4. Fear often makes us do dumb things.
I know no excuse can make up for rude comments or for when that member of the ward told you the Church didn't need you or someone chastised or deliberately embarrassed you or your neighbor set their standards up as commandments and judged you against them or a stranger attacked you on Facebook and uses scriptures to justify themselves. It hurts, and our survival instinct prods us to strike back.
But remember, that person who judged you unjustifiably doesn't know you, and most importantly, you don't know them. They could be facing heart-wrenching, horrible challenges that caused them to act uncharacteristically. Or they could be acting out in fear. Most hatred is really thinly-veiled fear, and something about you may have truly frightened this other person, making them feel as though their beliefs or culture or way of life is being threatened.
Or they could even honestly think what they said and feel justified in saying it. But it's not your place to decide whether they misjudged you or not. It's God's. So take a deep breath and leave the judgment with Him. Replace fear and hatred with faith and love. We'll all be better off for it.
5. Mormons are taught to defend their beliefs.
Often one admirable characteristic Mormons develop is the ability to stick to our standards and never settle, to defend our beliefs, to never back down. "Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all," Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said. "Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them."
There's something truly beautiful in that teaching. But often our language tends to paint the world as a war, and the violence people sometimes use in attacking our beliefs only enhances our view that we need to fight for our voices to be heard. In fact, we see so many arguments against the Church we assume everyone is attacking our faith.
But sometimes that's just not the case. Sometimes we entangle Mormon culture with commandments so entirely that when people try to make an observation or disagree with anything from the nature of Heavenly Father to whether or not we drink caffeine, we see that as an attack on our belief and the core of who we are. And when that happens, we often don't stop to ask for clarification, we just jump in, ready to battle, ready to defend, ready to not back down, entirely forgetting that Elder Holland used the words "with courtesy and compassion."
In those moments, we also forget that the Lord's voice, the most powerful and correct of any voice "was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn" (3 Nephi 11:3).