“For the most part, our neighbors not of our faith are good, honorable people—every bit as good and honorable as we strive to be. They care about their families, just like we do. They want to make the world a better place, just like we do. They are kind and loving and generous and faithful, just like we seek to be” ~ M. Russell Ballard (Doctrine of Inclusion, October 2001).
I was lucky enough to grow up in a family where my mom is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and her entire side of the family are not members of the LDS faith. It has been a great experience to see how other people believe. I have learned that we share many things in common and we can respect each other for our differences. I would like to share with you a few things that I have learned from them and how it affected my life.
Belief in Christ
“Each of us is an individual. Each of us is different. There must be respect for those differences. …We must work harder to build mutual respect, an attitude of forbearance, with tolerance one for another regardless of the doctrines and philosophies which we may espouse. Concerning these, you and I may disagree. But we can do so with respect and civility” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley , 661, 665).
The first thing I learned was that it even though we are in different churches, our fundamental belief in Jesus Christ, that He is our Savior was the same. This fundamental (or core) love for the Savior is the common ground which we stand on that helps us to look past our differences and respect one another’s beliefs.
When I was younger, I thought that there were a lot of differences between the LDS faith and other faiths. I didn’t understand that there were many things that we had in common and that was where my focus needed to be. We all believe in Christ and that is what really matters.
Whenever we visited my grandparents we were given the opportunity to attend their church with them. It gave me the opportunity to experience other faiths which was a great experience because I could see what my mom grew up like and how she came to believe in Christ. It also helped me to understand my grandparent’s beliefs and to find the common ground we share.
Being A Good Neighbor
When I was little, I was driving with my Grandpa in his truck. We were going to the movies and on the way there, we saw an accident. A biker had hit the windshield of a car and was lying on the street. My Grandpa stopped the car and got out.
Thankfully, he was a doctor, which was just about the best thing that could have happened for that biker. He got a spare blanket out of his truck and some first aid supplies and went to help the biker until the ambulance arrived. That has stuck with me for a long time.I wanted to be like my Grandpa and help people when they were hurt.
This reminds me of the Good Samaritan story that Christ shares with a lawyer. Here is a quick summary from M. Russell Ballard:
“A man from Jerusalem was on his way to Jericho and fell among thieves and was left half dead. A certain priest passed by on the other side; neither did a Levite stop to help. Then Jesus taught:
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”Then Jesus asked the lawyer one more question: “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among thieves?”
And the lawyer replied: “He that shewed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus delivered His final instruction to the lawyer—and to all who have read the parable of the good Samaritan: “Go, and do thou likewise” (see Luke 10:25–37).
Having Patience and Faith
“If we are truly disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will reach out with love and understanding to all of our neighbors at all times, particularly in times of need” M. Russell Ballard (Doctrine of Inclusion, October 2001).
My grandma is probably the most patient and loving person that I have met. I wish there was a way to see the amount of faith that resides in my grandma’s heart. When I was struggling with anything, I knew that she would understand and help me be patient during those times of impatience. She is a big part of helping my faith in Jesus Christ to grow.
My grandma’s faith is nurturing. When I had a back injury, she prayed for me to get better and she would text me to make sure that I was okay. I recently graduated from college in December and she sent me a cute book with quotes and scriptures in it. She prays for our family and when she is around, love just fills the space that she is in.
Singing Songs of Prayer
“The song of the righteous was indeed a prayer unto the Lord and had been answered with a blessing upon their heads” (Patience—A Heavenly Virtue, Thomas S. Monson).
It is true that a song can be a prayer to the Lord. It was when I was visiting my grandparents that I truly heard a song that felt like a prayer. The music that was played touched my soul. It was loud, beautiful, passionate, and amazing.
One song, in particular, has stuck with me, In Christ Alone. We all stood up for this song and just belted it out. It was amazing to hear the power of each individual voice as they sang from their hearts.
This song came at a time when I really needed to hear the words in my life. I was struggling to know that God was there for me and cared about me. When I heard this song, I knew that He was there. I knew that In Christ Alone was my prayer to God. Of course, this is different for everybody. We all react in different ways to the things that happen around us. For me, it was a song. For somebody else it could be somewhere in nature, reading a sentence from a book, something someone says, in a movie, etc.
“Our message … is one of special love and concern for the eternal welfare of all men and women, regardless of religious belief, race, or nationality, knowing that we are truly brothers and sisters because we are sons and daughters of the same Eternal Father” (First Presidency statement, 15 Feb. 1978).
I faced a lot of ridicule in high school when I tried to be myself. It was scary to show people who I really was and hid myself behind a mask. I had gotten so involved in the mask that I didn’t know who I was anymore. My grandmother and my mom are such strong beautiful women and are confident with who they are. They taught me to believe in who I am and to not be scared or ashamed.
It is a frightening world out there and it is even more so when the world has a blueprint of who you should and shouldn’t be. Both sets of my grandparents have taught me that it is okay to be yourself. The people whose opinion matters, the people who love you, aren’t going to judge you for being you.
We should all strive to see ourselves the way God sees us—we are His children and He loves us for who we are. We should also strive to see those around us as God sees them. It doesn’t matter what race, religion, gender or values they might hold. They are just as much a child of God as I am. He loves them just as He loves me. When we reach out in kindness and respect and seek common ground with those who are different than us, our lives can be deeply and richly blessed.
“Let us examine our lives and determine to follow the Savior’s example by being kind, loving, and charitable” ~ Thomas S. Monson