“Stripped of Spiritual Blinders,” Ensign, June 2000, 49–51
One sister in our branch had many serious problems. Her life appeared to move from crisis to crisis, and each crisis required attention. Someone in the family was always ill or something was always putting strains on the family budget, taking up the time of my husband, the branch president. Because of these frequent upsets, she often missed fulfilling her Church callings, obligating others to substitute for her with little or no notice. She and her husband were beset by debt and financial worries, yet by all appearances they spent money freely and impulsively on things they didn’t need.
I asked myself, Why can’t she make some changes, live more frugally, and be more responsible? Things don’t have to be that bad. My exasperation with what I perceived to be her inability to take charge of her life persisted and even began to fester into a tight-lipped feeling that perhaps she deserved her problems.
At the same time, I was also painfully aware that my attitude toward this sister did not square with the gospel principle of charity. “Charity suffereth long, and is kind,” Mormon reminded me, “and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (Moro. 7:45). The words wouldn’t go away, pushing their way into my mind to confront my impatience. I recognized that my feelings toward this sister were unkind and uncharitable, as corrosive to my spirituality as they were damaging to her identity. How could I change my un-Christlike attitude?
I started with prayer, each day asking Heavenly Father to help me want to change, to want to feel charitable toward this sister. Day by day I sought help to do what I could not do alone. And eventually help came. After some weeks I found myself thinking about this sister in nonjudgmental terms. Moved, I thanked Heavenly Father for His gift, for this change in attitude, and began entreating Him to help me see my sister as He saw her.
As I continued to pray, an interesting thing happened. Her strengths began to be revealed to me: her compassion toward others, the pains she took to minister to their needs. I began to notice her homemaking talents, skillfully and industriously applied, and her sense of humor, bubbling and buoyant. But most of all, I began to see her gift of charity, her ability to accept others as they were, to see the good in them, to enjoy and value and affirm them. Charity! I had thought to take this gift to her, but instead I found her bringing it to me!
I began to love this sister, to care about her struggles, to rejoice in her successes and gratefully accept her gifts to me. It was humbling and yet exhilarating to be stripped of my spiritual blinders and to experience the profound influence of the Holy Ghost. I began to resonate to Alma’s words: the principle of charity “beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me” (Alma 32:28).—Name Withheld