VOICES OF HOPE
After being excommunicated from the Church in 2012, Rick began an arduous journey back to full fellowship by employing the blessing of the Atonement in his life. Rick has learned that the Atonement is not just a vehicle for the forgiveness of sins, but it helps him to endure pain and injustices and to heal his wounded soul. Rick has been married to his wife, Julie, for 35 years, and he is grateful that God led them to each other. Knowing this gave added hope during the painful period of rebuilding their enduring marriage. Rick is grateful for Julie’s patience, forgiveness, and love. They have two daughters and four grandchildren, and they reside in Utah. Rick prides himself on being a “gardening junkie.”
Full Interview (41 Minutes)
Highlights Interview (9 Minutes)
LORD, I WOULD FOLLOW THEE
For much of my life, I have been in search of a father’s embrace, a male embrace. My childhood did not provide that embrace. My father and mother divorced when I was three, and by the time I was almost eight, my mother married for the fourth time. All of my stepdads were alcoholics, which usually led to much fighting and yelling in the home. I never felt accepted or connected to any of my stepdads.
Something about me always seemed different from what I perceived in other boys. When I was about 10, I remember watching Tarzan on our black-and-white TV, and I was captivated by his physique. I started watching more often but then I would question myself, “What kind of boy gets excited watching a man without his shirt on? You must be awful, you must be bad. You must be sick in the mind. You can’t tell anyone about this, because they will hate you.” This self-talk became a recurring message that I heard often in my mind.
In school I was bullied quite often. I was a skinny kid with bushy, kinky hair. I avoided sports at any cost, and physical education classes were a painful war-zone where I was bullied, kicked, punched, pushed, and insulted on a regular basis. I got physically ill prior to going to class, and often I ended up in the restroom vomiting.
I managed to get through school without any permanent physical damage, and I had some good friends and some good times despite the daily torture of school. At 17, I received a strong witness that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. My sensitive and giving nature yearned to share the “good news” with others. I started to prepare for a mission. I studied hard and took several missionary preparation classes.
At 19, I received a call to serve in the Colorado Denver Mission. I made all the usual mission preparations, and finally the day came when I entered the mission home in Salt Lake City. My mother was devastated that I was actually going. She didn’t think she could bear my absence. In the mission home, my gospel enthusiasm was on fire. I was ready to convert the world.
I was walking down the hall one day in the mission home when two elders jumped out in front of me, waved their limp wrists at me, and said, “Thsay there fella!” I looked at my companion searching for his reaction, and he just shrugged his shoulders. This happened several times while I was in the mission home. I was mortified. Did I act feminine? Did I act gay? Why hadn’t someone ever told me? I was totally unaware of my lack of masculinity. No one had ever said anything. Why hadn’t my mother told me? I think one of my stepdads had hinted, but I didn’t catch on.
I couldn’t let other people discover my “gay-acting” self. I started studying and modeling the mannerisms of other men. I watched how they walked, how they talked, how they held their hands, and how they interacted with other men, and I copied them. I studied and copied the masculine traits of my missionary companions.
On my mission I had some great companions and some miserable companions, but overall I had a wonderful experience. I worked hard, had some baptisms, and felt a great sense of accomplishment as I served an honorable mission. I never had any of those confusing feelings of same-sex attraction for any of my companions, but I did notice that if I saw a handsome muscular shirtless guy, I would feel strange feelings that I didn’t like. Even so, the mission kept me shielded and protected.
When I Walk Imperfectly
Following my mission, I tried to continue to live the mission standards. I tried to have a weekly inventory with myself. Things were going well until two years later when I suddenly found myself obsessively drawn to a young man. I could not seem to fight the feelings, and soon I placed myself in a situation where I was going to have inappropriate relations with this young man. As I prepared to do so, the Spirit screamed at me, “Stop it now!” I heard it again. I terminated our relationship immediately.
The shame I felt was unbearable, and I couldn’t understand why this had happened. Later that day, I called and made an appointment with my bishop. I was going to a student ward at BYU and had a very dedicated bishop. Within the week I was in front of him, confessing in detail the evil desires I had in my heart that the Spirit had halted me from doing, although I had definitely stepped over my boundaries. He was in utter shock at what I told him. He wasn’t sure how to react to a returned missionary with this kind of behavior.
