By Diane Maupin, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA
Dolores was in my second-grade class. She was temporarily living with her grandparents, or they might have been foster parents. (When you’re 7 years old, you don’t always know all the details.) She rode my school bus and occasionally attended our congregation—usually Bible School—with her caregivers.
Dolores had some severe problems that made her a target of bullying. I remember one day seeing her cower behind the classroom door in tears after she had been shoved in the corner and left behind as her classmates headed for recess. The most powerful part of that memory—and the reason it has stuck with me—is that I did nothing.
I couldn’t go outside for recess without walking through that door, but I looked at Dolores and walked right by. I felt sorry for her. I knew what had happened was wrong, but I did nothing to right the situation. Dolores was about as marginalized and oppressed as any classmate I ever had. I at least could have offered her a hand up and helped dry her tears. But I didn’t.
Dolores’ life went another direction, and I never saw her again. But I often wonder what became of her. Did she finally find her voice? Did someone intervene in her life and advocate for her? Did someone see her suffering and offer healing words and comfort? I missed my opportunity—I hope someone else was able to right my wrong.
We see Doloreses around us every day—those whom society has cast aside, those who don’t fit the definition of acceptable, those who survive on the fringes of our communities. It is easy to look the other way and focus on people or issues that require less attention and energy. It’s easy to be satisfied with the status quo rather than effecting positive change.
Jesus turned the world upside down with his radical gospel message that challenged the status quo. When I think of the cross and what it means to me, I am reminded of Dolores. I am reminded that I am called to disrupt the status quo when people live in poverty and die due to a lack of health care, clean water, and adequate food. I am called to disrupt the status quo when children are sold as sex slaves and forced to be child soldiers or suicide bombers. I am called to disrupt the status quo when families flee their homelands in search of a better life for their children.
I am called to stand up for every Dolores who cowers in fear—oppressed, intimidated, and persecuted.
I often wear necklaces with cross pendants. They remind me of my responsibility to stand in the breach for others, to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves, and to “courageously challenge…trends that are contrary to the…restoring purposes of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:3b). My discipleship requires me to take a stand.
You hold precious lives in your hands. Be gentle and gracious with one another. A community is no stronger than the weakest within it. Even as the One you follow reached out to those who were rejected and marginalized, so must the community that bears his name.
—Doctrine and Covenants 162:6c
I want to be part of that community. Will you join me?
Maupin, Diane. (2017). What the cross means to me. Retrieved from http://www.cofchrist.org/mission-stories#/190/what-the-cross-means-to-me