22948_000_005Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.
At school the few Church members my age either make fun of me or avoid me. How can I make friends with youth in my ward when it is easier to spend my time with nonmember friends who seem to be more Christlike?
Remember, you are a child of God. No matter how other people treat you, your Heavenly Father loves you.
Be friendly and try to set an example without being self-righteous.
Pray that their hearts may be softened and that yours may not be bitter.
Ask for advice from parents or Church leaders.
Don’t let others determine your activity in the Church.
Hold on to good friends whether they are members or not.
This question really has two parts: What should I do about the Latter-day Saint youth in my ward or branch? And what should I do about my nonmember friends?
Unfortunately, Latter-day Saints do not always live exemplary lives. Youth in particular sometimes struggle with kindness and love. Consequently, young people are sometimes ignored or ridiculed by those who should be their friends.
If you find yourself in these circumstances, try to remember one very important point: You are a child of God. Your Heavenly Father loves you and is grateful for your every effort to live the gospel and to be active in your ward or branch. While Heavenly Father won’t force others to live the gospel, He will sustain you in your attempts to be patient and not give up.
While you can’t make others’ decisions for them, you can choose how you react to those decisions. The most important thing you can do is try to be Christlike in your response when others tease or ignore you. Be friendly and try to set an example without being self-righteous. Sometimes your kind behavior may make the situation worse. If that is the case, pray for hearts to be softened—yours that you may not be bitter, and theirs that they may see you for the person you are. If you treat others as children of Heavenly Father, perhaps they will eventually remember who they are and act accordingly.
You may not be able to handle the situation alone, so seek appropriate counsel and assistance from parents or Church leaders. The bishop or branch president is responsible for the spiritual welfare of the members he presides over, and he can seek guidance to know what to do.
But above all, don’t let others determine your activity in the Church. If you give up trying to have Latter-day Saint friends, you will give up opportunities to serve and to grow. Look around your ward and branch for others—perhaps older or younger than you—who need your friendship. Is there a Primary child you could help? A widow? A mother with small children? You may find that many ward or branch members are grateful for your friendship.
The other question—what to do about your nonmember friends—is an easier one. If they are Christlike and treat you well, then spend time with them. Good friends are an asset—and if they really are your friends, they will respect your beliefs and will not ask you to do anything against your standards. And if you live your religion around them, they will likely be interested to know more about it. But even if they never show any interest in the Church, you probably share many positive values and can be a strength to each other in avoiding the world’s temptations and evils.
Don’t let the behavior of others be your excuse for not trying to befriend them. What a Christlike attribute to refine: chronic kindness toward ungrateful recipients. There is nothing wrong with nonmember friends, but don’t give up on the members.
Adriane Andersen, 17 Salt Lake City, Utah
Jesus Christ gave us the commandment to love one another. Upon giving this commandment, He did not give any condition by which we can be exempted from keeping it. Therefore, we must learn to love everybody, regardless of their treatment toward us. If we love only those who love us, then we are no different from the publicans (see Matt. 5:46).
Christina E. Baliao, 16 Zambales, Philippines
If some people who should be our friends turn against us, our obligation is not to retreat from them. We should show them that we love and care for them. Sometimes all we need to do is go to our knees.
Elder Ihuoma Chidiebere Loveday, 20 Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission
Not all good people are members of the Church, and not all members are always good people. Surround yourself with Christlike people of all faiths, but remember to treat everyone with kindness.
Rose E. Hadden, 16 Salt Lake City, Utah
I don’t pay attention if someone teases. It is sad, and it hurts to be treated in such a way. When I think of Jesus Christ’s suffering, I realize this is not much in comparison. I continue trying to be kind to that person. The important thing is that I go to church not because of friends but to obey the law of the Sabbath and to worship.
Sri Martini Wardoko Jakarta, Indonesia