He gave me Spencer W. Kimball’s book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, and I started reading it. I felt great remorse and pain as I worked through the book. I applied the principles of the Atonement and I felt the pain my Savior suffered for me. I met with my bishop regularly. I prayed and read the scriptures like I had never read them before.
My bishop put me on informal church probation for eight months. I was grateful for the principle of repentance, but I did not understand what had happened. I had never heard of the idea of same-sex attraction, and I definitely didn’t see myself as “gay.” I never discussed this event with anyone but my bishop. I felt that because I had repented of this sudden and unanticipated indiscretion in my life, I was healed. I would never do this again. The bishop did not know enough about same-sex attraction to recommend counseling. I have always wished that he’d had enough training to know that I needed professional help.
As I Know Thou Lovest Me
From there I focused on doing what I knew the Lord wanted me to do: find a loving woman to marry and begin raising a family. I dated for a while but found it very frustrating. I felt incapable of getting romantically involved with a woman. One night, after a particularly frustrating date, I got on my knees and prayed like I had never prayed before. I told Heavenly Father that I felt like I was ready for marriage. I was ready for unconditional love. I wanted to live a “normal LDS married couple life.” Whatever it was that had surfaced before I did not want to happen again, and I did not feel it would ever be a problem again. I didn’t think I was a poor candidate for marriage. I wanted the love of a woman, and God answered my prayers.
The next day at church, there she was: Julie Smith. I had never noticed her before, but there she was with a halo around her head, as if to indicate, “This is her!” I introduced myself and asked her to a fireside that night. We clicked. She was beautiful and spiritual and I loved her. More importantly, I was attracted to her. Three weeks later we were engaged, and three months later we were married in the Salt Lake Temple. She later told me that several months before I asked her out she had received spiritual confirmation that she would marry me someday, even though she didn’t know my name.
I was not sure my bishop would clear me for a temple marriage but he said there was no reason why he should not, and he firmly smiled at me. Before we were married, however, Julie said she had to tell me something, and then I could decide if I still wanted to marry her. We drove up to the Provo Temple and parked the car. I waited for the worst heart-crushing news I could possibly endure. What she told me seemed so small that I thought, “That’s it!?” I assured her that this issue definitely did not affect my desire to marry her for eternity.
Should I tell her my secret?
Again, I didn’t think same-sex attraction was going to be a lifelong battle, and I had, after all, repented of my previous indiscretion. So I decided never to mention it. It would be a secret I would take with me to my grave, and I would tell no one. I had already “paid my dues.” I was in denial thinking that this “thing” was not really “me.”
Our wedding was beautiful. I loved Julie so much, and she was stunningly beautiful. We were a typical married couple in love who couldn’t get enough of each other. I always enjoyed our intimate relations. However, those haunting shameful feelings of attraction to other men started to creep back in. If I saw a handsome shirtless man (in person or on TV), I would feel a surge of electricity go through me. I was able to block those feelings and thoughts off into a distant part of my brain, but they were always idling. These feelings were bothersome and felt abnormal and evil. I continued to deny this part of me and hide the fact that these thoughts were occurring.
Eventually two beautiful daughters came into our family. I loved being a husband and a father, although I didn’t give those roles as much attention as they deserved. My unwanted attractions to men caused me to feel overwhelmed and anxious, so I stayed busy—super busy—perhaps trying to occupy my mind so that the unwanted thoughts would not slip into an empty spot in my mind. I worked two or three jobs at a time, plus I worked on remodeling our homes and served diligently in my church callings. I served in elders quorum presidencies, in a high priests group presidency, and as a ward clerk, ward executive secretary, and ward mission leader.
I also served as a temple veil worker once a week for over two years. I loved my time in the temple—it was peaceful and beautiful. I often studied the scriptures there. Although I didn’t understand it at the time, these church callings provided a healthy connection to men in a spirit of brotherhood, and helped significantly to quiet my same-sex attraction.
In the Quiet Heart is Hidden, Sorrow that the Eye Can’t See
Life continued, moving quickly along as it does. Our daughters married and had children. I loved being a grandfather! It was wonderful to watch these young spirits grow and develop.
