Elder! Tu eres demasiado cuadrado. Tu tiene que ser rodondo.
I remember Lita motioning her hands in the shape of a square and then a circle as she clarified that I followed the mission rules too much. My previous companion had said that previous missionaries wasted time at her house. With this knowledge, being young, and having almost naïve motivation, I shortened the time that was spent at Lita’s house.
And yet, 10 years has passed, and I feel that she was right. I was square to the mission rules. There had been a couple instances after that moment where I discovered I was intense for my companion at the time. My companions protested, and each time I decided to lay off and relax. Looking back, I hope that they forgave me. There were stupid things that I did.
Why did I do those things? I was a rule-follower, and I thought that I would do a good job by following rules. It could be that I wanted to follow directions rather than share and be what I believed.
Since a decade had passed, I have meditated about what I would have done differently in my mission. In all honesty, I wish that I did loosen up, and by loosening up I could learn to love all the people that I met. I would do all the street contacts possible, and get to know everyone that I met. I would not have wanted to be solely focused on preaching. Instead, I would practice the love that Christ has for everyone. If I had decided to give more service and concern for people, then I may have done more impactful work.
Love One Another
There have been several things that have made a dramatic impact on how I view life. One of those things is a book called That We May Be One. The author is Tom Christofferson; he is an active gay member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Knowing who wrote it, I was keenly interested in what would be said, because active gay members face unique challenges to remain a member.
Tom Christofferson did leave his membership, because he felt that being a member could not coincide with being gay. But while he continued his life, he realized that he loved how the Gospel of Jesus Christ was taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At one point, Tom searched for a church ward that could accept him. He found one, and he talked with the bishop who instantly accepted who he was. Tom rejoined the church, and he is working to help lighten understanding of the LGBTQIA+ community in the church.
At the core of Tom’s message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about loving one another. Tom put up the example that many people loved and accepted him. Because of this, Tom chose for himself to come back to church. I feel that Tom’s book is a great Christian book. I found myself tearing up because his teachings in the book were impactful. His are oriented around the Christ attributes of love and mercy.
What does Tom Christofferson’s teaching have to do with being a square? I think it’s because I can’t realize the value of something, if I am following the rules closely. I would, in effect, be making myself like a Pharisee. I would be closely tied to following rules rather than getting to know people individually.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge that rules exist for a good reason. If anything, the purpose of rules are to help establish a form of safety. I am a new dog owner, and I have learned that setting rules for a dog to follow helps keep the dog safe. In addition, my house won’t get destroyed by my dog.
But when rules get in the way of someone else’s safety, then the rules are detrimental. There is no sense to keeping the rules. Again, as Christ taught repeatedly, if a rule is getting in the way then go ahead and break the rule until the rule could be followed again. If the ox is mired on a Sunday, the day of rest, and your livelihood depends on the ox, then go ahead and get the ox out.
In the end, I hope that I pay attention to the context of a situation rather than follow rules that may not be designed for a situation. I hope that I may practice proper judgment to help where things matter in the end, and not follow arbitrary rules. In my recent experience, helping where things matter, versus following rules, is a great attribute to have.