Kindness and Charity- Part 2- Barriers

In part one I discussed background and definitions for kindness and charity.  If you didn’t read that one, first off you should, but if you’re still not convinced to click and give it a quick perusal, essentially charity is a deep and powerful love for mankind.  The kind of love that would motivate you to do anything to help another person.  Kindness is how we express our feelings of charity.

This post will deal primarily with some of the barriers I feel that many of us face that either prevent us from developing or diminish our feelings of charity.  Part 3 will share some ways to break down the barriers.

As I talk about some of these barriers you might realize that you’ve done some of these things.  My intention is not to call out anyone individually as these are things I have observed generally and in many cases struggle with as well.  So please don’t feel like I think you’re a bad person if you struggle with these barriers, just take the opportunity to look introspectively and consider if there might be some ways you could improve.  (The correct answer is that all of us can improve in all of these areas!).

With out much further ado (although I do enjoy further ado), the barriers:


We all do this from time to time, sometimes in very simple ways.  We assume that someone did something specifically to bother us, or that they are a jerk, etc.  But I see this most often in regards to political positions.  We assume that the other side of the issue is evil, lazy, hateful, and in general the spawn of Satan.

Let me give an example.  Trigger warning, controversial subject about to be discussed!


Chances are a lot of you just got in the mood to be defensive about your position and why the other side is wrong, and evil, etc.  I see this all the time.  A person with conservative leanings expresses an opinion that contradicts the current welfare system.  Immediately it is assumed that they HATE poor people!  They don’t understand what it’s like.  Etc. Etc. Etc.

On the flip side someone says something in favor of the current welfare system and the other side assumes they’re just lazy, they aren’t even trying, etc. etc. etc.

Stop!  Take a step back.  Don’t assume sinister motives.

So I fall in the camp of having concerns with the way the welfare system is run currently.  If you accuse me of hating poor people I might smack you (except that wouldn’t be very charitable so I won’t!).  It’s quite the opposite actually.  I don’t say this to toot my own horn, or do my alms before men, but you should know before you accuse me of hating poor people that my family donates a decent portion of our income to the poor, I regularly hand food or water bottles to pan handlers on the street, I recently helped in a service project to make “plarn” (plastic yarn) that gets crocheted into sleeping mats for the homeless, and last week I took dinner to a refugee family arriving from Cuba.  I spent a good amount of time on my mission serving and teaching people in the ghetto and spent my first year and a half of teaching in a Title I school.  So yep, you got me, the reason I disagree with how the welfare system is run because I HATE poor people.  Quite the opposite actually, I have qualms with it because I love the people being served by these programs but have unfortunately witnessed generational problems and even oppression that are the unintended consequences of the system and simply feel that there might be a better way to serve them.

Are there people that disagree with welfare that can be hateful and need a charity check? Oh most definitely.

Flip side.  As I mentioned above I have had the opportunity to associate with a lot of people with financial struggles.  By and large they are not lazy.  They are trying their best.  They need help.  And those that I know that support the welfare system in its current state simply want to help them.

Are there some that are lazy or wasteful?  Uh, yeah, a few.

Now we could argue and debate until we’re blue in the face about the merits of both sides.  But that’s not my point here.  My point is that when we stop assuming the other side has sinister motives and instead attempt to understand their position and feel charity, maybe just maybe, we could have a civil discourse and actually kindly solve some problems.

But also, do take a look at your motivation for your positions, and ask yourself, “What if love [was my] only motive?”



Another barrier to charity that I see is that we label people in other groups instead of viewing them as human beings, children of God- literally our brothers and sisters in the human family.  It’s easy to speak disdainfully of groups: Democrats, Republicans, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Whites, Blacks, Mexicans, Illegals, Gays, Pro-lifers, Pro-choicers, Feminists, the Wealthy, the Poor, the “others”.  When we view people as “others” instead of “brothers” we have a tendency to dehumanize them, we say things about groups that we probably wouldn’t say about individuals.  We make assumptions, pass judgment, and turn them into the enemy.  We start to hate them.  But we don’t really know who “they” are.

