Recently I had to speak in church about Christlike love. I don't usually talk religious or spiritual things on my blog, but I thought I'd share what I spoke about because what better time to talk about having love for each other than at Christmas.
The world needs more kindness. How much better
would the world be if we all had Christlike love? I’m on both Facebook and
Twitter, and I often see so much hatred out there. Sometimes, it’s awful
comments people make to each other, often anonymously. It’s so easy to be mean
when no one knows you’re doing it. But not only this kind of hatred, but I’ve
seen a lot of negativity when people don’t agree. When someone speaks out
against popular opinion, or unpopular opinion, they get vilified. These
days, it feels like people automatically go to a place of anger and hatred
towards another who doesn’t share their beliefs or opinions. I don’t know how
many times I’ve thought, “can’t we all just get along?”
Good happens on social media too- I wouldn’t be on
it if there wasn’t. I remember someone posting on Facebook once a little phrase
that has stuck with me ever since. “Just because I don’t agree with you,
doesn’t mean I don’t love you.”
It’s so true. We can disagree, we can be different
from each other, hold different beliefs and opinions, but that doesn’t mean we
should lash out. I might not agree with you, but that doesn’t stop me from
loving you. From being kind to you, from only hoping the best for you.
Sometimes people get up in church and say, “I love everyone.” I used to inwardly scoff at that-
there’s no way you can love everyone. You don’t know everyone, so how can you
love them? But I’ve come to realize that this kind of love is about having no
ill-will towards our fellow man. It means having an open heart.
There’s an article in the 1983 Ensign by Ann N.
Madsen called: Tolerance, the beginning of Christlike love. In it, she mentions
a keynote address that Henry B. Eyring gave once entitled
“The Rope.” She says, “In this address, he suggested a powerful metaphor: we
are like mountain climbers, he said, bound to each other as children of God. As
he spoke, I thought how Satan must laugh when we push each other down—by
faultfinding, criticism, name-calling, and labeling—when part of our purpose in
mortality is to learn to lift each other up.”
She also said, “If we can learn
patience, allowing all men the privilege of seeing truth at their own pace, we
will have moved measurably toward the compassion and love of the Savior, who
saw no enemies among his crucifiers. His example stands for all time to teach
us the tender path from tolerance to compassion and perfect love.”
My favorite scripture, ever since I
was a teenager, is found in Moroni, chapter 8, the last line of verse 16: “for
perfect love casteth out all fear.”
Fear causes us to hate. It causes us to be angry, to
lash out, to get offended, to withdraw. We become afraid that we’ll get hurt
again, so we put up defenses to avoid it. Then what happens to us? We carry it
around, this anger or hatred of offendedness (which probably isn’t a word). We
carry it around and it festers. It can consume us. We only end up hurting
ourselves. When we fail to have Christlike love, despite what someone might
have done to us, we are the ones who lose in the end. When we carry all that
negativity around, how can we possibly love?
I found a quote
from Jeffrey R. Holland that says, Pure Christlike love flowing from
true righteousness can change the world.
I don’t know about you, but my goal has never been
to change the world. But what about changing ourselves? Can you imagine how
much better the world would be if we all strove individually to have Christlike
“Because love is the great
commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our
own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood,” said President Dieter F.
Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. “Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal
and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and
nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and
respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the
fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be
our walk and our talk.”
President Monson gave a talk at a Christmas
devotional called, “Christmas is Love.” He said, “true
love is a reflection of the Savior’s love. In December of each year we call it
the Christmas spirit. You can hear it. You can see it. You can feel it.”
He went on to tell this story which
particularly touched me, since I’ve been called to Primary. He said,
Recently I thought back to an experience from my boyhood—an
experience I have related on another occasion or two. I was just 11. Our
Primary president, Melissa, was an older and loving gray-haired lady. One day
at Primary, Melissa asked me to stay behind and visit with her. There the two
of us sat in the otherwise empty chapel. She placed her arm about my shoulder
and began to cry. Surprised, I asked her why she was crying.
