What If It Was Me?
I didn't grow up here, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’m a convert. I've been a Baptist, a Presbyterian, a Methodist, an Episcopalian, a Non-Denominational Protestant Christian, and an Atheist. I even have cousins who are Catholics. I still have a bit of an outsider’s perspective, when I remember it. Sometimes it’s easy to get comfortable and forget. But every so often, something makes me stop and think, “What if it was me?”
I like questions. I always have. It’s one of the reasons that the other churches and I didn't get along. I like delving, questioning, listening to the opinions of others. I think the times when I’m growing the most in my relationship with Christ are when I’m asking questions. It took two years for me to be baptized because I questioned, tested, and pondered everything I learned. It’s how I developed my faith in my Savior. I love to learn good things everywhere I go, and I believe every person has something good to give.
It’s been nine years since my baptism and about eleven since I started coming to church, and the shiny new-ness of the Gospel is wearing off. Can you guess what I've finally started to notice now?
It’s the people.
Sweet, snarky, kind, cunning, struggling, confident, loving, learning, gossipy, compassionate, talented, power-hungry, know-it-all, humble, generous, selfish, honest, lying, faithful, cheating, judgmental, questioning, imperfect people.
I hear cruel, hurtful comments. I hear gossip. I hear people give talks in Sacrament Meeting about the love of a “forever family” and then see them screaming at their children and throwing them around. Occasionally, I hear about Christ. The example He set, the life He lived of sacrifice, and service, and generous love to those who struggled. Christ said the two most important things we can do are to love God and to love our neighbors. Our neighbors are not just the people in playgroup, or the people on our Visiting Teaching list. They’re not just the people in Relief Society every week or even those who have “gone astray”. We are to love EVERYONE. The judgments hurt, even when they’re not directed at me. Because every time I hear it, I think,
“What if it was me?”
What if it was me, your friend, struggling with a question? What if it if was me, your sister, carrying the weight on my shoulders that influenced my decisions? What if it was me who dyed my hair blue, or wore my favorite dress pants, or wanted to know why the Sunday School Presidency doesn't include women?
Would you still judge me?
Would you look at me, like you look at pictures or an article about someone on the internet, and tell me that I’m ugly? That I’m “too feminist to procreate”? Would you tell me that I lack faith, or that I don’t understand the basics of the Gospel? Would you judge me, my life, my faith and my family on a 200-word blog post written by another? Or if you heard I was struggling, if you heard I had doubts, if you heard I was lonely or depressed, would you seek me out, because you love me?
Why are hurtful and cruel comments coming from us, who claim to follow the example of Christ? He, who would not condemn an adulterer, who spent His time with the people who were rejected by society, who showed kindness and compassion to all those in need? If it was me that had been dragged into the crowd and labeled an adulterer, would you have thrown the stone? If the face of someone with questions and doubts was suddenly very familiar, would you lash out at me with words of hate? Condemn me? Cast me off?
What if it was me?
Let’s stop this hate, this judgment, these horrible words of condemnation. When we look at others, let’s see them as a person of value with good to give. Let’s love them the way Christ loves them and support the heads that hang down, the feeble knees that tremble. Perhaps, every time you see a struggle, or hear a question, or see a need, you could stop before the judgments, look at your neighbor with love in your heart, and think, “What if it was me?”