They are individuals, complex human beings, our brothers and sisters.

Here’s another pretty controversial topic to illustrate this point:

Police brutality, the BLM movement, etc.

People have been killed by police officers.  I’ve seen a lot of lies, damn lies, and statistics about the numbers.  Some people throw out the argument that it’s being blown out of proportion because more white people are actually killed each year than black people, but then there are fewer black people than white people in America so what’s the actual percentage.  And we go around and we fight and we lay blame on the “others.”  It’s their fault!  Insert whichever antecedent for “their” that you want.

What if when one of these horribly unfortunate stories comes up on the news we stopped for a moment and grieved for our brothers.  A human life was lost, and whatever circumstances lead up to it, that’s sad, and we ought to mourn for our brothers, the one that we lost and the ones closely involved that will now go through the grieving process of the one lost.  After we’ve taken a moment to mourn, then we can calmly begin to discuss what everyone as part of the human family can do to prevent future tragedies whether that’s police training, body cameras, better outreach programs in struggling neighborhoods, better education, or whatever other ideas can be thought of.  Then when someone has a different idea than you do, see above, don’t assume sinister motives, try looking at them as your brother.

I have 2 biological brothers.  Do we agree on everything?  Heavens no!  Do they drive me crazy sometimes?  Most definitely!  Sometimes I tell them things straight up when I think they’ve made a less awesome decision, and things are definitely more peaceful when we don’t live under the same roof.  But they’re my brothers, and I love them.  I hurt when they hurt, I feel joy in their accomplishments, I worry for them, I cheer them on and support them.  And all of that comes ahead of any disagreements on lifestyle choices, political views, religious convictions, or plain brotherly annoyance.

If we could start looking at “others” as our “brothers,” maybe we could love them despite the differences, we could stop entrenching against each other, and we could start working together.  We could develop feelings of charity and show them kindness.



There’s an unfortunate amount of misinformation, fake news, and outright lies that are generated and perpetuated (much faster thanks to the invention of something we like to call the “interwebs”).  One of my favorite examples of the perpetuation of ridiculous information is that my grandfather, while serving an LDS mission in the late 1940’s in the central United States, was approached by a stranger and asked if they could see the scars on his head from where his horns were removed.  This person had been told that all Mormons were born with horns.  For the record, we are not born with horns, we are just normal people, ok maybe normal is a stretch, but we are in fact human beings lacking in the horn department.

But imagine for a moment the fear that could result from this misinformation.  There is a natural trepidation that comes with the unknown, but if you add on top of it frightening misinformation about the unknown that will result in outright fear.  If I thought someone was walking around that might have horns I might become overly defensive which at the least could lead to blocking out otherwise nice people, or worst case scenario, in many cases this type of unfounded fear from misinformation has lead to violence.

On a much more serious note, the spreading of misinformation and outright lies about the Jews is what allowed a nation, which I’m sure for the most part was actually full of very wonderful and loving people, to commit, support, or at least stand by and allow the atrocities performed during the Holocaust.  It took some very evil people in power, with some evil henchmen, to convince a lot of neutral people to be afraid, and next thing you know, they aren’t so neutral.

This problem was not isolated to the early 1900s.  In fact, in some ways it might be getting worse because of the internet.  Fear mongering as click bait runs rampant.  Fake news, or at least assumptions without facts are made constantly (and you know what they say about assume).

I see this most often currently in regards to Muslims.  The picture that has been painted of Muslims for Americans for years has been very negative and in most respects completely wrong.  Do they have customs, traditions, and beliefs that differ greatly from most common American customs, traditions, and beliefs? Yes.  Has there been oppression of women in certain areas?  Yes.  Are there some extremists that have done and continue to do some very evil things with the guise of being for Islam?  Yes- but they are few and far between.

