Would you have Crucified Christ?

Image

I have often said that it our own insecurities that fuel our need to judge others.These insecurities when combined with other insecure individuals can hit a fever pitch within communities who share a similar belief.  Communities wherein are found a dominant religion are more subject to this fever pitch than others.  My comments are centered around the state of Utah and the LDS faith that are dominant in that area, yet I know that the same holds true in other communities where any religion is dominant.

I have wrestled with this post much over the past months.  I have been prompted many times to write regarding this subject yet have great trepidation in doing so.  I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I live in the Salt Lake Valley.  My faith in the teachings of the Church are secure and firm as I deeply understand the principle teachings of our church, yet I find tremendous disappointment in the vast insecurities of both the members and former members and their incessant need to judge, shame and ostracize others.

One rule in this post, there will be no toleration for any negative attacks towards this church or any other religion in the comments of this post, they will be removed.  This is about individuals and their own insecurities, not a church.

I have heard it said that we should treat others as we would treat our Savior Jesus Christ.  That we should love one another, serve one another and lift one anothers burdens. If that being so, if we cause harm in any way to another are we not guilty of violating this?  Would we have also participated in the crucifixion of Christ if our actions today towards others hurt and destroy?

In a society with a dominant religion, many people feel that in order to fit in that they must belong to that particular faith.   While many would argue that is not the case and that those members are warm, loving and welcoming people, I disagree.  As a member of that dominant religion, this is simply untrue.

Anyone reading this blog knows and understands that my life simply does not fit with the ideal Mormon home and family.  I have personally experienced and felt the cruel, harsh and painful comments, actions, and judgements of those with “holier than thou” attitudes towards others.  If it were not for my deep testimony and belief in the teachings, I would have left this church years ago based upon the actions of those in the community.

I see this happen regularly within our community, where those who struggle in life due to circumstances created either by others, fate or themselves, who have trials sometimes too much too bear are ostracized by the very people whom you would think would practice what their church teaches and “love one another” even as Jesus Christ loves each of us.

My experiences from coming home from my mission onward to today have created empathy within me to see others for who they are, not who anyone thinks they should be!  The church teaches that one of its missions on earth is the perfecting of the saints.  Perfecting is a process as no one on this earth is or ever will be perfect.  That one perfect individual, our Savior has already come and no one else will ever be perfect.  Perfecting requires work and time, not the here and now.

So with that clear principle, why do others in communities with dominant religions judge those who are not perfect?  Why are so many ostracized, criticized, shamed or belittled for not being perfect?  For being different?  For not believing? and why is it that those who choose to leave the church become worse than those within in their attacks and persecution of others?

The answer is personal insecurity.  Those who shame, judge, criticize or ostracize others are deeply insecure that others may find that they too are not perfect and therefore find themselves subject to the same unrealistic standards they force upon others.  Ones they know they cannot possibly live up to.  They misdirect the attention from themselves towards those who are different or struggling in some way to avoid the self reflection within themselves, as they most certainly would be repulsed by what they see staring back at them when their own standards are applied.

So if you are one who finds the need to comment, avoid, shame or judge others who are different, look in the mirror and see what true hatred and animosity looks like,  If you stop your kids from playing with someone who is of a different religion, avoid those with tattoos, smokers, coffee drinkers or drinkers of alcohol; if you invite one family and not another to the neighborhood barbeque because they are different or not a member, if you wave to one neighbor who attends church but look away at the one who doesn’t then STOP IT! Stop crucifying others and start living what you profess and begin to replace your own personal insecurities with love and compassion.

Are you the Pharisee or Sadducee within the church who pressed for Christ’s crucifixion or the sinner believing in Christ and his redemptive power to heal?  Would you have crucified Christ?  What do your personal actions in how you treat, talk, and respond to others say about you?

The person you are directing your judgment towards, avoiding, shaming or ostracizing more than likely understands love, empathy, compassion and service greater than you ever could.  All Christlike qualities.  I for one stand with those who have felt betrayed, scorned, ridiculed, shamed and judged within a community for a life given and not chosen.

As we find our path and choose our way in life we do so within our own abilities and control.  We accept and move forward in life with those things we cannot control, such as illness and other peoples choices.

What we see in others is a reflection of what we see in ourselves.

