Monday, December 5, 2011

Avoiding Gossip ... by Cindy Beck

Tags: gossip, morals, Latter-day Saints

Photo © Lusi

Have you ever started to mention something and then stopped because you were worried you might be gossiping? Or thought about telling a church leader information you’d heard but didn’t for fear he/she would think you were just spreading the latest rumor? Sometimes it’s hard to know if we should share that juicy tidbit that we heard through the grapevine, or let it shrivel and die like an old, wrinkly raisin.

The dictionary defines gossip as, “Idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.” That doesn’t really explain it all, though, because sometimes it’s hard to know when a piece of information really is gossip, or if it’s a piece of info that should be shared.

Here’s a list of red flags to heed in order to avoid gossiping.

I Probably Shouldn’t Tell This
Sometimes I’ve overheard another person start to say something and then stop, saying, “I probably shouldn’t tell this; I don’t want to gossip.”

When that happens I’ll think, Ah yes, it’s too late. You can’t back out now after mentioning you know something others don’t. Curiosity will get the better of someone in the group and you’ll be pressured to spill the beans!

People may genuinely mean the phrase, “I shouldn’t tell” and when it slips out, they’ll refuse to cave and tell everyone the information. Other times, however.…

Some people use the phrase as an introduction. They know they intend to gossip, and by allowing others to pressure them into telling, they feel less guilty. After all, they didn’t want to tell, but the group made them. Perhaps they’ll even be able to say the devil made them do it! Shared guilt always feels so much less guilty … or so we rationalize.

Any time the thought, “I probably shouldn’t tell this,” occurs it’s wise to think twice before revealing the information.

It Itches and I Must Scratch
Gossip carries a unique feeling with it. It’s a cross between excitement at being the one to share something others don’t know, and guilt at disclosing information that might hurt or defame someone. It’s like a big, red mosquito bite on the bottom of the foot—an itch that can’t be easily scratched. Once the shoe is off and the scratching begins, it never feels as good as we thought it would.

When that “itchy” feeling grabs hold, take it as a warning and don’t disclose the news.

But Everyone Needs to Know This
There are times when everyone needs to know something. If someone in the ward is ill and no one knows about it, then no one will bring in a meal. If there’s been a murder, rape or robbery in the neighborhood, other neighbors need to know in order to take protective action. At that point the issue of gossip becomes one of degree. We have to ask ourselves, “What’s the least amount of information that I need to disclose in order to help?”

As a Relief Society president, people will often want to tell me information but are afraid they’ll be gossiping. I try to assure them that telling information to appropriate priesthood and auxiliary leaders is not gossiping. Neither the bishop nor I can help others without knowing what’s wrong.

Young Men and Young Women leaders can’t help wayward youth if they don’t know anything about the youth in their charge. Elders Quorums and High Priest Quorums can’t help with temporal affairs when they have no idea what situations are going on in the members’ lives.

There is a caveat here, though, and it lies in purpose. If we relay the information just to spread the news, and because we want everyone to know of someone else’s tragedy, dilemma, bad luck, or “unpardonable” sin, it’s still gossip. If we’re informing appropriate leaders by giving only the info that’s necessary and with the intent of helping those in need, then we’re not gossiping.

Perhaps the previous dictionary definition has a clue after all. The operative word is “idle” which indicates that gossip is something indulged in to pass the time – a practice without any redeeming value. Gossip neither enriches the teller nor the hearer, and hurts relationships more than it helps.

Here’s an interesting exercise. Picture the resurrected Savior sitting and telling the other eleven apostles about Peter denying him before the cock had crowed thrice (Matthew 26:75) … laying out all of Peter’s fears and foibles for everyone to laugh about and to feel superior over.

Having a hard time picturing that? Me, too, because it’s not something the Savior would ever do. Since following the Savior’s example is the goal of all Latter-day Saints, it behooves us to heed the warning signs and refuse to even start down gossip’s hurtful path.

Related Reading
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Looking for the Good,” Liahona.

