When my sister first sent me the link to the now infamous New York Times article, regarding President Monson, I was infuriated and defensive. I was sucked into that article just like everyone else in Mormonism was. I wrote almost 800 words of a heated defense of the prophet.
I sat on the blog and didn’t release it.
Then I deleted it.
It just didn’t feel right.
It just didn’t feel like it was something President Monson would have wanted me to do. I would have been defending him. But I don’t feel like I would have been honoring him or any of the things he’s stood for during his prophetic ministry.
My personal belief is that President Monson would give the obituary editor of the New York Times a giant hug and tell him that he loves him. That’s just my belief. You’ll have to judge for yourself whether you think that is true or not.
Regardless, the amount of attention we have given the New York Times article and the anger that we have allowed ourselves to experience is in direct opposition to everything that President Monson stood for. This man, this prophet, is no stranger to criticism. He has endured it his entire life. But never once have I heard of him mount some sort of counterattack or defense against the rubbish that has been hurled his way.
What has he done with the negativity during the duration of his life and ministry? He’s ignored it. It’s never been worth his time. He kept his eye on the mark. Focused on Christ. Served others. And never let any inkling of negativity slow him down and waste precious opportunities to do good. He would get up, smile, wiggle his ears, and run errands for the Lord. His way was the Saviors way.
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” (Isa 53)
Remember the Savior’s experience during that final week preceding his death? Spit upon, railed upon, and beaten. Yet he opened not his mouth. In his final moments, it was “Father forgive them.” Why? “Because they know not what they do.”
This NYT guy… he has no idea what he’s doing. Absolutely no clue. But Christ died for him and all of his fiery editorial ignorance… and I’m almost certain, if our dear prophet passed by his way, he’d forgive him and extend a measure of kindness.
We know there will be opposition in all things. We don’t need to fight people if they think wrongly of us. In fact, fighting against other’s opinions just brings more attention to their negativity. I’ve seen the NYT article shared by more members of the church than any other article on President Monson. All that does is throw a magnifying glass on one man’s desire to be controversial. We’ve been commissioned to “share goodness,” not badness. Let’s not inadvertently make such a poor depiction of the prophet’s life go viral.
I don’t want to force a guy to change what he’s written, just as I would hope no one would attempt to force me to change the things I have written on behalf of the prophet. Agency is a precious thing. A precious gift. He can tell his story from his point of view and we can tell ours… and this is the story I would tell. It’s one in which President Monson has become a window to the Lord for me. It’s one in which he taught me to “dare to stand alone.” It’s one in which he taught me that “If the Lord needs an errand run, I want him to know that Tom Monson will run that errand.” It’s one in which I will never ignore the first prompting to go and find and help the “one.”
Let’s tell that story. From the housetops. Make it loud and clear. If enough of us do that, one NYT’s article won’t have a leg to stand on and it will soon be lost and forgotten. Yeah… I want to give that guy a piece of my mind. But I think President Monson would rather us use our time and energy to give the world a piece of the Savior’s heart. And a piece of President Monson’s heart.
The greater the servant, the greater the opposition. He knew that. I can only imagine him in heaven right now, his arm around Sister Monson, a smile on his face, and a heart overflowing with love for each of us who defend him in his absence, and yet, ever so strangely, love for those that never understood who he was nor comprehended the feelings of his heart.
I believe… above all, he would ask us to look to the Savior and do what he would do. Love others, forgive them, and never let anything distract us from THE WORK!