Respond With Love

water fight

Julio Michel was driving home on a Sunday afternoon when a car hurriedly approached from behind, blaring its horn and flashing its headlights. Julio decided to teach the driver a lesson in patience and courtesy, so he slowed down. When the driver turned and stopped, Julio noticed a woman rushing a baby into a building with a sign: hospital emergency. Julio immediately felt sorry for his actions. When he got home, he wrote: “Today, when I see someone act in a way I judge to be wrong, I prefer to think that I do not quite understand what they are going through. I try to show the love and compassion that Jesus Christ has asked us to have toward others and to focus on understanding and helping those around me” (“A Driving Lesson” (Ensign, Mar. 2019).

Developing Christlike Attributes

Reflect for a moment on the many diverse opportunities we have in a typical day to respond with love to others. From work, to school, socializing in person and online, volunteer and church associations, and even as we pass others on the street—do our thoughts, words, and actions show a response of divine love? We should ponder the words of Mormon: “charity is the pure love of Christ,” and that we should “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love” (Moroni 7:47-48).

In the section “How Do I Develop Christlike Attributes,” Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service [2019], it states, “As you follow this [Mormon’s] counsel and strive to do righteous works, your love for all people will increase, especially those among whom you labor… You will avoid judging others, criticizing them, or saying negative things about them. You will try to understand them and their points of view. You will be patient with them and try to help them when they are struggling or discouraged. Charity, like faith, leads to action. You will develop charity as you look for opportunities to serve others and give of yourself.”

President Thomas Monson

President Thomas S. Monson advised: “Brothers and sisters, some of our greatest opportunities to demonstrate our love will be within the walls of our own homes. Love should be the very heart of family life, and yet sometimes it is not. There can be too much impatience, too much arguing, too many fights, too many tears… If we would keep the commandment to love one another, we must treat each other with kindness and respect.” (“Love—the Essence of the Gospel,” Ensign, May 2014).

Showing Love at Home

I would emphasize that the need to respond with love within our homes has never been greater; yet to show such love is very challenging. The pressures of modern life, the busy-ness of family calendars, constant distractions and electronic devices can easily lead to impatience from both children and adults. When you feel that bear-like response to growl at another, or you feel like using your words like daggers to throw at a loved one, please pause and ask: What would Jesus do?

Jesus with children

My husband, Russ, and I have four children. What would Jesus do when the youngest takes a quilting cutting knife to his Grandma’s new sewing machine’s digital screen? My mother-in-law responded, “People are more important than things!” She followed this statement with some firm yet loving discipline.

What would Jesus do when our girls who share a room argue over cleaning it up? He would want me to be a peacemaker.

What would Jesus do when the oldest comes home late? Initially, I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. writing an angry letter. In the morning, I gave it to my husband to read. He told me that if I delivered that letter it would fracture our relationship. So, we took a few hours of deep breaths and prepared to talk calmly and lovingly with this child.

Keep Communicating with Forgiveness

A friend of mine, who now has grandchildren, wisely suggested that much of happiness in her home required a lot of biting her tongue. Thumper (from the movie Bambi) advised, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I would add, however, that after giving yourself enough time to be able to respond with love and a prayer in your heart, communication is needed. Letting things fester is not good for anyone.

When we respond with impatience, anger, envy, or sharpness, it is best to ask for forgiveness as soon as possible: “showing forth afterwards an increase of love” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:43). Take a few moments to reflect on why you have responded negatively to see if there are underlying reasons. Asking for forgiveness and communicating the real reason for your hurtful response takes vulnerability and humility, but this process can be so healing to all involved.

Sister Joy B. Jones, the General Primary President recommends:

Sister Joy Jones

“The more love the child feels, the easier it is for him or her to open up. …We must start the conversation and not wait for children to come to us. …Minor troubles talked about in a loving way create a foundation of healthy response so that when big troubles come, communication is still open” (Marissa Widdison, “Protecting Children,” Ensign, Apr. 2019, 66 [Joy B. Jones, “It Starts With Us” address given at Utah Coalition Against Pornography conference, Mar. 10, 2018]).

Children in our society today are faced with more negative influences at younger ages. They will need our loving responses to some very difficult situations. No matter how hurt, embarrassed, or angry we feel by their actions, we must strive to respond with Christlike love.

Seek Promptings in the Temple

At the Cardston Alberta Temple, I love to take a moment in the waiting room to reflect on Minerva K. Teichert’s beautiful painting “Rescue of the Lost Lamb.”

Lost lamb

She depicts Christ surrounded by white sheep and gently holding a small black lamb. I cannot help but view this piece of art without feeling the sincere love of our Savior for everyone—especially those who are lonely or lost. It reminds me how thankful I am for caring parents: they showed me how to love when children have made risky choices. I am grateful to my husband and my children who are patient with me on my journey to learn to love unconditionally. I am especially thankful for a kind and loving Heavenly Father, who “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). May we all look to Jesus Christ—the ultimate source of love and light—and draw closer to Him daily through scripture study, pondering, and prayer.