The Gospel Doctrine lesson #26 manual objective is “To encourage class members to strengthen their conversion and increase their desire to help others become converted.”
To explore what it means to be truly converted and how that can help us be kinder.
So much of the Book of Mormon seems to be about conflict. And if there is anything I need to have less of in my life, it’s contention and the loss of the Spirit that comes with that. In reading through the lesson, I had three thoughts on how to be truly converted and how that can help me be kinder.
#1 Laying Down Our Weapons
“For they became a righteous people; they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not flight against God anymore, neither against any of their brethren (or sisters).” (Parenthesis added. Obviously.)
This scripture refers to people laying down real weapons such as swords and bows and pickaxes and whatever else they used. But I know over the years I have collected plenty of weapons in my own personal arsenal: sarcasm, snottiness, cold shoulder, the evil eye, poking, arrogance, and the list goes on. Reading this scripture made me realize that I needed to learn to lay down these weapons and not fight with God or anyone.
That can be hard.
I live in India and there is nothing that gets me snottier faster than a dishonest rickshaw driver. Just yesterday one quoted an almost triple the price and refused to use his meter. My weapons kicked in and I was super snotty in response. Why? I could have just said no thank you and walked away…but I got mad. And so while he loses out on a fare, I lose out on a little shine on my sunny soul. I’ve got to work harder to lay down my weapons. If I am truly converted then I will be nice to everyone— even dishonest rickshaw drivers.
#2 Fight as Dance
When I read about what the artist had in mind, it struck a deep chord. I tried to edit her words down, but, truly, she (and her gallery) says it better:
“‘If there is no opposition, nothing to push against, we would merely float. If that was the case, how would we grow?’ begins Cassandra. ‘How can we know joy if we never know pain? We all have our issues to contend with and it is through that conflict that personal growth is found. Reward comes from engaging in challenges, finding solutions and learning endurance.’ At the same time, is it necessary that this process of resolving has to be a fight? By changing our perspective, could we see those challenges another way? What if instead of fighting through life, we dance?
‘And Then They Danced’ is a painting about finding beauty in the battle. The figure chooses this dance, aware and onstage, sharing her conquest and what she is to gain. ‘Bullfighting is traditional, dangerous and potentially beautiful but cruel. If I were a matador, I would rather dance. I would turn that fight into something beautiful.”
If we see conflict as something beneficial and something to learn how to dance through, something that can actually bring us closer to God and being God-like, then I think we can continue on our path of being truly convert.
#3 Patience in Process
When I first moved to India, I was consistently frustrated by my inability to get things done. When I was chatting with a friend who had worked in international development for years, she laughed and told me I was expecting too much.
“Get two things done a day,” was her advice.
I now find that the combination of new baby AND living in a developing country means that even two is ambitious. The truth is…most progress is slow and steady. Or slow and erratic. And while that is hard for my personality, if we want to become more godlike that process is as relentless as a newborn in India. So, having some patience with the process is in order.
You’ll be pleased to know the same day I wrote this I had another attempt at using a rickshaw with the same frustrating dishonesty. I whirled away in anger but then remembered this very post…I took a deep breath and turned back to say, “Being dishonest is not acceptable and so I choose to take another vehicle.”
I was almost nice.
The people in the Book of Mormon were willing to die to keep their covenant…perhaps I should be will to lose a few rupees. Being truly converted is a work in progress!
Related Mormon Women Project Interviews
The Power of A Snowflakes, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill
We’ve moved away from the collective forum of formal violence like world wars. We don’t do that anymore. But we have so much informal, personal, neighbor-against-neighbor, intimate, family, bullying in schoolyards violence. These things can be fought at a personal level if we give our children the tools to teach them. That is the major challenge of the 21st century: to stop violence. Violence begins in the mind, long before weapons are fired or abuse is afflicted. So preventing violence also has to take place in the mind.
Just as women are in the most vulnerable position during wars, they are also in a key position to lead this challenge against violence. They are with their little children before those children are socialized to hate. And if they could get started teaching peace, not just one woman with one child, but dozens of women with dozens of children, and hundreds of women and millions of women…I get a little emotional. We’ve got to figure out a way to fill the world with these abilities. Women have got to believe they can change the young hearts around them, and that if they do so, the momentum will build and peace will ripple through homes and neighborhoods and even countries. Peace will triumph, quietly and tenderly.
Loving Through Language, Maria Babin
We’re still living our religion and we’re creating harmony in our family, and that’s what’s most important. For me, living our religion means living a Christ-like life, a Christ-centered life. It’s treating each other with love and kindness and learning to love each other.
Other Related Women’s Voices
Your Holey Places, Ann M. Dibb
Remember This: Kindness Begins with Me, Mary N. Cook
I would like to invite each of you to do at least one Samaritan-like act this coming week. It may require that you reach beyond your usual friends or overcome your shyness. You may courageously choose to serve someone who doesn’t treat you well. I promise that if you will extend yourself beyond what is easy to do, you will feel so good inside that kindness will start to become a part of your everyday life. You’ll see that benevolence can bring joy and unity to your home, your class, your ward, and your school.’“Remember this: kindness begins with me.’
Now Is the Time to Arise and Shine Forth, Elaine S. Dalton
A group of youth in Queen Creek, Arizona, determined to ‘arise and shine forth’ and to lead the youth in their community in living the standards in For the Strength of Youth. They each wrote something that they felt was holding them back or something they wanted to change in their lives in their journals, and then they literally dug a hole. They came together, tore out the journal page, and threw it into the hole in the earth, just like the people of Ammon did in the Book of Mormon with their weapons of war. Then they buried those pages, and that day they each made a commitment to change. They repented. They determined to arise!