 

MOVING FORWARD IN FAITH – The story of William and Elizabeth Xavier Tait

Image

In 1842, while on a mission to Scotland, Parley P Pratt met and baptized a young man named William Tait.  Sometime after his baptism William joined the British Military and was sent to Bombay India where he met a beautiful Indian woman named Elizabeth Xavier.  Elizabeth was a member of the royal family in India, she was a woman of privilege, highly educated, attended by servants and familiar with the finer things in life.

William and Elizabeth fell madly in love.  William had continued to profess his beliefs in the mormon church, although it had been 8 years since his baptism and he had no contact with the church members.  Elizabeth, was in love with a man who was out of her culture and out of her family’s religion.  She was upper class and expected to marry within her culture and religion.  She married William in 1850 and joined the church in 1852 when Elder Hugh Findlay was called to serve a mission in Bombay, India.  She was ostracized and disowned by her family.

William served in the Branch Presidency of the fledgling branch and helped bring 19 souls to the gospel, He and Elizabeth had two children while in India, Her younger son passed away of cholera while in India, her oldest son John would leave with his Father to join the saints in Salt Lake while Elizabeth, now pregnant would remain behind while she delivered her baby and then she would quickly join them.

On April 22, 1855 Mary Ann Tait was born. Then on Monday October 15, 1855 Elizabeth finally set sail to Liverpool England with her infant daughter Mary Ann,  after a torrent of pleas from her people to stay and abandon this church and people.  While on her journey, little Mary Ann contracted pneumonia and died, only to be buried in Liverpool.   Lonely and distraught Elizabeth could not go on.  She was heartbroken and longed for William.  An inspired mission president of the Liverpool mission encouraged her to Move forward in faith.  Elizabeths soul ached as she boarded the ship Enoch Train which departed Liverpool for Boston on March 22, 1856 leaving her dear Mary Ann behind.

Elizabeths journey would continue where she would join the ill fated Willie Handcart Company.  Alone she traveled pulling a handcart as she witnessed and lived the many tragic events that occurred in that fateful journey.  It is reported that William was part of the rescue party that left Salt Lake in October 1856 to rescue his beloved bride and daughter, for William did not yet know that Mary Ann had passed away.  When Elizabeth saw Williams red hair and red beard reportedly her screams filled with tears of Joy at the reunion could be heard echoing in the camp.

Elizabeths story doesn’t end there.  William and Elizabeth settled in Cedar City Utah, yet her most formidable challenge was still ahead of her.  You see, Elizabeth had incredibly dark skin as a result of being of India descent, she was the target of discrimination, her wealthy upbringing provided an initial lack of preparation as pioneer, as such, she was ostracized and treated poorly by her relief society sisters.

Elizabeth had given up her wealth, her religion, her culture, her family, her people, her status, her children, suffered immensely crossing the plains, to become ostracized and treated  poorly by her adopted house of Israel.

Her story doesn’t end there!  William and Elizabeth are my Great Great Great Grandparents.  They taught us through their faithfulness and example how to Move Forward in Faith:

You see,   William and Elizabeth never questioned the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

They had a great love for the Lord and a deep testimony and conviction of their Savior and his love and atoning sacrifice for us:

They listened to and abided the counsel of the prophet and apostles.

They kept an ETERNAL perspective on life.

They exercised FAITH, they understood well that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mindset and that without faith there cannot be any hope

They heeded and hearkened to the promptings of the Holy Ghost

They served the Lord in every capacity asked to do so. They walked to the edge of the light.  They lived and understood Ether 12:6 “Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith”

They found Joy in the Journey

They Proceeded with Trust in the Lord

They did not take counsel from their own FEARS

They waited patiently upon the Lord and his revelation for them

They knew and understood that God would provide

And they MOVED FORWARD in all things asked of them, understanding that Faith Precedes the Miracle.

In D & C 121: 7-8 we read that “Peace be unto thy soul:”   “Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but for small moment:”  “And if then thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high:  Thou shalt triumph over thy foes.”

The Lord is providing comfort and speaking peace to us.  He wants us to be at peace and have joy.  He wants to exalt us if we will endure well.  To endure well we must be moving forward.   We must do so in Faith.   Sometimes we must move forward in faith until our way is illuminated.  The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God, line upon line, precept upon precept,

When we are uncertain of the path ahead, we fill up our hearts with faith, go forward into the unknown and stop and pray again and again,  Then we move forward.  Faith is a principle of action.  The answers to prayer and the solutions to our problems generally come as we begin to act.

May we always act in Faith as we move forward in this Joyous Gospel plan.  May our testimonies reside in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and in his atonement.