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Some months ago in a Relief Society class, we discussed developing compassion and changing our hearts about certain people. At first, I wondered if I had ever been soft enough in my heart to change it. I can be outspoken and sometimes hold an opinion for a very long time. Thankfully, I was reminded of a few circumstances where I had allowed my opinion of someone to be changed. I also felt impressed to look at some situations differently.

I had recently made the transition as a single sister from a young single adult ward into a conventional “family” ward. I had heard from many people about this transition, and I had some preconceived ideas. One friend had not been welcomed much by the younger mothers in her ward—likely because their experiences were so different and varied. I assumed that would be my experience. To my surprise, the first two women who introduced themselves in my new ward were two of those so-called “young mothers.” And the first people who visited me in my home were young mothers. And a few months after I moved in, a young mother saw a very silent need of mine and reached out in a surprising and compassionate way to serve me.

Surprise, right? In that Relief Society class, my soul filled with thoughts about this experience. And then it filled with many other examples.

Choosing My Own Experience

It is so easy for me to assume that my experience has to be like someone else’s. All of us carry past experiences and past hurts or knowledge about people. Sometimes it’s a relief to not have to carry some of those ideas as I meet new people. Perhaps someone I meet may have offended someone in the past. Or perhaps they had been offended. But I don’t have to let someone else’s experience be my own. I can choose to let my experience be my own experience—not someone else’s. It has been liberating, and healing, to begin thinking this way.

As I listened to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the October 2018 general conference, this sentiment was reinforced. He taught: “Surely each of us could cite an endless array of old scars and sorrows and painful memories that this very moment still corrode the peace in someone’s heart or family or neighborhood. Whether we have caused that pain or been the recipient of the pain, those wounds need to be healed so that life can be as rewarding as God intended it to be” (“The Ministry of Reconciliation”).

Pressing the “Reset” Button

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