Live and Let Live

If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.

– Joseph Smith

How do we treat those who hold different standards than we do?

I’ve thought about this a lot in my life, particularly since returning home from my mission.  Those who have served a mission will be able to relate to coming home and feeling like everyone in your family and circle of friends is going to hell.  I did.  One of the earliest things I remember after coming home was going to an “Office Party”, where my friends watched the newest episode of The Office (now one of my favorite TV shows).  The particular episode they were watching that week was Gay Witch Hunt (ironic, I know).  I couldn’t believe that my friends would actually enjoy watching something I had deemed to be so sinful.  And my family didn’t have family prayer every night?  What?  I was really frustrated.

That was 3 years ago, and things have changed a lot.  I’ve been put in situations where I have had to think about my standards and how I react when someone close to me is not living the they should.  I hope my friend L will forgive me for using her as an example of this.  I won’t go into great detail though.  L came to a point in her life where she was making some drastic changes and, in my opinion at that time, was being stupid.  She was no longer living many of the “gospel standards”, and it seemed she was doing so in a form of rebellion – doing this just to do so.  This was really hard for me.  I began to distance myself from her by avoiding her emails, texts, and phone calls.  She knew what was going on, but wanted to talk about it.  Finally, I emailed her and very bluntly told her that I no longer wanted to be around her.  This was very hard for her because everyone else had done the same thing, and now her best friend of 6 years was turning his back on her.  She had no other friends.

I had a strong internal battle going on in my mind.  Why did I feel the need to do this?  She wasn’t hurting me or bringing me down, was she?  No, she wasn’t.  I had to ask myself, in the most cliché way possible, “What would Jesus do?” .  He would love her and try to help her in any way he could.  This ate away at me, but I still didn’t feel comfortable being with her.  She wasn’t living the standards. Since then, our friendship has healed, I see her often, and we are still best friends.

I have since then learned some things about standards and how I believe we should treat those who are not living “the standards”.

I believe it is so important to realize that everyone is different.  Duh, I know.  But really…no one is the same.  We all have our own challenges, strengths, ways to bless people, etc.  God knows our hearts, and I will let him be the judge (at least, I try not to take that role, but it still happens).  That is why I will never tell someone how to live their life.  I don’t know what they are going through.  (I used to be kind of upset when those who struggle with SGA would give in and “live the lifestyle”, as we tend to say.  Now I have realized that some people will be happier “living the lifestyle” (I use that term loosely, by the way) than they would be in the church.  And if that is how they feel, then I am happy for them because they are happy.  That is the same thing with my friends L and K, that I mentioned in my last post.  They are happier out of the church then they are in the church).

Now to finally get to the point of all this rambling.  I have been learning that I need to hold people to their standards, and not my own or anybody else.  I of course believe that my morals and standards are the best, but that is only because they are best for me.  My standards aren’t for anyone but me.  I do believe that most people will be happy living the standards of the LDS church, but there are other ways to feel at peace with yourself too.  If anything, living the LDS standards will keep you safe and drama free. 🙂 Anyway, what I mean to say is this:  Hold people to their own standards.  I think that we ought to hold everyone to some kind of moral standard (that C.S. Lewis refers to as the Law of Human Nature) that includes things such as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Past that, though, live and let live.  When a friend isn’t living the way I would, I try not to be so hasty to turn my back on them.  Rather, I try to help them live what they believe.  When a friend says “I’m okay with drinking, I just don’t want to get wasted”, I hold them to that standard.  I try to think of them and their pursuit of happiness, and if I feel like they might be doing something that goes against their personal moral code, I express concern and try to remind them of their goals.  Goals may change and I must change my assessment of their situation.

This is now how I try to interact with people.  I will respect any choice that doesn’t inhibit someone from living with their own basic rights, and I try to be sentimental of every situation.


3 Responses

  1. This reminds me of one of those cheezy Mormon-themed movies “Return with Honor” I watched a while back. We should watch it sometime! It’s actually kind of good, but in a cheezy way.

  2. I have spent most of my life living as if my way were the only way, and ironically being miserable the whole time. I can’t exactly say that this was wasted time, but it was definitely not lived in the happiest most peaceful way possible. It is a daily effort for me now to allow others to live- to encourage them to live according to their own path. Hopefully I’ve caught on to this early enough in my kid’s lives that they will feel free to be who they are. It is the only reason I am still married to my amazing husband. One of the many blessings of adversity and trials.

  3. I think I told you this in the comments of my post that I like that Joseph Smith quote. I think it’s great you are doing your own “Logansides”. I went to Utah State for a little bit before my mission and could have benefitted from something like that.

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