Yesterday, someone who I've seen before, but never really spoken to was spontaneously nice to me. It took me aback for a moment, and my brain tried to switch into defensive mode as I wondered, "Why are they being nice to me?" It was a small act of kindness. People are not generally unkind to me, but they are not spontaneously nice either. I think I have grown very accustomed to people being indifferent to me. I don't usually mind, as I prefer to be less noticeable most of the time. I think people are generally more cautious nowadays - I know I am, but I also think that our caution can lend itself to a degree of isolation. We isolate and feign indifference, because we are trying to protect our little ones or ourselves from the dangers in the world. In my caution, may I not forget to be kind.
Years ago, while a Freshman in college, I read a book by Marvin J. Ashton called, "The Measure of Our Hearts." It is a wonderful book, about becoming our best selves. One of the things he says that I have often reflected on was that, "The greater sin is not to hate, but to be indifferent." He elaborates on this idea in his book. I remember trying to apply the idea to my own life at the time. I never really had a problem with hating people, but I wondered then, how much indifference I allowed myself. When we are indifferent, we ignore, we avoid, we turn away, we close our eyes so that we don't see someone. We don't see their need, not because we can't, but because we won't.
Another thing Marvin J. Ashton said was that, "The more you judge, the less you love." I love that quote even though it can sting sometimes. It helped me to recognize something I could work on to become more Christ like in my life. I noticed that in some cases, my opinion of someone led to my indifference toward them. So I worked on it. I tried to look at people differently with more love and less judgement. I tried to see people the way Father in Heaven sees us, each soul precious, each soul of infinitely valuable. It became a wonderful experience for me, as I began to feel God's love toward others around me.
I have not forgotten my lesson that I learned, but over the years as my trials have surmounted I have struggled with being indifferent to others. Less because of judgements, but more because, well... of my trials that have exhausted me physically, emotionally, and mentally. I was tired and weary in every sense of the word.
But this year, though many of my life challenges remain with me, I feel strengthened. I have been praying for help for a long time now, and I have not been left comfortless. One miracle of following the Savior and seeking truth in our lives is that in our trials He strengthens us, in our trials He helps us, in our trials He gives us peace and hope.
May we ever hold on to hope which is a true friend of faith.