I recently read I Am Malala about a teenage girl from Pakistan who was an activist for education and was shot in the head by the Taliban.  The book is wonderful, I learned so much from it, but my biggest take away wasn’t something that was explicitly discussed in the book.

I feel like the general public views Muslims as a little more cohesive than they actually are.  If you consider Judaism, there are several sects that follow “the Law” with varying degrees of orthodoxy from those that live in small communes and keep kosher exactly, to groups that live their daily lives in a similar manner to the mainstream but still hold to traditions and holidays.  The rabbis may bicker among themselves what is correct, but they are all Jews.  Same with Christians.  There are so many different sects of Christianity, following the same basic core beliefs, and yet practicing it and interpreting it so many different ways.  There are some groups that follow a very rigid set of laws, and others that take a more “anything goes” approach as long as you accept Jesus.  While the groups bicker and sometimes try to define other groups out of Christianity, they are all Christians.

But Muslims, without knowing much about what they believe, I fear that the picture most Americans have in their head is that all women are forced to wear burkas and can’t leave their house alone, and all men are blood thirsty jihadists.  That is so far from being the truth.  Within Islam there are also many groups with varied approaches to how they practice.  Malala, and particularly her father, are very devout in their faith, and yet less traditional than the picture that has been painted in the minds of most Americans.

It made me begin to realize that many people are judging all Muslims off of misinformation and the fear of a small group of extremists.  I would prefer not to be judged as a Christian off of the actions of the Westboro Baptists, so don’t judge Muslims, who are by and large very peaceful, off of the actions of an extremist group.

The moral of the story- learn and research from credible sources before you jump to fear as your conclusion.  Think and fact check before sharing something that might contain misinformation.  Don’t let misinformation and the resulting fear allow you to stand back and allow atrocities to happen to others.

Don’t let barriers get in the way of developing charity and demonstrating kindness for ALL of God’s children.


Coming soon- Part 3- Breaking Down the Barriers



Kindness and Charity- Part 1- Definitions

I have the wonderful opportunity of being a teacher for the Relief Society in my ward (that’s the women’s group in our congregation if you are not familiar with LDS lingo).  I love preparing lessons and presenting them to the women and would like to share these thoughts with a bigger audience.  I’m creating a category for my lessons.  While these obviously are written primarily with an LDS audience in mind, I will do my best to make the points as generally accessible and understood as possible.  They will also go much more in depth than what I present on Sundays.

The lessons I teach come from recent General Conference addresses.  Our local leadership selects the talks that they feel are most important for us to focus on at a local level.  A few months ago they selected Kindness, Charity, and Love by President Thomas S. Monson.

We believe that President Monson is a latter-day prophet.  Essentially the same as Noah or Moses in ancient times.  We believe that God has chosen him to be his mouthpiece to the world.  If you have read this specific message you will notice that it is rather short, I printed it out and it fit on one page.  These addresses are typically longer, but as President Monson is growing old his physical stamina to deliver an extended message is waning.  To me, that means, that anything he is using his limited energy to say must be pretty important for us to pay attention to and apply in our lives.

President Monson begins by quoting from the Book of Mormon Moroni 7:44-47:

“And if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.

“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked. …

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—

“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.”

I love these thoughts on charity.  First that without it we are NOTHING.  It doesn’t matter what else we aspire to or attain in this life, if we don’t develop charity, and if the things we attain aren’t products of our charity, then we have accomplished nothing.

Now consider that charity never fails and that it is the pure love of Christ.  What exactly does the “pure love of Christ” mean?  For those that come from a non-Christian background, please don’t feel like I’m forcing Jesus on you, but for the purposes of understanding how I define this word, consider the following.

We believe that Christ led a perfect life, that he was completely without sin or mistakes.  At the end of his life we believe that he chose to die for all of us so that we could overcome our sins and mistakes.  This entailed him feeling all of our guilt.

