I really liked the message from Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the January issue of the Ensign.
Elder Uchtdorf writes, "Recently, I watched a group of people practicing the art of archery. Just by watching, it became clear to me that if you really want to master the bow and arrow, it takes time and practice.
I don’t think you can develop a reputation for being an accomplished archer by shooting at an empty wall and then drawing targets around the arrows. You have to learn the art of finding the target and hitting the bull’s-eye. Shooting first and drawing the target afterward may seem a little absurd, but sometimes we ourselves mirror that very behavior in other circumstances of life ..."
After reading his message, I feel like it relates to what I often observe in life and especially online—it's easy to become hyper-focused on one aspect of life—parenting, diet, exercise, travel, career or education, OR ... I see how we can get super involved with one program or cause to the exclusion of others. We essentially find and create our own target and then we even go so far as to judge or ridicule those who are obviously NOT aiming in the direction we are. Make sense?
Elder Uchtdorf reminds us of a story in the Bible, when the religious leaders of Christ's day challenged Him, wanting to create a controversy. They asked "Which is the great commandment in the law? They were hoping to catch him contradicting himself. Jesus answered, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang ALL the law and the prophets." The Savior not only identified the target, but also showed us the bullseye.
And, this is the part of the article I like best ...
"The more we learn about God and feel His love for us, the more we realize that the infinite sacrifice of Jesus Christ is a divine gift of God. And God’s love inspires us to use the path of true repentance, which will lead to the miracle of forgiveness. This process enables us to have greater love and compassion for those around us. We will learn to see beyond labels. We will resist the temptation to accuse or judge others by their sins, shortcomings, flaws, political leanings, religious convictions, nationalities, or skin color. We will see every one we meet as a child of our Heavenly Father—our brother or our sister. We will reach out to others in understanding and love—even those who may not be particularly easy to love..." (and I would add) because they are not like us, because they are not focused on the same things we focus on.
Now, I know not everyone believes in God or believes in the same way, but as we lift our gaze and pull ourselves back from a position of exclusive and determined concentration then we can increase our peripheral vision and begin to take in others around us. I believe we need to SEE and listen more and try (a little harder) to understand and yes, LOVE our neighbors—many of whom we tend to view as enemies. Jesus of course taught us to love our enemies too and the possibility of that begins with a desire to understand the position or perspective of a neighbor.
Not sure I'm making sense, but I tried.
My target is LOVE, first for God and then for others around me.
I don't always hit the bullseye, but the more I practice the closer I will get.