Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cultivating Sensitivity to Others

Andrea Worthington Snarr, “Cultivating Sensitivity to Others,” Ensign, Jun 2008, 59–63

Often when we make assumptions about another person, we are mistaken. This is because we rarely understand the complexities of another’s life. One couple who had been unable to have children received counsel from a member of their bishopric not to put off having a family in order to accumulate wealth and enjoy “a few of the good things in life.” The bishopric member didn’t know that the couple had been trying to have children for years and was now waiting to adopt a child.

David and Shauntel Hogan also recall hurtful comments when they experienced childlessness. Sister Hogan says that experience taught her that people are not intentionally insensitive—they just have limited experience and understanding. “It’s a matter of awareness. We all need to think about what we say to others because we all experience sensitive situations of some kind. I’ve learned never to assume anything. We need to take the time to get to know people. This cultivates understanding,” says Sister Hogan.

During their years of infertility challenges, the Hogans also received outpourings of love from family and friends. Just before an expensive medical procedure, they received an unexpected note containing not only moral support but financial assistance. That note is now a cherished keepsake. Eventually, the Hogans adopted three children. “We relied heavily on the experience and encouragement of friends and neighbors who preceded us on the adoption path,” relates Sister Hogan. “But others also took time to listen and express their confidence in us, even when they did not know exactly what we were experiencing. We had a cheering section enduring times of uncertainty with us,” relates Sister Hogan. “We knew we were not alone.”

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