It was one of those rare moments when you have a 13-year-old son’s attention…and he has yours.
We were canning peaches, and it was waaaay past bedtime. Everyone else was in bed, and I had him for about an hour more before he would go to bed as well. Things were quiet as we cleaned, peeled, and cut peaches for preserving. So I thought, “What do I need to talk to my son about?” And then I cracked a joke….something about ISIS getting “ahead”. Well, that got him rolling and laughing…and it broke the ice for other topics of conversation.
Sometimes, you need a good laugh to gradually melt into more serious topics. So, when he asked, “Dad, is it possible to like a girl without becoming attracted to her,” what do you say? He’s at the age where Liking Someone was equated to Being In Love…and that was subject to hyper-hormonalized comments of “Oooh…You like so-and-so”. And I’ve already heard of what goes on in his friends’ conversations. Sometimes, we’re just sensitive to that kind of stuff. So, as I thought about how to talk about the difference between liking someone, being attracted, and the whole topic of love…
My response went something like this…(with a few more thoughts I’d like to add now that I think about it)
Yes, you can. There’s a way to love someone without being attracted to them. The world, however, has defined “loving someone” to be the same as “liking someone” or “being somehow attracted to someone”, and that gets people all confused. So, when Christ says, “Love your enemies,”…what, are you gonna suddenly be attracted to your enemies? No.
There is a way to love a boy and a girl the same way without being attracted to them. You should be able to treat a boy the same way as a girl…as an older person…a toddler…a brother or a sister…your parents…the same way as any other friend…and even the same as an enemy. You can love all of them and treat them all the same way…without being “attracted” to any one of them. Once you discover how to treat everyone the same way, then you can understand what real love truly means….because this is how God and Christ can love everyone.
But how? Well, the scriptures give a clue…and you’re gonna have to read them and study them if you really want to know and understand how. But let me share this with you as a place to start. In the Book of Mormon, the book of Moroni, Chapter 7 verse 45….it talks about it. And here’s the gist of it:
* You can be patient with them, even if they are being annoying or a bother. That’s love.
* You can be kind to them….even if they aren’t kind to you. That’s love.
* You can treat others as if you’re not better than them, but that they’re the same as you. That’s also love.
* You can be happy for them when they do better than you and not wish that you’re better than them. It’s called “rejoicing in their successes!” That’s love.
* You aren’t selfish or doing things just for yourself. You’d do things for them first. That’s love.
* You’re not easily annoyed or upset. That’s a hard one…but even that’s love.
* You don’t think bad about them…even if they are being bad. You look for something that’s good in them.
* You’re not happy when someone fails. Rather, you feel sorry for them. Even if you didn’t really like that person. You feel bad for them…and you want to help them.
* You’re willing to carry whatever burdens there are in your relationship…especially if your feelings towards them aren’t the best, or that person isn’t the best, or for whatever reason…you might wish that person was never born. And you’re willing to set those feelings down, and build, develop, or repair those feelings with that person. You’re even willing to put up with their weaknesses…or what you think are their weaknesses.
* You’re willing to believe them. You’re willing to trust them. Even if they fail you again and again… You’re willing to try again…with them.
* You’re willing to expect good to come out of them…and give them another chance when they’ve made a sincere effort and still failed. You’re willing to forgive them…and start over.
That’s all love.
Once you can start living like this…and treat EVERY SINGLE PERSON this way…then you’re on your way to discovering what it means to love others the same way as Jesus Christ does, the same way as God. God’s love is complete…and His love not only embraces us, but it encourages us to want to do better, to be better…to be like Him.
When you start to love others like this, you will be drawn to God. Your heart will want to come to Him. You will want to be close to Him…because it just feels so good. This is what it really means to be “attracted”…when the desires of your heart want so much to be with God…and you long to be there and no other place.
In verse 47, it says that “charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found posssesed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” When Christ comes to make that surprise visit to earth…and every one is caught off guard…I’d like to be found treating people like this already…instead of saying, “Oh, Crap!” Better start now while you have time.
In verse 48, it encourages us to “pray…that ye may be filled with this love…that ye may become the sons [and daughters] of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” This is the secret to be able to see Jesus Christ in His normal state when He comes again. He doesn’t have to “change channels” for us to be able to see Him (because He’s more glorified than we are). He doesn’t have to change us either (what they call “Transfiguration”). Nope. If we love the same way He does, then we will be able to see Him as He is…because we will be like Him.
The world doesn’t understand Love the way God does. The world only wants to feel good, so it’ll focus on the part of love that seems “thrilling” or “gratifying”. Its version of love is selfish. It just wants you to focus on you, and it wants you to think that everyone should pay attention to you. However, God’s love is greater than that. It is selfless. It focuses on others. It invites you to feel His love for you while encouraging you to “go and do thou likewise.” You must learn to love EVERY SINGLE ONE…from young to old, family to stranger, adoring friend to most vehement opponent.
Pray to find others who love in this way, who love others sincerely…without respect to whomever it is. Pray to find those who love and are trying to treat others like God does. These should be your friends and your companions in life.
As you look for them…pray to be filled with this kind of love, and you will find that people will be drawn to you. And you will discover how it feels when God loves you.
Thus, God’s love is complete. And as you love completely, with no thought of yourself, you will soon discover this secret: it completes you.