Circumstances necessitated both daughters move back home with their children. The mounting stressors of life were multiplied, and I began to decompensate. I had stuffed and hidden my same-sex attraction away for 56 years and it was boiling inside of me, like an active capped volcano with internal pressure capable of exploding and causing extensive and irreparable damage. For the first time in my life, I was drawn to gay pornography, with its accompanying vices. It became a powerful addiction that changed me. I became withdrawn, and I quit saying my prayers and reading my scriptures. All I worried about was getting my next fix. I was helpless to pull myself out of it. I finally admitted to my wife that I had a problem with pornography, but I didn’t mention my attraction to men. She encouraged me to go to our bishop.
I went into the appointment with my bishop feeling embarrassed and ashamed. I didn’t want to burden him with this, but I started into my confession anyway. He was attentive, nonjudgmental, and supportive. Then, totally unplanned, I told him I experienced same-sex attraction and that I had struggled with it all my life. I confessed that the pornographic images I was viewing were homosexual in nature. He was a little shocked. I don’t think he had dealt with this before.
He asked if my wife knew about my sexual attraction to men, and I said no. “You have to tell her!” he said. He offered me a priesthood blessing, which gave me great comfort and support. I went into his office feeling like the most shameful dirty thing on the planet, but I left feeling the Savior’s love and hope.
I went out to my car in the dark parking lot and sobbed uncontrollably for about 20 minutes, trying to find the courage to share this deep, dark, shameful secret with my wife. Finally, I called Julie and asked her to meet me at a nearby retail parking lot (our house was too full of people to have this kind of discussion). She could tell I had been crying. I told her how the visit with the bishop had gone, and then I blurted out the ugly confession that I had previously determined would go with me to the grave: “I am sexually attracted to men!”
She was shocked. She had never suspected this. She cried and she was angry. How could I do this to her? She felt betrayed and dishonored; she felt like I had not been honest with her through our 32 years of marriage and she was very hurt. She was tearful for days. She wasn’t sure how to love me or accept me. I started searching for LDS articles on the subject of same-sex attraction, and we read them together. She was still angry and hurt.
I started going to therapy, and my counselor encouraged me to be honest with Julie about attractions I felt during the day, lapses into pornography, etc. This seemed to add to her already insurmountable pain. Despite my efforts, I was getting frustrated because my feelings of same-sex attraction were not diminishing. In fact, it became all I thought about. I couldn’t push it out of my mind. I prayed and read my scriptures, all the while begging God, “Please, take this away. I will do anything, and I will serve thee, but please take this away!” I received no relief. I got priesthood blessings. I tried to “pray the gay away.” I got no relief. I began getting angry. I felt God didn’t love me because I felt he wasn’t answering my prayers.
I continuously caught myself checking men out. I noticed their good looks, muscles, confidence, and masculine demeanor—everything I felt I was not. In other words, they were my opposite. I started fantasizing. I couldn’t pull myself out of it. My anger toward God escalated—why would he make me this way? I was furious. I had tried to live the commandments, do what is right, and serve faithfully in the Church. Why were these desires overwhelming me, especially at this late stage in my life? I began to doubt my ability to fully live God’s commandments. Satan whispered in my ear all the time, and too often I listened.
One day I watched a pornographic video on my laptop while in my car. I was not aroused; I was sickened. What was I doing? I buried my head in my hands and cried. All I could see that the future held for me was the torment, every second and every minute, of wanting a man, and the thought of trying to endure and withstand that torment was overwhelming.
I swore at God and told him I didn’t deserve to have this curse; I wasn’t strong enough. As I sat there, these thoughts went through my head: “Option One: you can end the torment by ending your life and enjoy an eternity of hell and damnation; or, Option Two: you can act on these urges, enjoy the male companionship that you seek, and then enjoy an eternity of hell and damnation.” I didn’t enjoy the prospect of eternal hell and damnation, but then these desires were a form of continual hell, so what was the difference? I thought about the prospect of ending my life, and I actually entertained the thought longer than I wanted. But I decided it just didn’t work for me, and it certainly would not be fair to my family.
“Very well,” I said, “option two it is!”
My anger toward God started to well up inside me. All light and goodness left me. I shook my fist at God and told him if he didn’t love me enough to take away this curse then I didn’t need him. I told him to leave me alone; I would do it on my own! I felt my burden was so unfair, and I wanted nothing to do with him.
