Casting No Stones

img_2392_edited-1An indiscretion. An affair. Neighbors whispered their surprise, their condemnation and their abhorrence of the situation, a virtual stoning.

It happened  in my neighborhood. Although I’d heard other stories about married couples cheating, this was the first time I had encountered a situation where I knew all the players. To make matters worse, the cheater was someone my age, someone much like me, a friend.

I searched to find the descriptors for my emotions. Beyond initial shock, I could only come up with sadness.

I was almost troubled by my lack of angry reproach. Shouldn’t I feel more abhorrence for the sin?  As a woman who values the eternal nature of families above everything, shouldn’t infidelity rock the foundations of my life. Here were these strangling hands of something terrible reaching close to my own circle? I began to think about all the people involved. How would I feel if I were in the shoes of betrayed one?

But  then my thoughts turned as I imagined my friend. What if I were in the shoes of the betrayer? What if I were to ever make an unguarded choice that brought my own world crashing down?

We all have our vices, our human weaknesses, the “drugs” of the natural man that dangerously tempt us, be they power, money, attraction, control, cravings, or self-importance. We can all be blind. We all make bad judgements. Even the best people can let their weaknesses win. It’s easy to make a bad call, to cross a line, to do the wrong thing. Everyone is mortal.  And while it’s easy to draw clear dark lines on paper life is very complicated and our choices are influenced by so many things past and present.

Do I not beg daily for mercy, require weekly atoning sacraments my own sins and failings? While my wrongs may be different, and the consequences of my wrongs tend more toward minor than catastrophic, am I really any better? I am not without sin and flaw.

I thought about people involved. Two families: husbands, wives, a handful of children. In the cul-de-sac symbolic scarlet letters were now sewn to their front doors.  I thought of the acts of kindess done by these people, these were not the things now whispered of. It seemed all their virtues and goodness erased, their characters reduced to the singular label of indiscretion.

I thought of marriages dangling by tenuous strings, of spouses living with anger, betrayal, and sadness, trying to recover.  The effects rippling through the years to come, in yet untold ways. I hoped so much for their healing. I thought of the accused, hurled into courts of public opinion, bearing the weight of gossip and judgment. Behind closed doors they are left to recover relationships smothering under the weight of shame and shattered trust. Bearing the load regret. All the work of their own hands. Truly pain enough. They did not need my judgment. This situation was not mine.

“Love they neighbor as thyself.”

It echoed in my ears. I had always applied this to kindness, but not so much to sin. I could not judge another for a sin or weakness different than my own. As I wondered what I do beg as the guilty one- what for my own human weaknesses?

I am left with nothing to cast, not a pebble.

How have you learned greater compassion? How has your life experience changed your perspective? How do we learn to put down our stones?

About Leslie

(Art Director) In her pre-diapering days, Leslie earned an MS in Marriage and Family Studies from BYU. This entitled her to mold the minds of impressionable college students in rambling six-hour lecture courses and travel the world as child life specialist. She now passes the seasons in a quaint Massachusetts town with her husband, Allen, and three young sons. She spends her days encouraging play, championing global causes, and whipping up a mean R2D2 cake. She savors her nights, stealing away to her studio to paint.

37 thoughts on “Casting No Stones

  1. I have a friend in my life of whom I could forgive anything. I’ve known her since junior high. We share a handful of significant common bonds, but are quite different. I have also been a fairly judgmental person for most of my adult-ish life. Often she has expressed ideas and thoughts and fancies for things I had held, until that moment, in reproach. But because it’s her, I can understand, sometimes even become converted. And I then am able to take those new understandings with me into the world and apply them to those people with whom I have no understandings. Why does my friend have this effect on me? I think it is simply because she has loved me and made me feel that others may love me also, and that it is okay if I love them.

  2. Great post. I too have felt the rug pulled out from under me as I have witnessed couples I loved, looked up to, and even wanted to be like as their marriages fell apart in front of nosey neighbors. Somehow I wanted to shield them and protect them from others. I still want to scream, “Don’t you know how wonderful she is?” Don’t you know how much he loves his kids?”

