Monday, June 29, 2015

Kindness begins with me

I haven't blogged in a long time, over a year, because no one reads these anymore.  I don't have a small business to advertise, I don't have a unique perspective on life that will go viral, I don't have opinions that anybody really cares about.  I'm writing today mostly out of boredom, and a little bit of frustration.

I am a Mormon.  I am a Christian.  I sometimes feel like I'm in the minority, in my country, and in my community.  Even in my ward and social circles.  The media and the internet is filled with negativity, hate, judgement, and TROLLS who are out to wound perfect strangers simply for the entertainment value it brings.  They are more prolific and vocal than the actual majority, good hardworking people who just want to live their lives and pursue their own happiness.  Even members of my own church are quick to judge, be morally superior, fear and condem people who are different than them, and elevate themselves above people who haven't made the same covenants they have.  Because the idiots are louder, it feels like they're winning.  But they're not.

We already know who wins.  The Savior wins.  I want to be on his team, because it's the winning team!  The church will never be taken from the earth again, the gospel will roll forth and will never be stopped by men or governments, the Savior will return to rule and reign, and the good side wins.  I really believe that, and I know not everyone does, and that's ok.  I don't understand then why there is so much fear.  The righteous, if they are prepared, need not fear, isn't that doctrine?  Fear makes good people say horrible things.  I know that the self-proclaimed Christian friends I have online who are spewing hate speech this week are better than that.  Maybe if they met some of these people that they are hurting at the hands of their keyboards they would be more kind and accepting, I don't know.  It seems like the anonymity of the internet makes even the gentlest Christian cruel.  It's like road rage - normally quiet people take on a different persona when they're behind the wheel, and do or say things they wouldn't normally do when faced with someone directly. 

In the last 6 months I've struggled with a leader in my ward (who has now moved) who was quick to judge and exclude a friend that my daughter brought to church.  This friend is a member, but inactive in her own ward.  She is different, she makes choices that make leaders stare, but she is a sweet girl.  She had every right to attend meetings and activities with my daughter, who is a good friend and a good influence.  My daughter sees value in people, not their race, gender, or religious affiliations.  I feared that this girl would feel this leaders disdain and fear, that she would feel judged and unwelcome.  Because she WAS judged and unwelcome.  The leader told me so herself.  I did my best to act as a buffer and help this girl feel loved and welcomed, but I haven't seen her in awhile.  How is the church supposed to grow, and missionary efforts be effective, when we as members are afraid of people who are different?  How can we be an example of the believers if all we associate with are other believers, and exclude people who aren't? 

Last Friday our Supreme Court made a ruling that the ban on gay marriage by the states was unconstitutional, and that it was a civil right available to every person nationwide.  It was a big decision.  To be clear, I do believe in the Proclamation on the Family and the Mormon doctrine that teaches that marriage is ordained of God between one man and one woman, He designed gender and marriage and families for our happiness, and I am not looking to change church doctrine.  I support it.  I have made covenants to support it, and I keep those covenants.  BUT... how can I expect others who don't believe in the doctrines of my church and haven't made those same covenants, to be held to my standards?  I was happy about Friday's decision, because I see marriage benefits for all as a civil rights issue.  It's a government permission slip to have the same tax benefits, family benefits, legal benefits of heterosexual married couples.  I do think it's fair, and was the right thing to do.  It doesn't affect my salvation, my covenants, my marriage, or my family.  People have agency, and forcing someone to do something your way when they don't share your beliefs is arrogant, and similar to what Satan's plan was from the beginning.  We do live in a free country, and we have the God given freedom of agency, and people should be allowed to pursue their own version of happiness.  It's not a lifestyle I would choose for myself, and I don't think God condones it, but I do think he loves all his children.  I do think he expects us to treat one another with kindness and respect. 

The internet exploded over the weekend with celebrations, and hate and fear-mongering.  Some of the most cruel statements filled with insults and moral superiority came from members of my church.  I wonder, do people really think that cruelty changes minds and hearts?   Did the Savior ever use cruelty when condeming sin?  He loved the sinner, not the sins, and he reproved quietly, privately, and with love.  He used gentleness when he taught, he said the two great commandments were to love God, and to love each other.  I do not see gentleness and love on the internet, but as I said earlier, I do not believe that is the majority.  It seems like it, because the internet is the primary means of communication and news delivery in the world now, and anonymity makes people brave in their cruelty.  But I believe in my heart that most people are good, and kind. 

I'm not looking to change church doctrine.  I still believe in God's definition of marriage, as defined in the scriptures.  I believe that for me, it is my faith, and I will not force it on others.  I am allowed to be happy for other's happiness.  I am allowed to be supportive of other people's choices, especially when they come from different faiths and backgrounds.  I am allowed to be an example of what I believe, but not force it on anyone else, which takes away agency and is Satan's plan.  I want to follow Christ.  I want to treat people the way he would treat them if he were here.  I want people to treat me the way Christ would, but that expectation seems a little high right now.  I am a sinner, I am imperfect, I've made some pretty huge mistakes in my life, and I need my Savior.  I need to know I can be forgiven.  I need to know that this life is hard for everyone, agency is a vital part of our mortal development, and we can recover from the mistakes of our past.  If other people in the world making bad choices right now are judged and condemned by fellow members of my church, what would they say or think about me if they knew my past?  That is what I fear.

I don't want to fear.  I don't want to be ashamed.  I don't want to be condemned, either for my sins and mistakes, OR for my beliefs and faith.  I just want to be happy, and I want to allow others to be happy.  I don't want to be labeled as a bigot, as judgemental or cruel, or morally superior.  I want my kids to bring their friends to church without fear of judgement.  I just want to be kind, and I want kindness in return.

Is that really so much to ask?

2 comments:

Unknown said...

Jill,

Thanks for sending me a copy of your blog. I like it. You are intelligent and articulate. Good job. Let me share something else that happened Friday. As the country and even the world was either praising or reviling what had happened that day, I had the opportunity to be in the temple and have the privilege of sealing a couple. I made the comment that outside these walls there was lots of dialogue, and people arguing over temporal affairs, but we were gathered to create something eternal. The temporal argument of the day were nothing compared to the eternal act we experienced. Now, if we could all just learn what you've shared. Life does give us the opportunity to learn. Or, as a friend of mine once said, "Experience is mandatory; learning is optional!"

Alex said...

You have done a brilliant job making sure that people understand where you are coming from. And let me tell you, I get it. Please post more updates to cure.
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