I learned a great big lesson today. I’ve been seeking to understand how I can come to love my fellowmen more. I’m really not very good at it. I like people. But it’s hard for me to gain a love for people, especially people I don’t know, and especially, especially people who aggravate me. But Jesus Christ has taught, “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39) and “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). And I get that; I just can’t seem to do that. So like I said, I’ve been asking Heavenly Father to teach me, to help me change, to show me what stands in the way of my heart.
My daughter Thea doesn’t really get to play with other little kids very much. The majority of our social sphere is adults. So when she does get to be with other little kids, I’m all anxiety. I’m so worried about how the other kids are going to treat her. Will they be inclusive and playful? Or will they be selfish and possessive? Will they push her if she’s in their way or trying to play with their toy? Are they going to steal toys out of her hands because they want it? If she tries to hug them, will they hit her? I’m constantly on the lookout, ready to intervene and set down some playground justice.
As I was watching Thea play with different kids today, I realized that my concern for her happiness and welfare is similar to God’s concern for the happiness and welfare of any one of His children. Just as I sit and watch and hope that kids will be good and kind to my Thea, God desires the same of us as we “play” around one of His children.
I’ve been reading through The Book of Mormon again. I’m at the part where Christ appears to the people after His resurrection. Particularly, I have been studying His repetition of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7; 3 Nephi 12-14). It’s rare that we get to have a long discourse from the Lord, so I was pondering why this Sermon was important enough to be taught not only to the people in Jerusalem, but again to the people of the American Continent. I’ve read the Sermon a bunch of times, but nothing really seemed awesome about it.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, and it is also written before you, that thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment of God;
“But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment” (3 Nephi 12:21-22).
Old law: don’t kill. New law: don’t even get angry.
“Behold, it is written by them of old time, that thou shalt not commit adultery;
“But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart” (3 Nephi 12:27-28).
Old law: no sex outside of marriage. New law: don’t even allow yourself to lust.
“And behold, it is written, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;
“But I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (3 Nephi 12:38-39).
Old law: justice. New law: mercy.
And I started to realized that all of these commandments had to do with how we interact with each other. They were commandments that taught us the appropriate way to treat others. These laws, or commandments, were teaching us how to love one another. And it’s that important to God that we are good to each other that He taught it twice. Because he wants His children to be treated well on the playground. He wants to be able to let them play, and not have to pick them up crying because someone else pushed them down.
My husband is able to be friends with people who are often hard to be friends with. He says, “What if that person were my child? How would I want someone to treat them?” He’s able to be kind when I want to put someone in their place. He’s able to be compassionate and understanding when I want to leave someone to their own demise. He’s able to be patient when I want to mince words.
Today, I was able to think of everyone as if they were a little Thea: the obnoxious, the inconsiderate, the grumpy, the ignorant, and the different. Today, I didn’t want God to have to worry about me being a danger on the playground. And it became easier to extend mercy instead of demanding justice. I felt overall like a nicer person. And I felt my heart opening.