I gave my very first talk in a university ward today! Since none of my family ever gets to see me give talks, I decided to put it on here.
Immediately following World War II, the Church had a drive to amass warm clothing to ship to suffering Saints in Europe. Elder Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Marion G. Romney (1897–1988), an Assistant to the Twelve, took President George Albert Smith to Welfare Square in Salt Lake City to view the results. They were impressed by the generous response of the membership of the Church. They watched President Smith observing the workers as they packaged this great volume of donated clothing and shoes. They saw tears running down his face. After a few moments, President Smith removed his own new overcoat and said, “Please ship this also.”
The Brethren said to him, “No, President, no; don’t send that; it’s cold and you need your coat.”
But President Smith would not take it back; and so his coat, with all the others, was sent to Europe, where the nights were long and dark and food and clothing were scarce. Then the shipments arrived. Joy and thanksgiving were expressed aloud, as well as in secret prayer.
In Mathew 22:35-40, we read:
35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, atempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt alove the Lord thy God with all thy bheart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy cmind.
38 This is the first and great acommandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt alove thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the alaw and the prophets.
There. Right there… Christ told us what our entire religion and gospel is based off of: Love. Love for God, and love for our fellow men, for as we love our neighbors, we are showing our love for our Heavenly Father.
Love is a popular topic in this world. It’s the subject for songs, poems, books, movies, shows. Love is what drives us, keeps us going in this world. Sadly, the love the world portrays is not always real love. And I don’t mean chastity-wise: I mean the way humans treat other humans.
When I decided on this topic, I tried to think of ways that I’ve been shown love in my life. Immediately my family came to mind: they love me even though I’m the most annoying child in the family, and give them all many reasons to try and murder me in my sleep. Thankfully, charity has filled their hearts and I’m still alive today.
Other ways that I have been shown love were through notes of encouragement left by Relief Society members; roommates listening to me cry about the same thing week after week; my sister writing me letters from the mission field; my roommate telling me that she really and truly hopes that we’re friends as old ladies and play with each other’s grandkids; and my brother, who isn’t a touching type of person, giving me a hug when I was frustrated at a band competition.
How do we show love? When true love fills our hearts, we can’t keep to ourselves. Joseph Smith said, “Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.”
Well, that makes sense. Aren’t we kinder and more empathetic to others when we’re in good moods? When we feel loved? I know I am. I wake up really perky and kind of loud in the mornings. I’ll see my half-awake roommates and smile at them and say “Good Morning SUNSHINE!” Thank goodness my roommates have charity and smile back at me through their groggy haze. One time after my ritual morning greetings, my roommate told me “I’m so glad we’re roommates. My mornings wouldn’t be half as uplifting without you.” I walked on air that day. I saw people that annoyed me, but I was kind to them, with kindness in my heart. I felt love that morning, and tried to share it the entire day.
Elder Wirthlin said:
“Love is the beginning, the middle, and the end of the pathway of discipleship. It comforts, counsels, cures, and consoles. It leads us through valleys of darkness and through the veil of death. In the end love leads us to the glory and grandeur of eternal life.”
I’d like to jump streams here and move to our Heavenly Father’s love for us. “It is wonderful to know that our Heavenly Father loves us—even with all our flaws! His love is such that even should we give up on ourselves, He never will.”
He never will.
I am taking FA 100 this semester, and have been not-so-silently cursing the course all semester. I chose the BFA senior show for my art exhibit option, and I saw something there that gave me a glimpse of my Heavenly Father. There was a photography exhibit called “Time.” In these photos, the artist took pictures of one thing at multiple times and photo-shopped them together into one picture. There was a river, the sky, a flower. When I saw these photos, I realized that this is the view that Heavenly Father has. Even when we wilt like that rose in the photo did, he sees us when we’re blooming. Even in the winter of our lives, he sees our summers. Heavenly Father sees us in terms of forever. He sees us as the glorious beings we are capable of becoming.
Elder Wirthlin asked us: Do you love the Lord? He then instructs us to spend time with Him. Serve Him, meditate upon His scriptures. Feed His sheep.
I had the opportunity to go to the temple yesterday morning, and while in the chapel, I made a list of ways that Heavenly Father shows us His love. I came up with:
He gives us prophets
He gives us commandments
He chastens us
He sent His son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to atone for us
He created this MAGNIFICENT world for us to live in
I also made a list of how He’s specifically shown ME love:
He gives me revelation
He gave me my family
He forgives me
He helps me overcome trials
He gives me talents
He tells me He loves me through others.
I had the opportunity to intern at the Juvenile Corrections Center in St. Anthony this semester. I showed up my first day and expected to be scared out of my mind and be annoyed by these obviously disturbed children. But all I could feel when I spent those first five hours with them was Heavenly Father’s love for them. Some of my boys have done absolutely condemnable things; but He still loves them. So much. And I love them. They annoy me to no end, sometimes, but I still love them.
Never forget that Heavenly Father loves you. Even when you’re trying to hide from Him, lost in sin or pain, or anguish… He still loves you. And I know He wants to know that.
Now, I want to go back to us, humans on this earth. I’ve noticed a trend in our media. Now, I’m not saying I’m exempt from this, because I’m not. In fact, what I’m about to tell you is my guilty pleasure: I love reality shows. I had a roommate that would watch them with me and just be amazed at how bizarrely people act! Our amazement turned to mocking, which I think is the idea behind most reality TV. Now, some shows are great: not all reality TV is bad. But there are those shows that make their money by making fun of Children of God. And you know what I’m talking about. And I’m ashamed to realize that I participate in that source of entertainment.
I’m worried that we’ve forgotten how to love our fellow man. I’m scared that enmity towards each other is on this campus. In my classes. In this ward. What have we done to get so far away from how we’re supposed to treat each other? I’m not saying you have to like everyone: all of us have different personalities. There are going to be clashes. But you do have to love everyone. And let me just tell you, life is so much easier when you love everyone!