Having the responsibility to write an article in our Relief Society newsletter for February, is a little harry. Of course the lesson of the month should be on love, but what type? I went back and forth on relationship with spouses, children, extended family, God's love for us and our love for him. And finally I remembered the 1st time I felt Christ like love for someone else. I'm sure for most of you, this lesson of love came at a much earlier age and I wish it had for me, but the feelings and memories of this experience are priceless and my thoughts on love have been changed for the better.
When we were living in
Even though I still felt like Danielle and I had very little in common, I was the only one in Relief Society who knew her. So a few months later, I asked to be her visiting teacher. I would visit her and give a lesson at her home and then during other parts of the month we would go to lunch, or dinner, or shopping. This calling gave me a reason to be a friend, and I kept waiting for a “change” in this family or at least in Danielle: reactivation, a phone call, something, anything that would let me know that she was making spiritual progress. None of these happened. I prayed and wondered if I should continue visiting her and asked if it was worth it; she wasn’t changing and really didn’t feel that I was needed.
Much later I received my answer and to my surprise it was that I should stop waiting for something to happen and just love Danielle, the way Christ loves her. Being her visiting teacher and friend was not about seeing results after so many visits. I learned that I could be there for her without expecting anything in return; I was not to expect a gift, a phone call, a card or a personal witness that she was changing, I was to love her and that was enough.
To me this was a totally foreign way of thinking. My perception of friendship had always been the “give and take” sort, but God was trying to teach me Christ-like love and to be what Danielle needed: a friend who loved her unconditionally. I had the thought that I would teach Danielle to be different, but I realized that I too had a lesson to learn from the Master teacher.
I can’t say that Danielle and her family are now active in the church and that because I had a changed of heart, she changed. But I am so grateful for the experience. I know that if we follow our Savior’s example and heed his words, “As I have loved you, … love one another.” (John 13:34), He can change us and help us feel joy, even when those we love do not follow Him.