While serving as a full-time missionary, I resolved to see God’s children through His eyes, to love as He loves us. It was challenging at times, but also very rewarding. I recall one experience that completely transformed my understanding of God’s love.
One night, my companion and I decided to visit a recent convert before returning home. We went without notice and upon arrival found her participating in several vices she had left behind so that she could be baptized a few weeks prior. She tried lying about what was going on before starting to rationalize her actions. I was speechless and heartbroken. Later that night, I wrote the following:
“Now I have just a little bit of understanding of how our Father in Heaven feels when we disobey Him. To see someone you love doing something so awful when you taught them better. When you know they know better, you can’t help but think,‘where did I go wrong? What could I have done differently?’ I have a completely new understanding of obedience, repentance, and forgiveness now. A much greater understanding.”
We show our love for God by obeying His commandments. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) He shows his love for us by blessing us for our obedience: “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say” (D&C 82:10) and by allowing us to repent and be forgiven when we disobey: “but as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.” (Moroni 6:8)
When we feel heartbroken for the sins of our brothers and sisters, it is a testament that we love them in a way God does. We should want what’s best for them. We should desire their growth and perfection. Any actions that put their salvation in jeopardy should be concerning for us. These kinds of feelings show true godly love our brothers. This is the way God feels about all of His children.
Elder Christofferson teaches us about God’s infinite love:
“There are many ways to describe and speak of divine love. One of the terms we hear often today is that God’s love is ‘unconditional.’ While in one sense that is true, the descriptor unconditional appears nowhere in scripture. Rather, His love is described in scripture as ‘great and wonderful love,’ ‘perfect love,’ ‘redeeming love,’ and ‘everlasting love.’ These are better terms because the word unconditional can convey mistaken impressions about divine love, such as, God tolerates and excuses anything we do because His love is unconditional, or God makes no demands upon us because His love is unconditional, or all are saved in the heavenly kingdom of God because His love is unconditional. God’s love is infinite, and it will endure forever, but what it means for each of us depends on how we respond to His love.”
The “work and glory” of God is to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) Anything that would leads us away from His glory brings Him sadness. If we have aligned our will with the Father’s and have made His goals our goals, then we too should feel sorrow as a symptom of our love for others.
When I watched that recent convert deviate from the path that led her back to Him, I felt the same sadness felt by my Heavenly Father when I disobey Him. In that same instant I felt the redeeming love of our Savior and knew that through the power of the Atonement she could become clean once again, like she was at baptism. Although I was heartbroken for a time, I knew it was not the end. God’s love is infinite and as such he gives us countless opportunities to repent and be forgiven.
Our loving Father in Heaven lives. I have felt of His perfect love, not only for me, but for others. His goal is for all of us to return to Him because He loves us. We are His.
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