Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sharing Different Opinions in Non-Destructive Ways

I had a fascinating discussion a while ago with one of my daughters. She mentioned two things she's trying to understand better: polygamy and the Word of Wisdom. We talked for quite a while about those things and how I see them compared to how she sees them.

The points I want to make here:

1) This is a girl who was born and raised in the LDS Church, has been totally active her entire life, has parents who are "believers", wants a mission and temple marriage, etc. - and, despite all of that, has questions about things that are hard for her to understand.

2) She came to me to ask those questions for two reasons: a) she knows it's OK with me to have and ask questions (she knows she won't be condemned or scolded for asking); b) she knows I respect her and want her to try to understand things on her own, even if her conclusions aren't the exact same as mine.

People who are struggling with a faith crisis of some kind tend to get myopic sometimes and assume they are the only ones who don't understand or struggle in some way. They aren't. The self-assured, confident, young woman sitting behind you at church, next to her High Councilor father and YW President mother, might be more like you than you think. She might need to know other people also question and want to understand, and she might need a "positive" role model from among her fellow-saints - especially if she doesn't have that type of acceptance at home. She is somebody's daughter, and that somebody might or might not want everyone to think alike, but s/he probably doesn't want her/his daughter hurt unnecessarily as she tries to craft her own faith.

I'm not saying anyone who sees something differently than someone else needs to shut up or hide; I'm saying all of us need to speak up and share even when we see things differently - but in a way that isn't destructive of others who are trying to discover their own views and testimonies. We need to love ourselves enough to try to understand ourselves as well as we can and live according to the dictates of our own consciences, but we need to love others enough to avoid hurting them unnecessarily in the process.

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