Perhaps the most profound and beautiful truths revealed to me is this:
The Savior desires to be with you more—far more, in fact—than you want to be with Him.
Just…think about that.
When I received this, I nearly discarded the thought because I was afraid it was egotistical. I was afraid to accept it because I’d be sorely disappointed if I believed it and it turned out to be false. But it’s not egotistical and, more importantly, it’s absolutely true. It makes perfect sense, too. Is His love not greater than we can even comprehend? Why would Jesus sacrifice everything, undergo every pain and torment possible, pay for us all in full, if He didn’t truly desire that we return to Him?
In my Young Women’s classes, it seemed that the most important task bestowed upon the YW leaders was to fill our heads to the brim every Sunday with the oft-repeated platitudes (or what I perceived as such): “You are a daughter of a Heavenly King! That makes you a daughter of God, a princess! You are literally a princess and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love you so so much! You’re such beautiful daughters of God! You are royalty! Never forget who you are!”
Et cetera and et cetera…
I’m going to be honest here and admit that all the fluffy princessy stuff made me cringe, and not just because it was cheesy. I am acutely sensitive to cheesiness, but that wasn’t the real reason I dismissed the message. The real reason I rejected the “Daughter of God” homily was simply because I didn’t believe a word of what my very well-meaning leaders were trying to convey through it.
Why? Because I was afraid. I didn’t want to attempt to form the Father-daughter relationship my leaders encouraged because I didn’t want Him to reject me. I was afraid that when all is said and done and everyone is sorted into heaven or hell (even though I was sure I’d make it to heaven. I was an active member of the One True Church after all!), that I would be horribly let-down to discover how little He actually cares about me. Yeah, I believed Jesus loved me enough to save my immortal soul and maybe help me find my car keys every once in a while, but I didn’t think He actually loved me enough to want to be with me. He’s got better things to do. I mean, starving children in third-world countries, right? Why waste Your time with me when you could be doing more important things, like talking to an important guy like President Monson, or saving starving children?
Thanks to this foolish and faithless reasoning, I decided to deny God access to my heart. I didn’t want to make myself vulnerable to Him. I remained an outwardly-upright member of the Church, but I was more interested in “staying on God’s good side” than developing a true and living relationship with Him. The horrible thing about it was that instead of striving for a trusting Father-daughter relationship, I settled with something more along the lines of a “business deal” relationship.
“Okay, Heavenly Father. You sent your Son to suffer the Atonement, I’m eternally in your debt, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Well, I guess that since I’m keeping the commandments and I’m a member of the Church, I’m pretty much saved. I’m absolutely useless to you, though. Well, I guess if I serve a mission, maybe then I’ll be worth it. Then, when I go to the Celestial Kingdom (because that’s where all the members of the LDS Church go, right?) and do whatever it is that celestial beings do, I’ll leave you alone and you won’t have to deal with me anymore.”
A few months ago, when I recalled and recorded this ridiculous mindset I had years ago, I sort of chuckled at my stupidity. But then the Spirit stopped me. A scene came to my imagination and in it, I was speaking with Jesus. We were discussing the events that occurred in my mortal journey and we were talking about this particular mentality I had. Realizing how silly I was being, I laughed, but He didn’t laugh with me. His expression was quite serious. He clearly did not find the matter amusing and really didn’t like how I was treating it so lightly.
“Do you realize how much you hurt me?”
The Spirit then explained to me that when I adopted that twisted mindset, I was essentially rejecting my Savior and the divine help I desperately needed. I didn’t realize how much I had offended Him, how difficult it was for Him to watch me struggle on my own because I refused His help. I apologized for my insensitivity, and it was both very humbling and very touching
So here I was in my early teens, trying to get by with only what I thought were the bare essentials of salvation. (There’s no such thing, by the way. We’re required to consecrate our whole selves, just as the Lord gave His whole self for us.) Needless to say, I was failing. My warped perception of God’s love for me hindered my progress in learning to love Him, myself, and everyone else. But the Savior slowly and surely chipped away at my hardened heart. He helped me understand the Atonement by helping me realize how much I needed Him every moment of my life, how utterly dependent I was on His perfect grace, and how willing He was to bestow it. It took years and many hard lessons, but He eventually found His way in. This is the way He works. He can only come to us when we are ready to receive Him. His is a way of persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and love unfeigned. (Sound familiar? This is how the priesthood works because this is how God works. Just an aside I felt was worth including.)
I had to learn to accept His love for me with all my heart. Only then, was it possible for me to love Him, too. I had to take a leap of faith and make myself vulnerable to Him. I had to abandon the fear I had (fear is the opposite of faith) that He would reject me in anger or disinterest. For some reason, that was hard for me to do. I’m still working on this little pride issue right now, but I’m getting better at embracing the truth of God’s love.
God’s love doesn’t feed your ego. It’s doesn’t mean you’re saying “God loves me because I deserve it” or “because I’m better than everyone else.” God’s love will actually humble you! It will fill you with wonder and amazement because when He manifests His love for you, you will see your weakness against His might. It will fill you with unspeakable gratitude and joy. It will empower you and fill you with compassion for Him and everyone around you. It will inspire you to do good, to work harder, to keep the commandments, to love as fully and freely as He does.
God’s love is something you ought to pray for. It’s not a silly, shallow request. It’s not “asking for attention.” God’s love is the fuel that keeps you going. You need it. You need it more than you know. Cast off your pride (this will take work), become childlike, and run to Him. He will receive you.
I know these things are true. I’ve experienced them. His love is real. Seek Him, and He will come to you.
Featured image from LDS website media library
Painting is by David Bowman, titled “Security.”