My mother doesn’t drive herself anywhere anymore. So when she needs to go somewhere, someone else drives her there. And sometimes that someone is me.
Here’s how it usually happens. I make plans to meet my own goals, and Mother dashes them all with “Are you busy tomorrow?” I know what that means. Usually it means driving her to the store, pushing the cart for her, lifting heavy items for her, reaching items she struggles to reach, and helping her decide when her anxiety becomes overwhelming. But I don’t really mind. After all, it also means I get to put my own items in the cart!
Of course, I do what I do for my mother because I love her. She’s someone God gave me to love. So I’d be doing it all without the added benefit. It’s just nice to get a bonus every now and then.
We all have similar people in our lives. It’s part of the experience God wants us to have in mortality. Only by loving others can we grow to achieve our full potential. Only by loving others can we fully enjoy the journey home.
Yet how often do we judge who we’ll love? How often do we reject those who don’t meet some pre-established criterion? Ironically, those we reject may be the very ones God has given us to love.
While I served as a missionary in Belize, my companion and I visited with a married couple from the local branch. Their son-in-law Ricardo wasn’t a member. Many missionaries had tried unsuccessfully to baptize him. My companion and I of course wanted our own attempt, but Ricardo dismissed us as he had dismissed many a missionary before. “I just wouldn’t fit in,” he explained as he brushed his hand over his head of long, flowing hair.
Unlike the missionaries before us, we weren’t deterred. We knew God had given Ricardo to us to love. We began by thinking of ways to serve him. What needs did he have? And how could we help him to meet those needs? Answering those questions led to specific ways to love Ricardo.
We never pressed him to take the discussions. We simply narrowed our intent to loving someone who God gave us to love. As Richard felt the authentic sincerity with which we offered love, he wanted more. Eventually he accepted baptism.
But what of his long haired appearance? He actually cut his own hair of his own accord. I remember well the first time seeing him after his spiffy haircut. He looked sharp! But, surprised he would part with his beloved locks, I asked him why he did it. He answered, “I just felt it was the right thing to do.” My life was blessed as the Spirit confirmed to me Ricardo had responded to that still, small voice leading him along.
Had we judged Ricardo by his outward appearance, his life wouldn’t have been blessed with baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. And my own life wouldn’t have been blessed with the lessons of love and acceptance that experience taught me. Everyone would have lost.
Surrender to love
Who has God given you to love? If you’re a parent, surely God gave you your children to love. We all have friends, relatives, fellow ward or branch members, work associates, and neighbors. Maybe God gave you a stranger to love. Perhaps the Spirit has brought into your mind the name or image of someone.
I’ve posted before about our need to surrender to love. You might not want anything to do with the person God has given you to love. But that inward consideration prevents you from surrendering to love. Only by looking outside yourself will you achieve God’s purposes for you.
We singles so easily engage in binary thinking. We become so fixated on getting that eternal companion in our lives we fail to embrace the joy God wants us to have on the way home. We often don’t even see that joy, because we discount every relationship which doesn’t lead us directly to our desired end.
It’s easy to allow your unmet needs to blind you to the unmet needs of others have. Yet God has given you someone to love so you can have the strength to release the burdens you cannot carry and to carry with more joy those burdens you cannot release.
Who has God given you to love? Whoever it is, do something today to show that person your love. Only by working to meet the needs of others can we ever hope to meet our own.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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