Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Practice Love

  There is a difference between feeling love and practicing love."Action speaks louder than words", as the saying goes. If I were to craft my own definition of love I would have to include doing what is not in my own self-interest. And, there it gets sticky because often acting kindly is a self-interested action. If the story I tell of myself is that I am a loving, kind person then I will act out that love to keep my story accurate. Perhaps an illustration can give some clarity.

  Years ago I met a woman who was inquisitive, colorful, and very different from me. She came to dinner at the invitation of my husband, who had a stimulating conversation with her on a ferry ride. She showed interest in me because I was not acting the part of the stereotypical Mormon, in her eyes. We began walking together in the mornings. She brought up religion and we talked every morning about our beliefs. She pushed me to be clear about what I truly believed. One day she asked me to describe to her my relationship to God. That took our discussions on a whole new path which eventually led to her joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For months I felt very connected to her feelings and desires. I believe I received many prompting from the Holy Ghost in meeting her needs. But, then a shift happened. I found myself being irritated by her behaviors. She became stuck in self-defeating patterns. I became her conscience, calling her, for example when the didn't come to church. In horror I saw that she was my project, my Liza Doolittle. How she must resent me! I was not practicing love, just playing out the story about who I was as a loving person. I pulled back. She did not come running, and so I knew I was right. I had ruined a relationship by loving in my own interests. I can write about this because she moved away, but also because we did finally talk about it when she visited last. I saw the colorful, inquisitive person I first met. I liked her much better than the person I wanted her to be.
   Practicing love is not easy. There is not a pattern to follow or rules to obey. Unless, we see in Jesus Christ the pattern of loving behavior. He showed us the way to love. His interests were to stay in line with His father's will. I suppose when my interests line up with His I can know I'm practicing love, well.

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