Through tears and many emotions, Ronald E. Bartholomew warned members of an Education Week class Wednesday that they might be walking around blind.
“If you can’t see through God’s eyes, even 20/20 vision can make you blind as a bat,” Bartholomew said.
Bartholomew’s class, “Be True to Who You Are,” in the Wilkinson Center taught participants the world would be without war if everyone saw each other as God sees them.
“It’s not a competition between me and you,” Bartholomew said. “We’re on the same time. I can love you for who you are. If we all did that to each other, we would be living in Zion.”
He suggested everyone decide today to pray to God for forgiveness of the misconceptions they have had about themselves or anyone else.
“You have to make the choice, and then you have to act on that choice,” Bartholomew said. “Think about how much more charitable, nicer, kinder the world would be if everyone in this room could see people the way God sees them.”
Tom Steele, an Education Week volunteer from Pleasant Grove, said he appreciated Bartholomew’s class because it was just what he needed.
“I liked the idea of looking past the culture of responsibility,” Steele said. “You don’t have to fit the mold, you just have to be a son or daughter of God.”
Bartholomew expounded on what Steele said when he explained Satan is the father of lies and the biggest lie of all is making humans feel not of worth.
“You’re not fat, you’re God’s child,” Bartholomew said. “You’re not dumb, you’re God’s child. All these descriptors are words we use to describe the current temporal situation right now. It’s not who we are. It’s not who other people are.”
He explained that who we are in this mortal life is not who we are in the eternal scheme.
“Our fallen current temporary condition is not who we are,” Bartholomew said. “Our creation is who we are. The fall doesn’t define us, the creation defined us.”
He told the story of his mother’s conversion and of how members were able to look past her childhood and different lifestyle than the teachings of the Church and welcomed her with open arms.
“I’m here today because someone was able to see my mom for what she really was – a child of God,” Bartholomew said. “We can ask the Lord to touch our eyes so we can see. We can turn away from darkness and turn to the light. We can see.”
Hillary Christensen, an Education Week volunteer studying secondary education, from Orange County, Calif., said she liked what he said about being not only his hands but his eyes as well.
“I think he’s just really genuine in applying it directly to the class,” Christensen said. “He not only teaches his ideas but also different ways of seeing things, so you not only learn one concept but through this new way of learning or seeing things, you learn so many new concepts.”
Bartholomew tried to make class participants remember something people can forget when at church. He said sometimes within the Church, women hate going to Relief Society because they feel judged or inadequate. He encouraged everyone to look for those sisters and make them feel loved and welcome.
“Maybe if we were kind enough, we could see the burden of their heart, which is unseen but is larger than the Himalayan Mountains,” Bartholomew said.
He urged everyone to see others as sons and daughters of God, and he quoted what President Gordon B. Hinckley said at the 2005 April General Conference.
“Regardless of the color of our skin, of the shape of our eyes, of the language we speak, we all are sons and daughters of God and must reach out to one another with love and concern,” President Hinckley said. “Wherever we may live we can be friendly neighbors.”
He then said pure knowledge is the ability to see people as they really are, and he said if everyone could see people as a child sees them, the world would be void of hatred and jealousy. He pleaded with all the attendees to pray to see people as the Lord sees them.
“We judge ourselves every day, and it’s satanic,” Bartholomew said. “How are we going to change that? We aren’t. The Lord will. We are going to ask the Lord to touch us by His spirit to change.”