congregation, others the faith of, or in, their parents or others; those they see as spiritual guides or leaders. Regardless, everyone has faith in something.
It is important that we identify what our faith is in first and foremost because if we do not know where we are placing our faith, we can easily become lost. One woman I worked with in the past as she went through her trial of faith, we will call her Deborah, was very annoyed by this question. Her faith, she boldly declared, was in Jesus Christ.
But as we continued to talk, it became clear that her faith was actually in her church, the denomination she belonged to. Her questions were centered around why God would do this or that, and when I asked when God did these things, she pointed to things her church had done in the past and was doing at the time of our conversations.
Debora (not her real name) is a transexual. For those unaware, a transexual is someone born one gender physically, but to the very soul God created, identifies as another gender. Her question was not “why did God put me in the wrong body.” Her question was, “why won’t my church love me for who I am?”
Sexual identity is a very touchy subject in the Church. Some denominations declare anyone affiliated in any way with the LGBTQ movement as “abominations,” “sinners,” “damned to hell,” and so forth. On the opposite spectrum there are denominations whose ministries are geared towards LGBTQ inclusion. And, of course, the Church is filled with denominations that run down the middle of these two opposing ideas.
The easy answer, I thought at the time, to Debera’s situation was to help her find a church that would accept her. But that is not what she wanted. She wanted to feel God’s love, and she believed that to feel that love she had to have the complete acceptance of the church she was raised in. She longed to feel God’s love, but she believed she could only feel it in the church she was born into.
This is why our first question must be What. Helping Debora was not going to be as easy as denominational replacement. She did not need elective surgery to transplant her from her current church to a new church. What she needed was to feel God’s love regardless of where she was. When her faith was fully in Christ, she would hear His voice, and heed His call. That would be the strength she needed to stay or go wherever the Lord needed her.