Growing love (scripture study journal, 14 August 2017)
Two Sundays ago I went to choir practice and right after I came home, I started feeling sick: chills, achiness, nausea. I thought, “Seriously?” With all that has been on my mind with recent and coming family events and preparation, I really wanted to go to church and not deal with physical illness!
I asked for a priesthood blessing from Lane and Nate and got up and went to church. By the end of the third hour, I was doing better than I had earlier that morning. I just took it easy that day.
My sister-in-law Diane stopped by that evening. She had come by the day before when we were working outside and saw what we were trying to accomplish in the backyard. She heard about what we hoped to accomplish before we left for our family reunion, and she left her son Sam to help us while she left to help put on a baby shower.
Without us knowing, she went to task organizing a service night. Late Monday afternoon, another sister-in-law dropped off two pizzas and some fresh fruit for dinner for our family. Then, at about 6:30 pm, extended family started showing up, ready to work wherever we needed them. Our nephew’s fiancée came: “I’m all in!’ she told us. The brother and wife of our niece’s husband even came to help! I don’t even know them! They all stayed until it got dark, shoveling bark, moving dirt, helping with that heavy stone.
And then they left as cheerfully as they had come.
Can I just tell you what love filled my heart?
I felt so much gratitude and love for those people!
And this thought was really impressed upon me: If you want to grow love, serve.
When I was a student at BYU, I went to the student government office one day to join a service program called “Serve to Love to Serve.” That name has stuck with me over these years, and that Family Night service night at our home reminded me of that. If you want to grow love for someone, serve them.
Yesterday in Relief Society, we reviewed the lesson called “Losing Ourselves in the Service of Others.” President Hinckley taught,
“If the world is to be improved, the process of love must make a change in the hearts of men. It can do so when we look beyond self to give our love to God and others, and do so with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind…
“As we look with love and gratitude to God, as we serve him with an eye single to his glory, there goes from us the darkness of sin, the darkness of selfishness, the darkness of pride. There will come an increased love for our Eternal Father and for his Beloved Son, our Savior and our Redeemer. There will come a greater sense of service toward our fellowmen, less of thinking of self and more of reaching out to others.
“This principle of love is the basic essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (p.202).
In my scripture study in the Book of Mormon this morning, I read Alma 41. I noticed that there is a gift that comes back to us if we “deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually”–it comes back to us. “And if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again.”
This reminds me of a Christmas decoration that this same Diane made for me years ago, a red sleigh with silk flowers in it. Attached was the simple phrase, “Love begets love.” If we show love toward our family members, love will return. The key to nurturing love in our home and family and extended family is to show love through service, kindness, mercy. I found these verses in Colossians 3:13-14:
12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
It’s hard to stay mad at someone who is being kind and helpful, right?
I also noted this verse in Alma 41:15, just like Diane’s “love begets love” phrase: “For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored.”
Time for me to get going and go serve.