Wounded and Weary
Instead of getting on my knees, I got on the computer. I saw an ad—“looking for someone nice”—and I emailed the man who posted it right away. I told him my situation and explained that I also wanted to meet someone nice. This man—I’ll call him Mark—replied, saying he was excited to meet me. He was 10 years younger than I, single, and very devoted to his family. He also had struggled with same-sex attraction all his life, and was exhausted with it. He, too, knew that homosexual behavior was wrong, but he just couldn’t fight it anymore. We were in the same predicament.
Without any regard to my marriage vows, my sacred temple covenants, my priesthood, the commandments of God, or my Church membership, I had Mark come to my home since I was alone for most of the day. I was nervous. What was I doing? I was immediately attracted to Mark and his tender and lonely spirit. He wanted a committed relationship with someone who had a gentle, loving heart. We talked for several hours, and I had no question that if I was indeed going to engage in a homosexual relationship, he was the right person for me.
I catapulted myself into an exciting double-life that was tricky, and I planned to live the double-life as long as I possibly could until discovered. I could lie about anything, make up any excuse, and no one suspected anything. At home I acted as if I were the same person, still struggling with my same problems. Could people read what I had done from my countenance? It didn’t seem so.
My days got more exciting as Mark and I got to know each other better. I loved that male touch of acceptance. I loved this new gay life. We met many times over the next six weeks. We were consumed with each other, enthralled with the relationship of love and acceptance we received from each other. I moved ahead with my new gay life without feeling any remorse, but sometimes I looked in the mirror and asked, “Who are you?”
One day I suggested to Mark the idea of an all-day get-together. We each took a full day off work and met at a hotel. As I drove home later that day and relived in my mind the amazing day we’d had together, something very dark and frightening happened. The Holy Ghost completely withdrew from me. I had never felt so dark, so vulnerable, so in danger, and so afraid in my entire life! I knew that what I was experiencing was what I had previously learned about as spiritual death. To actually experience this was beyond description. I cried. I sobbed. I didn’t like this feeling. I needed light. I needed truth.
The next day I told Mark I had to put things on hold because of what I was feeling. I was sad because I loved Mark very much, but I also loved my wife and family. That night, February 14—Valentine’s Day—I did something I hadn’t done in a long time: I knelt down and pleaded with God for help. I told my Father in Heaven that I knew what I was doing was extremely wrong and sinful. I told him I was sorry for all the pain I had caused my wife and my family. I needed his help, and this time instead of telling God what he needed to do for me, I asked him what he would have me do. I prayed and prayed and tried not to sob so I wouldn’t wake my wife. The answer I got was very clear—it was the voice of God and it was calming and loving. He spoke to me as if he were standing a few feet away from me, saying, “I love you; you are my son.” The tears started to flow, and I felt a warm and loving embrace from my Father in Heaven. It covered me from head to toe. It was amazing. Words cannot adequately describe the feelings I felt.
Finding Strength beyond My Own
I decided that I had to make things right. I prepared over the next two weeks to tell my wife and my bishop. This was going to be the most difficult thing I had ever done in my life. I prayed that it had all been a bad dream, that it really hadn’t happened. But it had.
Finally, I broke the news to my wife and, eventually, my bishop and stake president. The figurative volcano had exploded, and now there was much damage to clean up and repair. I felt that excommunication was inevitable, and the result of this would be that the gift of the Holy Ghost would be taken away from me. I already knew what it felt like to completely lose the Spirit, but I also knew I could have the occasional companionship of the Holy Ghost even if I were excommunicated.
I was praying again. Who I had become was not who I wanted to be. I had so much work ahead of me to get back on track that it seemed impossible. I had taken the wrong path for only a short time, but the journey back would prove to take many years. The path ahead looked foreboding, steep and very difficult.
A Church disciplinary council was held one month later and I was excommunicated. As promised, I felt immense love from my Savior and from the 16 men in that room. It was a bittersweet experience, and I truly felt loved by my Father in Heaven. But walking in to church the next Sunday was difficult because I felt sure that everyone knew. I felt so much shame, but I was determined to move forward. I knew I couldn’t change the past; I could only change the future.
I had to muster up great courage and determination to venture forward. Satan told me “You can’t do it, it’s not worth it. You will always be labeled now as gay. The Church has no place for people like you. Give it up.” But the Savior embraced me and helped me to understand that with his help, I could do it—one step at a time in a journey on a path that seemed several miles long.
