A couple of weeks ago I posted my notes from Elder Holland’s CES Devotional address. As you will probably recall, it was a great talk!
I thoroughly enjoyed the talk, but the part that I’ve thought about many times in the last two weeks was regarding how we deal with people who appear to be living their lives contrary to gospel standards. He told a story about a 3o-something woman who “had a couple of tattoos, a variety of ear and nose rings, spiky hair reflecting all the colors now available in snow cones, a skirt that was too high, and a blouse that was too low.” He said he had several thoughts go through his mind and then said this:
However one would respond to that young woman, the rule forever is that it has to reflect our religious beliefs and our gospel commitments. Therefore, how we respond in any situation has to make things better, not worse. We can’t act or react in such a way that we are guilty of a greater offense than, in this case, she is. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have opinions, that we don’t have standards, that we somehow completely disregard divinely mandated “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” in life. But it does mean we have to live those standards and defend those “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” in a righteous way to the best of our ability, the way the Savior lived and defended them. And He always did what should have been done to make the situation better—from teaching the truth, to forgiving sinners, to cleansing the temple. It is no small gift to know how to do such things in the right way!
I couldn’t agree more. Whether reaching out to family members, young adults, youth, or anyone, we have to make things better, not worse. It is so easy to point out problems, but what are the solutions? Are we strengthening people with our interactions, or hurting them? This part of Elder Holland’s talk has definitely led me to think about how I interact with people. I hope to be better.