    Perhaps this is why I love Rembrandt “Prodigal Son” so much. See http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.godzonehymns.com/image/rembrandt-prodigal-son.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.godzonehymns.com/seasons.html&usg=__tV0t49F21GsfyR1nEKqSnn-80kY=&h=800&w=591&sz=83&hl=en&start=10&sig2=CKxA3FHQRSzuzdAINA7CSA&um=1&tbnid=gW1uTfJzUTtNaM:&tbnh=143&tbnw=106&ei=o2uqSZe4FJGasAPljbnoDw&prev=/images%3Fq%3Drembrandt%2Bprodigal%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Dactive%26sa%3DN

    He not only paints the intimate reunion of father and son, but he includes those on the outside watching and judging. Look at the faces of the the onlookers. Look at the love and tenderness between repented son and his father. It makes me weep and augments my desire to be the one to open my arms to the sorrowful and not stand aloof judging.

  3. Greater compassion…in my life, it has been learned as I have personally gone through struggle, grief, or temptation, or if not by myself, through those whom I am close too. After seeing someone I already love dearly go through the struggle, it is easier for me to have compassion on others going through similar trials. Adversity does make us stronger and wiser.

  4. I often wonder why members of the LDS faith are so quick to judge in so many instances and some almost feel a sense of twisted comfort in other’s indiscretions, as though they are somehow elevated to a “higher status” because someone they looked up to make a mistake and is now no longer worthy of their respect.

    If we truly value the teachings and example of the Savior and truly believe what He taught, then love and compassion will be the most important response to us AND when we hear gossip and whisperings we will make it clear that we don’t want to be a part of it and do not view things in that way.

    I wish more people would consider what has been written in this post, but I am afraid there will always be those who just can’t help themselves and have to throw as many stones as they can get their hands on.

  5. Literature. Literature has taught me to have greater compassion–perhaps more than anything else save my own life experience. This, for me, is what great art is all about.

    Thank you, Leslie, for this beautiful post.

  6. Unfortunately, I was one who often felt an air of superiority when it came to the righteousness of my family. Who, while not outwardly gossiping, would distance myself from those who struggled. As if their sin would taint me.

    It wasn’t until an “indiscretion” came out among one of my siblings that I was truly humbled and learned that we are all subject to tragedy. Living through this situation has taught me not only to have greater compassion but to reach out to the families of those who need, more than anything, an outpouring of love.

  7. I think my problem is that instead of casting stones, I just don’t know how to react at all. In the past, this has distanced me from people–not because I judged them, but because my indecision about how to act toward the person kept me from being around them at all. I think the same thing can often happen when a child’s mother or father dies–the surrounding children just kind of leave them to themselves when they most need open love. But the question remains. If I were close friends with someone who committed adultery or something, should I tell them that I’ve heard what they’ve done and still love them? Or should I just act like nothing happened and show my love? Somehow, I’m going to work on this.

  8. An indiscretion happened in our ward and I knew about it because I was the RS president. I felt a great loyalty to the wife so I was upset at the husband and didn’t want to shake his hand or talk to him. I didn’t make him feel welcome…I wasn’t rude but distant. Anyway that first Sunday back he happened to be sitting on the same row as me. His wife was conducting the music and my husband just got called into the Bishopbric. My five little children gravitated down the row to him. I was so grateful to him and humbled. I thanked him after the meeting for helping me and asked if he’d sit with me every Sunday. He said it was the best sacrament meeting he’s had in a long time and the next testimony meeting I got up there and thanked him publicly for helping me. His wife was so happy that he could be of some use and was happy to sit with us. I’ve learned a lot from that experience. His sin has nothing to do with me. They needed me as much as I needed them.

  9. Very sad. I could write a novel on some of the things like that in wards I have been in. And I always think the same thing….There but for the grace of God go I. In other words, it could happen to any one of us. And does.

