“Show, Don’t Tell” | Testifying Through Our Actions

As a writer of fiction, the most common – but also the most important – advice I’ve received is “show, don’t tell.”

That means that when I want a reader to know or feel something, I try not to tell them what I want them to know or feel. Instead, I give them small clues through characters’ words or actions, the setting, or other indirect channels and let them interpret everything themselves. If I spoon-feed them, they are much less likely to be interested or have an emotional reaction.

Recently, I’ve realized that this powerful principle can be applied to the gospel, too.

I’ve heard the phrase “every member a missionary” about as many times as I’ve heard “show, don’t tell,” and if I’m being honest, it used to scare the living daylights out of me.

As you’ve probably gathered, I’m not an outgoing person. I’m a fun all-in-one combination of introversion, shyness, and social anxiety. I get stressed just making plans to hang out with my friends, so the idea of sharing something as important as the gospel with others (not to mention challenging their beliefs) terrifies me.

So…I didn’t really do it.

Or, at least, I thought I didn’t.

I didn’t understand that, in my own way, I’ve been a “member missionary” all along. And you probably have, too. Possibly a more effective one than you’ll ever know.

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Credit: LDS Media Library

Telling people about the gospel and vocally bearing testimony is actually not a bad thing at all. It’s great, and it’s definitely something we should do if we have the opportunity, but it’s not the only way to share the gospel. I don’t even think it’s always the most effective.

We can also testify by showing. We can show others the light the gospel brings into our lives through our actions. It might take time, but people will see that light and be drawn to it.

In his talk from the October 2015 General Conference, President Monson said, “Each of us came to earth having been given the Light of Christ. As we follow the example of the Savior and live as He lived and as He taught, that light will burn within us and will light the way for others.”

We should remember that light is not something we hear. It’s something we see. Something we feel. If you are actively living the gospel, you are allowing others to experience that light for themselves. In your own way, you are sharing the light of the gospel with the world.

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Rediscovering My Love for the Holy Bible…in Paris

Just over two weeks ago, on a cloudy Saturday morning, I emerged at the top of an ancient, narrow spiral staircase into a room lined with stained glass. My breath caught in my throat.

The chapel was beyond beautiful. It was enchanting. Stunning. Each of the fifteen enormous windows displayed intricate designs in brilliant shades of blue, red, purple, yellow, and green.

But they were more than just designs; they were stories. Stories from the Bible.

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Snapshot of a Sainte Chapelle Window

When Sainte Chapelle was built in the 13th century, it was impossible for the majority of France’s population to read the Bible due to widespread illiteracy. But that didn’t stop them from learning the stories and teachings of the ancient prophets and the Savior.

Instead, they read the holy record through artwork. They learned through statues, carvings, paintings, and stained glass. In this particular chapel, they could read the entire bible from the creation to after Christ’s atonement and resurrection, scene by scene, in the windows.

After seeing this incredible expression of faith and devotion, I realized that I have been taking the Bible for granted, and I expect that I’m not the only one.

Because the Book of Mormon is one of the main things that sets us apart from other Christian faiths, we tend to focus on it a lot, and with good reason. Most of us already assume that the Bible is the true word of God, and it’s important for us to find out the truth of the Book of Mormon for ourselves.

But I think we forget sometimes that the Book of Mormon is “another testament of Jesus Christ” and that without the strong foundation of the Bible, we would not have the whole truth. The teachings of the Old and New Testament are crucial to our beliefs.

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Sainte Chapelle Rose Window by Didier B

I have a sad confession to make: I haven’t read the Bible from cover to cover. When I was little, I used to listen to a Bible stories audio book before I went to sleep, and I grew to love those stories and admire a lot of great biblical heroes (like Deborah – she’s my favorite). I’ve read most of it in bits and pieces in Sunday School and Seminary. But I haven’t read the whole thing.

After seeing the stained glass of Sainte Chapelle and the biblical art woven into the design of Notre Dame, I’ve decided it’s time to change that. I’m still in Genesis, but my goal is to finish the Old Testament by the end of the year.

We are so blessed to live in a time when we can enjoy the word of God not only through art but in writing, too. Let’s not take that gift for granted.

I really like what this video from mormon.org says about the importance of the Bible. Check it out and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Bridging Life’s Great Divides

There seem to be chasms everywhere, monstrous and deep, separating us from each other. Even within the church.

Age. Generation. Political affiliation. Marital status. Life choices. Personality type. I have seen all of these things become rifts between people. Some of them have been rifts in my own relationships with people around me.

Sometimes it can seem that someone is so different from us that it is impossible to really connect with them. Sometimes it seems much easier to not even try.

So, it seems, most people don’t.

Over the last few weeks, I have seen so much division, especially online. There seems to be a lack of positive, civil discussion and an excess of rude, counterproductive arguments. It hurts to see people throw angry words at each other and widen chasms because of differences in opinion.

Individuals have differing lives and opinions, and that is not going to change. It shouldn’t. The differences between us are beautiful and important.

But we shouldn’t let these difference keep us from trying to connect with and love each other.

