Almost everyone has times when they feel like people just don’t like them. It can feel like it’s a few people, but it can also feel like no one likes us. Sometimes we feel rejected out in the world because of our beliefs. Sometimes it happens at Church, where we should feel safe. Sometimes we know of our shortcomings that seem to repel or irritate others, and we’re working on them. Sometimes we can’t figure out what we’re doing wrong.
We say we don’t care what others think of us. We try to mend our weaknesses. We try to focus on service or work, and that helps. But hey, it still hurts a little. Sometimes our minds or hearts keep going back to it. So here are some inspirational thoughts, stories, and counsel from Church leaders to help us all through those times when we’re struggling socially, and we feel like no one likes us.
Church doctrines and practices will always draw some degree of ridicule and hatred from the world.
‘Despised and rejected by the world’
“[O]ne of mortality’s great tests comes when our beliefs are questioned or criticized. In such moments, we may want to respond aggressively—to ‘put up our dukes.’ But these are important opportunities to step back, pray, and follow the Savior’s example. Remember that Jesus Himself was despised and rejected by the world. And in Lehi’s dream, those coming to the Savior also endured ‘mocking and pointing … fingers’ (1 Nephi 8:27). ‘The world hath hated [my disciples],’ Jesus said, ‘because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world’ (John 17:14). But when we respond to our accusers as the Savior did, we not only become more Christlike, we invite others to feel His love and follow Him as well.” —Robert D. Hales, Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship
‘It may interfere with some of your social life’
“The only safety we have as members of this church is to … give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet. There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your [personal] views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; … and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’ (D&C 21:6).” —Harold B. Lee, quoted in conference by Robert D. Hales, General Conference: Strengthening Faith and Testimony
‘Don’t fit where you don’t belong’
“Now to each of you: at times you may feel lonely and misunderstood—I have—because you don’t fit in with the crowd. Be grateful that your righteous life molds you so that you don’t fit where you don’t belong. This is a temporary period of personal testing and growth. It will be replaced in time with true friends and greater happiness.” —Richard G. Scott, The Power of Righteousness
As Latter-day Saints, we are often prepared to be rejected or disliked by the world. In our first lessons about the gospel, we learn that Joseph Smith was hated to death by the world. What we’re not always prepared for is social rejection or conflict closer to home. It is sometimes our social struggles at Church or among our friends and family that are the hardest. Here are some inspiring quotes and stories for those times.
‘An inevitable reality’
“Understanding that the Church is a learning laboratory helps us to prepare for an inevitable reality. In some way and at some time, someone in this Church will do or say something that could be considered offensive. Such an event will surely happen to each and every one of us—and it certainly will occur more than once. Though people may not intend to injure or offend us, they nonetheless can be inconsiderate and tactless.
“You and I cannot control the intentions or behavior of other people. However, we do determine how we will act. Please remember that you and I are agents endowed with moral agency, and we can choose not to be offended.” —David A Bednar, And Nothing Shall Offend Them
Grieved when the youth are unkind
“Many teachers in church and school have grieved at the way some teenagers, including LDS youth, treat one another. The commandment to love one another surely includes love and respect across religious lines and also across racial, cultural, and economic lines. We challenge all youth to avoid bullying, insults, or language and practices that deliberately inflict pain on others. All of these violate the Savior’s command to love one another.” —Dallin H. Oaks, Loving Others and Living with Differences
Shyness, severe acne, and raising pigs
“Neal Maxwell grew up in Salt Lake City with a boy’s usual fears and aspirations. He loved athletics and developed early skill as a basketball player. But by the time Neal entered Granite High School, his friends had suddenly grown enough taller that he failed to make the basketball team. By then he had also developed a serious case of acne, the scars of which he still carries. By nature shy and sensitive, Neal experienced additional social discomfort during his high school years. His family home was very modest and he raised pigs as a 4-H project. His work with the pigs occasionally made him the object of stinging remarks from his friends. These minor bruises to his feelings as a young man would later help bless him with a keen sense of empathy for others.” —Bruce C. Hafen, Elder Neal A. Maxwell: An Understanding Heart
“Just as God rejoices when we persevere, He is disappointed if we do not recognize that others are trying too. Our dear friend Thoba shared how she learned this lesson from her mother, Julia. Julia and Thoba were among the early black converts in South Africa. After the apartheid regime ended, black and white members of the Church were permitted to attend church together. For many, the equality of interaction between the races was new and challenging. One time, as Julia and Thoba attended church, they felt they were treated less than kindly by some white members. As they left, Thoba complained bitterly to her mother. Julia listened calmly until Thoba had vented her frustration. Then Julia said, ‘Oh, Thoba, the Church is like a big hospital, and we are all sick in our own way. We come to church to be helped.’