  10. My parents got divorced in my late teens. I can’t speak to their experience as the adults in the situation, but as a child in that family, I felt very lonely and not at all supported by my ward. It has taken me many years to overcome feelings of resentment toward what I perceived as uncaring leaders, male and female. It seems like everyone wanted to pretend it wasn’t happening. Those years heightened my empathy and awareness of others. Those lessons help me every week as I serve in Primary with children whose families are breaking apart.

    As far as resisting the impulse to judge others, I think a lot about the saying: don’t judge others for sinning differently than you. At the end of the day, we’re all sinners dependent on Christ’s grace and mercy. You CAN NOT earn your own salvation. If you don’t believe that and understand the significance of forgiving others (and quickly), then you’re missing the point of this mortal sojourn.

  11. Thank you all for your wonderful thoughts…

    JillM- I love that thought of how our relationships with others helps us understand others.

    Amy L- thank you for sharing that piece- such a perfect fit, as an artist I especially appreciate that. Seeing those reactions makes us more deliberate in choosing our own.

    Amelia- Yes our own and sufferings of those close to us teaches us so much.

    Jen-Yes- maybe we can inspire others to a softer response with our own words and actions.

    Sharlee- o literature the teacher– so true, how it opens our eyes and walks us in another’s shoes.

    Bean 421- When things hit close in oru homes and families, they teach us in powerful, deep ways. I love your thoughts on compassion for the “supporting characters”.

    Michelle- Finding the ways to respond are often struggles, the response varies by situation but you hit the key- Love, showing love, showing genuine care.

    Julie- What a good story. I am so troubled at how because of a given sin or flaw people are reduced to that alone. It trumps all their goodness and kindess, and in the minds of too many cannot be erased.

    Lucy- My husband and I were discussing this, if we think it could never be us, we are setting ourselves up for just those things with our pride. Our watchfulness and humility critical.

    Red- It truly pains me to see those caught in the cross fire. I truly want to run to them and hold them. I am sorry your experience was one of such loneliness. In a case such as this, is a matter for those directly involved and God– the rest of us are reminded firmly to ‘judge not lest ye be judged’. Love your point of forgiving others quickly.

  12. my parents have gone through the same situation. my dad has now been excommunicated twice. the treatment of my parents by those in their old ward was, well despicable. I think the news spread through visiting teaching. I’m grateful I had just left for Ricks College when the bomb dropped.

    their new ward was more supportive, but still . . . my dad’s new stake president refuses to meet with him/even talk to him – and it’s been 3 years . . . his old stake pres was ready to baptize again . . .

    all i can say is my mother is an angel. and yet after a few years I was able to see my father (a little bit) as God sees him. it is a strange thing to pity your father, and learn to love him again . . .

  13. This is very close to home for me. I’ll never know for certain if my husband’s leaving was due to his inappropriate behaviour or not, though I certainly believe someone “else” (outside our marriage) had a huge part to play in his decision making.

    What I found was people in my branch fell into several different categories about our situation – those who were as heartbroken at his decisions as I was, those who seemed to feel relief that it wasn’t them, and those that only wanted to invent and spread gossip (and then avoid being in the same room as me).

    I’ve learnt from this entire mess that everyone is suffering. That you can’t weigh someone else’s struggles or grief or actions against another’s or your own. That saying to someone “I am so sorry about all of it – I really don’t know what to say” is incredibly compassionate, and important.

    I’ve learnt that loving the sinner, not the sin is the ultimate goal. It’s difficult, but achievable. It’s easier to hug someone when you’re not holding a rock to clobber them with that’s for sure.

    Some people will find rocks not matter what the situation. I guess it just comes down to which size chunk we pick up as we follow Christ – we have His name, His blessings, our covenants with Him, and really don’t want to be lugging around mountains, boulders or even pebbles unaware.

    I believe that one day we’re all going to see what we have done to help and hurt others. All those rocks we have cast, no matter the size, are going to have our names on them, and we’re going to have to deal with the consequences of our actions, without the ability to hide in anonimity. Then we will truly see exactly what pain we have caused.

