|Print | Back||October 19, 2012|
Mormanity:A Gasping Moment at Conference
by Jeff Lindsay
Do you ever hear a story that catches you by surprise so much that you gasp? There were a lot of powerful stories and a few genuine miracles shared among the recent talks at the October 2012 General Conference, but only one elicited a real gasp of surprise from me. It was actually a minor little story, a supporting illustration not given great weight, but it was a source of much wonderment to me.
The story comes from one of my favorite talks at Conference, “First Observe, Then Serve” by Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President. The story comes with a footnote leading one to a page in the Jan. 2012 Friend (the Church’s magazine for children), where we can see that the account she quotes was submitted by a child, Clayton H. of Washington. Here’s the passage of interest from Sister Burton’s talk:
A six-year-old Primary child said: “When I was chosen to be a class helper, I could choose a friend to work with me. I picked [a boy in my class who bullied me] because he never gets chosen by others. I wanted to make him feel good.”
What did this child observe? He noticed that the class bully never got chosen. What did he do to serve? He simply chose him to be his friend as a class helper. Jesus taught, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.” [Matthew 25:40]
Clayton, whoever you are, thank you, and I think I should thank your parents and teachers also for influencing you to do something so sweet, perhaps even majestic.
Though my challenges have been minor compared to many, I had my share of being bullied as an awkward, overweight child. I have strong instincts when it comes to threatening people, and those instincts motivate me to simply avoid them. What a surprise it was for me to see the equation from other side of the inequality sign and to behold a class bully through the eyes of a Christlike child who cared for his enemy enough to approach him and include him.
And then this though ran through my mind: “What kind of crazy Church is this that has such parents who can raise a child like that?” What kind of religion is it that can instill such raw Christian power into the heart of a young boy that he would seek out a way to help a bully feel better about himself? That’s the kind of religion we all need.
I should not be so surprised by such accounts, for I personally have been the recipient of such undeserved mercy. I know the transforming power of the forgiveness and love that was shown to the bully from days when I was no better than a bully in my own style of sin.
When I think of those who were kind to me when anger was deserved (in particular, some spectacular LDS friends in my high school days), when I think of those who sought to help me when I was floundering and hurtful, I can only marvel at the miracle of a true Christian man, woman, and, yes, child in this world. The surprise or perhaps delight and relief of encountering true charity can still be enough to sometimes make me gasp.
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