She replied, “I can’t seem to get the Trail Builder boys to be
reverent during the opening exercises of Primary. Would you be willing to help
I promised Melissa that I would. Strangely to me, but not to
Melissa, that ended any problem of reverence in Primary. She had gone to the
source of the problem—me. The solution was love.
The years flew by. Marvelous Melissa, now in her 90s, lived in a
nursing facility in the northwest part of Salt Lake City. Just before Christmas,
I determined to visit my beloved Primary president. Over the car radio I heard
the song “Hark! The herald angels sing glory to the newborn King!”2
I reflected on the visit made by wise men those long years ago. They brought
gifts of gold, of frankincense, and of myrrh. I brought only the gift of love
and a desire to say thank you.
I found Melissa in the lunchroom. She was staring at her plate
of food, teasing it with the fork she held in her aged hand. Not a bite did she
eat. As I spoke to her, my words were met by a benign but blank stare. I took
the fork in hand and began to feed Melissa, talking all the time I did so about
her service to boys and girls as a Primary worker. There wasn’t so much as a
glimmer of recognition, far less a spoken word. Two other residents of the
nursing home gazed at me with puzzled expressions. At last one of them spoke,
saying, “Don’t talk to her. She doesn’t know anyone—even her own family. She
hasn’t said a word in all the time she’s been here.”
Luncheon ended. My one-sided conversation wound down. I stood to
leave. I held her frail hand in mine, gazed into her wrinkled but beautiful
countenance, and said, “God bless you, Melissa. Merry Christmas.” Without
warning, she spoke the words, “I know you. You’re Tommy Monson, my Primary boy.
How I love you.” She pressed my hand to her lips and bestowed on it a sweet
kiss filled with love. Tears coursed down her cheeks and bathed our clasped
hands. Those hands that day were hallowed by heaven and graced by God. The
herald angels did sing.
Having Christlike love isn’t just a feeling, we have
to show it too. We have to give of our time, and say Thank You, like President
Monson did. Christlike love is charity. The pure
love of Christ, known as charity, is the highest, noblest, and strongest kind
of love and the most joyous to the soul. Christlike love is service. In Jesus
Christ’s mortal ministry, He “went about doing good,” showing tender compassion
for the poor, afflicted, and distressed. To develop Christlike love, we must
seek it, pray for it, and follow the example of the Savior in our thoughts,
words, and actions.
This is especially difficult for me.
It’s easy for me to feel Christlike love. I don’t get easily offended, I don’t
hold grudges, I genuinely feel no ill-will towards anyone. But showing
Christlike love? Not my forte for sure. I have just as hard of a time expressing
it with words as I do showing it through service.
In For the Strength of
Youth it says about service, “There are many ways to serve others. Some of the
most important service you can give will be within your own home. You can also
serve in your Church assignments, school, and community. You can serve by doing
temple and family history work. You can serve by sharing the gospel with
others. Often the most meaningful service is expressed through simple, everyday
acts of kindness.
Service isn’t my forte, but I say, play to your
strengths. I’m not good at the big, noticeable acts of service, but that
doesn’t mean I can’t serve. I like how it said, “often the most meaningful
service is expressed through simple, everyday acts of kindness.”
Recently I had an opportunity for this. I was
standing in line at Walmart. I had Avery with me, who’s five. The lady in front
of me going though the check-out had a couple of kids as well, younger, and she
was busy with them- something I can easily relate to. She ended up leaving two
of her shopping bags behind. The check-out lady was the one to notice. She
showed me the bags, said the lady left them behind. We both stood there craning
our heads both ways to see if we could see her but she’d left.
What did I do? I hate to say that I hesitated. I
stood there and didn’t know what to do, when it should have been obvious on the
spot. Finally, I told Avery to stay put, grabbed the bags, and ran out of the
store. I managed to catch the lady in the parking lot and give her her two bags.
