The last few days my Facebook feed has blown up with the news of a policy update within the LDS church. I watched with concern and compassion as many of my friends were devastated by the implications of the changes. I was also surprised by those implications and wasn’t sure how to process them myself. I read several of the initial articles and press releases, and I felt sick for the many people in my family and on my friends list that this policy directly affects.
I also watched as other members of the church—those who were able to more quickly come to a peace about the policy or never even questioned it—posted their views and ideas regarding what was happening. So many of those posts just made me feel even sicker for those who were hurting. And while I was able to come to my own peace and understanding (and even tried to explain what I felt to a few friends), I was also hurt and saddened by the unkindness of many of these posts.
The same thing happened when a prominent member of our church was excommunicated. She stood for something that I do not personally believe in or feel is necessary, but many of my friends were upset by the way things played out. Many of my other friends adopted an “I told you so” attitude that was off-putting and frankly offensive.
While I absolutely believe that declaring our beliefs with boldness on these issues is important, boldness never means unkindness. As members of Christ’s church, we should always choose kind, no matter how right we believe we are.
Yesterday, when the church finally released the video outlining and clarifying the policy, it began to flood my Facebook feed along with all of the other posts regarding the issue. Many people simply posted the link without comment while others chose to give kind and loving commentary as they posted the link.
“I’m sorry for all the hurting hearts. I hope that I can share love with all those in my sphere.”
“To all my friends who are hurting, if you need to talk about it, I am here.”
“I’m sorry that this is so hard. I love you and am praying for you.”
And then as I continued to scroll through my feed, I saw the now familiar video featuring Elder Christofferson posted with one word above it: Bam!
Ouch. This is not a time to “bam!” people. In fact, there is never a good time to “bam!” people. And while I fully admit that I am sometimes tempted to do that, and have in fact actually gone ahead and bammed someone, it doesn’t really feel good to anyone. “Bam!” shuts down conversation and it shuts down love. People on the other side of the issue are experiencing pain and confusion and hurt that is very real to them. While it’s great that you have come to a place of understanding, it is not great to flaunt that in the faces of those who haven’t.
“When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.”
This is a quote from the book Wonder. My daughter chose it as her favorite quote from the book when she hosted a book club, and now it is framed in her room. It’s a quote I think about a lot because I really like being right. And sometimes I am not kind about it. I am working on it.
In no way am I saying that only those on the side of the church’s position are being unkind. I have seen plenty of angry, unkind, and “bam!” posts from those who do not agree with the policy change as well.
But guess what? Everyone thinks they are right.
So go ahead and state your position if you feel you are right. Even state it boldly. But please remember that boldness and kindness are not mutually exclusive. You can be bold and you can be kind at the same time. You can be compassionate for the feelings of those on the other side of the issue. The only way to unite ourselves is by reaching across that divide, opening our arms, and embracing the person who is hurting.