At a recent sold-out Diamondbacks game, I found myself pushing, shouldering, and "excuse-me"-ing my way through a milling concourse of people. I hate crowds anyway, and that day I was particularly perturbed. So perturbed that, as I clutched Baby Brown Eyes to me and squeezed between groups of people who seemed to be purposely blocking my way, I grumbled to myself, "I hate people."
Once I found my seat (and my husband), took a deep breath, and got some Panda Express inside of me, I felt considerably less hostile toward the human race. But as I reflected on the experience, while I was pretty sure I didn't actually hate people, I knew I didn't particularly love them, either.
That realization bothered me. I know, as a disciple of Jesus Christ and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I need to love people. The Savior himself tells us, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
Loving people isn't easy. Especially people you don't know.
When Mr. Brown Eyes and I were first married, he played softball with the stake league. I faithfully attended his games. One night while Mr. Brown Eyes was playing second base, the third baseman threw the ball wide and instead of landing in Mr. Brown Eyes' glove, it smashed into the face of the teenage boy running for second. It was nothing life-threatening, but Mr. Brown Eyes felt responsible so we drove the boy--I'll call him Dustin--to the emergency room.
While we were there, we were privileged to meet Dustin's mother, who greeted Mr. Brown Eyes by saying, "So you're the one who hurt my son."
We were silent for a moment, thinking she was just joking and any second her hard little face would break into a teasing smile. But it didn't, and as Mr. Brown Eyes opened his mouth to defend himself, she started to rant about how she was going to press charges and take us for all we had. The more Dustin and his step-dad tried to calm her down, the more she raged, until finally, though my tongue burned with all the angry things I wanted to say, Mr. Brown Eyes grabbed my hand and we left.
That night, as we were reading our scripures, we came across the words, "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men."
Note how the verse makes no exception for crazy, litigation-hungry mothers. Nope. All men.
I repeat, loving people is not easy. But thankfully, as I've been learning these last few months, the Lord doesn't expect us to just wake up one day and love everyone. As it says in the above scripture, "the Lord make you to increase and abound in love."
The pure love of Christ, or charity, is not something we develop on our own, the culmination of all our acts of kindness. It is something the Lord blesses us with. Moroni, the Book of Mormon prophet, tells us:
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ."
In order to be blessed with charity, we have to pray for it. I remember as a young girl begging my parents to buy me a horse. I imagine the zeal and desperation with which I begged is similar to what Moroni means by, "with all the energy of heart." And then, as we pray, we have to move forward, showing the Lord by the way we live our lives that we are sincere in our desire to love, that we are His true followers.
For me, I think it will be a lifelong effort. But as I pray, and as I make little, everyday choices to love--to smile at that stranger, to see my husband's point of view, to really listen to someone--I feel my ability to love expanding.
In the words of President Dieter Uchtdorf, I want love to be my walk and my talk.
The Brown-Eyed Girl