Was this a big thing? No. It was a simple act of
kindness. I hate to admit that I was pretty proud of myself for it because I
easily could have just left it alone. In the past, I would have. Not because
I’m mean or lazy, but it just wouldn’t have occurred to me to chase her down
and give her the bags. I’ve had to teach myself to be more mindful of others
needs. I’m still learning.
As we approach Christmas, Christlike love tends to
be easier, doesn’t it? Not just for us in the church but for everyone. Like
President Monson said, we identify it as the Christmas Spirit.
I’ve always been interested by history and
especially war. One of my favorite Christmas stories is one you’ve probably all
heard. It’s the story of the soldiers during World War One in the trenches. There’s
a video on YouTube that you should watch. It’s a commercial for Sainsbury’s- I
think it’s a British supermarket- and it re-enacts this event. I’ve watched it
multiple times and cried every time.
December of 1914, when the war had only raged on
about five months (I think), Pope Benedict the fifteenth suggested a temporary
hiatus of the war for the celebration of Christmas. Neither side wanted to
declare an official cease-fire, but the soldiers in the trenches did it on
On Christmas Eve, the sounds of rifles firing and
shells exploding faded in a number of places along the Western Front. Some of
the German soldiers began singing carols. The Allies joined in. They sang
carols together and the allies even reported hearing a brass band joining in
from the German lines.
On Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from
their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s land, calling
out Merry Christmas! in English. At first, the allies thought it was a trick,
but seeing the Germans unarmed, they climbed out of their trenches and shook
hands with the enemy soldiers. They exchanged presents of food and cigarettes
and sang Christmas carols together. There is even a documented case of soldiers
from opposing lines playing soccer.
Can you imagine? I try to put myself in the place of
one of those soldiers. I don’t feel a lot of hate for anyone now, but if I was
in the middle of a war, on the front lines, if I had to kill people, see my
friends and comrades killed beside me, what kind of hate would be in my heart?
And would I be able to lay that aside? Could I shake hands? Could I share
precious presents from home?
This story is often repeated because it’s amazing.
They put aside war and killing and hate for one day of love.
On History.com it says, “The
so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of
war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of
chivalry between enemies in warfare. It was never repeated—future attempts at
holiday ceasefires were quashed by officers’ threats of disciplinary action—but
it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of
weapons, the soldiers’ essential humanity endured.”
A Christmas truce never happened
again. How sad is that? Having Christlike love isn’t just a Christmas thing.
It’s forever. It’s something we need to strive for every day. Those soldiers
put aside their weapons for one day, but can you imagine how amazing it would
have been if they didn’t just put aside their weapons for one day, but for
I know that’s idealistic thinking, for
the soldiers to refuse to fight. That doesn’t happen. War doesn’t work that
way. But still, imagine it. If both sides decided they just wouldn’t fight
anymore, not just for Christmas, but for good. Now THAT, truly would have been
In order to have
Christlike love, we need to lay aside our weapons like those soldiers did, not
just for one day, but for good. We need to lay aside intolerance, anger,
offence, unkind thoughts, negativity, and hatred. We need to lay aside fear,
and embrace love. Serve each other, have charity, reach out to others, love
them, be kind. Feel it in our hearts and show it.
I pray that we can strive daily to
have perfect love, Christlike love, in our thoughts, in our hearts, in our
deeds, in our daily life and always.
WHAT I'M READING
I have this inability to NOT read something. While waiting for a book from the library, I picked up Inferno by Dan Brown. I've liked Dan Brown in the past, but reading this I'm noticing why he gets criticized quite a bit. For example, I found three of these: ?! on one page alone. Why, Dan Brown, why?! Anyway, the book itself isn't bad, although I'm still nursing that reading slump. :(
WHAT I'M WRITING
Finished a revision of SWAY, my adult romance/retelling. I needed to rework the beginning especially and I'm waiting to hear back from a couple CPs if it needs more work.
WHAT WORKS FOR ME
Deadlines. Suddenly I had this deadline- not an exact date but something I needed to do and preferred to do quickly, and it worked. I got done what I needed to in a timely fashion. Go me.