“Julia’s comment reflects a valuable insight. We must not only be tolerant while others work on their individual illnesses; we must also be kind, patient, supportive, and understanding. As God encourages us to keep on trying, He expects us to also allow others the space to do the same, at their own pace. The Atonement will come into our lives in even greater measure. We will then recognize that regardless of perceived differences, all of us are in need of the same infinite Atonement.” —Dale G. Renlund, Latter-day Saints Keep on Trying
‘Your own Liberty Jail’
“Some of you young women may be experiencing your own Liberty Jail, a place where you face humiliation, a place where you feel no loving-kindness, a place where you are mocked, bullied, or even physically harmed. To you young women I offer Elder Holland’s words: ‘You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life … , while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced.’ In other words, just like the Prophet Joseph Smith, you can create and stand in holy places even in the hardest times you have ever experienced.” —Ann A. Dibb, Your Holy Places
‘To be offended is a choice’
“When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.
“In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that someone or something can make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation.” —David A Bednar, And Nothing Shall Offend Them
Those ‘excluded from society’
“During His earthly ministry, Jesus was an example of one who went far beyond the simple obligation of hospitality and tolerance. Those who were excluded from society, those who were rejected and considered to be impure by the self-righteous, were given His compassion and respect. They received an equal part of His teachings and ministry.” —Gérald Caussé, Ye Are No More Strangers
Sometimes our social struggles stem from a personal weakness or flaw that we’re painfully aware of, and consistently trying to change. Or, perhaps we’ve given up trying to change our weakness, and need some encouragement to try again.
‘He is not waiting to love you’
“Yes, God loves you this very day and always.
“He is not waiting to love you until you have overcome your weaknesses and bad habits. He loves you today with a full understanding of your struggles. He is aware that you reach up to Him in heartfelt and hopeful prayer. He knows of the times you have held onto the fading light and believed—even in the midst of growing darkness. He knows of your sufferings. He knows of your remorse for the times you have fallen short or failed. And still He loves you.” —Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Living the Gospel Joyful
Weakness is different from rebellion
“The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy.” —Richard G. Scott, Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ
‘No one knows what it is like. No one understands.’
“Thus, the Savior has suffered not just for our sins and iniquities—but also for our physical pains and anguish, our weaknesses and shortcomings, our fears and frustrations, our disappointments and discouragement, our regrets and remorse, our despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities we experience, and the emotional distresses that beset us.
“There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, ‘No one knows what it is like. No one understands.’ But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see Alma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power. Indeed, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.”—David A. Bednar, Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease
“If you have problems in your life, don’t assume there is something wrong with you. Struggling with those problems is at the very core of life’s purpose. As we draw close to God, He will show us our weaknesses and through them make us wiser, stronger. If you’re seeing more of your weaknesses, that just might mean you’re moving nearer to God, not farther away.”—Bruce C. Hafen, The Atonement: All for All
Sometimes we might think that a weakness, like a violent temper, selfishness, or making catty remarks is not a weakness. We might even be proud of our bad attitude. We even expect the social difficulties that these create to go away. If the reason it seems like no one likes us is our own cruel or condescending behavior, we need to recognize it and repent.
A bad temper is not a strength
“A violent temper is such a terrible, corrosive thing. And the tragedy is that it accomplishes no good; it only feeds evil with resentment and rebellion and pain. To any man or boy within the sound of my voice who has trouble controlling his tongue, may I suggest that you plead with the Lord for the strength to overcome your weakness, that you apologize to those you have offended, and that you marshal within yourselves the power to discipline your tongue.
“To the boys who are here, may I suggest that you watch your temper, now, in these formative years of your life. As Brother Haight has reminded you, this is the season to develop the power and capacity to discipline yourselves. You may think it is the macho thing to flare up in anger and swear and profane the name of the Lord. It is not the macho thing. It is an indication of weakness. Anger is not an expression of strength. It is an indication of one’s inability to control his thoughts, words, his emotions. Of course it is easy to get angry. When the weakness of anger takes over, the strength of reason leaves. Cultivate within yourselves the mighty power of self-discipline.” —Gordon B. Hinckley, Our Solemn Responsibilities
‘Verbal abuse knows no gender’
“The sin of verbal abuse knows no gender. Wives, what of the unbridled tongue in your mouth, of the power for good or ill in your words? How is it that such a lovely voice which by divine nature is so angelic, so close to the veil, so instinctively gentle and inherently kind could ever in a turn be so shrill, so biting, so acrid and untamed? A woman’s words can be more piercing than any dagger ever forged, and they can drive the people they love to retreat beyond a barrier more distant than anyone in the beginning of that exchange could ever have imagined. Sisters, there is no place in that magnificent spirit of yours for acerbic or abrasive expression of any kind, including gossip or backbiting or catty remarks. Let it never be said of our home or our ward or our neighborhood that ‘the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity … [burning] among our members’.” —Jeffrey R. Holland, The Tongue of Angels
‘What’s in it for me?’
