Travis Roberts is a father of five who recently finished a career as an attorney for the Army. While he has a fascinating coming-out story, he instead wanted to focus this post on appreciation for straight and cis allies in the Church who choose to love God’s LGBTQ children. The climate can be difficult for those allies. Travis hopes they never view themselves as less faithful or worthy members. Those allies save lives. What greater love is there? During Travis’s coming out, it was his former wife, Rachelle, who became his fiercest and most selfless supporter. Travis knows she saved his life, and he looks to her as a true example of Christian love. Travis wrote the short story below to highlight and offer gratitude for the type of faith and love that allies like her demonstrate.
A Tale of Two Believers
There was a believer. The believer was man of God, and obedience was his watchword. The greatest commandment is to love God, and the believer showed this love by always striving to obey God’s word. With his integrity intact, he lived above any earthly desires or pressures. His obedience blessed the lives of many around him as he selflessly served. But the pursuit of obedience was not a burden; it was a refining process that brought joy and meaning to his life. He wanted everyone to have that same joy. The believer had a close friend. The friend also had been a man of God. But the friend was gay and, eventually, chose to leave the fold of believers because of this. The believer understood this to mean his friend would no longer be following the prophets. The believer was heartbroken. He expressed his love to his friend and reminded him that God’s prophets had spoken about this. What would the friend’s future hold now that he was leaving the safety of God’s revealed word? The man prayed often for his friend. Years passed. As they did, it seemed the believer and the friend stopped knowing how to talk to each other. Their connection faded. Still, the believer never lost hope that the Spirit would work upon his friend’s heart and bring him back to Christ one day.
There was another believer. She was a woman of God. She, too, knew the greatest commandment. And she saw the second commandment—to love others—as how she was to fulfill the first. Lifting the burdens of others and carrying their crosses were her watchwords. She also followed the prophets and the scriptures, and she also found joy and meaning in her life because of it. This woman had the same friend. When she learned the friend was leaving the fold, she also was heartbroken. She prayed God would help him stay. And then she went to the friend. She committed to help carry his cross. So she asked him questions. And she listened. And listening changed her. At first, a thought came to her mind: If her friend could better trust the scriptures and prophets, if he selflessly followed God, maybe this would help? But the suggestion never formed into words because listening allowed her to understand that the friend had spent his life doing just that. If wickedness was not happiness, then righteousness clearly was supposed to be. But her friend’s story of obeying was so different than her own. Where it had brought her joy, it had slowly brought him a pain that had grown into crisis. Her heart broke again but differently this time. She became more committed to help carry his cross. She prayed more. She studied more. She reached out more. She committed to meet more gay believers. And she made an effort to meet trans believers. As she did all this, their stories changed her even more. Those stories were so different but so similar. To these queer believers, obedience had also been their watchword. But the fruits of those efforts were so starkly different than her own. Some ended up on medications so they could obey more cheerfully. Others threw themselves into distracting life pursuits that always seemed to involve a burnout. Many had bouts with suicidality. This heartbreaking trend was woven into so many of their stories. The believer started to wonder: Why had they stayed in the fold for so long? What led them to finally leave? Prayer. Prayer and personal revelation were also woven their stories. And so many said it was what saved them, even if by leading them out of the fold. Many even, remarkably, remained deeply connected to God.
So the woman, still believing in prophets and still believing in personal revelation, made space somehow for these stories in the tapestry of her faith.
The woman grew much closer to her friend and to God. And she gained many more friends. There were many crosses on her back. But they didn’t feel like a burden. These crosses felt lighter the more she took on. They were lighter because she now understood how to carry them. She had stopped praying that these LGBTQ friends would have spiritual awakenings.
She instead prayed that hers would continue.
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This In My Own Words story is a contribution from Let’s Love Better, a Facebook group dedicated to helping people learn to better share love, while fostering an atmosphere of understanding. When we know better, we do better.