While proselytizing in Brazil, we were taught to focus out content and approach on families. There are so many wonderful teaching about the family in which leaders want to emphasize how seriously we need to be concerned with these units. I think that much of this is wonderful advise, particularly because the incredible joys that can come from them, although they also bring the risk of incredible pain. That pain in what we will be focusing on today, as I think there is always a need for a reminder.
There is an interesting phenomenon where you can say the meanest things to a family member, but if someone outside of the family said the same thing you could become extremely upset. I think that point to something nice which is the deep down loyalty and desire for the very best for our family, but if it is true that we care about them, why would we allow ourselves to fall into bad habits of sometimes treating them in ways that are extremely painful and harmful. It is my hope that we can recognize that no matter how good our family lives are, I hope that we can evaluate those things that we are doing which could be causing harm to this thing that we claim to love so much.
President Thomas S. Monson and taught something similar where he said “Brothers and sisters, some of our greatest opportunities to demonstrate our love will be within the walls of our own homes. Love should be the very heart of family life, and yet sometimes it is not. There can be too much impatience, too much arguing, too many fights, too many tears. Lamented President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Why is it that the [ones] we love [most] become so frequently the targets of our harsh words? Why is it that [we] sometimes speak as if with daggers that cut to the quick?” The answers to these questions may be different for each of us, and yet the bottom line is that the reasons do not matter. If we would keep the commandment to love one another, we must treat each other with kindness and respect.”
I am not ashamed to say that I hated junior high with every fiber of my being. There are various reasons for this, but one is the amount of cruelty that can come from such little people. I mean you are putting individuals who are not very well developed, be that emotionally or physically, at a time where discovering their identity becomes something of great value for them. Thus even the smallest differences are targeted and often attacked by people who themselves are simply trying to find a comfortable place for themselves. In my experience diversity was something that was not wanted, and although many of us used this fact to create their own identity by attempting to rebel against the system that did not take away the fact that many of us had accepted the terms of the environment we were a part of.
Now don’t get me wrong. Childish behavior that seeks to attack those who are different continues even in adulthood, even within the church, but something that I absolutely love about the gospel is that the point of it seems to absolutely contradict these types of behaviors. In 2014 the First Presidency said that “The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civility—even when we disagree”
Even when we disagree with each other we are to fight those desires to push them away, and instead are encouraged to love one another. I believe it is a powerful fact that we are not able to choose our wards, and instead it is decided by our geographical location. To me this is because we need to learn to love those who are around us, even though in other circumstances we may not have chosen to befriend those people. The gospel pushes us away from this natural desire to attack those who are different, and I hope that we can all continue to improve as well seek to reach out to those who are different from ourselves, and to love them.