------ "Avoiding Gossip" © Cindy Beck, 2011------

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Monday, November 21, 2011

The Wilting Rose of Office Romance ... by Cindy Beck

Tags: love, romance,

Photo ©

The well-known poem by Robert Burns, (Love is Like) A Red, Red Rose, compares love to a blossoming flower. And some believe romantic love should be allowed to blossom, whenever and wherever it grows. However, is that really such a good idea? It might be fine for love to bloom at church on Sunday, at a ward picnic, or at a single’s dance, but how about at the office? Obviously, as Latter-day Saints, we’re not talking about extra-marital affairs, where one or both individuals are married, but are talking about singles. Even so, consider these reasons why work romances might be a bad idea, and why love that starts as a blossoming flower might end up wilting like a three-week-old cut rose.

The Company Rules. Many worksites have rules that don’t allow romantic relationships between employees. Elder Quentin L. Cook stated, “…let potential employers know you have high ethical and moral standards….” As Latter-day Saints with a moral and ethical code, when we agree to work for a company, aren’t we also agreeing to abide by their rules?

The bud of love may develop in an individual’s heart, and nothing can stop that. However, in the name of ethics, might not the smart person refuse to nurture it, and instead, let it fade away?

Shhhh, it’s a Secret. A secret love is supposed to be … well … secret! Yet, most couples are unable to keep it concealed, and sooner or later (usually sooner), the happy couple lets something slip. Even if they don’t, it’s not hard to figure it out – especially when two people are sending paper airplanes to each other over their cubicle walls with “I love you!” written on them in red, indelible marker. Co-workers might find the whole situation adorable for a week or so, but after that, they inevitably wish for it to be finished. If the company maintains a non-fraternization rule, colleagues might be placed in an awkward position by keeping the secret a secret.

He’s Right! No, She’s Right! From what I’ve seen, romantic work entanglements usually have an unhappy ending. If the flower of love wilts, workmates end up siding with one person or the other. Strife increases in the workplace as the no-longer-loving couple argues and eventually ends the relationship. Co-workers are caught in the middle. As a result, work output decreases, and a once friendly atmosphere becomes charged with tension and distrust. Elder L. Tom Perry in his talk, “The Joy of Honest Labor” told us that we should put in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage, but it’s difficult to do that in an environment filled with tumult.

They Rode Unhappily Into the Sunset. In one of the workplace romances that I witnessed, the relationship went fine for a while, but then the man lost interest. Unfortunately, the woman didn’t. Feeling hurt when he didn’t respond as she expected, she shared details with workmates. The relationship between the couple deteriorated further and he moved away to a bigger city, partially to escape the problems. Talk about an office romance wilting like a rose!

TV shows often portray romantic work events that culminate in marriage, but television is the world of make-believe. Although there may be work romances that have worked out in real life, often times it creates more problems than it solves, leaving two broken hearts in its wake.

I’m not trying to detract from the joy of finding love, nor saying we shouldn’t take a chance on it. I am saying there are large risks involved with office entanglements – dangers such as getting fired over non-fraternization rules, losing friends if the relationship ends, or feeling the need to find other employment and to move elsewhere if the romance fizzles.

Some reading this may have a happy union from an office romance. Others may be happily married, but had an unhappy ending before finding love elsewhere. Still others might have been friends, caught in the middle when a co-worker’s relationship went south. Regardless of which side of the fence you’ve been on … or even if you’ve straddled it … I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue!

------ "The Wilting Rose of Office Romance" © Cindy Beck, 2011------

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Coping with the Bullies - Advice for Parents of Boys

Coping with the Bullies, Part 2 ... by C.L. Beck

Tags: parenting, bullies

Photo © Simeon

When bullying happens, parents often tell their son to make friends with the bully, and maybe even take treats to him at home. Yes, we should love our neighbor, but in the case of bullying, nothing could be more ineffective. By giving extra attention to the bully, the child reinforces the bully’s negative behavior. After all, which of us - when given treats, praise, and adoration for bad behavior - would willingly give it up? Bullying is all about power and control, not about who is kind and who is a friend.

Ignoring a bully doesn’t work, either, because he has allies who cheer for him. The lack of attention your son gives the bully does not override the attention he’s getting from his friends. Ignoring a bully simply causes the situation to escalate.

So ... if kindness, cookies, and compassion don't work, and ignoring the bully makes it worse, what is effective?

Teach your son to swagger. Yes, this seems like a funny thing to teach kids, but it's surprising how effective it is. Bullies size up their targets, and a boy that swaggers is more imposing than a mild-mannered one that looks at the ground or an easy-going one who smiles at everyone. It's not necessary for your boy to swagger all the time, just during the first few weeks of school while the pecking order is established. Then it's only used when needed.

