Saturday, May 23, 2015


I'm speaking in Church tomorrow.  So I thought I'd share what I've prepared.

There Are No Shortcuts to Christlike Love
We live in an age of hyper individualism.  This has led us to believe that the best way to be happy is to pursue our own self interest, and follow our own personal desires.  “What’s in it for me?” is the leading question of our time.  I think other questions are much more important:  How can we learn to accept others, and watch out for others?  How can we develop compassion, empathy and Christlike love?  How can we stop asking “What’s in it for me?” and think “How can I help?”

My father is wise.  He always had silly sayings that, when thought about, helped me realize the importance of deep gospel principles.  When my sister and I would argue about something unimportant, my father would say, “That’s why we named you Sundy and her G.J.  – so we could tell you apart.”  In other words, “Each of us is unique.  People are different, but that’s not necessarily bad.”  I’m sure that this silly saying has helped me to understand about differences in people around me, and makes me realize that I need to have Christlike love and show kindness to others who are not like me.

President Gordon B. Hinckley also commented on a problem that is related to the principle my father taught.  He said, “We live in a society that feeds on criticism.  Faultfinding is the substance of columnists and commentators, and there is too much of this among our own people.  It is so easy to find fault, and to resist doing so requires much discipline. … The enemy of truth would divide us and cultivate within us attitudes of criticism which, if permitted to prevail, will only deter us in the pursuit of our great divinely given goal.  We cannot afford to permit it to happen.”

More questions:  How SHOULD we respond in these trouble times as we are faced with daily criticism and hostility in the world?  And how should we respond to the everyday frictions and failings in our own lives?

I think the answer can be found in the 13th Article of Faith:  “We believe… in doing good to ALL men.”  It seems to me that “doing good to ALL men” is the same as compassion despite differences… and compassion leads to Christlike love.

Differences often cause us to separate ourselves from others.  We feel comfortable with those who dress like we do, think like we do, and act like we do; and we feel uncomfortable with those who are different. 

When I was a little girl, my Primary music leader, Lyn Mortensen, taught me a song that helps me to realize that Jesus wanted me to be kind to everyone: 
If you don’t walk as most people do,
Some people talk and laugh at you,
But I won’t!  I won’t!
I’ll walk with you.  I’ll talk with you.
That’s how I’ll show my love for you.
Jesus walked away from none.
He gave His love to everyone.
So I will!  I will!

Physical differences don’t matter at all and should never divide us.  The woman who taught me this sweet Primary song had a daughter with epilepsy and brain seizures.  This song was personal to her.  And she taught us all, through the use of this beautiful song about kindness and acceptance and love.

Age is another difference that should make very little difference.  How well I remember when I was 15 years old and was accepted into my mother’s group of Relief Society friends.  I was 20 years younger than them.  They seemed old.  But I learned so much from the acceptance and loving care of those older and wiser than I was.  I still learn from the women I visit teach, many of them much older or younger than I am.  I am grateful for their friendship, and their examples of Christlike love.

Culture differences also fall into this category.  We are a worldwide church and represent many different cultures.  I grew up in the West.  Moving to Kentucky was a huge cultural shock for me.  I wasn’t used to cashiers at the grocery store making small talk.  I wasn’t used to people saying “ya’ll” and “It’s CODE outside.”   And I didn’t realize how important the Derby is.  But I made a choice to absorb this wonderful culture!  I learned to love the southern accent.  I’ve made good friends with the cashiers at Speedway who actually ask me about my life every time I come in for a Coke.  I’ve learned to love this culture and this place I call home. –  I’ve never been on a mission, but my husband, who served in Brazil, bears testimony to this truth:  Embracing and being kind to others who are different lead to love.  The missionary effort is an inspired program: sending missionaries all over the world, where they personally confront different languages, different ways of dressing, different customs, and different food.  They arrive as strangers and foreigners, uncomfortable and very aware of differences, but with a precious message of restored truth to deliver.  That message motivates them to look beyond the differences, and the differences give way to friendship and love.

Sometimes there are differences with relationships where the differences DO matter – differences involving values, principles, truth and the confirming religious experience we call testimony.  Truth demands our allegiance, but it should not be a barrier to compassion, kindness and love.  To accept and love others, we do not have to adopt their ideas or be condescending.  We must remember that good people can have mistaken beliefs. 

The gospel teaches us not to condemn our brothers and sisters for their weaknesses and sins, but to show them by our lives how it is possible to escape sin through learning and living the truth.  Part of our purpose in mortality is to learn and to lift each other up.  I’m sure that Satan must laugh when we push each other down – by faultfinding, criticism, name-calling, and labeling.

Being kind and having compassion for ALL people is indeed the beginning of Christlike love.  Lyman Sherman was given some wonderful counsel in the Doctrine and Covenants 108:7.  “Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations and in all your doings.”  The word ALL appears four times in that verse.  It doesn’t leave much from for exceptions.

Like the Savior, if we can learn to be kind, allowing all men the privilege of seeing truth at their own pace, we will have more Christlike love.  Remember: Christ saw no enemies among His crucifiers.  His example stands for all time to teach us the path of kindness, compassion and perfect love.  When we are filled with kindness, we are not judgemental.  The Savior taught, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: …  forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”

“But,” you ask, “what if people are rude?”
Have compassion upon them.
“If they are obnoxious?”
Be kind to them.
“But what if they offend?  Surely I must do something then?”
Love them.
The answer is the same.  Be kind.  Love them.

I hope that we can all be models of kindness.  May we ever live up to the words of the Savior:  “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”


  1. Sounds great. I wish I was going to be there to hear you speak. I love you. This brings to mind one of my favorite Primary songs going up.

    I want to be kind to ev’ryone,
    For that is right, you see.
    So I say to myself, “Remember this:
    Kindness begins with me.”

  2. I also wish I could be there to hear you. It is a really excellent talk. Thank you for sharing it, I felt the spirit the entire time I read it.

  3. You are my sunshine! I am so proud of you and your family. Excellent talk.
    Oh, this is Pa. You could probably find some better quotes, but overall the talk is exceptional.

  4. Wow - we all have our talents but you definitely stole my share where speaking and communication are concerned. Excellent job sister! ;-)

  5. YOUR talk was way good. The personal experiences made it that way. Thanks for sharing it. Oh, and the "mmm" you see above is only me. I don't get it at all, but the first time I hit 'publish' it doesn't hit 90% of the time. So I do an 'mmm' to get past that. The 'mmm' above falls into the category of the 10%. :)