I have these strong feelings for them because I love them. I mean, because of all of the things I have done for them or will do for them. Love is an action verb. It is not a feeling we can just conjure up. It is a consequence of what I have done for them over many years.
When Raef and Zach were born, it was a c-section. They were both whisked away to the NICU because they couldn't breathe on their own. It took many days before I could hold them and I didn't even get to look at them until the day after they were born. They were like aliens. They looked like aliens, with all of this stuff stuck on them. It was four days before I could even hold Raef for the first time.
Zach came home from the hospital first, two weeks later. I remember not having any kind of feelings for him. At least it was not that deep maternal love I was supposed to feel for him. I remember holding him late at night. It had been several late nights and I decided that I was going to love him. It did not come naturally, but I made a choice to do it. And once I decided that I would love him, the feelings came later. It was a powerful experience.
Jesus Christ taught, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15) Love is something that we do. If we want to show Jesus that we love Him, if we want to have feelings of love for Him, we must do something. We must keep His commandments. How can I have a deep, abiding love for the Savior if I profane His name, if I lie, and cheat, and live a selfish life? I will not receive that peace that surpasses all understanding, because I am not doing the things I need to do. I will not be able to nurture a love for Him that is there for me to take freely.
In the same way, I cannot have feelings of love for my children if I never serve them, teach them, sacrifice for them. I love them so deeply because I have done these things for them. My heart would wax cold if I was not doing things for them always. The feelings of love are a natural consequence.
I love my husband because of all of the stuff we have been through. Love is the reward for endurance and patience and forgiveness and understanding. If I don't feel like I love him, then I know that I am not right with God. I need to repent. When I have hard feelings for him, it is because of my own transgressions. I must DO something about it. I must act like I love him, serve him, help him, listen to him. Then the feelings naturally follow. This was a hard thing to understand when we were first married. But we persevered. Now it has become so natural that it is easier to adjust myself and my actions to stay in line with a loving relationship with him.
Love is not a feeling that exists because it is. Love is a consequence of hard work. It is the doing.
I have pondered this idea, especially today, since it is Easter Sunday. I know that Jesus Christ loves me. Why? He loves me because He did something for me that I could not do for myself. He atoned for my sins. He took my burdens upon himself, freely. Just as I serve my children and do things for them that they cannot do for themselves, because I love them, Jesus Christ did that for me. Only it is so much more.
So as you continue on in this mortal journey, think about the things that you do. Think about Jesus Christ and what He did. As He gave His life so freely, I know that I can try harder to give and to do more freely.
I love this quote by Howard W. Hunter, "...mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again."
Here are specific things we can do. As we do them, we will have stronger relationships with each other. But more importantly, we will have a strong relationship with God. This is the doing. Then, we will be rewarded with an eternal, abiding, and pure love.
Have a Happy Easter!