After you teach your son how to swagger, have him practice it when he's with you, at times that seem appropriate.

Teach your child "The Stare." I can see some of you raising your eyebrows and saying, "But, staring is impolite." We've all been taught not to stare, but a child who is able to hold his gaze until the other person looks away is sending a signal that he is not an easy target. It shouldn't be used every day with everyone he meets, so it will take effort on your part - as well as practice on your son’s part - to understand when a stare is appropriate.

Find something social at which he excels. This doesn't mean he has to be the star quarterback, but every boy needs something at which he excels; something that gives him friends with similar interests. Self-defense courses are great, but if your son isn't interested in those, try something else that carries a little psychological weight and makes him feel he's a success. Enroll him in anything he enjoys, but that will not be viewed as nerdy by his peers, and at which you're pretty certain he'll succeed.

Don't make your son ride the bus. One of the prime places for bullying is on the school bus. Through no fault of their own, drivers can't watch the road and see what's happening in the back of the bus at the same time. No life lessons will be missed if your child gets a ride from you or the neighborhood carpool.

If there's a problem, talk with the authorities. Take it as far as it needs to go. Talk first to the teacher and the principal, and arrange for either the bully or your child to be moved, monitored, or what ever needs to be done to end the situation. If nothing changes quickly, take it to the school board, and then the police. Better to have all of them angry with you because you've caused them an inconvenience, than to have your son lying in the hospital, comatose, because a bully beat him senseless. And yes, I've known of an instance where that was the case.

If need be, investigate other options … home schooling, charter or private school, or another school district. Then, move your child there.

Those last options might seem extreme, and cost you money or time. However, when it comes to bullying, it’s up to you to put a stop to it – you’re the only protector your son has, and repeated bullying may scar him for life. Or worse yet, end his life before he's had a chance to live it.

[Note: Although this article deals with the bullying that takes place with boys, I plan on addressing the emotional bullying that girls endure in a future article.]

------ "Coping with the Bullies - Advice for Parents of Boys" © Cindy Beck, 2011------

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Coping with the Bullies, Part 1 ... by Cindy Beck

Coping with the Bullies in My Class (A True Story)

Tags: parenting, bullies

The teacher leaves our middle school classroom, and chaos erupts as soon as he walks out the door. I sit quietly, waiting for his return. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice one of the "troublemakers" moving out of her seat a few rows over, but I don't pay close attention. Better not to look interested when that group is up to something.

Her friends egg her on. As she walks over to where I sit, I figure she'll just walk past. Suddenly, without a word of warning, her hand flashes out and smacks me hard on the face. I sit there, stunned, blinking back tears. Why'd she hit me? What did I ever do to her? I barely know her name.

I fight hard not to cry, and the shame and embarrassment are even more painful than the slap that reddens my face. She struts back to her seat with her buddies cheering as though she'd accomplished something heroic, rather than bullying a shy girl without many friends.

My mind spins in circles, trying to make sense of it. A mild-mannered kid in the next seat whispers anxiously, "What happened? Why did she hit you?"

I shrug my shoulders, not daring to utter a word for fear the tears that I'm struggling with will fall, and things will worsen. If the teacher doesn't come back soon, I know the slap will be followed by a full-fledged scuffle between us ... a fight in which I'll end up pounded into the linoleum floor and sent to the hospital.

No joke about the hospital. These kids love cruelty.

Just then, the teacher walks back in and I let out a small sigh of relief. I'm safe as long as he's there. But, the relief only stays for a moment and then the reality of the situation hits—I'm dead meat when I get on the bus. Literally. I know about this group of kids ... they carry knives ... some have landed in juvenile detention.

Then another thought comes to me. What will my parents say about me being slapped in class? My folks believe I should stand tall, be proud of myself and not hide behind my shyness, so I feel certain that getting slapped in the face and not returning the favor will be frowned upon.

I sit in turmoil for the rest of the class period, not hearing a word the teacher says, only feeling the sting of the slap, and the pain of wondering why. I don't know what to do, but I know that whatever it will be, it can't wait until tomorrow or the next day. It has to happen quickly. I finally reach a terrible decision ... to fight as soon as we walk out into the hall, before she has a chance to corner me on the bus.

