Common Ground

Chad and I went on a date to the temple a few weeks back. We left our twin toddlers with our favorite babysitter, grabbed a quick dinner, and then went to the Oquirrh Mountain Temple to do sealings together. We felt a special spirit in the sealing room that evening—one of familiarity and family. The two other couples serving with us were kind and understanding. As I explained my bad track record for fainting when I kneel, one man graciously pulled out a chair for me beside the altar. We shared a quiet laugh over my latest temple fainting story. The feeling of unity in that room was palpable.

One couple was Polynesian. The family names they brought with them were the longest I have ever heard. The good-natured sealer smiled and patiently asked for help. The other couple was older. The wife was quiet and the husband a bit more gregarious. His side comments made me feel like I was sitting beside my own grandpa in that sealing room.

I sat, everyone else kneeled, and we sealed families together for time and all eternity. I was in a room surrounded by strangers, and yet I felt closer to these people during that one hour than I usually do with friends and family I have known forever. I was home.

I didn’t know the people in that room well. I didn’t know their families, their pasts, their opinions. I didn’t know their stories. None of that mattered.

Outside of the temple, all too often I let differences stand in the way of what really matters. I let my mind build walls between me and those I think are too different from me.

I’ve been wrong countless times. A few years back, I was intimidated by my new coworkers and assumed they wouldn’t want to be my friends. I’m grateful the Spirit nudged me to try a little harder. They are now some of my closest friends. Once when ministering was visiting teaching, I thought I had nothing in common with a woman I was assigned to befriend. I’m grateful the Spirit nudged me to ask her to teach me how to weight lift. We became instant gym buddies. One summer, I taught refugee children from all over the world and was terrified we would find no common ground, let alone a common language to speak. I’m grateful the Spirit nudged me to join their soccer game during recess. We found some common ground on the field the very first day.

Making those hasty, seemingly sensible judgments are not what Heavenly Father wants for us. No matter someone’s beliefs, backgrounds, ethnicity, political views, we are all children of God. We are to love our neighbor, not judge him or her.

It was easy to find common ground with those men and women I served with at the temple. We were dressed all in white and serving together. It’s not as simple in our wards, our families, and our workplaces where are differences are more apparent, but it can be done. We can cross the dividing lines we’ve drawn by praying for help and letting the Spirit guide us to see everyone as Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ see them.

We can choose to find common ground with everyone. We can build relationships with our Relief Society sisters, our extended families, and our noisy neighbors. The feelings of unity I felt in the temple can permeate our entire lives. One thing will forever bring us all together—our heritage. We are children of God. Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us for our similarities and our differences.