I am a member of a support group called NorthStar that “supports Latter-day Saint individuals and families concerned with sexual orientation or gender identity who seek to live in joy and harmony within their covenants, values, and beliefs as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Within the framework of NorthStar are multiple discussion groups that assist each of its members with a safe and open forum to heal, build friendships and find support in their journey.
“North Star is to be a spiritually uplifting resource for individuals and families dealing with these complex issues. It is also to empower individuals to help educate themselves, their family, friends, and Church leaders as they strive to become integrated more fully and lovingly into the Church community. We hope you will find something here that will be meaningful for your life—that it will be a place where you can connect with others, share your experiences, and learn from the experiences of others. The resources provided here are intended to be spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and socially supportive. You are not alone in your desire to find balance, knowledge, and support.” -NorthStarLDS.org
I am thankful for this resource in my life. When I was young I remember my father sitting knee-to-knee with my in the living room. I had betrayed his trust and gotten into some type of trouble. He looked into my eyes and said, “Son, stupid people learn from their own mistakes. Smart people learn from the mistakes of others.” At the time I was worthy of an award for being the most ‘stupid person’ in the world–or so I thought. My father’s intent was not to belittle me or make me feel worse for my actions, but to encourage me to learn from the mistakes of others. He wanted me to learn that other people have traveled this road before; some come back and can give you sage advice. This is what NorthStar does for me.
Years ago a seventh-grade teacher required us to memorize Robert Frost’s, “The Road Not Taken.” Each morning we would look south to the ‘poem wall’ and recite the lines over and over. Each time the words become less interesting, more labored and by the end, past feeling. I hated that poem. Then one day it clicked. I had a choice in this life. I had the ability to choose which path I wanted to take. This was my destiny- to choose and be chosen. I had agency.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Most people do not realize that Frost was implying irony when he wrote the poem, and more particularly the line “made all the difference.” The traveler has the option of deciding between two paths in the woods. The first three stanzas show that the traveler sees both paths as basically the same. Frost describes the two paths as “just as fair,” “equally lay” and “worn…really about the same.” In the last stanza in the poem, you’ll find the irony implied by the author. The traveler comments almost with sarcasm that someday he will look back and claim “with a sigh” that traveling the “one less traveled…made all the difference.”
Did you catch the author’s irony?
All of us look back on our life and say “oh yes, that is where I took this path…it has made such a difference.” Did it really matter which path you took? Whether the path brought us joy or pain, it didn’t matter. The path was mine. If you are like me, you will always try to justify your paths. These paths (our decisions) are our own and there is value in owning our experiences.
And so, Mr. Frost, thank you.
Thank you for supporting my father’s sage advice. It isn’t the path that is most important, it’s what we’ve learned along the way. I suppose I’ll continue to take the one less traveled by. For me it makes all the difference.