I don't know anything about fighting. How do you fight another girl? Slap her in the face, like she did to me? That seems about as beneficial as poking a grizzly bear with a bobby pin.

When class ends, I push my way to her, look her in the eyes—and with my knees shaking so bad it's a wonder my eyeballs don't pop out—I say, "If you're not too chicken, why don't you try hitting me when I'm standing up?"

She obliges.

Because of the narrow hallway, it turns into a shoving match more than an actual fistfight. Teachers intervene in a flash—which would never have happened if I'd waited until we boarded the bus—and off we go to the principal's office.

I wonder how the principal even knows me—I'm such a quiet kid—but I'm glad he's smart enough to believe me. He calls her parents in and then suspends her. He calls my parents, too, and I go home without a suspension.

The next day, I go back and have to face her group, but they don't lay a hand on me. I know it's partly because I stood up for myself, and partly because the principal backed me up and suspended her. Still, I have to live with their whispers and the dirty looks they send my way. Looks filled with hate, and I know that if they ever have the chance and find me alone outside of school, I'm in deep trouble.

It's a terrible time. One of the worst in my life. Fear and worry are my constant companions, since I never know for sure if the group will lie in wait for me. I keep hoping the few friends I have will stand by me, but they're just as scared as I am.

One day, I have a flash of inspiration. Why not just transfer to another school next year? Relief washes through me and I know that I've found a way of coping with the bullies. I smile, knowing that if I can just make it until May, I might actually live long enough to attend high school.

[Author's note: Traveling a few miles of life's road with bullies taught me a great deal. I've never allowed bullying in any class I've taught, nor stood by and watched as it happened on the street ... which, as my hubby will tell you, sometimes gets him into hot water in my defense.

In my next post I'd like to share concepts with you that might help your children avoid being targeted by bullies, and to give suggestions on what to do if those steps don't cure the problem.]

------ "Coping with the Bullies, Part 1" © Cindy Beck, 2011------

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Inspirational Bible Verses of Comfort and Assurance ... by Cindy Beck

Tags: Bible, Inspirational Bible verses

In times of trial, it's hard to know where to turn for comfort and assurance. It's natural to rely on friends and family, but they don't always have the answers. Sometimes an omniscient source may be needed to help guide us, and the Bible is replete with inspirational verses that not only guide, but also provide comfort, assurance, and strength. Inspirational Bible verses tell us of our uniqueness, our self-worth, and most of all tell us of Heavenly Father's love for us and of His wisdom in giving us a Savior, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins. Below are six inspirational verses for comfort, strength, and assurance.

Old Testament

Although there are many wonderful books of the Old Testament, Psalms is one of my favorites and so below are three sets of verses that provide strength during difficult times.

Psalm 10: 14-15

This psalm provided comfort after the Twin Towers bombing on September 11, 2001: Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless. Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none.

Psalm 23
This is the well known, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want" psalm, and is the ultimate scripture for assurance of God's love. Written by King David, it has always provided comfort—especially before surgery—when the risk of walking through the "valley of the shadow of death" is a real possibility.

Psalm 27: 5
Some days it feels like trouble lurks around every corner—waiting to jump out and grab the unsuspecting—and this inspirational Bible verse provides peace of mind: For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

New Testament
I took a few medical courses in college and so feel a sense of kinship with the apostle, Luke, who was a physician. For that reason, he's one of my favorite New Testament authors and below are three sets of inspirational verses from him.

Luke 2
Almost the entire second chapter of Luke is uplifting, because it recounts the joy experienced in heaven and on earth at the birth of Jesus Christ. However, if I had to narrow it down to one set of inspirational thoughts in the second chapter of his writings, it would be Luke 2, verses 9-11: And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid . And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Luke 12: 6-7
This verse is not only one of my favorites, but also one of my husband’s favorite Bible verses … because he’s a little sparse in the hair department. Despite the humor in that thought, I love this verse because it not only gives the assurance that God loves us, but that He knows each of us individually. We all have days where we feel as if we're just a drop in the mire of humanity, and when those come along, this Bible verse helps: Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Luke 12: 27-28
Although sometimes the Bible is difficult to understand, there are places where it contains wonderful imagery. Whenever I want an inspirational Bible verse reminding me that God is the creator of the earth's beauty, as well as reminding me to have faith in Him, I turn to these verses in Luke: Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Now that you've read my favorite verses, take a second to drop off a comment and tell me yours. Then, take a minute to print off two hard copies of this article ... one to put in your Bible and the other to put in your wallet or purse. You never know when you may need the comfort, consolation, or assurance that's provided in them.