“Many years ago I was in a professional association with two older, more experienced men. We had been friends for many years and found it mutually beneficial to help one another. One day, one associate sought our help on a complex matter. As soon as the issue had been explained, the first thing the other associate said was, ‘What’s in it for me?’ When his old friend responded so selfishly, I saw the look of pain and disappointment on the face of the one who had invited our help. The relationship between the two was never quite the same after that. Our self-serving friend did not prosper, as his selfishness soon eclipsed his considerable gifts, talents, and qualities. Unfortunately, one of the curses of the world today is encapsulated in this selfish response, ‘What’s in it for me?’” —James E. Faust, What’s in It for Me?
Negative thinking, negative speaking, and making everyone miserable
“I suppose it goes without saying that negative speaking so often flows from negative thinking, including negative thinking about ourselves. We see our own faults, we speak—or at least think—critically of ourselves, and before long that is how we see everyone and everything. No sunshine, no roses, no promise of hope or happiness. Before long we and everybody around us are miserable.” —Jeffrey R. Holland, The Tongue of Angels
It is one thing to struggle socially at school, work, church, or home. To me, one of the most disturbing effects of struggling socially is a slow growing suspicion that because others find us unlovable, Heavenly Father doesn’t love us either. Especially for those whose social struggles are severe or long-lasting, the temptation to think that we are not liked by God lurks around our hearts or minds. Here’s counsel and inspiration from prophets of God to assure everyone how loved each of us are.
‘Brother Andersen, I don’t even know if God loves me’
“I once visited a mission in southern Europe. I arrived on the day a new missionary was preparing to return home at his own insistence. He had his ticket to leave the next day.
“We sat together in the mission president’s home. The missionary told me about his challenging childhood, of learning disorders, of moving from one family to another. He spoke sincerely of his inability to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture. Then he added, ‘Brother Andersen, I don’t even know if God loves me.’ As he said those words, I felt a sure and forceful feeling come into my spirit: ‘He does know I love him. He knows it.’
“I let him continue for a few more minutes, and then I said, ‘Elder, I’m sympathetic to much of what you’ve said, but I must correct you on one thing: you do know God loves you. You know He does.’
“As I said those words to him, the same Spirit that had spoken to me spoke to him. He bowed his head and began to cry. He apologized. ‘Brother Andersen,’ he said, ‘I do know God loves me; I do know it.’ He didn’t know everything, but he knew enough. He knew God loved him. That priceless piece of spiritual knowledge was sufficient for his doubt to be replaced with faith. He found the strength to stay on his mission.”—Neil L. Andersen, You Know Enough
‘God loves us completely’
“God does not look on the outward appearance. I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.
“He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.
“What this means is that, regardless of our current state, there is hope for us. No matter our distress, no matter our sorrow, no matter our mistakes, our infinitely compassionate Heavenly Father desires that we draw near to Him so that He can draw near to us.” —Dieter F. Uchtdorf, The Love of God
Your value to God doesn’t change if someone unfriends you on Facebook!
“He knows everything about you. He sees you clearly—He knows you as you really are. And He loves you—today and always!
“Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair, and nails are perfect? Do you think your value to Him changes based on how many followers you have on Instagram or Pinterest? Do you think He wants you to worry or get depressed if some un-friend or un-follow you on Facebook or Twitter? Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size, or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the One who created the universe?
“He loves you not only for who you are this very day but also for the person of glory and light you have the potential and the desire to become.” —Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Living the Gospel Joyful
“Your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.” —Thomas S. Monson, We Never Walk Alone
Christ is your ‘high priest of good things to come’
“Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. Moroni spoke of it in the Book of Mormon as ‘hope for a better world.’ For emotional health and spiritual stamina, everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful, whether that blessing be near at hand or still some distance ahead. It is enough just to know we can get there, that however measured or far away, there is the promise of ‘good things to come.’
“My declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us, especially in times of need. There is help. There is happiness. There really is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the Light of the World, the Bright and Morning Star, the ‘light that is endless, that can never be darkened.’ It is the very Son of God Himself. In loving praise far beyond Romeo’s reach, we say, ‘What light through yonder window breaks?’ It is the return of hope, and Jesus is the Sun. To any who may be struggling to see that light and find that hope, I say: Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve. Christ comes to you in His ‘more excellent ministry’ with a future of ‘better promises.’ He is your ‘high priest of good things to come’.” —Jeffrey R. Holland, “An High Priest of Good Things to Come”
A Video Meme I made using this quote—
Thank you for coming to my blog! I hope you were uplifted and left ready to fight the good fight!
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Background images for memes from 123RF; All memes complied by me.