My little boy is 3 and starting to understand when he does something wrong or hurts somebody (sometimes at least).  Recently he was playing at the children’s museum and ran straight into a girl and knocked her down and made her cry.  I yelled out, “Be careful!” right as I saw the collision about to occur.  She was not hurt badly, probably more shocked than anything, but she cried and ran to her mom.  My little guy came to me trying to hold back tears feeling bad that he had hurt her.  His poor little face was so sad because he’s still so innocent but felt the guilt of his actions.  So imagine someone that has been completely innocent their whole life suddenly feeling EVERYONE’S guilt.  And not just the little things like accidentally running into someone, the bad and ugly decisions of our lives, he suddenly felt them.  And then it didn’t stop there.  We learn in Alma 7:11-12 that he also took on ALL of our pain, afflictions, temptations, sicknesses, and infirmities.  We talk about walking a mile in someone’s shoes.  He walked more than a mile, he walked it all so he can truly love us.  He knows our pain perfectly and therefore can love us perfectly.  And then it didn’t stop there.  He then allowed himself to be mocked, and whipped, and spat upon, falsely accused, and finally killed in the gruesome manner of crucifixion.  He could have stopped it at anytime, but he chose to continue so he could overcome death for us.  But, how, how could anyone do that.  The answer is that charity never fails.  If he had done it with any other motive than love he would not have been able to endure it all.

That’s what I mean then when I refer to charity, or the pure love of Christ, it’s love strong enough, tested enough, and understanding enough to be willing to sacrifice everything for others no matter what, no strings attached.  It’s a feeling of love deep down inside us that must become a guiding force in our lives.

Once we can begin to develop that feeling for others, it manifests itself through our actions in kindness.  President Monson quotes another apostle and his dear friend Elder Joseph B Wirthlin:

“Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes.

“Jesus, our Savior, was the epitome of kindness and compassion.”

The scriptures are full of stories and examples of the kindness our Savior expressed to others from large things like weeping with his sisters and then raising Lazarus from the dead, showing compassion to the woman taken in adultery, to smaller acts like turning water into wine for the marriage feast.  He went about doing good and being kind to everyone, regardless of their status, culture, or lifestyle, and no matter how complex or simple the need.  We may not be able to solve every problem as miraculously as he did, but no matter what we CAN be kind.


Stay tuned- next post will deal with barriers we face that prevent us from feeling charity and expressing kindness


What’s with the name?

Stones that shine in darkness is a phrase that comes from a pretty random (but my favorite) verse in the Book of Mormon, not one of those popular verses that gets quoted regularly (although the story it refers to is a pretty popular story).  Chances are that most people who have read the Book of Mormon, even if they have read it multiple times, probably read over this verse without much pondering because it’s kind of a random aside getting from commentary back to the “important” stuff.

It refers to a story from the Book of Ether, which contains the history of a people called the Jaredites who left the Middle East in barges shortly after the Tower of Babel and landed on the American continent.  The record was then abridged by Moroni (an ancient American prophet) who added some of his own commentary and then was included with the set of records that is now referred to as the Book of Mormon.

As the Jaredites were preparing to leave the Middle East, they built barges as directed by the Lord.  As they built the barges they ran into some rather important concerns like, “how will we get air, or light?”  The Lord gave specific instructions on what to do for air, but for light he basically said, “Figure something out and let me know.”

This leads to a very powerful account of faith in which their Prophet gathered stones and asked that if the Lord would touch them then they would give light.  Which as it is recorded is what happened, the Lord answered his request and touched the stones.  But we’re still not quite to my randomly favorite scripture.

After Moroni finishes retelling this story he proceeds to insert his own commentary and tangents about faith and a few other topics for two whole chapters.  (I feel like Moroni and I would have been good friends with our similar habits of going off on tangents and inserting random commentary which can sometimes end up being longer than the story itself and then having to find a way back…speaking of which, where was I?)  So now Moroni is ready to get back to the story and he uses this as his bridge:

“And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness.” (Ether 6:3)  Then he proceeds to go on with the rest of the story.  This wasn’t really meant to be profound, just a recap to get back on track.  So like I said, most people have probably just read past this verse without much thought.