------ "Inspirational Bible Verses of Comfort and Assurance" © Cindy Beck, 2011------

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Preparing for the Best Two Years of His Life ... by Cindy Beck

As parents, and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of our goals is to send our sons on church missions when they’re nineteen. The question so many of us have is this … what can we do to prepare them while in their early teens?

LDS missionary at Salt Lake Airport, preparing to leave for Europe

Not long ago, our stake held a meeting for the adults that focused on preparing young men for missions. Thinking the info discussed might prove helpful to others, I took notes. Paraphrased below are several of the questions asked, along with answers … and a few thoughts of my own.

Q: My family has children ranging in age from a baby to a son in his early teens. When we try to hold a family home evening on missionary work for my son’s benefit, my younger children get bored. We feel like we’re neglecting preparing our son. What can we do that will work for family home evening?

A: Prepare a family home evening that can be broken into two parts; the first part for the younger children and the second part focusing on missionary work for your teenager. Hold it close to the younger children’s bedtime. After their portion is completed, put the younger ones to bed and then continue the family home evening with the teenager.

A(Cindy): Hold a family home evening several times a year during which you play the role of an investigator, and your teenagers play the missionaries. Hold it after the younger children are in bed. Let the teens know about it in advance, so they have the opportunity to brush up on their scriptures. Be sure you don’t overplay your role as investigator so much that it becomes a frustrating experience. Give your teenagers time to find the scriptures that might answer your “investigator” questions without feeling pressured about it.

Q: What other things can we do besides family home evening?

A: A good way to let young men become acquainted with missionary work is to have the missionaries over for meals and to arrange for young men to go on splits with them. They’ll see how the missionaries handle the discussions, as well as the fact that it’s not all glamor, but often is hard work. This helps when serving their own missions, because they then have a realistic view and aren’t expecting ministering angels and burning bushes.

A(Cindy): Taking teenagers to see the MTC (for those who live in Utah) or to visit the temple grounds (for those who live near a temple) provides a good opportunity to discuss missionary work with them. This could be done as a mother-son date, or a father-son outing, where the younger children are at home with the other parent, thus giving time for quality discussions with the teenagers.

Q: One of the biggest regrets expressed by missionaries is that they wished they’d studied the scriptures more before their mission. My son attends seminary and already reads his scriptures, but not as much as I’d like. What can I do?

A: One effective method to help the scriptures become more meaningful is to keep a scripture journal. Give teens a nice, new journal to write in and ask them to record the chapter and verse for scriptures that touch them, and to write their feelings about them. Spiritual experiences hold so much more meaning and stay with us when we record them. And the journal can be used as a springboard for memorizing favorite verses, as well, since memorizing something that has meaning is so much easier than memorizing something that does not touch an emotional chord.

A(Cindy): Consider memorizing the scriptures with your son, and offer a reward after a certain number are memorized. The rewards could include tickets to the movies or ball games, as well as treats, a pass on certain chores, or even a little spending money.

Q: What else can we do that will help?

A: It’s important to teach goal setting to young men who plan to go on missions. Goal setting is a habit that can be started long before teen years, and can even come into play when trying to memorize the scriptures.

A(Cindy): One missionary’s mom received a letter thanking her for teaching him how to do laundry and especially how to use OxiClean so his shirts stayed white. Her entire Relief Society got a good laugh out of it, but there’s also a message in that. It’s a good idea to include temporal preparation such as how to cook, clean, and do laundry. We can start on that when our sons are quite young.


In conclusion, the sooner we start preparing our sons to serve missions, the better they will be able to serve. When the day comes that they hold the mission call in their hands, we might feel a touch of sadness because we’ll miss them, but we’ll also feel joy in knowing we’ve helped them to prepare to serve the Lord in one of the most meaningful ways possible. And we can look forward to the day when they’ll return and say, “My mission was the best two years of my life!”

(Note: Although this article focused on young men, the information is just as applicable for young women who’d like to serve the Lord.)

