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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Loving So Much It Hurts

Once in a while you meet someone who just loves everyone.  The kind of individual I'm talking about, however, appears to everyone else like they have severe emotional issues, is bitter, easily offended, too sensitive, uncaring, untactful, careless, etc.  Bear in mind that I am well aware that there are plenty of people who are straight up just like that.  That's just how they are in mind and heart.  But there are many in the world today who appear to be like that when, in reality, it's just a reflection of a heart so loving, so focused and consumed with the well being and happiness of humanity that they feel incapable of managing and displaying such deep feelings in a way that others perceive as such.

Whether by difficulty nearly impossible for others to comprehend, by witnessing such in the lives of others or by physical/mental/emotional conditions into which they were born or put by life, their hearts have been conditioned to love so strongly that it hurts much of the time.  They love for others so strongly, desire so emphatically for their happiness, mourn so intensely at their pain, rejoice so tremendously at their successes, worry so immensely when they make choices that hurt them, and pray so mightily for them in all areas of life that most of the time it's indescribably overwhelming.  The good in all of that makes it worth it for them, but as a result, those feelings come out in ways that look to others like something else entirely.

I love my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ and am eternally thankful for His influence in my life.  I am one of those people. No, this isn't a gripe session.  This isn't about how hard my life has been.  It's not to get people to say "Oh, poor you" or to induce a pity party.  I can't stand when people do that.  It's not just to rattle off a list of excuses for expressing ourselves ineffectively either.  My efforts in this entry are to discuss something that has been a poignant issue for many recently and, as I wrote here, will continue to become more unavoidable as time moves on: How much do we really trust in the Lord, His prophets and the way He operates His church and kingdom on this earth.

First I want to clarify, and reiterate for some who are frequent readers, a point I have often made when speaking generally about faith, church and religion.  So many today are so bent on doing what the church says to do, having faith in what the church teaches, being in good standing with the church, converting people to the church, missionaries getting lots of baptisms and more.  They are forgetting that, while none of these things are necessarily a bad thing, they are not the end goal life, but rather the means to an end.  Why does religion even matter in the first place?  Who cares if it's true and why should we care?  Because the whole purpose of our mortal existence is to become like our Father in Heaven and His Holy Son.  I recently read one persons facebook post that mentioned giving up so much and fighting so hard to be loyal to the LDS church and that he felt like, with recent events, he just could do it anymore.  My first thought was, why were you trying so hard to be loyal to the LDS church?  Mortal men act as stewards over God's church, so why would you ever want to pledge loyalty to that?  The reason we are baptised in the said church, make covenants (promises), repent/change, give up so much, work so hard and more is not to merely be in good standing with a church, but to be in good standing with Christ.  Committing to follow the words of prophets and join with His church is, to be sure, a indispensable part of showing commitment to Him, but is just that, a part.

I touched on this point to emphasize that trusting in the Lord, His prophets and the way He operates His church and kingdom is inclusive of everything we do in the church, not the other way around.

The reason I mentioned those of us who love and feel to the intensity that we do ties right into that. It hurts so much when I see people just throw their hands up in the air (proverbially or literally) and abandon the Lord's church because of "the church did this wrong" or "the church was being unfair when they said...".  This is utter nonsense and I worry about them.  The church didn't do anything wrong, prophets who act as stewards of it are simply obeying God's commands.  If someone has a problem with that they should take it up with Heavenly Father, not the church, for He, via His Son, is it's behind it all.  Someone referred to the church as the "LDS corporation."  Oh, the ignorance!  I have seen a few people, friends of mine, who I love, respect and admire - who have worked hard, sacrificed, exercised faith and built up their testimonies of Christ and His Kingdom - throw up their hands and just quit when something rocked their boat.  It hurts me to my core when I see them rob themselves of the riches of eternity by doing so.  I think I know better, after this last week and weekend, how Alma felt when he said, "And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto [the words of the prophets], and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance;"

My wife and I LOVE talking to and working to help those in our ward (and investigators) who are recent converts, who, in our perception, are possibly the most ignored, the most burdened, conflicted and confused and do our best to be effective at it.  Honestly, I absolutely love it, for at least the following reasons.

1. Their problems and struggles are often so poignant that, in our love for them, our focus is instantly shifted from our problems to theirs when we really get to know them.  As weird as it may seem to some, I feel relieved and happier when this happens because there's just no feeling like the Holy Ghost helping someone else through you.  When Father in Heaven sees fit to inspire me with just the right words to get them back away from the edge of their moral or emotional cliff, no matter how small the effect, and I see the joy, relief and hope in their eyes... there's just nothing quite like it.

2. I don't know if this is exactly how it's going to be in the end, but I have always pictured us all in a lineup at an office door behind which sits our Lord and Savior as we wait for our final personal interview with Him to report on what we have become.  I REALLY DON'T WANT to be standing in that line (whether figuratively or otherwise) knowing I could have done more to contribute to their happiness and salvation. I love people.  I just do.  I love people enough that the thought of anyone being barred from the presence of God or eternal progression isn't something I can think about for more than a few seconds before pushing the thought out of my mind and giving all my mental energy to thinking of how I can help them avoid that terrifying possibility.

Dumbledore told Harry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that the reason he avoided Harry all year was to protect him.  He thought if he distanced himself from Harry, Voldemort would be less tempted to attack him.  He said he "cared too much" about Harry, after all Harry had been through, to do anything that he thought would cause Harry more pain.

It's the same with me.  Sometimes when I get really scared for someone's eternal well being because of choices they are making, it comes out - whether towards them or someone else - in ways that come off as really rude and insensitive.  I am well aware of this weakness in me, on occasion to the point where I'm just emotionally out of commission for a short time.

The good part to all this is as follows.  It goes right along with what I said earlier.  When Father in Heaven sees fit to inspire me with just the right words to get someone back away from the edge of their moral cliff and I see the joy, relief and hope in their eyes... there's just nothing quite like it.  The joy I find from that makes it all worth it.  I love people so much it often hurts, but that's why the Atonement of Christ is so glorious and beautiful.  As Ammon said "Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."

That is me in a nutshell.