But one day this scripture hit me like a stone- a shining one.

I was about half way through my 18 month proselyting mission in Florida and I was in a “wo is me” kind of funk.  I mean I was just this pretty ordinary girl from Arizona, why did I think I could help people change their lives.  And then I read this verse and I stopped for a moment and thought about stones.  Just ordinary stones.  Stones aren’t like ancient light bulbs.  It doesn’t even say he found precious stones.  These aren’t diamonds.  They’re just random rocks essentially.  But, in the hands of the Lord, those ordinary things became something extraordinary.  Something very ordinary allowed them to cross the waters with light instead of oppressive darkness.  If the Lord could cause stones to shine in darkness then just maybe he could take ordinary little me and do extraordinary things.

He did, and He still does.  That’s my continuous goal, to keep being a stone in His hands to shine in darkness.

Why am I doing this and what to expect

I’ve been saying for a few years now that I wanted to start this blog and it hasn’t happened.  There’s always been a reason is wasn’t the right time or some other excuse.  But God kept poking me and prompting me and telling me that I need to do this.  Back in November 2016 I got to attend Deseret Book’s Time out for Women in Phoenix.  One of the speakers who was a also a singer focused on sharing our voice, or our talents, whatever they may be.  I kept getting the prompting that I have a unique voice and I need to share it.  But I quickly went back to the list of excuses I mentioned before and it didn’t happen.  The biggest push came a few months ago when I was reading Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines.  I have a lot of dreams and ideas that I talk about doing someday, but kinda like Joanna, just keep them in dream land.  But when she mentions a dream to Chip, he makes it happen.  I realized I needed to be more like that.  I just needed to get started and just make it a reality.  So I finally got a new computer (Surface Pro to be exact) and finished up some family vacations and ran out of excuses for why the timing wasn’t right.  So here I am during nap time making it happen.

Now I’ve started a few other blogs over the past 8ish years.  A book club for my family members (remember that guys???) that probably has a grand total of 1 post in it (that REALLY helped with the family bonding…).  I did keep one about goals going for a little while, but like the goals I was tracking, it kinda failed.  I think one of the reasons it failed was because I felt a little pigeon-holed, like all I could or should talk about was the goals.  I don’t operate well like that.

There’s a marriage speaker and author named Mark Gungor who asserts in a very humorous video that a woman’s brain is like a ball of wire and everything is interconnected (as opposed to a man’s brain which is like neatly stacked boxes).  When I heard this description I could immediately relate, because I do not think about anything in isolation.  Everything in my brain is connected to everything.  I can’t talk about goals without also delving into body image which gets me into basic issues with our society and how they relate to politics and how that relates to the gospel and how that affects this and that and about 10 million other things.  I could definitely be accused of over thinking probably everything, but I certainly never settle on an opinion without having looked at it from so many different angles and how it plays into everything in my life and the world around me.

So that’s what you can expect in this blog: a little bit of EVERYTHING.  There will be some mommy lifestyle (because you know the whole being a mom thing), but there will also be political discussions, observations about current events and attitudes, gospel insights, and attempts to respond to really deep and difficult questions.

Friends, we will disagree on some things.  And that’s ok.  I don’t ask you to agree with me at the end of a post, I just ask that you hear me out and maybe add to your perspective from a different point of view.  I will always do my best to be sensitive especially when I attempt to respond to difficult questions, but I am sure at times I will cause offense.  Guess what, most people in my life have caused me offense at some point or another, but I’ve stayed friends or at least friendly with most all of them.  Please don’t ever mistake a disagreement or a different perspective as hateful, because hopefully if you’ve ever met me you will have felt my sincere love and caring for you.