Moses, a man who had a storied relationship with God, was once offered a view of His work and His glory. Until recently, whenever God has shown someone a vision of His creations and all of His works, I’ve imagined it as some sort of humbling history lesson which progressed in marginally boring fashion. As in, Heavenly Father saying “Look at all the things I’ve created, look at all these people, and these people, and these people.” Click, click, click. And then whoever is experiencing the vision usually says “Wow, that’s profound, I realize I’m actually quite small and maybe even nothing compared to everything you’ve ever made.” But what if they’re talking about more than that? What if those moments of heavenly perspective, had by Moses, Nephi, and others, illustrated not just our existence but our connections to each other? What if they had the chance to glimpse the way the Savior can help us weave our free-wheeling selves back to Him by loving and helping each other? What if what they saw were the moments we live that we humbly say “I had no part in making that come about,” the times when we are part of an experience that simply could not originate with us? Those are the moments when I reel back with awe, praise, and completely unforced humility at the grandeur before me, similar to what they describe. Can you imagine witnessing all of those moments throughout all time? I love the idea that His work is to help us help each other back to Him. All it takes is willing participants.
It can take some mental climbing to slide our understanding of charity from something Heaven is demanding from us to something Heaven is offering to us. I sincerely believe that during the moments we are experiencing the pure love of Christ, no one has to tell us what to do with it. The act of offering it to others comes naturally and it’s quite a remarkable trail marker.
However, like I mentioned the other day, we all experience life uniquely and there’s an infinitely broad spectrum when it comes to even having a context for experiencing unconditional, Christ-like love. Some of us have been or are in situations where receiving that kind of love is an idea shrouded by so much real-life awfulness that it seems almost impossible and yet we do our best to offer what we imagine it is to others. Some of us have known the goodness of love and perhaps still struggle to accept the idea that the Savior could be as merciful and accepting as our families. And then there are some of us who choose to disavow charity altogether and reject her very existence. To be fair, most of us are just trying to improve at whatever place we’re at right? We’re all somewhere on the spectrum of learning to love as He did and our collective goal is to move toward the Savior instead of away. The personal implementations of those goals will be unique and I’m really interested in experiences other than my own.
So it seems prudent for us to find a beginning apart from ourselves. A starting place to begin to grapple with charity and her virtues. Paul, the roadside convert, filled letter after letter with life-altering thoughts about charity and I can’t help but think there were only a few people in scripture who knew charity as well as he did. Like John in the New Testament, Isaiah in the Old, and Alma and Moroni, good men from a book of scripture I believe in called the Book of Mormon, Paul speaks of charity with such surety and such vivid description and I know he had profound experiences with it. He spent the rest of his life trying to use slippery words and sincere actions to convey it to others. And I believe because all those men felt the grace-full influence of the Son of God, they explored every avenue for helping us understand it and feel it.
As Paul defines it, “Charity suffereth long and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth…”
To be clear, I am a fellow traveler, fighting the good fight right alongside you. I claim no authority on this or any other topic and I have far from figured out the intricate details of that which I speak. So my triumphs and failures in this endeavor look a lot like yours but my intent is to recognize the small morsels of charity that I am offered or that I am privy to so that I can better understand the love Christ is offering me.