In John 17:21, it says: “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” The Savior wants us to be “one.” He doesn’t want us to be divided. In fact, Doctrine and Covenants 38:29 goes a step further and states boldly: “and if ye are not one ye are not mine.”

But how do we build bridges to connect with people who seem so different from us?

Find the things you have in common.

Start by finding common ground. No matter how different someone may seem from you, in every case there are things that connect you already. Maybe you have similar hobbies or interests. Maybe you grew up in the same town. Maybe all you seem to have in common is your humanity, but even that is enough to start with.

Try to understand where they’re coming from.

It isn’t possible to completely understand someone else, and you don’t need to in order to connect with and love them. But it’s so, so important to listen to them. Even if you don’t agree with everything they say, hear them out before jumping in with your own experiences and opinions. In the wise words of Stephen R. Covey, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Always be kind.

Even if you are struggling to connect with and understand someone else, be kind. That person is a Child of God and deserves to be treated with kindness and respect no matter who they are or how they differ from you. Showing someone kindness in itself is usually a good step toward building bridges.

Pray for help.

Sometimes building bridges can seem like an impossible task, but remember that “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). He loves all of His children and wants us to be “one.” If you humble yourself and ask the Lord for help in bridging divides, I have faith that He will assist you.

I hope that we can all work together to bridge the divides between us, especially in this time when they seem to be so prevalent. Everyone is different, but that doesn’t have to separate us. If we stay united, our differences can make us stronger. We need that strength to get through the challenges of this life.

Let’s work harder to create less chasms and build more bridges.

 

How My Doubts Have Built My Faith

Doubt is not a dirty word.

In the church, we have a tendency to treat it like it is. We try to hide our doubts and questions because we don’t want our friends and family members to see the holes in our testimonies, the places where things just don’t quite fit. We only want to focus on the positive and pretend everything else doesn’t exist.

During third hour of church in my ward today, all of the adults and youth had a meeting with the bishopric, which was largely meant to be a Q&A session. At the beginning of the meeting, the bishop invited us to think about any doctrinal questions we had and ask them anytime during the meeting. Even though the room was full of people, I could count the number of questions asked on one hand.

Is that because no one had questions? I know for a fact that wasn’t the case because 1) I have questions, and 2) I’ve been to anonymous Q&A sessions where there were so many questions that we couldn’t even discuss them all.

So why the difference?

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I’m Marnae Horejs. I’m a Mormon, “I know it, I live it, I love it,” and I have doubts.

I think it’s much easier for people to open up about the things they’re unsure about when they can write and submit their questions anonymously because of our collective desire to hide our doubts.

I know from experience that it’s not easy to voice concerns out loud. I always feel like everyone else is so strong and steadfast in their faith, and I don’t want to appear weak. I have a feeling that I’m not alone in that.

In this post I’m going to do something uncomfortable and just a little bit scary. I’m going to admit it.

I have doubts. I have questions. I’m not sure about everything.

But I do have faith, and I do have a testimony. And my doubts helped me get to this point in my life-long conversion story.

A couple years ago, when I first discovered Susan Cain and started to embrace my introversion, I realized that a lot of my struggles in the church, a lot of my doubts, stemmed from the mismatch of my introverted personality with what I perceived as a very extroverted Mormon culture.

These concerns started to bother me more and more, and finally, I decided to take action to address them. So, as most Millennials would do, I turned to the internet. I googled “Mormon introvert.”

And…I got pretty much nothing. Well, that’s not quite true. I found a few articles about introversion in the church, but several of them were from anti-Mormon sites, and even those that weren’t seemed to agree that the church isn’t the most friendly environment for introverts.

The scriptures didn’t seem to have a direct answer for me, either. So it seemed that my doubts weren’t going anywhere.

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Credit: The Mormon Channel

As frustrating as it was at the time, I decided to follow President Uchtdorf’s wise counsel: “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” I didn’t give up on finding answers, but I accepted that they weren’t going to come right away and kept moving forward because I knew in my heart that it was the right thing to do.

In September, just a few months ago, the answers finally started to come.

I was supposed to do a blogging assignment for one of my classes, and I was planning to blog about being an introvert in college. However, when I tried to write my first post, nothing came.

That night, I prayed for help with the assignment, hoping that I would be able to write the post the next morning. As soon as I finished the prayer, a little thought popped into my head.

What if I blog about being an introvert in the church instead?

Clearly, I followed that prompting. I still wasn’t feeling very secure about being a Mormon introvert, but I started blogging anyway. To my amazement, my blog took on an encouraging tone. As I began to do research for my posts, I started to find evidence that being an introvert in the church could be a positive thing.

Heavenly Father began helping me to compile my own answers.

And possibly the best part about all of this is that a few people have already found this blog through Google. I hope that reading my posts has helped them to get past their own doubts about the church and their own self-worth.

None of this would have happened without my initial doubts.

As long as we don’t allow our doubts to destroy our testimonies, we can use them as tools to build our faith. We are not meant to be blind followers; in the scriptures we are instructed to seek answers. There are no answers without questions.

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Credit: LDS Media Library