If you were with me in Utah right now, I would walk you out past my old neighborhood thru a farmer’s field about a quarter of a mile to the back edge of the field where an irrigation canal passes thru and a clump of trees still grows there today. One tree that’s there which is the tallest, has a massive trunk. My father once told me that it was probably a sapling when the pioneers first entered and settled cache valley. This tree was the focal point of my early years for my friends and I. We built a fort in it up in it limbs. We weren’t the first group of boys to have done that. One could tell boys had been playing in, on and around that tree for decades. It had a old thick rope hanging done and we would swing on It when we got tired of playing army guys.
As I got into my early teen years it became my refuge from the world. Even in winter I’d put on my snow boots and trudge across the field to be alone with my thoughts. When I was 13 I began to often pray aloud for forgiveness when I was there by myself. You see, I felt evil for my self abuse problem and beginning to realize my attraction to other boys.
I began to feel even more shame after an interview and when asked if I masturbated, I said yes. The next Sunday I was humiliated when I was told by the bishop to leave the other deacons and go sit down with my family becasue I wouldn’t be passing the sacrament. I sat there and wept in the pew with my family and my father wouldn’t let me leave
The next Sunday I tried to play sick to get out of going to church. My mom told me I can either get dressed and go or my dad would punish me and I’d still be going. A week later my bishop did a follow up Interview and I lied and told him i had stopped. I walked home from the ward house crying for lying and being an evil kid. During my 14th year I was sexually experimenting with an older boy in the ward and we were caught during a sleep over by his father. The next day was Sunday and I was called into the bishops office. The other boys parents told my parents and the bishop. I was made out to be the aggressor and corrupted this older boy (16). It wasn’t true, he was actually the one who started it all. I was told how evil, vile and deplorable I was to my family and the ward. He read me things from Spencer W. Kimball, who as a child was my hero. I had his picture and Capt. Moroni on my bedroom wall. I was devastated. The things he said to me hurt way more than my father’s belt on my backside which I had received the day before for what I had done. He gave me a book to read “The Miracle of Forgiveness”. Once again I walked home after church crying and carrying this thick book. The book was heavy in my hands as I walked the mile home.
When I got to my house I kept walking, I couldn’t go Inside for I was shamed carrying that book. So I went across the field to the tree. At the base of the tree were rock piles. I moved the rocks out of the way to reveal a .50 caliber metal surplus ammo box. This metal box contained our treasures when my friends and I were younger but was long forgotten by everyone but me. I put the book in the box and hid it under the rocks again and then headed for home.
The next day after school I went to the tree and prayed for heavenly father to change me and make all this go away
I cried and took the book out and turned to the chapter on homosexuality and masturbation that the bishop had book marked for me. I read for 2 hours. I cried and cried at how horrible I was and I felt I couldn’t stop it.
I wanted to die. I couldn’t make those feelings go away. I took the old thick rope and tied a noose in it. I climbed the tree 2 times to adjust the height. Bawling my eyes out I stood on an old log and tightened the noose around my neck and said I’m sorry heavenly father and stepped off the log. The rope went tight and I could barely touch the tip of my sneakers on the ground, but I didn’t try to lift myself up. I hung there. My head began to pound and I gasped for air. I just kept crying and telling heavenly father I was sorry. I started to see stars and my vision went black. All of a sudden I started hearing my mom and little brothers crying in my mind and I realized how much this would hurt them. I just wanted to feel loved but how could anyone love someone as terrible as I was.
I reached up and forced my hand between the noose and my neck to get air as I frantically swung my legs so I could stand on the log. I stood up and got the noose off and just collapsed onto the ground and cried till couldn’t cry anymore. This ends now, not one more shamed child. Not one more life lost or spent in shame.