We live in a day and a time when it is so easy to be a bully, to be discourteous, disrespectful, and rude, particularly in social media. So many in society push the need to be real, and authentic, which far to often means saying what ever comes to mind, no matter how harsh it may be. The reality is, that the idea of being "authentic" is nothing new. Disparagement of others and bullying has been around since the beginning of time. It is a tactic that Satan, and those who subject themselves to him, have always used. It is so easy to practice, and so cowardly.
An article written by a friend of mine, Patty Sampson, entitled Make Kindness Cool Again included the following experience of one of her friends and her friend's son:
A friend of mine is a fellow autism mom. She recently shared a story about going to a youth activity at her church to pick up her son. He entered the gym to meet her, and was yelled at by several of the other kids that he was not welcome and he had to ‘get out’. He was verbally abused right in front of her. It was a terrible experience. (Make Kindness Cool Again - https://www.LDSblogs.com)
What a sad situation. How tragic, that those youth all of whom should have known better, should forget the Savior's injunction to love God and love our neighbor as our selves (See Matthew 22:37-39).
Perhaps even more tragic was the fact that, as Patty also indicated in the article, "there were kids who weren’t happy he was being yelled at. But they wanted friends, and thought they had to be mean to get them." Those youth lacked the courage to be kind.
Unlike those youth, we can choose to have the courage to be kind. We can choose to speak out and speak up in situations where it may not be the easiest thing to do, or the most popular. We can choose to do so because it is the right thing to do - remembering the words from our wonderful hymn to "do what is right, let the consequence follow," (See Do What is Right).
Our Savior had the courage to be kind and showed us the more excellent way. He showed us the powerful effect that love can have as shown through both our words and our deeds. Truly "we love Him", as John wrote, "because he first loved us," (See 1 John 4:18). In all His interactions he showed love and respect, even in His rebukes, which the guilty took, and still take, to be hard because they were direct and convicted their consciences. He spoke as He spoke to them out of love for their souls.
Can we not learn from the Saviors example? The answer is a resounding yes. I've found the following helpful in my own life:
And that will be truly...
In October 2012, Elder M Russel Ballard gave a talk entitled Be Anxiously Engaged. In that talk he spoke of honey bees and the amazing things they can accomplish in just six to eight weeks of life. During their lifetime they have a "magnificent obsession" with gathering pollen and nectar. Their obsession drives them to make 50 to 100 flights per day, visiting 50 to 100 flowers per flight. In the process of doing so, thee bees beat approximately 11,400 times per minute. All of this effort allows each bee to produce a sum total of about 1/12th teaspoon of honey before dying.
I was intrigued as Elder Ballard spoke about the honey bees and was amazed as I contemplated the efforts the bees made to produce what seems like such an insignificant amount. However, after discussing the small amount produced by an individual bee, Elder Ballard went on to observe that though they only produce a little honey by themselves, working together as a hive of 60,000 to 80,000 bees, the entire hive will produce 60 to 80 pounds of honey per year. After describing the bees' focused efforts produces their deliciously sweet outcome, as expected from an apostle of the Lord, Elder Ballard invited us to contemplate and follow their example by stating the following:
Imagine what good we can do in the world if we all join together, united as followers of Christ, anxiously and busily responding to the needs of others and serving those around us—our families, our friends, our neighbors, our fellow citizens...What would be the cumulative effect of millions of small, compassionate acts performed daily by us because of our heartfelt Christian love for others?
Elder Ballard then asked "What do we need to do to become like the dedicated honeybees and have that dedication become part of our nature?" He answered his own question by offering the following suggestion for one thing we can each doo daily. It is this:
"In your morning prayer each new day, ask Heavenly Father to guide you to recognize an opportunity to serve one of His precious children. Then go throughout the day with your heart full of faith and love, looking for someone to help. Stay focused, just like the honeybees focus on the flowers from which to gather nectar and pollen. If you do this, your spiritual sensitivities will be enlarged and you will discover opportunities to serve that you never before realized were possible."
Elder Ballard's talk has had a tremendous impact on my life. I've read it and re-read it since then and strived to put it into practice. For example, my children and I worked together gathering and packaging 100 hygiene kits a to a group of needy children in Mali. I could have done it all myself in a few hours. However working together we accomplished what would have taken me three or four hours, in just over an hour. My children also go the blessing of giving service, and experienced the joy that come from giving your time to a worthy cause.
Another example is the opportunity we had to participate for five years in what is known in Morgantown, WV as the "winter posse". Every fall, when the leaves are turning and starting to fall, a day is set aside where volunteers go around the town winterizing the homes of Senior Citizens, gathering bags of leaves, cleaning gutters, putting up plastic on windows, etc.
That posse started out as a small group of people just trying to do some good and make a difference. However, their example inspired others until the small group became a very large group that accomplished more in one day than any individual could have hoped to do alone. We were tremendously blessed by the opportunity we had to come together with other community members. Not only did we get to serve and make a difference in the lives of those for whom we labored, but we also had the chance to make some great new friends.
I know that so many of you are doing your part each day to pollinate the world with love. I encourage you to continue doing so. For those who have not yet started, I invite you to read Elder Ballard's talk. Before you read and while your read, pray to our Heavenly Father and ask Him to bless you with wisdom and insight to both understand what you are reading and to recognize how to apply it in your own lives. I then invite you to forget yourselves and go to work, moving forward with complete faith and trust in our Heavenly Father. I can promise you as you do, your life will be tremendously blessed. More importantly, however, you will make a tremendous difference in the lives of those you serve.
Now wouldn't that be WONDERFUL?