I know, the title is corny. Get over it. I love my brother.
A number of years ago, my brother and I were at BYU at the same time. We spent a fair amount of time hanging out. This really isn’t too surprising, since I all but idolized my brother since I was a little kid. We would have dinner at his place on Sundays (my place didn’t have a kitchen, just the morris center dining hall. ewwwww.) He let me borrow his car whenever I needed it. (I would just call him while I was driving away.)
At some point, my brother did something that he felt he needed to repent of. He never told me any details, and I never asked. Had he volunteered details, I would have listened with a sympathetic ear, and supported him in any way I could. That being said, He did tell me that something had happened, and that he was taking care of it. He told me that after it happened, whatever it was, the only thing he wanted to do was make things right with the Lord. I thought it was interesting, since that is not usually the way I felt when i had done things that were contrary to the commandments.
As my brother and I were walking from one of the buildings on campus, he said something to me that has stayed with me for years. He said he was sorry that he was no longer the perfect example of a big brother for me. It struck me as odd, because I never really saw him as such. Don’t get me wrong, I always thought he was fairly close to perfect, but not that he was doing it to be an example to me.
I told him that if I needed an example of perfection, that’s what Christ was for. I told him that what I needed was someone to show me that it really was possible to come back after having screwed up. He seemed ok with that, in fact, I think it took a fair bit of weight off his shoulders.
Thing is, I think we often view perfection as a prerequisite to helping people. For some reason, we consider it hypocrisy to remind someone that what their doing is not in line with what they believe if we have anything in our lives that is amiss. This is not hypocrisy. (I’ll write more about that later.) telling the truth is never hypocritical. The hypocrisy comes of double standards, but that’s not what this post is about.
We say that people should look to Christ. I have no problem with this. He is the only perfect example, and as such, the person to be emulated. I do however think that sometimes this is the wrong thing to lead with. For the broken soul, looking to Christ can be incredibly painful. It brings to light just how broken our own lives are, and without a proper understanding of the atonement, which few people have when they are mired in activities contrary to their religious beliefs, the realization of how far off track they are can do more damage than good.
I would suggest that there be an intermediary step. In fact, I would suggest that the gospel says there is an intermediary step. We are commanded to lift heavy hands that hang low. We are supposed to love one another, to help each other, to bear one another’s burdens. By letting others know that we too are broken, even if not to the same extent, we show that there is not a dichotomy between broken and perfect, but rather there is a continuum, and that there is a way back to perfect. It is often hard to believe that we can become perfect again, especially after we’ve done the things we’ve done.
Geoffrey Moore wrote about the technology adoption life cycle. He postulated that in order for a new technology to be accepted by the mass market, it would have to first be embraced by innovators and early adopters. These people would provide evidence of the technology having solved some major problem for them. Having these anecdotal evidences is essential for others to accept the claims made by the producer of said technology. We have a hard time believing something if we are told it by one source only. Once we hear several sources confirming the initial assertion, we are more likely to try it out ourselves.
You’re probably wondering what I’m blathering about. Moore’s ideas apply to the atonement of Jesus Christ as well. For those who are skeptical, they need someone to tell them, “it worked for me. I was broken, and the atonement fixed me. It was rough, and it took everything I had, but its working. Things are getting better for me. I think it will work for you too.” By providing word of mouth endorsements, two things are accomplished. For starters, the idea is reinforced in the other person’s mind. They may have not thought of it, they may have thought of it and not thought it really could work in their circumstances.
This obviously doesn’t just apply to homosexuality. It goes for anything. We’re all (humans) broken in one way or another. We all have something about us that we’d like to change or improve. By telling each other that we are, we let each other know that it’s ok to try to change, it’s ok to try to improve. We give each other hope, rather than destroying it.
Hopefully my story gives others hope. Hopefully it will help someone realize that they can become who they want to be. Hopefully, I can be the intermediary that brings someone closer to where they feel they should be. If I’ve helped you, let me know. I’d love to hear about your successes, as well as your attempts, even if they’re less successful. If you think I could help someone you know, please, tell them about the blog. It’s for anyone who wants to read it.