By Teresa Noel Hislop (also posted at her blog www.lifeisthestoriesyoucantell.com)
Top Ten Lists: FUN!! There are top ten lists for nearly everything you can think of and many things you would not think of……“Top Ten Toughest Characters in the Bible”, “Top Ten People Who Accidentally Saved Their Own Lives”, “Top Ten Tiny Animals with Enough Poison to Absolutely Destroy You”, etc….. (http://www.toptenz.net/)
Writing (and thinking) of Top Ten lists, I started thinking (and am now writing) of a Top Ten List of my own: God’s Top Ten Greatest Gifts to Me. Topping the list, of course, would be Christ’s Atonement, His gift to all that makes eternal life possible and mortal life meaningful. Near the top of the list would be agency with its accompanying lessons on freedom and accountability, family with its soul-expanding capacity for joy, and prayer—what a gift it is to be able to communicate directly with Deity! Somewhere on the list there might be things like fresh blueberries, buttered (real butter) popcorn, just-cut alfalfa, and/or the smell of desert rain. Certainly on the list would be the commandment “Judge not”. I am so grateful for the divine mandate not to judge and it upon this great gift that I will vociferate today.
What a blessing it is not to have to judge! Seriously. To judge fairly requires so much time, effort, energy, and wisdom, all of which are scarce commodities in my life. The plea “Don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes” is both wise and valid. How can I possibly judge people without the knowledge that walking in their shoes brings, without seeing the scars on their souls, understanding the the bruises on their beings, and comprehending power of their pain? It is not possible; I cannot judge without knowing and I cannot know without walking and I cannot walk that far in that many people’s shoes. (Imagine the blisters!!!) Gratefully (oh so gratefully!) I do not have to. Thanks to God’s great “Judge not” gift, I don’t have to walk or judge. Christ, through His infinite atonement, has walked in their shoes and He, with infinite love and intimate knowledge, will judge. All He asks me to do is love and that is something I can do.
Loving is much easier than judging. To love, I don’t have to walk in their shoes; I can walk beside them in my shoes (which is much more comfortable!). Loving may also be carrying their shoes or even carrying them in their shoes but it is not judging and it is certainly not condemning. On the contrary, loving is accepting and embracing. It is also empowering—both to those who give and to those who receive—and reciprocal, as those who give become those who receive and visa versa.
Love!! All I have to do is love. It is so much more pleasant to love than to judge. Thank you God taking on the responsibility of judgment and giving me the gift of love.
Which brings me to another point…..
I learned recently that there are hundreds of LTBG (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transsexual) youth along the Wasatch Front who are homeless, wandering the streets and living in the canyons. They are told they are “better off dead” and are no longer welcome in their families. Countless others struggle in homes and wards and schools, searching for a place to belong, alienated by harsh judgments and critical comments.
These are children, God’s children. Have we walked in their shoes? Do we see the scars on their souls? The bruises on their beings? The power of their pain? Christ said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me” (Mark 10:14). These LTBG youth are God’s “little children” and they are suffering. How will they ever come unto Christ if they don’t feel His love through
Nephi says “…we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophecy of Christ….that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26). We all have sins. All of us. We all must come to Christ. Todos. He is the source of healing for all of us. Everyone. We must talk of Christ, rejoice in Christ, preach of Christ, and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, we must follow Christ that our children may know to what source to look for healing, for acceptance, for love, and for salvation. We must emphatically embrace them and, through our love, they will feel Christ’s
Does embracing our LTBG youth mean that we turn aside from Latter Day Saint doctrine? No, certainly not, not any more than loving my neighbor who smokes or my friend who fornicates means that I reject the Word of Wisdom or the Law of
Chastity. As Rick Warren sagely stated, “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with
someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” I can obey Christ’s greatest commandments—to love God and my fellow man—and still believe in the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, and the Sanctity of Temple Marriage.
How will all of this work out eternally? I don’t know. And, thanks to Christ’s “Judge not” gift, it is not my problem. It is His problem and I trust Him to work it all out. He’ll perform his task—which is to judge—and I’ll do mine—which is to love.
Nephi said to an angel, “…I know that he [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things”
(2 Nephi 11:17). Like Nephi, I don’t know the meaning (or explanation) of all things but I do know that He loves His children, all of them. Knowing His love, I trust His judgment. He will work things out; that is His job. My job is to love.
And I am grateful for that.
P.S. If you know of any homeless LGBT youth, they can get help through Safe and Sound. http://www.ogdenoutreach.org/index.php/safe-and-sound
If you have room to receive an LGBT homeless teen in your home, please volunteer for their foster care program or consider making a financial contribution.
Teresa Noel Hislop earned her degrees from Brigham Young University (B.S.) and the University of Utah (M.Ed.) and gained her education from her husband, her four children, and the cows she milked during high school. She loves sisters and serendipity, running, reading and writing, and fresh blueberries; she does not love pancakes and losing her keys drives her crazy.