I'm exhausted by hate. And it is not the hatred that instigates genocide, burns villages, and breeds terror. That hatred breaks my heart, but it moves me to reach out, to fight back with love, and to rid myself of dangerous prejudices.
The hatred that wears me down, that tempts me to retaliate and perpetuate hate is the kind among neighbors, among Church members, among friends. It's the petty hate, judgment, and gossip that builds walls and elicit personal attacks. It's the constant searching to argue and misunderstand each other; to look past a person's meaning searching only for reasons to disagree or become hurt, angry, or offended; to ignore someone else's pain and refuse to admit mistakes and apologize; to justify away all our actions; to fear and avoid difference or uncertainty rather than try to understand it.
I understand there is much within Mormon culture that needs to change. I understand members of this Church will never be perfect. I understand hurtful things are said and done. But I also understand that we need to stop bashing and start building. We need to spend more time recognizing the good than complaining about the bad. We need to understand that this is the Lord's Church, so maybe this is how it is meant to be.
One day when I was overwhelmed by the number of flaws and problems I saw within Church culture, leaders, and members, a thought hit me with such force, I could feel it sink deep into my stomach. I need to stop expecting the Church—and most importantly the people within it—to be perfect. If it were, I would never belong.
The Church has its hiccups and its members are flawed for a specific and beautiful reason. Heavenly Father isn't just watching us flounder while refusing to help. This is part of His plan. This is His genius and divine design.
When our Savior was on the earth, He healed the sick, the blind, the broken, the sinners because "the whole need not a physician." So then why would He create a Church that only included the perfect or the nearly perfect? Why would he create a gospel only meant for those who didn't need it?
As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, "Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work."
Many of the problems or arguments in the Church arise when we expect perfection—from ourselves or others. Comparisons set in, judgment, pride, unhappiness, pressure, frustration, etc. Instead of hiding and hating our flaws and those of others, I think we would be better off embracing them because they are the very reasons we belong in this Church.
So I'm making a goal for myself to do my best to avoid judging others—especially by labeling others as judgmental. I've discovered recently that the moment I begin using my own ideas and standards to judge others, that's when I am furthest from the Savior and everything I hope to become. It's impossible to have charity, love, virtue, hope, and any other Christlike attribute if we cannot recognize it in others.
I'm so grateful I belong to a Church run by imperfect people. It's because of that, I know I belong.
And I know we can grow and heal, together.