During my first semester at CSU, I got out especially early after an exam. As I walked through campus back to my apartment, I embraced the beauty of the mid fall day. The sun was shining, the sky was a brilliant blue, and the leaves were yellow, red, and orange. I was completely enjoying nature, campus, and fall.
“Excuse me, can I ask you a question?” Two young women stopped me. I figured they needed directions to somewhere on campus.
“Sure, what’s going on?”
The girls proceeded to talk to me about Jesus Christ and my thoughts and feelings about Him, about church, and about religion. As we talked, I found we had a lot in common. We had similar views and understanding about Christ, who He is, His Atonement, His resurrection, and our purpose on earth. I opened up more about my beliefs, especially how families are forever. Once I made some of these statements, the girls’ attitudes changed. One seemed confused, yet open to listen, while the other’s eyes shot daggers at me. The good feeling of love and commonality changed into coldness. This girl began to verbally attack me. She began to make contentious and argumentative comments and questions to me. I remember saying “I was polite and respectful to you when you shared your beliefs, please give me the same curtesy.” She would not. I ended up just walking away.
I was in my second trimester and my emotions were rattled. I couldn’t understand why they would attack me in such a way. I remember going to work and still feeling upset and bothered. The thought came “Do other Christians attack each other the same way, or is it just Mormons?”
The girls that I worked with were both very devout Christians. I asked them if other faiths ever bashed on them. They said they had never had such an experience, and showed me a lot of sympathy and remorse that that had happened to me.
The other day, my car was in the shop and I wanted to take Princess Pea to the zoo. I drove Superman to work in his car, so that I could use it for the day. It was early in the morning. After we dropped him off at the school he teaches at, Pea asked me to turn on the radio. As usual, the radio was set on sports talk radio. I began to scan for music. I stopped at the first song that I heard. I wasn’t really listening to it, until Pea asked me what song was it. I realized that I had stopped on a Christian station. The singer professed a sweet message that resonated with me. I felt the Spirit tell me that this was true, the message was real, and Heavenly Father loved me.
We listened to that station the rest of the day in the car. Every song seemed to be a message to me from Heavenly Father. I wondered why I hadn’t really listened to Christian music before. I realized that there was some unspoken idea that I had that non-Mormon Christian music was a joke. Maybe it was the commercials from the 90’s for WOW That’s What I Call Worship CDs that made it seem so strange, maybe it was the fact that Mormons have “their own music” that doesn’t seem to get played on those stations, or maybe it was the fact that I didn’t really know too many Mormons that listen to it; whatever the reason, I realized there was a strange stigma I had about not just Christian radio, but other Christian Faiths in general.
I can remember many times when I have had conversations about religion with other Christians about their views and almost always, there has been common ground, common understanding, common ideas; if we have so much in common, why the dissonance?
I remember in high school, I had an acquaintance approach me and say “My pastor talked about your religion on Sunday, you know, Mormons. He said how what you believe is wrong.” I told my mom about it. She said that other churches may bash on our faith, but you will never hear a Bishop or Leader get up and bad mouth another religion. While this is true, there have been many comments made in Sunday School classes, at activities, and in hallways about what other people believe. This may seem like innocent reaffirmation about our own beliefs and faith, but regardless, it isn’t right.
There have been many times when people try to inform me what my religion says, what I believe. It’s nearly comical. But I myself have been a perpetrator. I remember talking to a Catholic friend, and offending her because I had heard many people whisper and talk about how Catholics worship saints and the Virgin Mary. She politely told me that she did not worship them, but revered them as being righteous and strong believers. In that moment I understood how people get the idea that we worship Joseph Smith. We don’t we just revere him.
As I have been studying the New Testament, I read this commentary about the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees and the Sadducees had different beliefs. Their beliefs were contrary, they hated each other, but they were both Jewish. We may be different, but we are Christian. We don’t have to hate each other because of our differences, we can love each other for what we have in common, for the fact that we are all people, we are all human.
How have you been able to see passed differences and find common ground?