I witnessed love the day a judge ordered my husband to buy our children ice cream. On that day, my young husband voluntarily adopted my five children. He vowed to love them as his own forever. I learned even more about love years later, when that same man sneezed into his cereal bowl and kept eating it.
In the pursuit of love and happiness, we experience lives full of miracles and tests. It is a miracle when a new sweet-smelling baby is born. It is a test when that same baby refuses to wear deodorant in junior high or change his lucky gym socks.
In an effort to survive the ups and down of life, I explored the Bible's "Love Commandments." Here is what I learned.
Love with all thy heart, soul and mind
When you truly love someone, you want to be with him all the time. He is part of every thought, every day. He becomes the voice in your head when you are lonely, trying to make a decision or need comfort. You know him so well you know what he will say and how he will feel about you. No matter what role your love plays in your life (friend, child, grandfather, or soul mate), the thought of losing him takes your breath away. You would step between him and anything that threatened him, laying down your life to protect him. Pure, sincere love is like a burning bush that doesn’t consume those that are on fire, it feeds them.
I heard Joseph B. Wirthlin, a prominent religious leader, speak about the Savior’s pure love. He said, "Charity is the pure love of Christ. The Savior exemplified that love and taught it even as He was tormented by those who despised and hated Him...On one occasion the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus... ‘Master,’ they asked, 'which is the great commandment in the law?’ The Pharisees had debated this question extensively and had identified more than 600 commandments ... they thought the question would be impossible for this son of a carpenter from Galilee ...”
Wirthlin then shared the Savior’s answer from the book of Mathew, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.”
When I heard Wirthlin speak, I realized that if I truly loved God with all my heart, soul and mind, I would think about him day and night. I would live and die for him. His needs would come before mine, and I would find great joy in serving and giving anything that mattered to him. I would hang on his every word. He would become the voice in my head. I would know him so well and trust him so deeply that I would know how he would feel about me and things I do and say. I would love his son, my Savior as I love him.
Wirthlin also said, “The scriptures tell us that ‘if any man love God, the same is known of Him.’ What a wonderful promise — to be known of Him. It makes the spirit soar to think that the Creator of heaven and earth could know us and love us with a pure, eternal love.”
The Savior has already demonstrated his love for you by giving every day of his life in your service. He gave his life and conquered death to return you to your Father in Heaven. He knows you, your thoughts and feelings, your pain and joy. You pray and he listens. There is no distance. There is no time limit to his love for you, individually. He knows you and loves you eternally.
Love thy neighbor as thyself is the second great commandment
Before his death, as Wirthlin delivered the speech I am quoting on love, his aging body began to shake violently from exhaustion. Silently, another nearby man, and friend, stood and came to his side. He held Wirthlin up. He supported and sustained his friend in time of need, just as we are instructed in the New Testament. The Savior said, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” But who is your neighbor?
Theologian Howard W. Hunter said: “We need to remember that though we make our friends, God has made our neighbors — everywhere. Love should have no boundary; we should have no narrow loyalties.”
In today’s world, when I write these words they will be sent to almost 4 million people. You are all my neighbors. If one of you knock on my door in need, if I follow the scriptures, I am commanded to love you. I may not agree with you, understand you or follow you. But, I will see you as a fellow child of God. You are my brother or sister in the world. I will see you as you are, open my heart and offer you love.
Love as the Savior loved
The Savior left instructions on how to love. He said in John, “This new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
The Savior loved everyone he encountered, the tax collectors, the sick, lepers and even the woman that others would have stoned. He gave his life for all people, the good and the not so good. He asks that we do the same.
Remember to love. Teach your family to love. Love one another, sneezy cereal, lucky gym socks and all.
Shannon Symonds, Author of Safe House due to be released July 2017 by Cedar Fort, has 15 years experience working as an Advocate for victims of domestic and sexual violence while raising 6 children in Seaside Oregon. She loves to write, run and Laugh