The Elephant Charge


When it came to sharing the gospel, I was about as subtle as an elephant.

My first few months as a member of the Church were rough ones—especially for my friends. On one hand, I was excited about what I had found, especially the inner peace and the joy I felt in my close relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, in my excitement to share my new understanding of the restored gospel and its teachings, I started to regularly tell my non-LDS friends when they did something I thought was wrong.

Of course I was about as subtle as an elephant on a charge.

One evening in the early summer, I finally realized how judgmental and self-righteous I had become. About five months after my baptism, I went to an outdoor concert with a good friend. As we walked around the grounds trying to find a spot to eat our picnic before the concert began, I noticed many of the people around us had brought wine to drink with dinner. Not one to pass up an opportunity to show how much wisdom I had acquired by a member of the Church, I hissed to my friend “Look at all those people drinking wine—that’s disgusting!”

My kind and patient friend turned to me and said, “I’m sure that when Jewish people go into a restaurant, they don’t walk around and criticize everyone with ham on their plates.”

I finally had the good sense to be silent for a while and ponder what he said. I realized that in all the lessons I had been taught, there had been no mention of members going forth and judging their neighbors. As a matter of fact, the terms “example” and “loving our neighbors” had been used a lot.

Embarrassed, I thanked my friend for his wisdom and apologized for my lack of consideration.

I am happy to report that his message came through loud and clear. I stopped demanding changes from my friends and started demanding changes from myself. I still stand strong for the things I believe in, but I do it in a polite way—a way that, happily, has helped my friends feel comfortable in talking to me about the Church.

[illustration] Illustrated by Richard Hull