The Elephant Charge

By Terri Reid

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    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.

    Illustrated by Richard Hull