WHAT ELSE IS NEW
The hubs had his Christmas party on the weekend which was blah but I got to dress up which was fun. Not that I don't dress up every Sunday for church. Anyway, I really wanted to rock a late fifties/early sixties look- the full skirt past the knees and pointy-toed shoes- but with a modern flair. I had a heckuva time finding what I wanted but finally found some pieces that I liked. I'm such a girl sometimes.
Me and the hubs My shoes
Also, my oldest turned eleven and we celebrated her birthday as a family. And I had to speak in church (yikes!). And coming up this week- kids Christmas concerts and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies!!!
Whaddaya think, one more week of Hobbit gifs, or what?
WHAT I'M READING
I finished The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I actually like the movie better. Even though I think Peter Jackson probably could have done it in two movies instead of three, I love most of the stuff he added in and missed it all while I was reading. Like Legolas! And Tauriel! Also, I feel the movies are a little more focused than the book (which is weird), and of course a lot more action packed. Can't wait to see the final movie, hopefully next weekend.
Right now I'm waiting on a book from the library so what am I reading? Calvin & Hobbes!
WHAT I'M WRITING
I've set my WIP aside because I've been super busy, but I've had a sudden (unexpected) revision to do so I'm working on that right now. Oddly enough, I've managed to find time to work on this revision. Funny how that works...
WHAT WORKS FOR ME
I'm getting a lot more into outlining. For this revision, even though the MS is finished, I went through and outlined the beats from a tweaked Save the Cat beat sheet. It's helped me get back into the MS and see the spots that need work. I've been using the same outline for my WIP.
WHAT ELSE IS NEW
We had a family Christmas party with my husband's family on Saturday which was fun. Then on Sunday the hubs had a work family Christmas party- also fun. The kids got to meet Santa, receive a present, and this year they had stations with airbrush and glitter tattoos, balloon animals, and letters to Santa. I got myself an airbrush tattoo of a dragon, because SMAUG.
Also, #PitMad and #SFFPit happened and coming up on Friday is #PitchMAS. So much tweeting!
WHAT I'M READING
I finished Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour. It had a very vivid world which was lovely in the beginning but all the description started to bug me midway through. For example, I didn't need to know what EVERY character was wearing EVERY time they came on the scene. Also, I got to this point where I felt like I should be FEELING more and I just wasn't. Otherwise, the book was good. No, it really was. I'm just being nitpicky. Now I'm reading The Hobbit, in prep for the last movie coming out oh-so-soon!
WHAT I'M WRITING
I did a bit. A tiny bit. Just a wee small amount of words. I swear, I've had no time lately. I have no clue what exactly I've been doing to take all my time, but somehow it's disappearing down a dark hole of nothing. Also, I'm just not feeling this WIP right now (which is surprising since it's a retelling of a story I LOVE). So I've decided. I'm not going to force it. If I'm feeling the inspiration, I'll write. If not, I'm not going to beat myself up. For December only though. Once January hits, I will kick my WIPs butt.
WHAT WORKS FOR ME
Normally, I'd say GOALS, but 1k a day has been my goal since November first and I'm only at 16k, so you can see how well that's going. I blame Christmas.
WHAT ELSE IS NEW
Shopping! Black Friday is still becoming a thing here in Canada (which is fine because it's not Thanksgiving so no big deal), although the weather here was terrible over the weekend. I wouldn't have gone out at all on Friday except that I had to get a present for treat bags for my daughter's birthday party, which was Saturday. I took her and her friends swimming and then out to dinner Saturday night. Then Sunday, the kids did their annual presentation at church which went really well (thank goodness, since I was one of the adults who organized it all). I've also done some Christmas shopping, Christmas party clothes shopping, looking for White Elephant gifts, and buying things for my daughter's new basement bedroom and bathroom, like a shower curtain and a bed frame (among other things).
And of course, I need to give a shout-out to the Calgary Stampeders who won the Grey Cup, not that I watched. ;) What have you been up to?