1 January 2016
Extending His Embrace
Before I got dressed this morning, I lotioned my hands and my feet with coconut oil. As I did so, I thought about my mother. I had lotioned her feet and cut her toe nails for her in the days before she passed away.
I learned a lot of lessons in helping to care for my mother. Most importantly, how important each human soul is, and what a privilege it is for us to serve anyone (and everyone). Here I was taking care of the woman who gave me life and taught me how to live. I’ve taken care of my own children as well. As the hospice nurse Erica so beautifully put it, “It is a privilege and an honor.” As King Benjamin said, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). The Savior said it best, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).
Lotioning my feet as my mother had done for me, and as I had done for her, and as the Savior had done for His apostles felt so right (See John Chapter 13). My hands look more and more like her hands with each passing year. In doing so on the first day of this New Year, my thoughts were both reflective and directive.
The Savior gave us two great commandments in Mark 12:30-31:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,
and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength:
this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
There is none other commandment greater than these.
To love the Lord our God with everything that we have, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This really got me thinking.
Can I love my neighbor the way the Lord would have me do if I do not adequately love myself? I can’t. Can I serve my neighbor with love if I have no reservoir of love in me, or without the development of love for my own person? No. Should I not care for my own soul as I would care for another, say my mother or my own children? Yes, of course, the Lord would want that, and even expects that I care for myself. So I need to learn how to humbly love myself, so that I have more to give in the Lord’s service to others.
Can I truly love myself where I am, knowing my own shortcomings and discrepancies? I know that I can. It is in feeling the Lord’s love for us that we are able to do so. When we understand the nature of God’s love for us, we can then begin to develop that kind of love for ourselves and for our fellowmen, both our friends and our enemies.
So we need to understand God’s nature and why He loves us so much. He is our Father. We are truly His children, and He desires our happiness. When we come to feel and know of His love, we need to develop a forgiving heart, not only for others, but for ourselves. When we feel surrounded, comforted, and embraced in His love, we need to hold on to that, and embrace right back. As we do, we will feel His sustaining power in developing those attributes that are necessary for us to love Him, to love ourselves, and to love each other.
After I was dressed I rode the exercise bike and read from the Ensign. Elder Holland’s words on understanding the nature of the Godhead are pertinent to the thoughts and feelings of this morning, and to my progress in the days ahead. By knowing the nature of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and by feeling of their love, we will be better able to share their good news and to love and serve one another. Please read his address here: Knowing the Godhead.