59663

‘What does belonging mean?’ Sister Tracy Browning shares thoughts on diversity, inclusion in podcast episode

by | Dec. 14, 2020

Sister Tracy Browning, a member of the Relief Society General Board, recently spoke on the Latter-day Saint Women podcast about inclusion, unity, and loving one another better.

In her calling on the Relief Society General Board, Sister Browning seeks to understand the concerns of members of the Church who feel marginalized due to issues like marital status, race, and sexual identity and help them find belonging in the Church. She also looks for ways to teach the general membership of the Church empathy for those who feel marginalized so they can better discover how to help others feel like they belong to Christ.

“And what does belonging mean?” she asks in the episode. “If I belong to the Savior, I belong in the Savior’s church. And how can we ensure that all of the members of the Church, regardless of their circumstances, regardless of their unique needs, still feel like they belong here? . . . . I can tell you that when I became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I knew that I was at home . . . and I want people to feel that. I want [it] to feel like you belong here, and this is your home, because you belong to Christ, and this is Christ's church.

Sister Browning goes on to say that expressing one’s love better is the primary answer when it comes to being inclusive and that loving others is what it means to gather Israel.

“I constantly remind myself that God doesn't ration His love. It's not a fixed commodity,” she says. “It’s offered to everyone, and we can consider how we're ensuring that we're expressing that love as broadly and widely as we can. . . . . We can always expand in this area infinitely. There isn't a cap, there isn't a limit, there's no top here. And that, to me, is really encouraging that I can be better here—that this is something that is hopeful.”

Listening to others, mourning with those that mourn, and bearing one another’s burdens goes back to our baptismal covenants, Sister Browning continues. She encourages listeners to invite the Lord into the process of figuring out how to better help people within your own sphere of influence.

Sister Browning also speaks about civil unrest and high tensions today. While these circumstances can cause divisions within society, she believes it can actually be an opportunity to draw closer together.

“I think that we are starting to believe that the division that comes from these challenges are a natural consequence of unrest, and that isn't correct,” she says. “The civil unrest is a reality, but division does not have to be the reality. It doesn't have to be the consequence of that. There is an opportunity for us to be unified, and there is an opportunity for us to really come closer together rather than drawing further apart.”

When talking to others about topics of a sensitive nature, Sister Browning says to make sure one’s expectations about the outcomes are realistic so that you don’t shut down if it goes differently than anticipated. And when approaching a tough conversation, Sister Browning says to acknowledge that the topic is sensitive, and that while you might lack understanding, your true desire is to learn and become closer to that person.

Referencing a talk by Sister Michelle D. Craig, she also encourages listeners to be introspective and consider what they should stop doing and what could they start doing to better connect with God’s children and understand everyone’s eternal identity, expressing that diversity is what ultimately makes us complete:

“I love seeing images of the Earth from space because it's beautiful, and it's cohesive, and it's harmonious. . . . And the beauty is not because it's all one shade. It's because all of these colors come together, and the colors represent diversity in parts of the world, and diversity in the way that we live, and diversity in the way that we speak and in our interest. It comes together and . . . it creates harmony. It doesn't sound discordant. Trust me, it's harmonious to God, and we have to tune our ears to start to hear the harmony.”

Listen to the entire podcast episode at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

Featured image from ChurchofJesusChrist.org
Danielle christensen

Danielle Christensen

Danielle is a features writer and editor for LDS Living. Previously, she served as web producer for Church News, where she managed their website and social media platforms. Danielle is a graduate of Brigham Young University in English and has been published with Deseret NewsChurch NewsBYU Magazine, and Spires Intercollegiate Arts and Literary Magazine.

Comments and feedback can be sent to feedback@ldsliving.com