I have been lucky to reconnect with childhood friends. My problem is that my heart aches for some who no longer believe the Gospel to be true or are in direct open conflict with the Church. I went through a period in my 20’s where I convinced myself God did not exist. Thankfully,through His mercy and long-suffering I had choice experiences that brought me back. I don’t lecture or preach to my friends, I do my best to listen & love them. Is it prideful for me to feel sad about this?
First off, I want to welcome you back to His church and the Gospel. Many people go through the same things that you did and it takes great strength to come back to the church after going though periods of doubt and questioning. I want to welcome you back home-I, and all of us at Ask Gramps continue to pray for your spiritual growth and well being. It’s also nice that you’ve come full circle with your childhood friends. Many of us don’t have that opportunity in the first place. We either never had those friends in the first place or when we tried to reconnect with them, things had changed and we no longer had common ground or interests.
It is not prideful in anyway, shape or form for you to feel sad about your friends choosing different paths than you have. Quite the opposite. Instead, I sense a lot of love and compassion coming from your question. In Moses 7:28-41 Enoch saw God and the Heavens weeping over the rebellion of His people. Such deep compassion is both godly and heavenly. So you aren’t alone in your feelings. He weeps too. It takes someone with a big heart to care so much about their friends and their feelings towards the church. It would only be prideful if you forgot your own sins and weaknesses and focused strictly on theirs. Like all of us who have friends with different opinions than our own, we have to walk a fine line between lecturing and preaching our values to them and sacrificing our values in order to maintain harmony and friendships.
You said it perfectly in your question-you do your best to listen to and love them. That, Heidi, shows a great deal about who you are, and it’s a wonderful sign. Someone who lacked your judgment and compassion might choose to lecture or preach to them and that wouldn’t accomplish much. It would damage the friendship and soon enough, your childhood friends might not be as willing to return your phone calls and text messages. If you find that your friends are engaging in behavior that is contrary to the teachings of the Church-such as using foul language, engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior, or insulting the church and it’s leadership, you need to trust the spirit and use your best judgement to determine if you should say something. Just from the information and tone given in your question, I have the fullest confidence that you’ll make the right decision on what behavior is best for the situation.
Remember the story of the 3 Nephites. The righteous 3 Nephites will no longer feel sorrow (meaning the sorrow of walking in a fallen world of thorns and briars), except when they sorrow “for the sins of the world.” Just as your own desire, they are driven to “bring the souls of men unto [Christ],” which leads them to experience “fulness of joy.”
Finally Heidi, I’d like to share some advice that many a mother and father have given to their children. The best way to influence your friend’s behavior is to set a good example. People pay much more attention to what you do rather than what you say. That advice is given often because it is one hundred percent true.