    I’m hoping and working so my pile of rubble will be as small as possible, and my pile of hugs, kisses and kindnesses to be as a mountain.

  14. It is true – those things that don’t kill us, make us stronger – well they have the propensity to. Personally I think we have to decide to be better or bitter.

    In my 20′s I knew someone in a fellowship group that just rubbed me the wrong way. I would purposefully disagree with them, just to be contrary.

    One day they shared a truly mean and nasty circumstance that would effect them personally and professionally for years. As I listened, i was appauled. At the end of the sharing, i jumped in and said – that is terrible. Even I wouldn’t do that do you.
    Really they said – and you hate me.
    I don’t hate you.
    We have been friends ever since.

  15. The thing that makes me able to feel compassion for others is simply my own experiences. I grew up in a messed up home where things were rarely happy. I know that a lot of the reasons my parents had so many problems is that their own parents also had struggles in their respective marriages. Many of the good decisions I made as a youth, and that I continue to make today, are because I am determined not to pass on those same issues to my own children. Often, though, I am very scared that some of those bad habits and selfish tendencies are coming out and I really work hard to make myself better.

    Knowing first hand the deep pain and struggle that comes from marriage problems, I find it easy to be compassionate towards those experiencing such problems.

    My problem is I often get reverse-judgemental. I get really angry and hostile towards people I think are being judgmental toward other people. I have a hard time understanding how people can think and say such insensitive things, and will sometimes be quite vocal and even harsh to people who say things like that. Really, though, I am still being judgmental myself, just in a different way. God asked me to forgive everyone, including the unforgiving. It is definitely something I struggle with.

  16. kma- that must be an incredibly difficult situation.

    michelle- yes- compassion is needed for all! I would love to do another post on the perspective of those who have been hurt. That is naturally my first place to gravitate to, but it was interesting for me to step into the guilty shoes as well.

    selwyn- thank you for sharing that- so often i think people don’t know what to say but your expression that even the loving acknowledgement is powerful. Yes- boulders, rocks, pebbles, we need to rid ourselves of all of it.

    traci- what an interesting story of friendship growing out of compassion.

    katie- those difficult experiences really can make us passionate about guarding against the same mistakes- and yes our harshness agains the “judgers” the work of forgivness, mercy and compassion crops up all around us in many forms

  17. Loved this post, loved the comments. I couldn’t agree more, it’s our own experiences or trials that teach us compassion.
    We all struggle in one way or another…it’s just some trials are more visible to others.
    GREAT words, thank you writing this and reminding each of us to try a little harder to not judge and not be a part of the gossip that so many get caught up in…

  18. I think we can all agree that gossip, criticism, unkindness, rejection, etc. of those who commit ‘big sins’ is wrong.

    But what about how we respond/treat/label those who are supposedly casting the stones at those who commit such ‘big sins’? In some way, I think the same principles can apply from this post to people who fall into those behaviors as well.

    I have been thinking lately that it seems that most sins have their roots in pain or fear. When I stop to think that, I’m more apt to open my heart to those who commit ‘big sins’ — BUT also to those who may sometimes exhibit behavior such as gossip — sins that won’t get one excommunicated but that can still hurt and undermine relationships. The list could go on of *those* kinds of sins. And we can end up casting stones at people who do those things, too.

    I think that sometimes we will talk easily about showing compassion for those in ‘big sin’ mode, but it can be hard to show compassion for ‘smaller’ annoyances and sins that affect our day-to-day lives. I don’t know about you, but such ‘little things’ will sometimes test my desire to be Christlike more than the other stuff will.

    Lastly, I think it might be helpful to recognize that at some point, and in various ways, we all have a need to be able to call things as we see them, in terms of principles. In a sense, we all *have* to “judge” behavior at some level so we can discern and declare what is right and wrong. IMO, there needs to be a way to discuss what is right and wrong in principle (“adultery is wrong”, “gossip is wrong”) while still having compassion for specific individuals and not casting final judgments on their souls…and being willing to love people regardless of their sins.

