When we were first married, I would aggravate RJ to no end with my educational background in marriage and family. On more occasions than not, he would graciously stop arguing long enough for me to play defense and referee and inform him about the proper ways to conduct a marital discussion. One of the things that I always blew the whistle on was the use of the words “always” and “never.” I was not going to stand idly by and have myself accused of doing something off-putting with that kind of consistency because there are very few instances when I can muster it purposefully. After a number of years, I learned to change my tactics and ask “Are you sure I do that ALL the time? When was the last time?” or “Could we please just discuss this current interaction?” instead of stopping him mid-sentence to call a foul on his word choice. And now, with the space between those types of discussions becoming greater and greater, I think this good man has patiently learned to live with my recurring shortcomings. Most of the time. The point is, those are words that I generally avoid when describing traits or interactions because, at least for me, it’s usually disappointing or unrealistic to expect that kind of steadiness from myself or mortality and her occupants.
However, when it comes to Heaven’s employment of the words “always” and “never,” I tend to grasp onto them with intense devotion because I desperately appreciate being able to count on some spiritual steadiness in my ever-shifting life. Paul’s closing lines about charity give me pause every time I read them. He says this “…charity never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there by knowledge, it shall vanish away. ”
And then, from another man in a book of scripture I love dearly: “Wherefore my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore cleave unto charity which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail-but charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” My favorite thing this book of scripture are the people who testify of the Savior. Their individuality is striking and I appreciate their words, which complement the unique voices in the Old and New Testament, as people who enjoyed relationships with Jesus Christ. Moroni wrote those last words and he was a man who lived to witness the self-destruction of an entire society of people. He watched his peers either die in a winner-take-all battle or dwindle in spirit and he shares his perspective on charity after witnessing all of this. His was the gracious gift to become closely and personally acquainted with the Savior in the midst of a sometimes horrific life. Like many people who come to charity after from harshness, he has striking ideas to share about how to love and be loved. His words echo Paul’s as they both bring to light the endurance that charity engenders. In the dark and sometimes shameful places of my life this promise, that charity would see me through, was the only candle I could make it and it has yet to fail me.