Not every LDS teen boy has a missionary haircut. And some young women wear clothing that is too revealing. But here's why you should think twice before commenting on their appearance.
My 15-year-old son has long, shaggy hair that comes to his shoulders. And most of the time, he refuses to wear a tie to church.
As a parent of a child who doesn't fit the ideal Mormon mold, it is sometimes painful to watch how fellow Church members react to my son's appearance.
Don't get me wrong. Most people are trying to be encouraging and good natured about it, but without fail, every Sunday there is someone who can't resist commenting on my son's haircut (or lack thereof) or his outfit. When this happens, I cringe.
Don't they know how hard it was to get him to church in the first place? If you received unsolicited critiques about your hair and clothing every time you came to church, would it make you want to come back? The fact that he is here is a victory in and of itself.
But these well-meaning Church members don't know--and that's my point.
They don't know that my son's long hair is successfully covering his large ears that he is extremely self-conscious about. Nor do they know that he is struggling with his testimony, and it's all I can do to get him to church at all. So on behalf of LDS parents whose children might look a little edgy or rough around the edges, I ask a few things of our fellow Saints:
When presented with an immodest dress to wear in a photo shoot promoting heart health, Noelle Pikus-Pace had a decision to make: wear the dress for a good cause, or stick to her standards.
Before my first Olympic appearance, I was invited to attend an incredibly comprehensive social event known as the Media Summit. This national event attracts every newspaper, magazine, television broadcast, charity foundation, and webcast with any interest in sports, health, or fitness. Athletes expected to do well in the Olympics received invitations to attend, and we were asked to bring a variety of clothes to wear throughout the event. They wanted workout clothes, “Sunday best,” formal wear, competition gear and equipment, “going out” outfits, winter gear, and then basically anything else left in your closet after packing all of these items.
Near the end of the summit, my escort explained to me that one of the biggest photo shoots was just ahead. There would be photographers from Getty Images, NBC, Women’s Health, Shape Magazine, the Associated Press, and many others. Many photographers were asking the athletes to show off their bodies. They wanted to see the muscles and definition. They clapped and cheered as the athletes posed.
I was rushed into my final interview before this photo shoot, and as soon as I came out of the interview and into the massive studio room filled with lights, backdrops, and props, three women grabbed my suitcases out of my hands, opened them up, and sprawled my clothes out across a table. They were discussing what I should wear for each part of the shoot.
Many people wonder “Is my testimony strong enough? Do I really know the Church is true? How do I know if I know?” Read why testimonies are like a dimmer switch--and learn how you can strengthen your testimony to a perfect brightness of faith.
Many years ago, a young man (he was only twenty-three years old) was called to be the new stake president in Tooele, Utah. In those days, stake conferences had two sessions, and at lunch between the sessions, Joseph F. Smith, one of the General Authorities attending, said to the new stake president, “You said you believe the gospel with all your heart, and propose to live it, but you did not bear your testimony that you know it is true. Don’t you know absolutely that this gospel is true?”
“I do not,” answered the young man.
“President Taylor,” said Elder Smith to the President of the Church, John Taylor, who was also in attendance, “I am in favor of undoing this afternoon what we did this morning. I do not think any man should preside over a stake who has not a perfect and abiding knowledge of the divinity of this work.”
President Taylor just laughed and said, “Joseph, Joseph, Joseph, he knows it just as well as you do. The only thing that he does not know is that he does know it.”
That story brings up a very interesting question: Is it possible to know that the Church is true, but not know that you know? Is a testimony that hard to detect? This story is even more interesting when you learn the identity of the new stake president. His name was Heber J. Grant. Yes, the same Heber J. Grant who later became the President of the Church.
When we put together our list of 9 Callings We Overlook, it turns out, we overlooked a few ourselves! Here are seven more examples of callings that give back much more than we give them credit for.
Elder M. Russell Ballard taught, “[G]reat things are brought about and burdens are lightened through the efforts of many hands 'anxiously engaged in a good cause' (D&C 58:27). Imagine what the millions of Latter-day Saints could accomplish in the world if we functioned like a beehive in our focused, concentrated commitment to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
One of the greatest things about the Church is that everyone, if possible, is given an opportunity to serve by their leaders. We all have a part to play in the function of the Church and the spreading of the gospel. Sometimes callings are prominent and praised for their difficulty, but there are many more callings that are often overlooked and deserving of just as much praise. After our last blog about some underappreciated callings, we asked you which callings you feel deserve to be highlights, and here are a few more examples.
Activity Day leaders--These women plan two activities a month for girls 8 to 11 years old. It's a great way to help girls transition from Primary to Young Women, and it also helps them develop life skills at an early age. Under the supervision of Activity Day leaders, these young girls make crafts, give service, and learn through spiritual activities. Since Activity Days is only for girls in a specific age range, this calling is often overlooked and unthanked.
Today is President Boyd K Packer's 90th birthday--he's had a lot of experiences in those 90 years. Celebrate his rich life by reading this firsthand account of a visit to a Relief Society meeting held in Czechoslovakia behind the Iron Curtain.
Some years ago Sister Packer and I were in Czechoslovakia, then behind the Iron Curtain. It was not easy to obtain visas, and we used great care so as not to jeopardize the safety and well-being of our members, who for generations had struggled to keep their faith alive under conditions of unspeakable oppression.
The most memorable meeting was held in an upper room. The blinds were drawn. Even at night, those attending came at different times, one from one direction and one from another, so as to not call attention to themselves.
There were in attendance twelve sisters. We sang the hymns of Zion from songbooks—words without music—printed more than fifty years before. The lesson was reverently given from the pages of a handmade manual. The few pages of Church literature we could get to them were typed at night, twelve carbon copies at a time, so as to share a few precious pages as widely as possible among the members.
I told those sisters that they belonged to the largest and by all measure the greatest women’s organization on earth. I quoted the Prophet Joseph Smith when he and the Brethren organized the Relief Society: “I now turn the key in [behalf of all women].”
This society is organized “according to your natures. . . . You are now placed in a situation in which you can act according to those sympathies [within you]. . . .