This weekend Zach and I have been busy attending the semi-annual general conference of my church--the Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (You may access it at: lds.org.) During these times, I find myself reflecting more often on my current life, past circumstances, and how I can become better moving forward. Lately I've been thinking of one particular scripture as it relates to recent experiences.
See, The Book of Mormon starts out following one family. Throughout the book, people separate into different groups designated by the suffix -ites. But in the most peaceful part of the book, it says, "There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manger of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God." (4 Ne. 1:17)
I kept thinking about how relevant this scripture and this attitude is today. Because we all want to feel needed and wanted, we align ourselves with different groups. As a result, we consciously or unconsciously alienate others and become divisive--sometimes over minor issues.
I am guilty of this. I remember the first time I did this. When I was in elementary school, there was a girl named Robyn. She didn't dress very well and she never had her hair combed. As a result, people teased her. In order to fit in with the majority, I teased her as well. One night over dinner, I brought it up with my family, possibly hoping that they would vindicate my behavior and engage in the teasing as well. My parents' answer surprised me. My mom said, "She probably doesn't dress well because she doesn't have much money." And then I asked, "Well what about her hair? She never brushes it." My mom replied, "Maybe she doesn't have a brush or she was never taught good hygiene and she needs someone to help her." My perspective completely changed. My mom gave me money to pick out new clothes for her and to buy her a fancy brush and some other things. It was the end of the school year and even still, I was nervous to give the gift to her because I didn't want anyone to see me talking to her. i was also nervous that by giving it to her i would be hurting her pride and someone letting her in on our secret gossip-fest.
In reality, none of that happened. I nervously walked up to Robyn and handed her the gift. I told her I thought she might like it. she thanked me and lit up inside. She was so grateful, and I could tell most of it came from someone just coming up and talking to her. I have never forgotten about Robyn or about that moment. But sadly, it still has not prevented me from doing this again. And I guess it's hit me now more than ever because recently I have felt like Robyn.
It is not fun to feel on the outside of a group. It is not fun to feel like you are the one who unites a group--uniting a group in their common opinion of you. The silver lining of this feeling is the further impact it has on me to ensure that I am never the cause of someone else feeling alienated. I remember again the good and lasting feeling I had when I handed Robyn the present. It's great to know that I can do that again and again by being simply being a friend.
Oh, and I'd really love to find out where Robyn is today and be her friend. Robyn Reed: are you out there?