“No Mormons Allowed,” Liahona, Oct. 2005, 46–47
We had just moved to a small rural town where not many members of the Church lived. Our little branch was a friendly, close-knit group, and we enjoyed each Sabbath day and the opportunity to attend church. Our only concern was for our children, who had few playmates their ages in our branch. My husband and I decided to look for ways to make friends outside of the Church so our children could have new friends and get to know people from different faiths.
My hopes were soon dashed, however, when a local children’s group told me that because we were “Mormons,” we were not welcome in their group. I had belonged to similar groups in other areas where there weren’t many Latter-day Saints, and religion had never been an issue before. I assured the leaders of the group that I would not try to proselytize or force my religion on anyone; my family and I just wanted to make friends and meet new people. But they remained firm in their decision and did not allow us to join.
I decided that I would be kind, Christlike, and friendly to the people of this town so they would see that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are good people. We started inviting other children over to play, inviting neighbor families to dinner, and visiting with others in an effort to get to know people. I read conference talks, Church magazine articles, and scriptures about fellowship, kindness, and serving others. Then I worked to put these principles into practice in my life. I knew if I could show the people of this town how kind and loving Latter-day Saint families can be, this group would be sure to accept us in time.
Time passed, however, and although we were able to befriend the leaders of this social group, they remained firm in their “no Mormons allowed” position.
I decided then to continue being neighborly and kind to the people in my town, but I also decided to search out a similar social group in a neighboring town. But even there I was told that Latter-day Saints were not allowed to join their group. By then I was so frustrated I wanted to cry. What was wrong with the people in these two towns? Couldn’t they see that we were a kind, fun family?
I prayed for the Spirit to guide me and help me be as friendly and Christlike as possible. I prayed that those who knew me would feel in their hearts that we were good people. I prayed they would experience a change of heart that would lead them to accept us. Still, I felt as if my prayers weren’t being answered. No matter how hard I tried, I was unable to soften their hearts.
Then one evening I received a phone call that shattered my hopes altogether. The leaders of the group called and told me once again that my family was not welcome in their group. They were concerned that we might be expecting to join in the future because we had made so many friends in the community. They said some very hurtful things, and I cried with a broken heart. All of the dinners, service projects, cookies, and sidewalk chats had meant nothing to these people. Where had I gone wrong?
That night I prayed a heartfelt and sincere request for help in dealing with those who had such strong feelings against the Church. I felt as if I were now entitled to their favor because of my efforts, and I explained this to my Father in Heaven.
The answer was stronger than any impression I had received for quite some time: “Follow Christ.”
It confused me at first. “Yes,” I thought, “but I already do.” The cookies, the friendship, the reaching out—I was being as Christlike as I could. Still, the only impression I received was “Follow Christ.”
I then realized that when my energies are focused on following Christ, I am not affected as much by the opinions of others. I serve them because it is right and not because it will help my image as a Latter-day Saint. I am friendly and neighborly because I feel friendly and neighborly, not because I have some self-centered reason for being friendly.
“Follow Christ” has become my motto whenever I am troubled by those who dislike us because of our faith. I now find joy in serving others regardless of their reaction to my kindness, and I am blessed for it. I did not come to earth to win the approval of others. I came here to prepare to return to my Father in Heaven, and the only way to get there is to follow the Savior.