My friend was teaching her Sunday school class of three-year-olds about appreciating bugs and needed a visual aid.
I'm not going to lie: it felt pretty good to be able to come through for her like that.
Last week my church held its semi-annual general conference. This entails several sessions of talks given by various leaders which are broadcast throughout the world and available for anyone to see.
The messages I heard touched me as they always do...leading me to reflect, to think more deeply about life and its meaning, to think more deeply about my life and how I'm living it.
I wanted to share a thought from the president of our church, Thomas Monson, who gave a talk which has been on my mind all week. Of all the things he might have said, of the vast array of possible topics, this was his message: be more kind and loving.
So beautifully simple and delivered in a way which conveyed the sentiment of his message.
As I said, it has been on my mind all week.
Though I included a link to his complete talk above, I will share a few excerpts which express the kind of person I hope to become and what I consider to be the most worthwhile use of my energy:
We cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey. Likewise, we cannot fully love our fellowmen if we do not love God, the Father of us all. The Apostle John tells us, “This commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” We are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father and, as such, are brothers and sisters. As we keep this truth in mind, loving all of God’s children will become easier...
Every day of our lives we are given opportunities to show love and kindness to those around us. Said President Spencer W. Kimball: “We must remember that those mortals we meet in parking lots, offices, elevators, and elsewhere are that portion of mankind God has given us to love and to serve. It will do us little good to speak of the general brotherhood of mankind if we cannot regard those who are all around us as our brothers and sisters...”
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. Lamented President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Why is it that the [ones] we love [most] become so frequently the targets of our harsh words? Why is it that [we] sometimes speak as if with daggers that cut to the quick?” The answers to these questions may be different for each of us, and yet the bottom line is that the reasons do not matter. If we would keep the commandment to love one another, we must treat each other with kindness and respect.
Dale Carnegie, a well-known American author and lecturer, believed that each person has within himself or herself the “power to increase the sum total of [the] world’s happiness … by giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged.” Said he, “Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.”
I believe that as well: it is through love the world is made a better place and I have a certain power to add or detract from this effect. When I try to live by this principle, it changes my outlook. It makes me feel more connected to the people in my life, to all of humanity, it makes me feel more at peace with myself, and it gives me a sense of optimism about this world. Nothing naive or high strung, mind you...just a feeling which encompasses all my other thoughts and concerns and leaves me quietly optimistic.
I get a little nervous when I talk this way, as I have no desire to convey the notion my act is perpetually solid, or that at any given moment you could find me skipping down a path, throwing daisies at the world. When I say stuff like this, I mean these are the ideals I believe in and strive for, but it pains me to acknowledge how often I fall short or get discouraged and stop believing in myself, how easy it is to lose sight of these grander visions. When I speak of my ideals, I allow for the fact I haven't yet reached them nor may ever, that on some days I try harder than others, and that on those other days I might be too daunted to have this conversation.
But whether I'm having a good day or not: love and kindness. This is what I believe.