Facebook is appropriately named – it shares the face of our lives, some token images of what we want the world to see. Whatever faces we wish to display we can throw up a few quick words with a picture of somewhere we’ve been and paint some story about how amazing our life is while really just limping through life. If someone wants to create a fantasy life they’ve got Facebook to back them, so for whatever reason it seems that in many instances we create some sort of distorted mirror rather than trying to make a window through which we can be really seen and be known to others.
The truth is that even if a person doesn’t ‘do facebook’ for this reason (or others) it is likely that they (or we) still are completely guilty of the same behavior: creating a false image of ourselves. Why would we do such a thing? Let me give you a few reasons I have personally encountered.
- We hide because of how we view ourselves. We don’t glide through life. We stumble, fall, flounder, wither, and lose confidence under the pressures and challenges of life. As a result we’re not proud of every part of our lives. I’ve had things that I hid from myself – truths about me that I didn’t have the slightest ability or strength to process, let alone share with anybody else.
- We hide because we don’t trust, we doubt. We experience real challenges, real failures and real pain in life. And as hard as our pain is for us, it can be equally difficult for others to handle. I believe that most of us have had that moment when we have shared something to someone who isn’t ready, who doesn’t know our needs, who doesn’t know the role we need them to play. When we feel alone and like nobody can understand us or love us, sometimes we learn that it is ‘better’ to keep things to ourselves; the truth is that – in all reality – thinking we are alone and that nobody understands or love us can be a whole lot easier than opening our mouths and having those uncertain fears confirmed by the responses of those we reached out to. In some instances, others don’t only confirm your fears, they can teach you should have been afraid of a whole lot worse.
- Despite these things, we have an innate desire to connect with other people. So, we’re inclined to learn to present ourselves safely instead of truthfully.
- Unfortunately, safely isn’t always positively. Instincts to produce safety can be destructive and self-defeating.
- And this leads us back to how we view ourselves and how we expect others to view us.
Understand that each of our lives tend to deal us different hands, so how awesome it is that there are people who can read this and say “Yeah, I dealt with that – some of it. It wasn’t a big problem for me.” On the other hand there are those of us that have lived most of our lives stuck here.
And this is where the title comes from “Truthbook.” Because I really don’t have a picturesque life and I have lived my life in the cycle I outlined. The cycle is evil, to some extent they are the chains of hell. I have hurt, I have hidden, I have hungered for closeness, and I have kept people self-destructively at a distance. When I keep people at a distance, I hurt myself, rather than letting somebody else hurt me. What I have shared on Facebook isn’t the whole truth, so I’m sharing it now.
I’m learning to break this cycle and even though I still struggle so much, my experience is giving me a qualification – an ability to help and to heal. The truth is that it is God who brought me out of this and He’s helping me get out of it even more. The lies of the Devil can only be put down by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Need for a Pure Gospel
This is why we need to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and live in it and by it. If we do not, we are only contributing to the bondage of God’s children. We need a pure gospel, and I am telling you that if we do really have a pure gospel in our head and in our hearts, we do not live by it – as a people we fail it in many practical ways.
Some of the oil in our lamps is merely the pride of our hearts; it fuels our obedience to the law, less for the pleasing of God and more for our personal pride and the admiration of our peers. But that will not save us; prophets have said that in our flesh “dwelleth no good thing” and that “a man being evil cannot do that which is good… except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing. For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.”
In God, motivation is everything; Jesus Christ made it clear that we can do ‘many wonderful works” to absolutely no avail if he “never [knows] us.” In fact, Christ says he will “profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (See also Luke 13:23-29)
This is the great mystery of Christ – a mystery made plain for us in the scriptures that lay before us: “faith, hope and charity bringeth unto [Him] – the fountain of all righteousness.” And that is the great key. “The Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
There is more that could be said even more plainly, but what I have said is adequate for those who do want to understand. (St. John 8:43). I am not the teacher of the elect – as is no man who preaches to men. As a people, we are to“Say nothing but repentance” unto this generation.” (D&C 6:9, 11:9; see also Mosiah 18:20, 25:22; Helaman 13:6; 3 Nephi 27:19) Those who hear – who follow – will be taught from on high (1 John 2:20,27; Hebrews 8:11).
Again, there is more to be said there, but then again, there is more everywhere that has been plainly given to us as a people that we don’t value.
“And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written— That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.” (D&C 88:54-58, emphasis added)
Hasn’t this been the admonition of prophets since the year I was born? Yes, and as far back as I have read. But we as a body of Christians should know better than any other people that God makes a very clear distinction between those who believe in goodness and are honorable and those who truly love Him. The invitation is to ask, seek, and knock and the promise is that it shall be given unto you, you shall find, and it shall be opened unto you. If your love for and faith in God leaves you finding prayer pointless while your scriptures are continually closed or unfulfilling, then your love and faith aren’t adequate enough for Him to give you his “greatest gift.” You will not receive, you will not find, and it will not be opened unto you (See Luke 13:23-30). It will remain as though there had been “no redemption made.”
So my invitation is that each of us exercise our faith unto repentance, and begin to truly seek the Lord Jesus Christ above all other things. “Purge your conscience of dead works to serve the living God” and let your love, faith, and hope in Him lead you to Him that you may be alive in Him and know Him, Jesus, our Lord and our God. Ascending that mount and meeting Him will reveal the “deadness of the law” to you and you will truly “know for what end the law is given.”
Despite all or our opportunities to choose right, there is only one way to choose The Right: “the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.”
“And for this intent we keep[the commandments]… it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness.” (Jacob 4:4-7)
We may know the law, we may even have read the scriptures and know them well, but if we don’t know Jesus Christ it is all just vanity because: “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3; see also Nephi 15:9)
The yoke is easy, the burden is light, the fruit is sweet, and the peace surpasses all understanding – this is “the rest of the Lord.”
So why did I take such a route to bring you back here? Because we do not live the law – and it hurts us (3 Nephi 15:19).
- We hide because of the devil is the one that teaches us to hide and to be ashamed. God already knows of our fallen natures and filthiness and He makes the invitation to come unto Him still – to buy without money and without price. He sent Christ to heal broken, not the whole. His arms are always open to all regardless of sin and burden.
- We have learned to hide from others only because they themselves do not know Christ. The love of Christ makes us all equal in his sight, we receive the same forgiveness and are partakers of the same glory, mercy, and knowledge. When we know that love, we fear no evil and we will shy away from no ‘sinner’ because God has shown us his perfect love for sinners. In our eyes people cease to be sinners and they become exactly. like. us. – Worthy of all love in heaven and earth and perfectly capable of becoming joint-heirs with Jesus Christ! Worthy, regardless whether or not they. are. ready! Christ gives Himself to the ready, not to the ‘worthy.’
- Because of these things, we lose the fear of presenting ourselves openly and truthfully.
- Unfortunately, not everybody knows God’s love and they will still judge and be afraid. But that is of lesser concern when the God of heaven and Earth, the father of all, tells you that you are everything He desires his children to be in this life.
- And this leads us back to how we view ourselves and how we view others.
So, without further ado, let me tell you who I am: My name is Greg; I suffered greatly from abuse and to some extent I still do. I am transgender, I love God with all of my heart, and He loves the hell out of me because I am His.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
*Please be aware that we are waiting to discuss this with our children – for a time when they might be more ready to understand the complexity of the issue. Haha, as for you adults please feel free to ask any questions! Just be sure to understand that my life is a gospel, not a tabloid. Best wishes to you in love, Greg!