A Little Gentler

If we could observe the Savior’s dealings with his neighbors and family during his mortal ministry, I think we would see a different approach to helping others improve.

This week, a non-member family in the city of Lodi requested a visit for their two children who are college-aged. Before the appointment, the parents talked to us over the phone for a few minutes to explain what was going on with their kids. They felt that their son, who had just graduated, lacked motivation to go out and work. Their daughter, they said, was rebellious and struggled to follow instructions from her parents. They hoped that a lesson from us could solve these problems.

When we entered the home they sat their kids down in the living room, and we started a conversation to evaluate what kind of lesson we could share. The small talk led us into a discussion of the value of the family. Then, in her frustration, the mother said, “The problem with my daughter is that she’s not trustworthy. She lies to us and we have a hard time dealing with her.”

The mood in the room stiffened a little, and we gracefully diverted the conversation to another topic before showing a short video and leaving them with our testimonies of the Atonement and God’s grace.

I wonder how Crystal felt when her mom called her out on her personal flaws. From her silence during the lesson it wasn’t hard to tell that she felt deserted and torn. Neither was it hard to notice the tear that dripped down her face as she stared down at her hands in her lap.

Can we resolve to be a little gentler in our interactions with others? If we could observe the Savior’s dealings with his neighbors and family during his mortal ministry, I think we would see a different approach to helping others improve. Most people have sincere and righteous desires, and even though we all occasionally mess up we all would like to be told that we’re doing a good job.

“Many of you think you are failures. You feel you cannot do well, that with all of your effort it is not sufficient… We all worry about our performance. We all wish we could do better. But… [you] never know how much good you do” (Gordon B. Hinckley, 2003).

The best correction that I have received has been sandwiched between honest compliments and expressions of love. May we all be a little more merciful, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (3 Nephi 14:2).

Then speak no ill, but lenient be
To others’ failings as your own.
If you’re the first a fault to see,
Be not the first to make it known,
For life is but a passing day;
No lip may tell how brief its span.
Then, oh, the little time we stay,
Let’s speak of all the best we can.
(Hymns, 233)

Elder Torres

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