Friday, December 5, 2014

Can I Learn To Love Those I Hate?

Dia talk college BYU 2008 singles ward

Hate Thy Brother? 
Remember that the family is the most sacred unit of the Church. –For the Strength of Youth

Right now, I’d like you to think about the person in your life who is most difficult to get along with—whether they be a family member, roommate, classmate, coworker or that one guy who cuts in line every morning at Jamba Juice—whomever, it’s not important. What is important is that you remember this person all the way to the end of this talk—so, if your memory is like mine or if you have a tendency to doze, you might want to write their name down. If it’s the person sitting next to you, I’d write it small.

Let me tell you—this is not my tried and true method of giving talks.  Usually I like to get up and stun the audience with a long chain of scriptures, hymn numbers and Bible dictionary definitions and then, while everyone’s still searching for the first reference, offer a quick testimony and sit down. If I do it right, I don’t even have to look nice because everyone’s looking at the standard works the whole time. However, I really felt I needed to share something different with you today.

Do you have your person in mind?  Let me tell you about my someone that I struggled with.

  • When I knew him, he was fourteen years old and flunking out of school—again.
  • He couldn’t concentrate in class and preferred to read comic books.
  • His mind was filled with the most trivial of trivia. He could tell you how many medic stations there are aboard the Enterprise, but he couldn’t multiply six and eight. He knew the names, types and skills of all three hundred and however-many Pokemon but couldn’t tell you what he wore yesterday.
  • He was absolutely self-oblivious. He’d forget to shower (or to use soap once he was in the shower), change his clothes or brush his teeth—and he was smack in the middle of puberty. His belches were audible from China.
  • He didn’t have any friends (big surprise) because he couldn’t carry on a conversation. He was an extreme introvert-- offering an icy glare to anyone who tried to even introduce themselves and a sarcastic dismissal to conversation starters. He had absolutely no sense of social norms, manners or fashion.
  • He had one older sister who was sailing through the social scene in high school and would probably end up valedictorian. She was forced to take him to social events and church activities, where her friends made fun of him. His parents were at a loss. He lived in a part-member family and wasn’t baptized—and showed no visible interest in it or in getting the priesthood.  He had to be forced to get up and go to early-morning Seminary. In my opinion, he was a failure at school, at church and at home—to his teachers, his bishop and his family.

His name was Ian, and he was my little brother.

Now, I realized while preparing this talk that it’s a little odd to talk about family in a single’s ward—I can’t exactly censure you about your relationships with your brothers, sisters or parents in the traditional sense by telling you to spend more time with them or to stop missing your curfew.  That said, my hope is that my experiences with family can be applied to our lives, present day, twenty-something working-single-college or grad school-students.  

When I was sixteen, my little brother was the bane of my near-perfect existence. My growing social life, blossoming relationships with teachers and budding reputation at church were crippled by this failure—who, by mother’s decree, followed me everywhere. Ian went with me to Mutual activities, dances and Seminary by necessity, but was also sent along with me to club activities, friends’ parties and even—horrors!—on dates.   He was the guy who called shotgun

He hated going almost as much as I hated taking him. My friends responded to my treatment of him and accordingly teased or ignored him. He responded with rude sarcasm or icy silence, which hardly improved anyone’s opinion of him.

Now let me tell you how this little book—the Book of Mormon—changes lives.

On March 17, 2006, I was sitting in the Oklahoma City Temple with my ward. I was the only member of my family there because no one else could come to the temple—including Ian, who came to church with me and my mom, but had never been baptized. I was all too aware of this in the temple, watching other sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers. At some point, I pulled out my For the Strength of Youth. In the family section, I read a few sentences that changed my life. “Strengthen your relationships with your brothers and sisters. They can become your closest friends. Support them in their interests and help them with problems they may be facing.”

President Harold B. Lee told us “the most important of the Lord’s work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes” and we know, of course, that “no success compensates for failure in the home,” but as a 16 year old, I’d always assumed this would only apply to me when I had my own home.

What I learned that day was that Ian was startlingly odd, quirky to the extreme, enigmatic in every way—but he was my brother, and these few words—“they can become your closest friends”.  

This revelation made me realize that my attitude was the problem between us, not his personality. Nothing about him changed, but I was starting to adjust my own perspective.

If time—Moses 1: 3-4, 6, 12-13, 16

Why are we given families? Lots of reasons, of course, but in a few words—to have at least one person who will love us no matter what. If we can have just that one person rooting for us, the whole world seems brighter.

Preach My Gospel is pretty much my favorite text in the whole world. It coaches missionaries teaching the first lesson to compare the love of God to the love of a parent. How could we understand the love of God for us if we did not feel that overwhelming, absolute and never ending love from our families?

How could I understand the importance of charity and loving everyone as my brother if I didn’t learn to love my brother first?

Families are a microcosm of how God’s family (mankind) should treat one another. Hopefully our relationships with our family members help us realize that we can love anyone—even that person you wrote down back at the beginning of this talk.

We all know that the reason we treat others bad is because of our own insecurities.   The meaner the girl, the more insecure they are.  

I came to realize that the one reason I couldn’t show love for my little brother before was because of my OWN weaknesses and inadequacies—these stemmed from the relationship that I lacked with my elder brother, Jesus Christ.

As we learned from that verse in Moses, when people realize that someone--anyone thinks they are worthwhile, they live up to that expectation.  

My changes with Ian were slow and painful and so different than I had thought they would be. I began by praying to love him better, but I quickly found that with that prayer what I accomlished was that I really prayed to love myself better so I could be more open to his quirky tendencies. 

I practiced patience and learned to laugh at myself when his antics got me upset.  I reviewed my friends and only made friends who would be friends with me in spite of and because of my oddball little brother. 

It came—as I realized that I respected him, he started to trust me. We learned to enjoy the things we had in common and to capitalize on those similarities. We started with just a few things, but grew closer and closer as we learned to love each other. 

By my senior year, we were referred to as the Dynamic Darcey Duo in Seminary, carried out entire conversations in solely movie quotes and memorized every other word of scripture masteries—so we passed them off together.

He is now my go-to-guy in everything, scriptures, history, doctrine.  He knows it everything... well, about everything.  

Sweetest of all, Ian was baptized when I was seventeen, twenty-one months after I realized in the temple that I wanted him to be there with me.

Now, I can thankfully and joyfully tell you that we are the closest of friends. 

He is the most brilliant person I know in terms of history, computers, astronomy, mythology, Star Wars, Star Trek, and the scriptures.  

We’re still really different—sometimes he still forgets to shower—but we have learned slowly and painfully to treasure those differences.

We have become the closest of friends because I have applied the atonement in our relationship and have learned to love like the Savior.  

And he’s going to teach me how to sword fight this summer.

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