    It’s like trying to teach my kids that smoking is wrong, but we don’t have to criticize or cast away or click our tongues at individuals who may choose to smoke.

    How to hold the line of truth while still having compassion can, imo, be a difficult tension that is only really resolved with the help of the Spirit, and a good dose of experience, which helps us develop compassion. Truth be told, though, I think it’s too easy to swing to one side or the other.

  19. How we react when we find that someone has committed a major sin depends upon what we were doing before they committed the sin- Were we building our arsenal of stones or were we seeking out the ‘least of these’ as the Savior urges? If we seek out the least in the kingdom we become well acquainted with those Christ served, the publicans and the sinners. Remember we are to be serving, and Christ told us that those that are whole need no physician. If we only want to be around people who have no problems, then who are we going to help?!
    When we are around publicans and sinners we become aware of the struggles of those who commit sins. We know that coming from a broken home is like struggling to get out of a black hole, they want a better life but it seems to suck them back in and they need many hands to help them out. We come to know that when a sinner shows up at church they have left it all at the feet of the Savior. And are dragging the little that is left of their soul to his altar- hoping for redemption although their sins seem to great for it. If a sinner makes it that far, to cross the threshold of the church, then he or she deserves our respect, love and admiration, not scorn and stones.

    The longer I live the less judgement I have to dole out. Especially if you reach out and love people; the more people you love the more you’ll find the people you love making major mistakes. It takes humility to let go of judgement and just love. The ways I’ve had life beat this knowledge into me abounds, this probably isn’t the venue to relate those experiences.

    Katie, I must admit to having some reverse-judgement as well. In a previous ward I was given a calling in the RS presidency and told they were impressed with my fellowshipping of a recent convert. This recent convert happened to be a wonderful friend who I had a ton of fun with. She wasn’t the traditional Mormon so others felt a tad uncomfortable with her so they saw it as charity that I would be her friend. I think this is related to your post of casting stones because it goes to the general idea of “us” versus “them”. There really is no division- we are all children of God and commanded to love one another.

  20. I have very mixed emotions on this one… very mixed. Just a couple of days ago I listened to a talk by Elder Oaks on judging. I think this idea of “not judging” others gets easily confused. Elder Oaks says that the type of judging we are forbidden to make is final judgement, as in “that person is going to hell” or even “that person was so good, I’m sure they’re going to Heaven.” But as far as intermediate judgements go, we make them all the time, and some commandments are based on our being able to make righteous intermediate judgements. While we must be quick to forgive, we must also remember that God does not allow the least degree of sin. Anyway, I always get a little up in arms when I hear the phrase “don’t judge me” or something similar when making judgements is a crucial and important part of life. That said, I understand the bigger picture of not being in the person’s shoes, not knowing all the details, and therefore a lot of judgement should be withheld. Understood. BUT sometimes people’s actions are wrong and sometimes they need to know there are consequences to their actions. Having been on the side of someone who was betrayed in a similar manner I was surprised how many people were willing to rush to the side of the wrongdoers and “not judge” them while I was left feeling victimized and wishing someone could have stood up and said “I love them, but they were wrong.” Even when disciplining children we are admonished to discipline, THEN show an increase in love… but the discipline must come first. I’m not suggesting that with judgement comes the allowance to gossip or to treat them poorly, but I don’t know that making them feel like what they did was “no biggie” is the answer either. I don’t know that there is a perfect response.

  21. Laura- Some struggles become public, while others remain private. Carrying the public burden adds an additional dimension.

    m&m- The sin should be acknowledged as sin. We do have to make judgements, but they apply only to the definition of sin. Too often I see others dwelling on, remembering people’s sins when they have no part in the whole experience. We are not privy to other’s place it the repentance process. The matter is between that person, the Lord, and anyone they have wronged.

    jendoop-I loved you line about those that cross the threshold of the church. The humility required of that is great. Yes seeing the challenges of peopel we lvoe softens us- we never know when it could be our spouse, our child, our parent, our friend and then what would we ask?

