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It’s natural to hope our ward will change and accept us for who we are. While some wards are better at acceptance, none will be perfect. We may find ourselves surrounded by people who just don’t understand us or know how to welcome. Sometimes we may not see the love and welcoming that those around us show.
What do we do in these circumstances?
We cannot let our difference define us.
We are children of Heavenly Parents. We are divine and have the potential to be like Them. Even if our differences are great, we should never let those differences define us. Our divinity is in our DNA—that’s what should define us.
We can take ownership and have courage.
It’s up to us to find belonging. Family members, leaders, and those around us may never how to help us feel welcome. They may not even know we feel like we don’t belong. We must remember we are not at the mercy of others to show belonging. We can’t wait on the sidelines for others to welcome us. Instead we can take ownership to feel a part of your ward, family, or group. We can find ways to take part in a way that maximizes our commonalities. I know an openly gay man who went to his bishop and said, “I want a ministering assignment. Is there someone who you would feel comfortable with me being their ministering brother?” This man just wanted to serve. We can find ways to participate that don’t center on our difference. We can join the choir, clean the building, volunteer for service projects, or join groups. Depending on our current situation, we may not be asked to teach or give a church talk but we can bear our testimonies, talking about the things we hope to be true, the things we hold dear, and the struggles we feel. There is almost always a way we can take part in church despite our differences.
We must remember we aren’t alone.
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