I was struggling with received criticism lately. I kept thinking to myself that I hadn't really done anything wrong and the person who had approached me may have been the only one offended and it was her fault. There is no reason for me to explain why that wasn't sitting well on my conscience and I kept dwelling on it. That stubborn streak within me has come out a few times lately, actually.
I went to the temple shortly after receiving this criticism. Which was, actually, really good timing for me, even though it wasn't my own plan and others just happened to push me in that direction. As I sit in the chapel area waiting for sessions to begin, I've created the habit to read in the scriptures they usually have available. So I did this. I knew I wasn't feeling close to the spirit at the moment and needed to make things feel right again somehow. At times like that, I like to open the book up randomly and let it just speak to me. So that's what I did.
The word "peace" jumped off the page at me, but I was being stubborn, like I said, so I thought...hm...how about the other page. I'll begin reading over there. (Kind of dumb, huh...but *sighs* that's me.) So I read the next page all the way to the bottom, then went back to the first page and read from the top. I still hadn't really gotten anything that spoke to my soul until I once again came to the verse containing the word "peace" in it. I finally conceded.
It was D&C 105:38-41 (I had read section 106 first...)
This is an indirect quote:
Sue for peace, not only to those who've smitten [me] but to all. Proclaim peace! Propose peace...according to the voice of the spirit and all things shall work together for my good. Therefore, be faithful and behold and lo, I am with you even unto the end.
I had been wanting to lash out to protect myself in a some sort of fight of flight knee-jerk reaction. Now in reading this, I decided I needed to just let it go, and so I could return to a good state of mind and acceptance to the person who'd hurt me. Immediately when I did this, it opened my eyes to the truthfulness in the criticism I'd received! Now I can take it for what it's worth, learn from it, and move forward productively.
Later, I was studying Alma 7:23
"I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive"
It struck me that these godlike traits and qualities: humility, patience, gentleness are CHOICES first. I think perhaps all godlike qualities begin that way. Because we are not godly, of course, because naturally we are manlike and the natural man is far from being godlike. So, if we want to develop qualities like that, we have to begin with the choice to be that way. It isn't easy because it isn't natural. It takes practice to develop these things into habit and then hopefully it can become a talent.
Last week, I was being truly harrowed up by things going on in the world right now.
I love people. I just do. It's maybe a godlike quality I was blessed with as a talent that just came with me. I've been blessed and burdened with charity for others, and having that is something I value very much, but sometimes I've found it can handicap my judgement about some things. I've been hurt, and sometimes I've been very wrong.
Facebook exploded with things about marriage equality lately. It had been something I'd been contemplating about for over a year. I struggle with it because my church does not support marriage equality. I understand why the church doesn't. I believe in what my church believes in. Marriage is between a man and a woman, and is a beautiful and sacred thing in the eyes of God. However, I love my friends and family members who want to be loved and have relationships and cannot do so without leaving the church behind. It's been a struggle for me from the very beginning.
I know from personal experience that these people are good and God loves them because there would be no way He possibly would not. I believe they have a place and it's beyond my mortal understanding. But I know God has a place for them.
I believe in letting others find their place by whatever means they choose. I am not in charge of other people. God is. He knows each person individually and He knows them and can take care of them and guide them to where they need to be. But it's not up to me. I also don't believe it's up to any politicians or government officials to decide. This is why I decided to support marriage equality.
Of course I have many friends who did not see things the same way. I have friends who did, yes. But everyone's views are tainted by something and I just felt like I was floating in a bunch of biased articles and information as I continued to research the church's viewpoint as well as what other people said. Even LDS people.
The more I stuck to what I said, the more horrible I began to feel, the more reading I did...and the further I felt I was pushing something good away. I hated it. I didn't want to go back on what I believed in. I didn't want to betray other beliefs. I was so conflicted. Then I had a REALLY BAD day where everything felt upside down and just plane wrong.
I had a visit from a friend that day. She is not LDS, but she is very devout and believes in true principles. I expected her to take a side and give me a lecture the same way my Facebook friends had done. The same way I had been doing to my Facebook friends. Sadly.
But she didn't. She stood there listening to me talk about my inner conflict and frustrations and responded with simply saying: It's not between you and your friends or even between you and your church. It's between you and God, and it looks to me like you need to do some real praying to set things right between you and God. No one else can tell you that.
I had been afraid to pray. Actually, sort of avoiding it. I would say my prayers, and once in a while feel that little push to pray about this subject, but I always would push it away. Because I was scared of the answers I would receive. I was afraid that God would tell me I was wrong. I felt like I had to be right. My loved ones deserve happiness the same as anyone.
I decided the entire Facebook discussion was driving the spirit away from me. So I backed down and ended all discussions on the topic on Facebook. I was not helping anyone by sharing my stubborn spirit with other people. In fact, I was probably feeding the adversary's plan. It makes me want to cry to even admit that.
But the truth is, I am right to an extent. My homosexual friends and family members are indeed children of God and God loves them. They deserve all happiness. They deserve to be embraced and loved and fulfilled in life. But having marriage with someone of the same sex, as much as it may seem to be the answer, will not in fact bring them the happiness they crave. I wish it were that simple. I wish they could just find a spouse and get married and live happily ever after.
But that is a fairy tale that doesn't exist. Even for a straight person! Marriage was not the happily ever after fairy tale ending for me, and I don't know anyone who would say they had one either when they were married. It wouldn't be that way for a homosexual either.
I then read this article which helped me see the issue a little clearer from a non-religious perspective.
The entire thing breaks my heart. Because I truly love these people and I know they are good. I understand where they are coming from and why they are fighting so hard for the things they want in their lives. But I honestly feel now that what they are fighting for so hard, while they believe it will bring them happiness, will in fact bring sadness...even at a catastrophic level.
I was being stubborn. I didn't yield to the spirit. Now that I have, it feels a lot better. I'm more at home in my heart. I will continue to support and love homosexuals. Because they deserve finding every happiness in their lives. But sometimes God's plan for that happiness is different then ours. Sometimes following His will is harder then we can even imagine, because it goes against what we think is the best way. But He sees all. HE knows all. All we have to do is trust in that and stop being stubborn. Choose humility. Choose gentleness. Choose to be patient. Sue for peace.