  22. Miggy- I am always troubled by the “don’t judge me phrase” it is used as a sort of free pass, or way of absolving oneself- that is just as haughty.

    Yes- Those who have been wronged deserve endless love and support. In my opinion, there shouldn’t be “ganging up” on either side. Because we can never see the fully both sides of the story and all the things that must be taken into account the way the Lord can. So heal and comfort those who need comfort and encourage those who need the repentance process.

    I know alot of my feelings come from having a professional therapeutic background. While we all have agency and make choices. I know each person has a unique set of baggage which tends a propensity to one thing or the other and I believe our “accountability” for any given sin can only be determined by the Lord and according to our own degree of understanding.

    We cannot view sin as no big deal, but we can allow the consequences God has set in place- sorrow, pain to be the punsihment instead of meeting out our own in addition.

  23. A few months into my freshman year in high school was the first time I had a friend tell me that she had lost her virginity that weekend.

    My friend was a sophomore, and she seemed so much older than me. The fact that she was fifteen is so much more astonishing to me now.

    Where I lived and at the high school I went to, teenage sex wasn’t a shameful thing. My friend wasn’t a member of the Church. She mentioned her experience exultantly, as if I should be excited for her.

    I was devastated. I grieved for the virtue she had lost, something that I wished someone had taught her to value. It was hard for me to look at her or talk to her as I used to. All I could see was the wrong that she could not see.

    After several days, I knew I’d go crazy if I didn’t put my thoughts on paper, so I wrote her a letter. I wrote that I knew there were better things for her in her life and that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ loved her. I wrote that I couldn’t be excited for her because I didn’t believe her decision was right, but I still loved her.

    I’ve never been so afraid in my life as when I handed her that letter as she stood in the quad surrounded by all her senior friends. I was so afraid for days afterward. What would she say to me after she read it?

    She confronted me a few days later. “Hey!” she called. I turned around and my stomach churned. Why did I give her that letter? “It wasn’t fun to read that letter,” she said, “but thank you.”

    I was relieved, but something happened there even more than my relief at not being yelled at. I knew that she had understood the spirit of my words, even if I had been imperfect in telling them.

    Naturally, this friend and I drifted apart. She kept the same friends and made her own choices. I didn’t blame her for them because I knew that no one had taught her what was right. We didn’t spend as much time together anymore, but all through high school we always said “Hi” to each other when we saw each other.

    I’ve learned that there’s a fine line between honesty and patronism. The Savior knew that line. He could love people without loving their sins and without puffing himself up over their weaknesses. In situations like this, I want to learn to follow his example–to go out of my way to show love and compassion for people who are hurt, even if it when they’ve hurt themselves. If we really believe in the Atonement of Jesus Christ then we really believe that there is always a way back, for other people and for ourselves.

  24. I did want to my very sincere love and heartfelt feelings for so many of you who it seems have endured some incredibly difficult things. I am sorry that so many of you have felt alone in those times. Thank you for sharing- Hopefully as others read it will help teach others how to reach out better.

    Jennifer- What a interesting extension of the concept. I hadn’t thought of that concept of love and compassion to hurt when sometimes the person people hurt is themself.

  25. My hubby and I went through a rough spot in our marriage years ago, not as rough as the situation depicted here, but my mother told me of an older couple in her ward that had that exact same problem. I had grown up knowing these folks. I was stunned that the man would ever think to do something like that, and I was stunned that woman would take him back afterwards. But somehow they managed to get through it and stay together. They finished raising their kids and they both worked to get him back to full fellowship. It was helpful to know that there was hope after all.

  26. Leslie, just wanted to say that I agree wholeheartedly with your comments that “I know each person has a unique set of baggage which tends a propensity to one thing or the other and I believe our “accountability” for any given sin can only be determined by the Lord and according to our own degree of understanding.”

    and

    “The sin should be acknowledged as sin. We do have to make judgements, but they apply only to the definition of sin. Too often I see others dwelling on, remembering people’s sins when they have no part in the whole experience. We are not privy to other’s place it the repentance process. The matter is between that person, the Lord, and anyone they have wronged.”

