Over the last week, I've read bits an pieces of Twitter "tweets", Facebook "status updates", and blog posts about the new guidelines for sister missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a very busy week, and I wish I could have read the whole discussion. The snippets of discussion that I was able to peruse were fascinating. There were objections about the guidelines for makeup by some, and a whole discussion about the lack of acceptance of dress in general amongst members of the church. I thought a lot about my past, and how frustrated it was for me not to be accepted. After giving it some thought, however, I realized that it was not only in church that I was not accepted. I was pretty much on the outs with my peers my whole childhood -- not accepted by any "group." There were individuals who embraced me, but not a single "circle" of friends.
So why is it that it is so hurtful when we are not accepted at church? Maybe it's because that's the one place on earth (other than in our own homes) that we feel we should be accepted. Didn't Jesus teach that we should love all of Heavenly Father's children?
The internet blogosphere discussion this past week wasn't really about the guidelines for sister missionaries, as I don't think anyone would argue that the Church doesn't have a right to say how the missionaries should be dressed to represent the Church (indeed, the Saviour Himself). The discussion went much deeper into how we feel about each other, and what we expect of each other.
A good friend (and my first counselor when I was Relief Society President at church) often reminds me that we are all on different levels spiritually. Remembering that is the key to not judging others -- especially for outward appearance.
When I was Relief Society President, two wards were dissolved and merged into our ward. We gained 101 new sisters from all walks of life. Most people embraced the change and realized what an inspired decision this had been. There was one sister, however, from our old established ward who cornered me in the parking lot and told me that she was going to attend a new ward because some of the new people "smelled bad." I was floored. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I kept hearing my first counselor's voice in my head, "We are all on different levels spiritually." Resisting the temptation to punch this sister's lights out, I calmly told her that it was her choice, but that she would be missing a great opportunity to help these new sisters grow -- and to grow her own testimony in the process. I didn't see this sister for a few weeks, then she came to me to apologize. I've watched this sister grow in so many ways because of her change of heart and willingness to include others into her circle who took her out of her comfort zone. I'm happy to say that we are a very cohesive ward now. While there will always be personality clashes (as with any family or group of people), I truly believe that we all love each other.
May we all strive to love as Jesus loves.