What is right for one soul may not be right for another. It may mean having to stand on your own and do something strange in the eyes of others. —Eileen Caddy
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) are no strangers to doing what is strange in the eyes of others. We pride ourselves in being a “peculiar” people. We walk to the beat of a different drummer. It is not easy to stand alone among your peers, but it certainly builds character.
Over the years, I’ve been asked many questions about my religion. I always answer questions honestly, and those answers have been received with a mixture of respect and rolled eyeballs. After a while it is easy to chuckle over the rolled eyeballs, shrug shoulders, and move on. It has taught me tolerance of others that has served me well in all aspects of my life.
Standing on my own has become second nature to me, as there are many aspects of my life that others do not understand. I’ve had my share of critics, but that’s okay. Each time I have to stand up for myself I learn something. Just as football players collect helmet stickers for extraordinary plays, I collect mental stickers for extraordinary tolerance to the critics of my life’s game plan.
It would be a pretty dull world if we were all the same. I’m different from others, and that’s okay because it has taught me an appreciation for those differences. I’ve spent a lifetime seeking out cultural events, religious ceremonies of other faiths, and friends of ethnic diversity. I’ve grown from those friendships and cultural experiences. I’ve learned that we all have beauty and goodness within us.
The key to standing alone is to make sure that you are standing for good. It doesn’t do you any good to stand alone if you are standing for evil. There is no profit in that. If you choose good things to do and support, there is heavenly help in standing alone—so in reality, you are never really alone. The reward at the end is peace in your heart. This peace is earned through constant marching to the beat of that good drum you’ve decided to follow.
Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. —Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-27
This scripture has always been one of my favorites and brings peace to my heart. It reminds me that as long as I am “anxiously engaged in a good cause” and “do good” that I’m okay. I may not do things the same way that other people do. I may not say things the way others do. I may not be the person that others want me to be. As long as I am doing good, I have power within me from my Heavenly Father to succeed. I also like that I am an “agent unto [myself]”. I have the power to choose how to live my life. Heavenly Father has given me great latitude to choose how to live my life; therefore, no man or woman on earth has the power to take that away from me. The only way I can lose that power is if I voluntarily surrender it.
When people begin to look at me like I’m strange, I think about my father who was the most eccentric man I’ve ever known. To know Dad was to love him. He said and did many things that were strange in the eyes of others. Yet people who knew him respected and loved him. Dad was loved because he was unique. He didn’t fit the mold. He was full of surprises. All those unique qualities were wrapped up in integrity and tied with a bow of loyalty. Strangeness is very often goodness.
What is unique about you? What drum do you march to? Do you hold your strangeness up for the world to see in all its glory? Are you willing to tolerate a few odd glances and be the brunt of a joke or two in order to make the world a less boring place? Can you stand up for your beliefs in the face of those who would call you out for it? Are you willing to be the person you were meant to be?
This week take your strangeness to a higher level and make the world a better, more interesting place. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Stand alone if need be, but take a stand.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.