When Love Causes Heartburn


“A good friend shared this story about how she learned the deeper meaning of love. Their family has always been active in the Church, trying their best to live the commandments. They were shocked and disappointed, however, when their daughter became engaged to a non-member. The next day the mother was telling a good friend about her feelings. She knew her daughter’s fiancee was a fine young man, but she felt angry, hurt, betrayed, and numb and did not want to give her daughter a wedding or even see her. She said that the Lord must have guided her to talk to her friend because she received this reply:

“What kind of a mother are you that you only love her when she does what you want her to do? That is selfish, self-centered, qualified love. It’s easy to love our children when they are good; but when they make mistakes, they need our love even more. We should love and care for them no matter what they do. It doesn’t mean we condone or approve of the errors, but we help, not condemn; love, not hate; forgive, not judge. We build them up rather than tear them down; we lead them, not desert them…”

This story concerns a mother’s love for her daughter. But this is only the beginning. We must show such genuine love for all our Father’s children. When we learn to do this, we will be truly godlike. As John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”(1 John 4: 7-8) (“Reach Out to Our Father’s Children”, Jack H. Goaslind, Jr., April 1981 GC).

We don’t know all of the details regarding the background of the above family. We don’t know anything regarding how the daughter had been living her life. Had she been a constant problem to her parents? Had she been a model child but fell in love with someone who didn’t have the same faith? We don’t even know the personalities involved. It is a simple story, yet the principles taught by the Savior are also very simple. He taught us to “love one another.” He didn’t qualify it with nouns or adjectives, or adverbs. In fact, he taught that “God is love.”

Understanding a simple commandment is always the easy part. And saying we should “love everyone” easily escapes our lips! But it’s actually swallowing the commandment that can cause us heartburn. Sometimes when someone has caused us great pain, be it physical, spiritual, or emotional, it requires immense strength of character to still harbor loving feelings.

I don’t pretend to know the answer as to how you develop this “Godlike” trait of love, but I know that it is desirable. I also know it takes a lot of hard work and great faith. I am also convinced that, in the end, being filled with love is a worthy state of the soul. It is a state that will fill our souls with happiness. As we go through life we will all be tested regarding this most basic of the Lord’s commands. May we work hard in developing this most cherished virtue!

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