I'm the ward music chairman in my ward, which means that at least once a year the bishop steps off the stand after the Sacrament and turns the time over to me. Of all the occasions, the Christmas program is by far the most exhausting.
Part of it is because I insist on not stressing about it until just a few weeks before. Which then means that during finals week and Thanksgiving I'm pulling together numbers and practicing with the choir, assigning talks and trying to determine length.
This year was no different. I organized a few numbers with the choir, arranged some solos and duets, and asked a handful of ward members to give short talks. All the pieces were ready, but as Sacrament meeting started I still had no idea how much content we had.
As we began, I noticed that one of the speakers had five pages of notes for his talk. I had told everyone else to speak for 2-3 minutes. But I didn't say anything. I knew that what he had to say was important, even if it meant we would go over. When he got up and began speaking, I realized why.
I had given everyone the topic of how Christ had influenced their lives. All the speakers today spoke about how they had gone through times of darkness and found light in following Christ. But this guy spoke about it from the context of same-gender attraction.
At first I felt sort of jealous. Somewhere deep inside, I wanted to be able to broach this topic with my ward and help them understand it. I mean, I just shared who I was with the world, and there are still a number of ward members (those not on Facebook) who don't know. But as I listened, and compared his story to the others I've heard recently, I realized that his was a far more compelling story to share.
It seems that the most striking stories are the ones of people who have seen both sides of the coin - the men and women who have lived on both sides of the line and will tell you honestly that God's side is better. That's why Ty Mansfield's story is so compelling - because he could say, on camera, "...so I started dating - guys..." Why Laurie Campbell's story is so striking. And why the talk today in the Christmas program was perfect for my ward.
It made me wonder. I wanted my ward to understand same-sex attraction. I've wanted to ask my bishop if I could speak or teach on the subject. I know he would let me. And in the meeting that I organized, it happened, in a way that was better than I could have planned myself.
The program went 12 minutes late. And we have Sacrament meeting last. But, different from most meetings, only one person left before the closing prayer. I turned to talk with him after the prayer and invited him to the North Star fireside tonight.
It's a small world. And the Lord really does answer prayers. It's just crazy that His answers are almost always in ways that are different from what I originally envisioned.