Are we confusing association with participation?

This summer has been a pretty great one for our little band of Battys here in Hyde Park. While Ann and I have held down the fort, Alex and Nick have continued to learn, experience, and grow.

Just as it should be.

Both of them have taken the time and the care to share some of their insights with us, helping us all to progress together.

I think one of Alex’s experiences is worth talking about today.

bird leaving nextWhen Ann and I stood back and watched her fly from the nest a year ago, we had concerns about what this new chapter of her life would bring.

But we never had concerns about what she would bring to it. She’s simply pretty AWESOME.

As she has ventured out from the relatively homogenous demographics of Cache Valley, she has discovered a whole new world of people and beliefs and thoughts and value systems.

We knew that she would stay true to what she knows within her entire being. Alex is a person of unshakable integrity and profound faith.

She simply doesn’t doubt or compromise herself.

What we did worry about was that she would retreat into the safety of a shell in order to protect herself from all of these different people and beliefs and thoughts and value systems.

Silly us.

In her own sincere, friendly, and completely honest manner, she has been upfront with new friends about who she is. Alex has learned the skill of letting people know that she is interested in them and wants to build great relationships, while at the same time being clear about things that she is not willing to do.

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In each experience, she has found that these new acquaintances were completely comfortable with her being just like anyone else in the group. As plans have been made, they knew which activities Alex was excited to join and they knew which activities where she wouldn’t be going.

It wasn’t uncomfortable or awkward.

It was just the way it was; you know, like Ann’s wisdom of “it is what it is and no good comes from wishing it were different.”

Of course, there were many outings where Alex simply made other plans and went out on her own. But she also found that several of her roommates often changed their Sunday plans to do things that were quiet and didn’t cost money.

Not because they had to, but because they didn’t see it as that big of a deal.

Sounds to me like some of these new people with different beliefs and thoughts and value systems have some pretty impressive qualities.

You see, varying values didn’t mean that one thought they were better than the other, or was being judged by the other.

It just meant that there were cases where Alex would participate, and there were cases where she would just associate.

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And everyone has been fine with that.

What’s the point?

I just wonder why we keep confusing association with participation.

Everyone should have the right to decide whether or not they will participate in an activity, just as Alex found the freedom and respect to do.

Those who oppose same-sex marriage should not be made to participate. That respects everyone’s freedom.

But those who oppose same-sex marriage should realize all that is lost by choosing not to even associate. Just because we believe and think differently doesn’t mean we can’t still be great friends.

If you think about it, that would go both ways. Those who oppose true religious liberty are missing out on some pretty great people with different beliefs and thoughts and value systems.

face the sunOne of my most repeated reminders is the scripture “perfect love casteth out fear.”

This summer Alex set the pattern each of us would do well to follow.

So often we hide behind indignation and anger out of fear.

We are afraid that others won’t understand what is important to us. We are afraid that we will give in to temptation. We are afraid that we are doing something wrong. We are afraid that others will judge us unfairly. We are afraid to be branded as one who hates rather than one who loves.

And the fear freezes us.

But Alex used love to get rid of all that fear.

She loved herself enough to be upfront about who she is and what is important to her, and to stay true to herself.

She loved her new friends enough to find all the things they shared in common and to build the relationships based on those things.

And she loves the Savior enough to always seek and then hear the soft, quiet whispers of the spirit to tell right from wrong.Savior6

This love makes her solid in where she will participate, and where she will associate.

Bottom line?

I’m confident enough in my testimony and in following our prophet’s direction to not be afraid to kindly decline an invitation to participate in a same-sex wedding. I’m also confident enough in myself to not be afraid to associate and still find the good in those different from me.

Kind of like baking them a beautiful cake should I happen to be a baker who does that for a living.

I find there’s just too much love out there to leave any room for these silly fears.

 

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