I could here my companion sleeping as I knelt in prayer. It was the night before the last day of my LDS mission. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I prayed more fervently then ever I had. I had given the Lord my all for the last two years of my life. I had pressed forward down streets of unwelcoming doors, biked during hot muggy days miles and miles. I had bent my head in prayer with thousands of people, spreading the gospel of Christ in every corner of Louisiana. My heart was bursting with love for the people I had met and worked with, they had become my friends. We had worked through hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Given help whenever and where ever I could. I had learned who I was and what I was capable of. Now it was all coming to an end. I just hoped that it was enough. I pleaded with the Lord for hours that night. I prayed that he would please, please take this from me. I wanted to do what he wanted me to do, go home, find a wife, have a family. I knew however if this burden had not passed from me that I never would. The next few days passed in a blur. I had come home, hugged my mom and dad. The time came for my release from my calling as a missionary. I stood Starring at myself in the mirror of the bathroom (stealing a few moments before the unavoidable release) I studied my black badge with my name written in white. I had never worried about me being gay because I knew one day I would wear that badge, I knew I must stay worthy of it. Now my mission was complete, it was time to remove the badge and pick up my life. Someone knocked on the door to tell me it was time. We walked into the office of the stake president. He asked if I had any regrets, I replied no. As we spoke I prayed fervently that the cross I had beard would be taken from me. The president stood to release me and my heart began to race. He placed his hands on my head and released me from the office of Elder and from my calling as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints. I thought my shoulder would break as surely as my heart did when I felt the burden settle on my shoulders. It was back… I hadn’t done well enough…I started to cry, my heart was so heavy and defeated. I cried because it was over, I cried because I was done, but mainly I cried because I was gay… I was going to have to face a battle I didn’t think I could fight.
Here I am almost six years later. I sit here looking at that badge of black, a warrior… I have fought so many battles, some were lost and some were won. I am still that man I once was but I am also so much more now. I have realized that burden, that cross which I had to bear, was actually the best gift my father could have given me. He has blessed me with freedom, with understanding, and with a family I wouldn’t trade for the world. When I had thought that my mission was over, I was wrong. The truth is my mission was just beginning. My mission now is to fight for equality, not just in marriage but in life. My mission is to help those who are walking the trail that I am so familiar with, to give strength and help as I know God would want me too. To let them know that they are not alone, that they are loved and that one day, in the not too distant future, it will get better. There are days when I get tired, when I just want to give up, but I place my trust in God and move forward. The future I see is bright, and getting closer. I live, walk, and trust in this hope.