Having Charity – Even when Relationships Fail (1 John 2:10)

“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” – 1 John 2:10

I read this scripture today, and I had a few thoughts…

Charity Never Fails
When we choose to love our brother, then we will abide in light – the light of Christ. This tells me that the love that we must have for our brothers is charity, the pure love of Christ.

I think that, in some ways, this may be a little more difficult than we want it to be or realize it is. Last summer, I went to Boston for the funeral of my brother. I drove cross-country with my sister. We are close, and get along well – for the most part. But this situation was difficult. It was stressful. My dad and stepmom were going through a divorce, and then my brother passed away. There were so many things on our minds. My sister and I deal with stress in vastly different ways.

So, before I left, I asked Homey to give me a priesthood blessing. I was taught that in order to truly love my sister, I needed to learn to understand her. That advice came as a bit of a surprise to me. I felt (and feel) like I love my sister. I realized that I do love my sister – but with my love; my imperfect and fickle love. Sure, I may love her more than I love most people, but I still don’t love her in a pure way – in the way that Christ loves. I needed to change that. And a key to changing it was through learning to understand her.

I admit that I’m not really there yet. It is hard to understand another person, but I can see what the Lord was trying to teach me – I needed to have charity. If I could obtain this kind of love toward her, then I wouldn’t stumble in this relationship.

But What about when relationships do fail?
This is the tricky thing, I think. There are times when we do our best – when we love others as purely as possible, and we feel good about it, yet the relationship fails. And I realize that most likely it is not because the Lord has failed us, but because we can’t guarantee that pure love will be reciprocated.

I’ve come to learn that there are almost no guarantees in life. We can go to the temple every week with our spouse, and then still end up getting divorced. This doesn’t mean that the Lord failed us – instead, the failure lies in one (or even both) of the people in the couple.

It is nice to tell ourselves that if we love someone, if we pray together, or if we attend the temple together, then our relationships won’t fail. This is not always true.

If we want our relationships to endure, then both parties need to be committed to the Lord – committed to His charity – committed to loving the other person with such enduring love. Only then will the relationship really endure.

Even if a Relationship Fails, We Will Not Stumble
Sounds strange, but it is true.

The thing is – when we love others with Christ’s love, then it means we have first obtained this love from Christ. We need to have a relationship with the Lord in order to receive and then share His love.

The awesome thing about this is that Christ is a consistent and true partner. He will not fail us. He will not forget us. He will not betray us. He is perfect. We can trust in Him. Even when everything else fails, He will not fail.

So – our relationships with others may fail, but if we have worked (ourselves) to love others with Christlike love, then we have learned to cultivate His love in ourselves. And, though we may lose a relationship, we will still have a relationship with the Lord. He will heal us and help us – even in the midst of failure. Though we face difficulties – perhaps even the difficulty of an unexpected or difficult divorce, we will not stumble. We will not fail. The Lord will buoy us up with His infinite and pure love. And we can only receive this blessing if we have been doing the work to obtain His love in the first place.

What do you do to love others in a Christ-like way? How have you been blessed by loving others this way? If you have loved another purely, then been betrayed by that person, how did the Lord’s love help you cope?


Heart Failure and Rescue

“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” – Luke 21:25-26

There is a new Mormon Message based on this scripture. Watch it!

I always like the Mormon Messages, and this is no exception. I think that we can relate to this one.

I haven’t been in a near-death situation like Elder Nelson. But I have been in a few car wrecks, I’ve seen my marriage fall apart before my eyes. I have seen a sibling pass away. I have had my own experiences where I’ve thought that my heart may fail me. But it didn’t.

Like Elder Nelson, I was buoyed up by the support of the Savior.

Elder Nelson says, “If you’ve got faith, you can handle difficulties.” I feel like this is true.

An Experience
A few years ago, I was a single mom. It was this exact time of year. I think it was like December 5 or 6, in fact. It was a Monday night, and I was driving home from work.

As I was driving through a green light, I saw the car across me in the intersection who was turning left. When it was too late, I realized that she was turning left, regardless of the fact that I was going straight through the intersection. We collided, head on.

Thankfully, my children weren’t with me.

I stepped out of my car, called my mom, called the insurance company, someone else called the police (there were many witnesses). Even though I am no insurance adjuster, I could tell that my car was totalled. The airbags had deployed, and I was bruised up a bit. I didn’t know what I was going to do. But, before I could worry – about the fact that I had no money, and wasn’t even sure if we were going to have a Christmas, before I could worry about how I would get to work without a car, a feeling of comfort washed over me.

The night before, I had attended tithing settlement. I was straight with the Lord. I knew that I was trying my best to be as obedient as possible. I knew that the Lord would provide for me. I knew that I didn’t need to worry.

Just as instantly as my heart was comforted, I noticed the other driver. She was an Au Pair. Her employer showed up to the scene of the accident, and he was worried. He was worried about Christmas, what would happen to his insurance, etc. I remember noticing the distinct difference between him and me. He was rich – with a Mercedes and Volvo. He had a nice long coat, and looked like he was doing fine financially. I was not rich – money-wise. I was a single mother – struggling. And yet, I was calm while he was frantic. This was only because of my testimony of the gospel, and because of the gift of the Holy Ghost.


Elder Nelson, in this Mormon Message says, “Men’s hearts shall fail them because they forget their identitiy and purpose.” – How interesting.

1. The Lord strengthens and supports us.
2. The way that the Lord strengthens us is by teaching us our identity and purpose.

I have found that as I get closer to the Lord, he strengthens my confidence. This is not some kind of falsified conceit. It isn’t temporary self-esteem, either. But when we go to the Lord, we gain a sense of who we are – His beloved Children. We recognize our nothingness, yet feel the love of His mercy reaching down to help us in whatever we need. As we overcome our weakness, we gain confidence – in ourselves and in the power of the atonement. I know that, in and of myself, I’m powerless. However, I know that in weak things I’m made strong – because of My Savior. We need to understand our identity to keep our hearts from failing us. This scripture illustrates the connection between strength of heart and confidence:

” 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” – 1 John 3:21

Through the gospel: understanding it and keeping the commandments, we can come closer to our Savior. He will give us confidence, a knowledge of our identities and purpose, and, when we face troubling times, our hearts will not fail us.