I read a quote this week that really struck me. It read, “Perfect maturity is when a person hurts you and you try to understand their situation and don’t hurt them back.” One of the most mature and Christ-like women I know did that very thing recently. I remember talking to her and being amazed at the peace that came as she spoke to me and helped me understand the other person. Despite what we see on soap operas and evening television, few people are inherently bad. In our hearts we all desire to be happy, and true happiness only comes from doing good.
Kindness Isn’t Easy
You may think I chose this topic because I am naturally a kind person, or it comes easily to me. But lately I have been the grumpiest person on earth. My adorable five-year-old hit the constant question, constant talking phase and I almost lost my mind. My sister moved in with us, and just the differences in personality felt like sandpaper on my skin some days.
Neither of these situations merit grouchy responses, and I have been working very hard to keep my cool. But sometimes (like now when my child is talking constantly as I write) are really tough. The Savior knew this when He told us to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 1:34). The Savior has never told me to shut up or pick up my socks. He loves me kindly, and with a patience that I, with my flaws, can’t match. But His challenge still stands.
Christ Showed the Way
Elder Robert J. Whetten (an emeritus member of the Seventy) seemed to know I would need to hear some comforting council when he addressed this very scripture. He said:
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you. … By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” …. Jesus’ unconditional love for us motivated His atoning sacrifice for our sins. Without His love, we would be unable to return to our Heavenly Father. How He lived His life is the example we should follow. His way should be our way. “Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” He showed us that we must go about doing good, that the spiritual and physical welfare of our fellowmen is as important as our own, and that we should show genuine concern and compassion for all of our Heavenly Father’s children.
Moroni defines Christ like love as charity. “And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father.” It’s not enough to say we believe and that we love Him; we must be found possessed with His kind of love for others at that last day. It is not necessary for us to lay down our life for others as He did, but like the Savior, we should bless the lives of others by giving of what our life is made up of—our time, our talents, our means, and ourselves.”
Prayer Makes a Difference
Elder Whetten continued:
“Mormon urges us to “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.” Like faith, Christ like love is a gift of the Spirit, is granted upon the principles of personal righteousness and in accordance to our level of obedience to the laws upon which it is predicated.
Like faith, love must be exercised to grow. We all live our lives one day at a time, and each of us, regardless of our age or circumstances, is presented each day with choices in our relationships with others. As we deny ourselves and reach out to serve others, the Spirit will refine us and teach us and we will come to learn what Paul meant: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.”
Our compassionate service to others will grow into divine love and change us, “and when he shall appear we shall be like him” (Robert J. Whetten, “True Followers,” April 1999).
Kindness Does Begin with Me
I love how Elder Whetten reminds us that the Savior doesn’t expect us to be instantly kind, but that love grows when it is used. As I seek to have a kind and happy home, I am very encouraged to remember that the fruits of that very Spirit I welcome into my home through my kindness will then help grant me the gentleness and goodness to keep the upward cycle going.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.