Throughout my life I have struggled with judging others. Sometimes it’s a church member I don’t agree with, a friend who has let me down, a member of my family who is choosing different avenues, or a parent who didn’t give me everything I wanted or felt I needed growing up. The following personal story by Elder W. Craig Zwick has helped me question my judgmental ways.
“I had my eyes opened to ‘looking beyond what I could see’ while serving as a mission president. A young elder arrived with apprehension in his eyes. As we met in an interview, he said dejectedly, ‘I want to go home.’ I thought to myself, ‘Well, we can fix this.’ I counseled him to work hard and to pray about it for a week and then call me. A week later, almost to the minute, he called. He still wanted to go home. I again counseled him to pray, to work hard, and to call me in a week. In our next interview, things had not changed. He insisted on going home.
“I just wasn’t going to let that happen. I began teaching him about the sacred nature of his call. I encouraged him to ‘forget [himself] and go to work.’ But no matter what formula I offered, his mind did not change. It finally occurred to me that I might not have the whole picture. It was then that I felt a prompting to ask him the question: ‘Elder, what is hard for you?’ What he said pierced my heart: ‘President, I can’t read.’
“The wise counsel which I thought was so important for him to hear was not at all relevant to his needs. What he needed most was for me to look beyond my hasty assessment and allow the Spirit to help me understand what was really on this elder’s mind. He needed me to see him correctly and offer a reason to hope. Instead, I acted like a giant demolition wrecking ball. This valiant elder did learn to read and became a very pure disciple of Jesus Christ. He opened my eyes to the Lord’s words: ‘For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7). What a blessing it is when the Spirit of the Lord widens our view.” (October, 2017 Elder W. Craig Zwick “Lord, Wilt Thou Cause That My Eyes May Be Opened”)
As I listened to this story I thought of my mother-in-law, my siblings, friends current and past, my mother, my father, and so many others I have hastily labeled. Is there more to their situations then my limited eyes can see? I believe as I humbly turn to the Lord, and ask to see with His eyes, He will loving show me who He knows they truly are. Elder Zwick wisely counsels me, “The gospel net is filled with people in all their variety. We can’t fully understand the choices and psychological backgrounds of people in our world, Church congregations, and even in our families, because we rarely have the whole picture of who they are. We must look past the easy assumptions and stereotypes and widen the tiny lens of our own experience.”
I believe with the Lord’s help I can change my ways. In fact I can begin today by reaching out with love to someone. President Henry B. Eyring promises, “… so I challenge you to go for the Lord to someone…to extend love. I promise you that as you do you will feel the love of the Savior for that person and His love for you.”