Several months later, I was sitting in Sunday school class. It was the first week of July. I’d been a ward clerk in the past, so I knew that attendance rolls were printed quarterly. We were now in a new quarter. As the attendance roll came by, I nervously fumbled with the pages to see if my name was still on the roll. It was not!Tears started to roll down my face as I realized just how real it was that my name had been blotted out; I was no longer numbered among the saints (see Mosiah 26:32, 36).
I continued counseling and attended a men’s workshop. I also attended a new support group. I started to learn who I really was and who I could become. I learned how to meet my need for male connection in healthy ways.
I was blessed to have my wife continue this walk with me. She started to understand why I had struggled so much with same-sex attraction. She was mercifully forgiving but reminded me that she had expectations and limits. I had deeply hurt her. The Atonement was starting the healing process for both of us. It was difficult. Many times during this initial process, I prayed and asked for the Savior to allow me to feel a portion of the magnitude of my sins. He granted me the opportunity to feel the pain of my sins and the pain of breaking sacred covenants. I sobbed, sometimes for hours at a time. Finally, my wife, and my Savior, would take me into their arms and say, “It is enough. You can do this. You can move forward. It will be okay—difficult, but okay.”
After more than a year of total sobriety, I was re-baptized. It was a day of peaceful celebration, a day I will not soon forget. As I sat on my bed that evening contemplating the blessed events of the day, I felt a different feeling. Instead of the occasional warm embrace of the Savior that I had experienced during my journey, I now felt a continual feeling of love. I felt I was being held up and comforted. I knew I was feeling the gift of the Holy Ghost again in my life.
Who Am I to Judge Another?
As I continued to work my way back, I noted that there seemed to be disturbing inequities in the Church disciplinary system. I heard stories of married individuals who had led double lives for decades, yet they were not excommunicated. They were merely put on formal probation or disfellowshipped. I heard of others who engaged in homosexual activity for several days; one was excommunicated while another had his temple recommend renewed to continue the journey upward. I have heard stories such as individuals being excommunicated at age 18 or 19 for the same activities that others are forgiven of before being sent on missions.
At times, I got very angry when I heard these stories because I felt I hadn’t been treated fairly. Other people shook their heads and said the same thing about my situation. I have learned that Satan uses anger cunningly in order to get us, as children of our Heavenly Father, to rebel and withdraw from God. I learned that I needed to get on my knees and ask God about it. He assured me that the decision surrounding my excommunication was correct and inspired. He also assured me that the individual situations of each Church disciplinary council are rendered according to what he knows is best for that individual. It is easy to say a Church leader is homophobic and therefore treated a man or woman with same-sex attraction in an unfair manner. I am reminded, however, that the Lord, as our judge, is the one who is in charge; it is his Church.
To compare one’s experiences and judgments to another’s is to invite destructive anger, which can lead us away from the path illuminated by the Savior. I have heard of other men and women with same-sex attraction who have gone through a disciplinary council relate how unloving and unkind they felt the experience was. My heart goes out to them. My bishop and stake president have offered the embrace of the Savior as they have counseled me, encouraged me, loved me, and cheered at my successes. I found their counsel to be inspired, even when I didn’t want to hear it or follow it.
I also have come to recognize that leaders can sometimes say things or react in ways that are not inspired. For example, shortly after revealing my terrible secrets to my wife, she happened to be over at the church and she visited with both our bishop and our stake president to give them a “heads up.” The initial (understandable) reaction from both of them was “I will help you move him out!” and “Why is he still living at home?” My wife responded that I was an honorable man, and although I had made some big mistakes, I was worthy of a second chance. My wife later commented that if she had immediately expelled me from our home it would have further accomplished Satan’s plan—to break up a family. This is not to say that she blindly excused my behavior, as my excommunication made our temple marriage null until my priesthood and temple blessings could be restored. It also took the priesthood I held out of our home, which was difficult for her to experience.
Through it all, I have had to rely on the Lord for explanations about the Church disciplinary program. I have found peace in my heart, and I know that the church disciplinary system is inspired. It is guided by revelation, and it is the Lord who is in charge. Disciplinary councils, and the resultant disciplinary actions, are part of the principle of repentance and the Atonement.
