"Love is like the Polar Star. In a changing world, it is a constant. It is of the very essence of the gospel. . . . Great beyond comprehension is the love of God."
-Gordon B. Hinckley
A good friend, also one of my home teachers from my YSA ward days, invited me to attend a fireside last night for the North Star International group. I'm so glad I went.
As described on its Facebook page, North Star is "a place of community for Latter-day Saints dealing with issues surrounding homosexual attraction who desire to live in harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ and the doctrines and values of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Another stated purpose is "to empower individuals to help educate themselves, their family, friends, and Church leaders as they strive to become integrated more fully and lovingly into the Church community."
I'm grateful to be one of those friends, and I proudly stand as one of their supporters. Also, as one of their admirers.
This fireside featured possibly the greatest display of congregational singing I have ever witnessed. They sang loudly, but they also sang with the voices of angels. As they sang, "So long thy pow'r hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on o'er moor and fen, o'er crag, and torrent, till the night is gone," and then, later, "O Savior, if thou wilt be my guide, tho dark and rugged the way, my voice shall echo the message sweet: I'll say what you want me to say," the words were not just words on a page but also a testimony of their very lives.
In addition, I was impressed by the number of hugs I saw people giving each other throughout the evening. I don't think I've seen that much hugging take place since the last time I was at sacrament meeting in Peru. Hugs are very much a part of their culture, too.
Truth be told, it's one of the things I miss most about that place and those people.
"There's so much love in this room," I overheard one person say. There was indeed.
Oh yeah. There were actual speakers at this fireside, too. The husband and wife (the husband has lived with same-gender attraction, though they've been married 9+ years now) who spoke talked of the most important commandment being that of loving God, and, in turn, He will love us back. It is the whole purpose for existing in the first place. All that seems unfair in life can be made right through the Atonement. We don't really know what we believe until we are tested. What you truly value and what you want out of life is far more important than seeking gratification. Purpose can be found in the service of others.
The wife spoke of an important lesson Eustace learns about being cleansed of his dragon scales by Aslan (i.e. the Lord) in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which gave her an extra gold star in my book. (The Narnia series remains my favorite.) The husband also spoke extensively on Victor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning and reminded everyone of an important lesson: The last and most important of humanity's freedoms is the freedom to choose what our attitudes will be in any given set of circumstances. Whatever trial or challenge any of us faces, we always have a choice.
Frankl knew something about that because, well, he survived Auschwitz concentration camp.
Speaking of dealing with difficult circumstances, the world would tell the members of North Star that there's no possible way they could be happy following this path that they have chosen.
Well, it ain't necessarily so, folks. It's bubkes, actually.
Last night, I met some of the pleasantest, happiest, and friendliest new people I have met in a long time. There wasn't a frowny face in the bunch. They are proud to be disciples of Jesus Christ, and it is a choice that brings them true joy and gives them hope and purpose. It shows in the way they act, and it radiates in their countenances. They choose to love God by keeping His commandments (see John 14:15) and loving their fellow man—in that order—and that is what makes all of the difference.
They know it, they live it, and they love it.