An issue that I have been confronted with that seems to be a formidable challenge during the course of my daily life is how others around me behave. We are taught to surround ourselves with friends that respect our values and beliefs and perhaps even have them in tandem with those aforementioned qualities. It’s important to be in a positive atmosphere so that you may remain in peak spiritual condition.
Years ago, I remember being put into a situation where a young man didn’t like me in particular. During my fourth grade year, I’d had a good amount of classes with him, and he was new to the school. I didn’t understand why he disliked me, as I hadn’t done anything that had warranted the way he acted towards me. I was angry, and had often found myself down and sad due to his constant harassment and unrelenting berating. I blamed him for all of my problems, and showed nothing short of zero empathy towards him. At one point, it became such a struggle that I had to leave the school. I didn’t feel safe, and knew that one day I’d have to return to that school to graduate for my sixth grade year.
When I returned, as if an invisible director was telling him it was his cue to start up trouble again, it had started once more. I had regretted having to come back to the school. I had graduated with him and lived with his harassment on a day-to-day basis. This then went on to continue for part of my seventh grade year. I was nothing short of distraught. I came home in tears one day, and fell to my bed. I was searching for any explanation of what I had done to deserve his actions. Suddenly, a feeling had come over me. I had calmed. A phrase came into my mind that we had been reiterating on every week in Sunday school: “Search, ponder, and pray”. When this phrase had come to mind, its impact had left me breathless. I swung my legs over my bedside, and proceeded to kneel. I fixed my elbows upon my mattress, and began to pray. I asked for guidance, and sure enough, an answer had come to me to what to do.
The next day, he had started his daily ritual. As he was throwing about hurtful comments, I took a deep breath and attempted to be friendly and converse in a kind and inviting manner. He was dumbstruck, and could find no words for what I had just done. I saw him walk off, and I went on and about my day. During lunch, as I sat by myself, I was surprised to see him sit himself across from me. A friendly conversation had ensued, talking about each other’s interests. Eventually, he apologized for the constant torment from his end. There was a good feeling there that day.
It turns out the boy was Catholic, and had somehow found out that I belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the perceived differences caused by our religious beliefs was one reason for the tension in our relationship. He mentioned that it was good for him to see that regardless of social stigma or religion, there is always good in people everywhere. We laughed it off casually, as if we had been friends for a lengthy period of time. We’ve become good friends now, and converse on a day-to-day basis. We still look back on the blind and irrational hate that had caused so much pain. Bias stereotyping was such a destructive force, but through friendship and kindness, we had destroyed that chain.
Now every day, through our actions, he sees the good in me and I see the good in him. It’s amazing to watch how one small action can make such a universal difference in our relationship.
This is one experience that has helped me to know that God answers prayers. I know Heavenly Father wants to help us with things that are important to us. I know that if you try to see the good in the world, and don’t mope and curse at your circumstances, results will shine through. And always for the better. The beauty of the gospel is that it teaches these qualities, and they are readily available to anyone willing to listen and partake.