    If it didn’t come through, my comments were intended to acknowledge these things.

    But haven’t you ever seen where compassion has overtaken truth? I have, and it can be a tight rope to walk.

  27. This was such a tough topic to ponder. I’ve thought about it all day. I think it is naive to suggest that we shouldn’t have feelings of disappointment and shock, even anger, when a friend commits adultery. While we may not be personally involved, those sins do affect the community and can have rippling effects on outside people. That said, isn’t there a wonderful phrase about loving the person, but hating the sin? I do believe that we can tell people in a loving and kind way that while we don’t condone their actions, we do love them and that we will support them as they face the consequences of their actions.
    Several years ago, a very good friend from H.S. became pregnant out of wedlock with her boyfriend of a few years. It took a lot of courage for her to tell me, in a letter, about her pregnancy. I don’t know how I managed to respond in good way, but somehow I did. I told her that I was sad about the situation, but that I still loved her. I attended her wedding, wrote her letters, sent her a baby present and kept in touch throughout her years of inactivity and struggles. One day I received a phone call saying that she and her husband were going to be sealed in the temple and she wanted us to come. She told me then how much my support and love meant to her. Of course people are fully aware of how heart-breaking their mistakes can be. Perhaps, we should think about being more discreet and supportive. I think we can be supportive in ways by acknowledging the difficult road the family has to travel, but offer love, support and encouragement.

  28. mormonhermitmon- thank you pointing out that key thing- hope- There is hope in the face of sin- that is the good news of the gospel.

    m&m- I guess I haven’t seen that much. I see people fail to stand up for what’s right but usually due to their own fear than motivated too much compassion. But again this is where our discussions are good- each of us has a different vantage point from our unique experiences that provides insight.

    tiffany- thanks for stewing you thoughts all day- yes as a society and a community we must hold standards of morality, without them we do see things crumble around us. I appreciate your story of support. Love and encouragement can help others move alone the path of redemption.

  29. Lovely post Leslie.

    My thoughts are a bit disjointed:

    1. As far as judging goes, the way I see it we are told to judge good from evil but unless we are called by the priesthood to be so we are not the judges of individuals.

    2. I have always–like Sharlee–felt that fiction helped me open my heart for people in circumstances different than mine. But you have to be careful there. Last week I saw a play in which the main character murdered people, and yet the director’s notes claimed that this work wasn’t about good and evil for there was no evil in the man–he had just had a hard life. The play moved me to tears and I did feel compassion for what led the character to desperation, but to say someone in their right mind who committed murder had no evil in him simply wasn’t truth.

    3. However, the longer I live the more people I have known and loved through situations I could never have dreamed of when I was in my 20s and thought everything was black and white and people were either good or bad. Good people make stupid mistakes. I can’t call a bad choice good, but I can sure feel compassion and empathy for people I know and love who make bad choices.

    4. Yes, it is extremely important when there is a victim involved to be sensitive of and supportive of the victim.

  30. I have been thinking about this very thing for quite a while now. One of my dear dear friends is in this very situation. Her husband has left for “greener pastures” and there is a lot of “whisperings” around our ward… a lot of gossip and a lot of Pride. I find myself irritated because Yes. There has been sin. But, isn’t it also sinning when we speak ill of those around us? Isn’t it a sin to speak evil of the Lords annointed? (anyone who has received their own endowments has been annointed…) Isn’t it a sin to think we are better than others because we don’t have that sin?

    SO. My thoughts have been two fold:
    1. Why do we, as members, classify sins as ‘little sins’ and ‘big sins’? Hasn’t the Lord told us that any sin keeps us from Him? Isn’t gossiping or pride just as bad, in the Lords eyes, as the fornicator? ANY SIN keeps us from The Lord. Which leads me to my second thought…
    2. To truly be compassionate, one has to embrace The Atonement. My friend has done this. She is heart broken, don’t get me wrong. But, she has turned to The Lord, and is letting Him carry her burden. It is amazing to see the Peace in her. Her problem remains. Her husband is still of in greener pastures– but this embracing the atonement FOR HER has taught her how to love like the Savior, to see others as the Savior does, To be kind like the Savior, To be humble like the Savior and to forgive like the Savior.
    By doing this– embracing the atonement and using the atonement– she has gained a level of compassion that cannot be matched. She is slow to anger and even slower to judge. I think that is the miracle… and the prize we should all be seeking. To be more like Him.

