“A Picture of Unity,” For the Strength of Youth, Apr. 2021, 6–8.
When you hear the word unity, what do you think of? Maybe a choir singing in unison or your favorite sports team playing a game together as a unit. You can find unity in families, communities, even nature!
Unity is about coming together and working as a whole. Even though we come from different backgrounds, different cultures, and have different abilities, Heavenly Father wants us to love each other and to “be one” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:27). But how can we be one when we are all so different?
We talk about unity in music and sports, but did you know we can learn about unity from art too? There’s a style of painting called pointillism where artists apply small colored dots all over a surface to create an image instead of mixing colors together on a palette and using large brush strokes. When you stand close to these paintings, all you can see are individual dots of color.
However, when you take a step back, the dots blend together to reveal a picture.
The individual colored dots all work together to create something beautiful. Just like the dots, we are all unique individuals. Heavenly Father sees the “full picture.” He sees us all as His sons and daughters, “heirs to the kingdom of God” (4 Nephi 1:17). If we can also learn how to step back and see the bigger picture, we can learn how to love and work with people who are different from us. Here are some things we can do to work at being unified.
Remembering our baptismal covenants helps us work toward being unified with others. In Mosiah 18:10 we read that part of being baptized is agreeing to serve God and keep His commandments. One way we do this is “to bear one another’s burdens, … mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:8–9).
When we reach out to a friend who is sad, help our parents with chores around the house, or reach out to someone new at school, we are making the effort to open our hearts to them and have our “hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:21). What are some other ways you can keep your baptismal covenant to serve God? You might even ask yourself this question the next time you take the sacrament. As you look for other ways to build unity with others, Heavenly Father will help you.
In the Book of Mormon, the people used names as a way to divide and separate themselves. They called themselves Nephites, Lamanites, Zoramites, and Amalekites—just to name a few. Sometimes they even had special markings to physically show which group they belonged to (see Alma 3:4). They were happiest when they didn’t have any “-ites” (see 4 Nephi 1:16–17).
Think about your work, school, or neighborhood. We might not use labels such as “Nephites” or “Zoramites,” but can you think of other labels people might use? Some people in the world try to separate us based on things such as physical abilities, the color of our skin, or even how much money we have. That is not how Jesus Christ taught us to act. He taught us to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mark 12:31). To be more like Jesus Christ, avoid using labels or names that divide us.
Part of unity is “learn[ing] to take joy in the successes of siblings and friends. …We must all strive to become more humble.”1 Sometimes this can feel hard. Maybe your best friend made the team but you didn’t, or your sibling got a better grade in school than you. We might feel sad or hurt to see someone else succeed. Even though it might feel difficult, try celebrating with them! We all have wonderful gifts and talents and our Heavenly Father wants each of us to seek and develop good gifts.
Sometimes we may tend to interact only with those who look like us, talk like us, or think like us. But Jesus Christ always went out of his way to interact with those who were seen as different. Differences can be good and are needed!
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency has said, “Even … differences can be seen as an opportunity. God will help us see a difference in someone else not as a source of irritation but as a contribution.”2 Not everyone can play the same position on a sports team or sing the same part in a choir. The world would be boring if all the flowers were the same color or if all the trees looked the same. Differences can make the world better and help us to be one.
As you work to build unity with others, you might see we’re not as different from each other as we think. As we learn to see each other as Heavenly Father sees us, we will come to understand that everyone is needed and belongs in the kingdom of God. We are each a wonderful dot of color in a beautiful mural. And let’s face it, it just wouldn’t be the same without you.