Dealing with loved ones who are disaffected with the LDS Church is a difficult process that requires love and patience.
Kevin Hinckley, a presenter at BYU Education Week, taught principles that help family members and loved ones to deal with the adjustment of a disaffected church member.
Hinckley first taught that mortality ends with the resurrection. This means that growing and learning takes place on both sides of the veil. Beyond the veil, there is an increase of love, light and understanding. This means that there is still an opportunity for people to return to the church after leaving Earth.
“All is not lost if those we love do not return in this life,” Hinckley said.
It is important not to personalize another’s disaffection. It is not about anyone else but the person struggling. Hinckley gave the example of a husband who is addicted to pornography, and in response the wife may try to make it about her. She may try to change her appearance in order to fix the problem, but the problem is not about her. His addiction is his addiction.
“Fixing you will not fix their disaffection,” Hinckley said.
The way the disaffection is handled by loved ones may, in fact, make it worse. People expect to be judged and attacked for their disaffection, which is not an unrealistic worry. When others judge the individual, it only hurts the relationship with the person.
A necessary part of the healing process is to fully grieve, forgive, and then find peace. Waiting and refusing to find peace until the person changes their mind is not the right approach. Hinckley gave the example of a mother who is just waiting for her son to return, and does not allow herself to be at peace until he does so.
“The idea is to recognize that he’s on a different path,” Hinckley said.
One important thing to remember is that an individual was Heavenly Father’s child before anything else. Heavenly Father knows a person better than anyone else, and one must be able to trust that knowledge.
However, it is okay to feel hurt or even angry, as these are the human reaction to a big change. One may need to take time out to deal with these changes.
“It’s okay to say ‘I’m going to need some time to adjust’,” Hinckley said.
Throughout this process, cultivating a grateful heart will not only lighten one’s burden, but can strengthen the relationship with the disaffected individual.
“When we are more grateful, we are more approachable,” Hinckley said. “It makes your relationships better because you carry a whole different spirit with you.”
It is also important to take the time to work on relationships separate from where there is disagreement. Finding other ways to connect strengthens relationships and increases happiness.
“We are as happy as our relationships are healthy,” Hinckley said.
Hearts will change when (or if) they are willing. The Lord interferes at the perfect time. However, the perfect time may not be what is expected or hoped for. No matter when this change of heart occurs, it is important to respond with love and to develop a grateful disposition in order to find peace.