  31. I have a child with multiple disabilities. People don’t get it and I have been judged so darn much about that, I just don’t judge anymore. I understand that people are human and that “there but for the grace of God go I”. We are all capable of pretty much anything under the right circumstances. I have nothing but compassion for everyone in the circumstance you describe. Thanks for writing about this.

  32. dalene- yes- we make judgements(aka choices) daily but to be a judge is a specified role. I like your point about literature- I feel the same way about art, much of art can be elevating, provocative,meaningful etc. but it can also be a tool to make us think black is white.

    motherboard- yes all I think is he who is without sin let him cast the first stone- clearly sin is sin- period he doesn’t say those who are pride but not adultereres may cast stones.

    heidi- that was really what prompted this was how close each of us can be to a large mistep.

  33. Why do we, as members, classify sins as ‘little sins’ and ‘big sins’? Hasn’t the Lord told us that any sin keeps us from Him? Isn’t gossiping or pride just as bad, in the Lords eyes, as the fornicator?

    This is why I put ‘little’ and ‘big’ in quotes. Because in the end, they are still sins, and all sin keeps us from God.

    And we all have sins!

    I guess I haven’t seen that much. I see people fail to stand up for what’s right but usually due to their own fear than motivated too much compassion.

    As an example, the Prop 8 thing brought out a lot of both extremes. There were people willing to condemn gays on the whole, and be unkind. There were people on the other side of things who condemned anyone supporting prop 8 as hateful, without love.

    I felt strongly that I needed to be involved in supporting it, but I also have a great deal of compassion for those who are gay, particularly those in the Church who feel at war within themselves. I felt that in the name of compassion, though, I was expected to drop my beliefs to ‘prove’ my concern and love.

    Sometimes I feel our leaders are expected to do that, too.

    I think we can find ourselves in similar situation when we worship together. We talk about principles, and sometimes we creep into condemning individuals (or groups of individuals). How do we have sensitivity and compassion while talking clearly about truth? This can be a hard line to walk.

    I think also about missionary work. At what point do we boldly testify of truth vs. respect someone else’s beliefs and space (and mistakes)? There are stories about people who were willing to go beyond the comfort zone of ‘being friends’ who with that faith and bold love are able to bring others to the truth. But we also aren’t supposed to shove religion down others’ throats.

    These are some situations where I have felt significant tension between compassion/love and truth.

  34. (Didn’t have time to read all comments, sorry if there’s overlap.)

    I learned compassion when extramarital affairs became more than just something I knew happened to some people. It became a reality for me when it became reality for two people I know (members of my family), and I had to change everything about the way I looked at adultery (and big mistakes in general).

    I love both of them – the cheater and the cheated. While in the past I’d always drawn a hard line on adultery (“I would SO leave if my husband cheated, cheaters are worthless, people who stay with cheaters are stupid, etc., etc.”), my hard line didn’t apply anymore. I was really angry at the cheater, and felt terrible for the cheated. I didn’t want them to break up.

    They didn’t. Now, about a year later, I have so much respect for the courage and integrity of those who STAY – who are able to look past hurt and betrayal and truly forgive, for the sake of their families. And I understand that the world isn’t divided into good people and bad people. Committing adultery is a bad thing – a very bad thing. There has to repentance, there are prices that have to be paid.

    But we’re all still people, and people make mistakes. And what happens inside the walls of homes and relationships is so much more complex and human than the gossip and judgment that surrond them.

  35. fig- I think when we lose the stereotypes & harsh judgements and we can view them as people our perspective shifts. You are right there is a incredible power and choice in forgiveness- that is often disregarded.

Comments are closed.