Love God. Love your fellowmen. We all know that, but have we really acknowledged why we are supposed to be loving? Why we are supposed to do those things? I know that for me, I have often thought that we do what we do because it makes others happy.
That may be true, but I also think you can love others for yourself.
Loving others, even those who may be different from us, is one of the most important ways we can follow the Savior Jesus Christ.
I like to walk in the mornings. If you have followed this column over the years, you already know that. I am not as consistent or hardcore as my wife, but I at least hoof it on occasion. Today when I went to go start my trek, it was pretty dark outside. It may sound crazy, but I thought, “I will wear my sunglasses because the sun will be coming up on my way home.” My pockets were already full, so I perched my shades on my nose even though they weren’t really needed yet. The sunglasses would surely come in handy, as the morning rays appear early on a clear day, especially when walking toward the mountains on the east side.
Once I got outside, it wasn’t quite as pitch black as I first thought. The sun’s rays were creeping over the mountain, and the sunrise imminent. But what I first noticed when I put my sunglasses on is that they made visibility more difficult. It wasn’t too bad because there were street lights shining and stars still about. And since my pockets were already full, I just wore my dark glasses, thinking “It will get light soon enough.” Though I did notice a difference in visage, I was focusing on the oration in my earbuds, so it didn’t really matter. That particular day, I was listening to 3 Nephi 11.
This part of the Book of Mormon tells us about Christ’s coming to the American continent following His resurrection. After Jesus’ death, the people in the Americas were naturally confused because of the great and marvelous changes that had just taken place. This is when Christ appears and proclaims His Atonement. The people heard a voice as if it came out of heaven, but understood it not. Three times the voice pronounced His coming, but people failed to recognize or understand the words. How can that be? I have asked myself that many times, but continued on to the next verses without coming to any conclusion. It didn’t really make sense. Though I have read that phrase numerous times, today I understood the words completely differently.
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
We are to daily take up His cross—what does that even mean? When we are dealing with challenges, attempting to overcome hardships, and faced with unexpected situations, how can we really do this?
With our current limited vision, it is difficult to see how taking up His cross daily will help.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
The word darkly is defined as obscurely or enigmatically in this context. We all know what obscurely means as when something is blocking or preventing our vision or understanding, but the word enigmatically sheds further light on our current situation. Synonyms include inexplicably, mysteriously, perplexingly, or unfathomably. Do you ever feel like that?
We are told in the scriptures that we are already seeing through a glass darkly. Maybe that means that despite our best efforts, we do not see and understand everything clearly in this life since our vision is obscured by many other temporal concerns that we have to deal with every day.
Money, mortgages, food, finances, schooling, business, and employment (or the lack thereof) — all these worries concern and stress us at some time or another. They are not life’s focus, however. They instead are a means to an end. I am not saying they aren’t important, necessary, or desirable, but they alone are not the purpose of life.
Just like wearing my sunglasses in the morning obscures my vision further before it gets light, we don’t always recognize the reason things happen. Yet they are not a surprise to a loving God. I have no doubt that someday we will look back and see why things occurred the way did and how we were benefitted.
Joseph Smith taught, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it.”
Regardless of the current circumstances of our lives, our loving Savior is willing and able to change and improve us to the point that we experience joy right now and for eternity.
Handling our circumstances well starts with loving and following Him.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.