Interesting sites:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

------ © C.L. (Cindy) Beck------

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Monday, July 26, 2010

An Opportunity to Present the Truth ... by Cindy Beck

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Several years ago, I endured an uncomfortable plane ride home after visiting family. The roar of the jet engines—as well as people continually jostling against me as they walked the aisles—wore on my nerves and I felt frazzled. After what seemed like forever, the pilot announced we were circling Salt Lake City.

At that point, I became aware of a conversation in the seats behind me. Jeff, a young man from the Salt Lake City area, carried on an animated conversation with his seatmate, Laura, and seemed anxious to share his knowledge of the city with her. (Names have been changed.) After Jeff told her about the city’s nightlife, Laura turned the conversation to what it was like living among the Mormons.

My heart warmed when he explained that he didn’t mind living in Utah and had no problems with the members. However, joy turned to unease when Laura asked, “The Mormons have more than one wife, don’t they?”

I had no clue how many Latter-day Saints sat within earshot, but I felt an almost imperceptible increase in the tension around me, and I worried that the conversation would not end well.

Jeff responded with, “Oh yes, there are lots of them with more than one wife.”
He said it with such conviction that my annoyance level immediately skyrocketed and my worn-thin patience abandoned me. I wondered what right he had to speak so authoritatively on an issue about which he obviously knew nothing. I felt like whipping around in the seat and loudly proclaiming to Laura that Jeff had it all wrong

I recognized, however, that harsh words would create tension and drive away the Spirit at a time when I needed it most (see 3 Nephi 11:29). My mind roiled with thoughts of how to handle the situation. If I said something, would it immediately turn into an argument? Would other people feel the need to jump in on both sides of the issue?

On the other hand, I didn’t feel I could ignore the comment and my heart pounded anxiously as their conversation continued on the subject. Mentally bowing my head, I prayed, Please let someone speak up so Laura doesn’t walk out of here believing the Church currently practices plural marriage.

No one did; I realized the responsibility to correct the misconception resided with me and that I needed guidance. Taking a deep, calming breath, I sent a quick prayer for help heavenward. Then I turned around in the seat and faced the couple. “Excuse me. I’m not trying to eavesdrop, but I overheard you mention that the Mormons practice polygamy. I’m LDS, and although the Church did practice it at one time, we don’t anymore. Those engaging in polygamy today are not members but belong to splinter groups that aren’t affiliated with us.”

I waited for the verbal explosion.

A confused look crossed Jeff’s face. “You don’t practice polygamy? Oh, sorry, I thought you did. Aren’t there groups in Utah that do?”

Laura looked at me with interest, rather than the anger and derision I’d expected. I answered Jeff’s question about splinter groups and reiterated again that Latter-day Saints did not engage in the illegal practice of plural marriage.

They both thanked me for the information, and as I turned back around, I recognized the value of seeking the Spirit rather than just giving a knee-jerk reaction to an incorrect comment. I felt grateful for the prompting to take a calming breath before answering, which helped me control my anger and allowed the conversation to flow in a natural, non-confrontational manner. Responding with kindness had also afforded me the chance to learn that Jeff hadn’t intended to misrepresent the church, he simply lacked accurate knowledge.

In the October 2008 Conference, Elder Robert D Hales said, “In 1983, the First Presidency wrote to Church leaders, ‘Opposition may be in itself an opportunity. Among the continuing challenges faced by our missionaries is a lack of interest in religious matters and in our message. These criticisms create . . . interest in the Church. . . . This provides an opportunity [for members] to present the truth to those whose attention is thus directed toward us.’

“We can take advantage of such opportunities in many ways: a kind letter to the editor, a conversation with a friend, a comment on a blog, or a reassuring word to one who has made a disparaging comment. We can answer with love those who have been influenced by misinformation and prejudice—who are ‘kept from the truth because they know not where to find it’ (D&C 123:12). I assure you that to answer our accusers in this way is never weakness. It is Christian courage in action.”1

At the time of the incident, Elder Hales hadn’t yet given his talk in General Conference. However, I can testify to the wisdom of his counsel. It takes bravery to defend the truth as well as self-discipline to do so without anger, but with the help of the Spirit, we can use Christian courage and respond to inaccuracies with loving kindness.

It’s my hope that on that day, Jeff and Laura left the plane with a newfound regard for the church, and that non-members sitting nearby, listening to the conversation, felt the Spirit touch their hearts as well.

1. Robert D. Hales, “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 72–75.

------© Cindy Beck------

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