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"Forbidden to Mormons"
We had just moved to a small rural town where Church members were few. Our little branch was made up of nice, close-knit people, and we enjoyed Sundays and the opportunity to go to church. However, we were concerned about our children who had few children of the same age to play with in the branch. So my husband and I decided to seek friendly relationships with people outside the Church so that our children could make new friends and meet people of different faiths.
My hope was soon gone, however, because I was told in a local children's group that they did not want “Mormons”. I had previously belonged to a similar group in other places with few members, and our faith had never been an issue there. I assured the group leaders that I did not want to proselytize or impose my faith on anyone; I just wanted to meet new people and make new friends. However, they stuck to their opinion and did not accept us into their group.
So I decided to be kind, Christian, and kind to the people in our community so they could see that the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are good people. We invited children to play with us, invited the neighbors to dinner and tried to get into conversation with others and get to know people better. I read conference talks, articles in Church magazines, and scriptures about social networking, kindness, and service. I tried to put these principles into practice. I was convinced that if I could only show the people here how nice and loving the families in the church are, then this group would finally take us in too.
Time passed, and although we became friends with the group leaders, nothing changed about their attitude that they do not want Mormons to be with them.
I then decided to continue to be nice and friendly, but also to look around for a similar group of children in the neighboring village. But even there, I was told that Latter-day Saints will not be accepted with them. At that moment I was so desperate that I wanted to cry. What was the matter with the people in those two places? Couldn't they see that we were a friendly, nice family?
I prayed for Spirit guidance and help so that I could be as kind and Christian as possible. I prayed that those who knew me would feel in their hearts that we were good people. I prayed that they would change their hearts and eventually accept us. Yet I felt that my prayers were not being answered. I did my best, but I couldn't soften their hearts.
One evening I received a phone call that completely destroyed my hopes. The leaders of the children's group called and told me again that my family was not wanted by them. They feared that we were expecting to be accepted after all, because we had made many friends in the village in the meantime. They said some things that really hurt me, and I cried in despair. All the dinner invitations, the service projects, the cookies, the conversations on the street - none of that meant anything to these people! What was I doing wrong?
In the evening, I prayed sincerely and from the bottom of my heart for help in dealing with those who were so negative about the Church. I said I had a right to their good opinion because I tried so hard, and I told Heavenly Father that too.
The answer was such an unmistakable inspiration that I had not received for a long time: "Follow Christ!"
At first I was confused. “Yes,” I thought to myself, “but I'm already doing that.” The cookies, the friendships, the approach to others - I was as Christian as I could possibly be. And yet the only inspiration I got was: "Follow Christ!"
It was then that I realized that when I focus on following Christ, other people's opinions don't really matter to me. I serve them because it is right, not because it helps me look good before them as a member of the Church. I am friendly and nice because I have friendly and positive feelings for them, not because I am pursuing a selfish goal.
“Follow Christ” - that has become my motto whenever someone causes me difficulties because of our faith. I now enjoy doing good to others, no matter how they react, and I feel blessed. I am not on earth to be respected by other people. I am here to prepare to return to Heavenly Father, and it is imperative that I follow the Savior.
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