Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Experiment

Three weeks ago we had a leader of the Church come talk with us missionaries. As part of his talk, he talked about how we can become great missionaries. He shared a few things but said the most important thing is to love everyone around you more than yourself. I really want to be a great missionary so I have been thinking a lot about that. How do I love those around me? I know I need to, but how? That is the real question. And for a while I couldn't come up with anything. I thought about emailing my parents and asking them. I thought about talking with my mission president and asking him. But that just didn't feel right. This was something that I wanted to figure out on my own. I didn't want to have the answer given to me by someone else but I wanted to experience loving others more and receive the answer from God. The only problem was that I still couldn't figure it out.

About a week and a half ago, as I was preparing for bed, I had a thought. I don't remember what I was thinking about at the time but I remember that this particular thought was different. It had nothing to do with my train of thought so I tried to push it out and ignore it. But then it came back. Again I tried to just push it out and again it came back. I had this little battle withing my mind for a few seconds until I finally decided to give this thought some attention and play with it a little bit.

What was the thought, you are asking? My thought was about judging others. I have been thinking a lot recently about how I and the people around me talk about others and I noticed a disturbing trend. There were a lot of times where we just talked bad about others. We put them down and criticized me. But as I was brushing my teeth, I remembered what Christ told His disciples in Jerusalem and also in the Americas when He told them "Judge not that ye be not judged." I realized right then and there that I needed to stop talking bad about other people.
Photo courtesy of Al Fox! :)

I don't know why, but I started thinking of this as a sort of science experiment. I got out a piece of paper and wrote "Goal", "Execution", "Steps", and other such things. I know, that is super nerdy, but welcome to the mind of Elder Tucker! :) As part of my write-up I included what the results of this experiment would be. One of them was that I would become more like our Savior. He went His whole life without so much as thinking bad about anyone, let alone speaking bad about them! As I pondered it more and more, I also realized that through this experiment I would also learn how to love those around me. That was motivation enough for me to try this experiment!

So last Monday I start this experiment. It started our very small--for one week I was not going to speak ill of another person. But as the week progressed, so did my experiment. It grew from something small and fairly easy to do, to something that would completely change my mindset on not only people, but life in general. It started out with the rules simply being that I was not going to say anything negative about anyone and if I did I would immediately say something positive to kind of correct it. But I soon realized that this wasn't enough because instead of saying the bad things, I would think them. Instead of having the planned effects, it just transferred to an unspoken judgmental attitude instead of a spoken one. That is better than where I was, but still not enough. So within the first day, I made an addendum to the rules and added a similar thing for thoughts--I wouldn't think anything bad about anyone and if I did I would immediately replace it with something positive about them!

So I started doing that and again I thought "This isn't enough. There is something else I can be doing." So I added another thing to my experiment. My new addition was that I wouldn't think or say anything bad about anyone or anything. And like with before, when I did happen to slip up and make a mistake, I would correct it by saying or thinking something positive.

By the middle of the second day I could already feel something changing within myself, within my heart. When I looked at people I no longer saw the annoying immature person, but I instead saw the child of God who was doing their best to follow God. I saw myself. I saw the things that I did that were less-than-mature and how I feel they are okay and yet those around me probably don't. Maybe that is why Christ has commanded, not just suggested, that we don't judge those around us.

As part of my learning process with this experiment, I also decided that I would learn more fully about Christ and who He was. I decided to study His life and His teachings. So every day this week I did just that and studied the New Testament. To complement my studies, I also used the LDS Institute study manual which provided a lot of insight and additional information. For part of my studies I happened to read from the Sermon on the Mount where Christ gives this commandment to not judge others. Going along with that commandment to refrain from judging was a quote from a leader of the Church. It says:

“It is not possible to judge another fairly unless you know his desires, his faith, and his goals. Because of a different environment, unequal opportunity, and many other things, people are not in the same position. One may start at the top and the other at the bottom, and they may meet as they are going in opposite directions. Someone has said that it is not where you are but the direction in which you are going that counts; not how close you are to failure or success but which way you are headed. How can we, with all our weaknesses and frailties, dare to arrogate to ourselves the position of a judge? At best, man can judge only what he sees; he cannot judge the heart or the intention, or begin to judge the potential of his neighbor." ("Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged," Ensign, July 1972, p. 35.)
I read this quote and found it to be completely true of my experience. We don't know what someone is going through. Just as 1 Samuel 16:7 says, all we see is the outward expressions and appearance. We don't see what drives someone to do something or what they intend when they say something. We don't see that. We can't see that. So it isn't our place to say that what someone did was stupid. Maybe there was something else driving it. It brings me a lot of comfort to know that God does know my intentions, my desires, and my heart. Because of that, I know that He will judge me the way that I deserve to be judged, not just based on the outward things I do.

In a way I saw this commandment applying to judging circumstances and situations outside of our control as well as people. Sometimes there isn't anything we can do about situations. I used to think it was good and therapeutic to just complain about things. When I started this experiment I realized that I was no longer going to be able to do that. It was hard at first because I felt like I was just bottling things up. But as I started replacing negativity with optimism, I realized that I had nothing to vent or complain about. Sure life was hard, but I was happier. I knew that the challenges I was facing were all part of the program and they were there to help me learn and grow. I learned that not only do we not need to complain about things, but that there is no room for that. There is no room for us to whine and complain about things. It just isn't needed at all! And the great thing is that as we thing about things in a positive light, we have nothing to complain about!

I know that by doing this experiment I have been able to feel the love of Christ more fully in my life. I have overall been a better person and I am more willing to change. I have been able to see my own faults easier and am now more capable to change them to become more like Christ and follow His example more fully! What started out as a simple one week challenge has grown and developed and is now a life-long goal!


  1. This is great! I sometimes feel that judgement is the worst thing, the most toxic, insidious thing we can do, because it's not even an overt thing a lot of the time, it just is one little thought and then maybe saying something out loud, but eventually it takes over our entire perspective of the world and those around us. In fact, the thing I love most about Jesus was how he really was above that - he didn't feel envy or hatred or threatened by others (which are usually the things that cause us to be judgmental), he just knew that everyone was worthy and trying hard and struggling sometimes, and that it was nobody's place to judge anyone else - "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"! What an inspiration, and a reminder of what we should strive to be. Thanks for sharing, Elder!

  2. What a great example you are, Elder Tucker. You have taken something that so many of us do without even thinking - which is think ill of someone else, which almost becomes second nature - and made it into a life-changing project for the good of your testimony and for the good of your representation of being an Elder for the Church. It is so easy to become negative in light of what's going on in the world or what others say about us, but to keep the heart of the Savior will be rewarding for everyone all around.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I will be attempting this sometime soon. I started last week, and I think I went a day and then gave up. This past week has been a challenging one, but I am recovering and need to sit and ponder-like you did-my goal. Last week when i said I wanted to do this I just thought it sounded like a good idea (which it is!!!). But I need to really think about it and get in the right mindset for it. I appreciate your amazing example! I love you!