By Betsy VanDenBerghe
Don’t let others keep you from enjoying the blessings of
membership in Christ’s Church
Editors’ note: No matter how strong our belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ is, it can be difficult to remain faithful if we don’t feel like we belong. Church leaders recently addressed this challenge in a video series titled Unity in Diversity. In the September 2017 issue,“We Can Do Better: Welcoming Others into the Fold” examined our responsibility to welcome others. This article, part 2, looks at how we can take responsibility for our own faith, regardless of whether we feel like we belong.
"After eight years of not attending church, Paulo (all names have been changed) received a phone call from his bishop in Brazil asking how he was doing. Paulo had longed to return, but many concerns kept him from full activity. How could he avoid comparing himself, still single, to those married with children? Would he find any friends at church after so long and, if he did, what would they think of him? Would he still be able to feel the Spirit like he had during his conversion and mission or have enough faith to accept callings?
One month after the phone call, Paulo watched President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, give a conference talk called, “Come, Join with Us.”1 “That talk hit me hard,” he recalls, and within a few weeks he found himself sitting in the church parking lot, trembling and offering a silent prayer for the strength to get out of the car and enter the building.
“Everything wasn’t perfect,” he recalls of his first year after returning. It wasn’t easy to fit in. Yet a feeling of connectedness to the Savior and a strong desire for a temple recommend helped him overcome his insecurities. He began reading his scriptures and praying again. “If you don’t give up, you gain strength and can feel the Lord blessing you,” he advises those who struggle to feel accepted. “I have a testimony that this is Christ’s Church, but it’s in Him you will find true belonging.”
Paulo’s story represents several points that Church leaders describe in the video series Unity in Diversity. Their messages offer hope and advice to those who don’t feel like they belong. Sometimes we feel alone even in church, but, as these leaders and members point out, there are things we can do to help get ourselves through challenges such as exclusion or poor treatment by others. We can avoid comparisons, move forward in uncertainty, know that returning is always possible, and above all, trust the Savior."
Avoid Comparisons: We Will All Be Blessed in the End
Stay Strong: Christ Can Transform You
Take a Step into the Darkness: The Light Will Follow
Don’t Give Up
No One Can Take Your PlaceRead full article here