In my case, the council’s decision to excommunicate me drove me to my knees in a way that I had never experienced before. I learned that the Atonement is not just a vehicle for the forgiveness of sins; it is a power that helps us endure our pains and injustices and heal our wounds. Excommunication gave me an opportunity to be guided, loved, and embraced by both my Father in Heaven and my Savior. They know me intimately and they love me unconditionally. My own personal journey to Gethsemane was a challenging ordeal that cleansed me and sanctified me in a way that is only possible because of the great love my Father in Heaven has for me—and for each one of his children.
My faith in the Church disciplinary system was challenged once when I made my first application for restoration of priesthood blessings in fall 2014. I have heard stories of many others who have applied year after year after year and been told “no, not yet,” but I was confident this would not happen to me. The application process seemed much more arduous than I had expected, and it took several months to submit the papers to the First Presidency. The process required considerable effort by my good stake president and bishop, but finally the request was submitted.
Three weeks later, my stake president called and said he wanted to speak with me after church. When we met in his office, I could tell the news was not good. My application had been denied. He explained that denied applicants are usually instructed to wait another year, but in my case I could re-apply in six months. This is notwhat I expected to hear! I had been doing what was required of me by the disciplinary council. I was not perfect, but I had continued to work hard to apply the Atonement in my life. I had experienced amazing growth, and I had reached out and mentored others going through the disciplinary process to offer hope and assurance of God’s love.
Now here I was again, being tested. I wrote in my journal that night: “I am feeling numb right now. Sure, I don’t feel it is fair, but I am trying not to get angry about it. Anger about ‘it’s not fair’ is what got me into this mess in the first place.” My anger started to boil for a day. I called my good home teacher—who knows the details of my situation, sat on my disciplinary council, and loves me—and asked him to give me a priesthood blessing. As he laid his hands on my head, I felt peace and incredible love from God. I was instructed to continue to spread the message of love that comes from Deity. My anger melted away, and I knew that I had more lessons to learn and more growing to do. “It would be okay—difficult, but okay.”
Savior, May I Learn to Love Thee
As I have traveled this journey the Savior has been at my side. When the pain and the shame were too much, I prayed and I cried. The Lord embraced me, and when necessary he carried me. Some time ago, several months following my re-baptism, I was sitting at my desk late in the evening and I was overcome with love from God and my Savior. I offered a prayer of gratitude for my blessings. At that very moment, I was taken “in the Spirit” to Golgotha on the day that Jesus was crucified. I was sitting at the base of the cross where the Savior hung. I looked up—the cross towered over me, it seemed so tall—and I saw the Savior hanging there, lifeless, as his spirit had left his body.
The many soldiers were busy taking this “Jesus, King of the Jews” down from the cross. The soldiers handed the body of the Savior to me and asked me to hold him! I did not see the others who were present there, pressing forward to touch their precious Jesus. Oh, how they would have loved to share in that moment to hold the Savior of the world, and to wash his lifeless face with their own tears. I tenderly held him, drew him close to my bosom, and wept. I wept not in sadness that my Savior had died, for I knew that he lives; I wept because he is my brother, my Savior, my Redeemer, my God. He has embraced me so many times, and here I was, holding his lifeless body in the very arms that God had given me. I loved him so much! I wept knowing the pain he had recently suffered for the sins of the world, and I imagined the pain he must have endured for my sins alone.
Walk the Path That Thou Hast Shown
I want to express my testimony that I know our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ know us and love us personally and intimately. I know God has outlined his plan of happiness for us, his children. I also know that Satan is very persuasive and will work tirelessly to destroy our souls and to break up families. I have faith and hope that blessings come to those who keep God’s commandments. One of God’s commandments has been clearly defined: “God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” I have come to know that this doctrine is true. There is no other way. I now find great peace and comfort in voicing my new commitment while saying my prayers, “Lord, I will follow Thee.”
I Would Show a Gentle Heart
It is my solemn prayer that the Church will continue to move forward in teaching leaders about same-sex attraction, and that the Lord will grant a gentle heart to those leaders who may be challenged to understand this difficult and controversial issue. It is also my prayer that the general Church membership will, without judgment, experience the ability to accept and love all people who are striving to live the commandments and serve the Lord.
 Title and sub-headings are taken from “Lord, I Would Follow Thee” in Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, 1985), 220. The author purposely changed the title to “Lord, I Will Follow Thee,” to indicate an active willingness and commitment to follow the Savior.