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Since November of 2015 life has not been the same for me. My heart has just been hurting, and it hurts deeply. In November, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints issued a statement that refers to LGBT couples and their children.

I found out late in the afternoon on a Thursday, around 4 pm, at first I saw it through a variety of news sources and I was hesitant to trust the sources as they were not what seemed to be the most credible sources. I called my brother-in-law as he is in a bishopric. When I called him I asked if he had received any emails with the information that had been released to the news. He confirmed he did receive an email and that his father who is in a stake presidency had also messaged him telling him to check his email and that he needed to be aware of this new policy.

As I talked with my brother-in-law, I went from not wanting to believe that this was true to knowing that I had to now find a way to swallow all of this information, and try to understand what it all meant. I watched Facebook explode as I watched the groups I am in begin to fight, I watched my friends that are very faithful and active in the church also react and begin to divide. This policy created much division. It took until the church released a statement confirming it was true for many of my friends to believe that this was actually true and that it was happening. The most interesting thing I observed was the doubt and the defense that took place and how it changed from one side so quickly to another.

One day people were saying “This could not be true because of the news source” and “There is no way the church would do something like this.” The ambiguity of this policy remained for a few days until the church released a statement, then I watched as many friends began to defend the church and its new policy saying things like “well of course this is true” and “the prophet is inspired and we must follow this policy” to other extremes and polar opposite statements defending their beliefs contradicting their words they wrote just days earlier.

Others remained confused and hurt saying things like “I do not know what this means, but my heart hurts, and I know I need to trust the prophet but I am going to think about this and pray about this more to understand better what this means” and “I am praying about this to understand better and I am sitting with the LGBT LDS community because I can only imagine how hard this must be for them, if it is this hard for me.”

I think some of the things that broke my heart during this time and throughout this experience as what I consider one of the worst things was watching how quickly people were to jump from one extreme to the other, without giving it thought to think, ponder, pray and ask God about how they should feel. They did not stop to love their neighbor, to mourn with those that mourn or to bear one anothers burdens. I watched as the our communities, LDS, LGBT, LDS and LGBT forgot to follow the example of Christ, and we forgot one of the most basic principles Christ asked us to learn and to follow, “love one another as thyself.” I watched as individuals went from being angry and confused at the news to being angry and confused with each other.

My heart still hurts as the church has continued to release statements and the leadership of the church have come out with statements that continue to confuse me, and there are conflicting and contradictory statements made. I know I am not the same person I was before this policy was released, and it has influenced me in ways I cannot imagine, and in ways I am still learning. I hurt because I believe that if we changed our perspective just a little bit the way this conversation and experience happened could have been very different. I am also not trying to let go of the fact that this is the way the church choose to approach it as well, but I believe and know we all have the ability to choose how we respond.

I also hurt because we have not stopped to think about what the other side is experiencing. I see this as a flaw on all parties. Those who are very active members that just follow the prophet because it gets said, and those who are LGBT and no longer part of the church because of this new policy or by their own choosing. We must stop and look at other perspectives, we must let go of pride and look around to find truth, to bear one anothers burdens. Without empathy or compassion we cannot realistically understand how to help or love one another as the savior has asked.

Where is the love and compassion, where is the empathy, where is the desire to understand one another and to learn and to see each other the way the Savior does… The Savior does not tell us to suck it up and get over it, He sits with us, He listens to us, He hurts with us, He weeps with us.

I also know that many people have ben influenced by this policy change, and many have taken their lives because of the pressure or fear, or lack of compassion or a willingness to understand their story. It doesn’t matter why they took their lives, just that we could have done better to help them know how loved and important they are. We can do more to help LGBT individuals be heard and even if you can not understand what I go through having someone listen, and sit with me, letting me feel, and reminding me they love me, would make a huge difference.

One of my favorite quotes says “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is EVER wasted.” There is a primary song that says Kindness Begins with Me. I know that is has been many months but I still believe we missed an opportunity to respond in christ-like ways. I have taken this time to look at myself and see where I can learn and grow and change so that I can strive to be more christlike, and that my actions will better reflect how I wish to be treated by others. I hope that the next time we have the opportunity to show kindness or anger, love or fear, empathy or hatred, that we choose to be a better person, our best version of ourselves, and take the high road to not only help those who need it the most but to become closer to christ and our divine selves.

I hope that we can be better, and that we can see ways we can be better at serving and loving others, even if they are different than us.