05 December 2012

Ugh, a post about Charity


I'm going to skip question #2 for now, and go to #3.

How do I love my family in a way that won't bring out the worst in me?

And to be honest I can't answer that question in a way that says "This is how I love my family."   The best I can offer is  "This is how I should love my family."

The answer, plain and simple, is charity. 

Elder Marvin J. Ashton explained: 

"Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped."
Part of my problem is that I often take this a step too far.  Instead of just accepting my sister's weaknesses and having patience with them.  I dwell on them, I dramatize them, I exaggerate them, all to put myself in a place of superiority.  I become condescending and self-righteous but - *SHOCK* - this doesn't feel any better than being insulted or hurt by her criticism.
So I think charity includes a level of genuine compassion, for the ways that my sister's elitism hurts her, whether or not she ever acknowledges that.  I love this quote by Spencer W. Kimball
“Jesus saw sin as wrong but also was able to see sin as springing from deep and unmet

needs on the part of the sinner. This permitted him to condemn the sin without condemning the individual.”
It is not some inherent inequity between my sister and I that makes me feel less or better than her. It is not that she believes she is truly better than me in some way.  Her unkindness toward me is the product of some deep sadness she feels, and when I am in my most humble place, my heart aches for her, and anyone who suffers. 
So why is it so diffucult to feel that way all the time? Or to let those feelings be the feelings that guide my behavior?  Why do I want to withdraw, shut down, retaliate when my family members are unkind to me? 
I think the answer is two-fold
1. I do not feel close to God, and therefore
2. I feel afraid of rejection, afraid of the opinions of others, afraid of being inadequate. 

These fears, cause me to make choices about how I treat people that I think will protect me from being hurt, and that give me some artifical sense of power over situations, or feelings.  But operating out of fear prevents me from feeling God's love for me and my family members. 
Okay, now the good stuff from Danny's emails - (emphasis added)
One thing I'm discovering over and over and over again...charity never faileth. It may not fix the criticizer (that's up to them), but it never fails the one who bears the charity by lifting their hearts above the criticism and anger and self righteousness.
When you are not operating from Fear/Doubt/Enmity - you will respond better to every one around you, even those who are being critical. You'll find you're not defensive as much (being defensive comes from fear and doubt), and when you're not defensive you won't say things that cause others to be defensive in return
I made sure my interactions with [people] increased the likelihood that [they] felt faith, hope, and love.

Is there anything more Christ-like than deciding to offer your best self to someone who isn't willing to return the favor? And you offer your best self to them....not to show that you are better than them, or above it all, or with the intent to hang your positive interactions over their head, or anything of the sort....you offer your best self because doing so is the only reason you will be able to maintain Unity with God, and it is at the very heart of any joy you do or will receive, and is truly the only way that you can help them (whether or not they want or are ready for that help).

Unconditional love, the kind of love meant for families, love given for the sake of love, for the sake of the way it makes the giver feel whole, and happy, and peaceful.  The love I want others to offer me.

More from Danny-

So what did I discover? That I often didn't need to wait for the love and kindness to return to me from her or from someone else or even at some other time...it was simply in the offering of it that I became free to feel it...right in that VERY MOMENT.  And so, in many ways, what you offer comes back to you the second you give it...if it is given honestly and freely, holding nothing back.

Let me be honest. I am a selfish person.  I am a prideful person.  Sometimes it seems easier to just let myself be hurt and angry, to isolate myself, to build walls in my relationships.  But doing those things will not bring me closer to God, and it certainly will be the demise of good relationships with family members, husband included.

So as cliche as it sounds, true happiness, love and peace come from taking the higher road. Turning the other cheek, but not in a self-righteous proud way, but a sincere compassionate and forgiving way.  A humble way that acknowledges we all have need of love, of God and of forgiveness.



  1. I really love that quote from Spencer W. Kimball. That just added a new level of how I can see my husband the way that God sees him. And it's fairly simple, but I hadn't really considered it that way for some reason! I also loved this post because it made me feel less inadequate for not being constantly charitable, if that makes sense. I pray for charity and in my mind sometimes I expect that one day, when I am a better person, I'll have it all of the time! More likely than not, I won't reach THAT point, but hopefully I can become the kind of person that reaches out in charity more often than not...you know, in like 90 years! ;)

  2. It reminds me of someone i know. An woman later in life, her children are grown...and life hasn't always been kind. She was talking about husbands and the arguments and friction that's sometimes between husband and wife, she gave one piece of advice that's kind of gnawing on the back of my mind:

    "Just serve them. Just be kind and serve them."

    With that thought, I did one nice thing for mr scabs. Just one. LOL hopefully I'll find it in myself to do a few more kind things for him.

  3. I think there is often a bridge in there to help us get to charity, and that is feeling God's charity for US (at least for those of us who don't naturally just feel that). I find that I have a REALLY hard time just choosing charity when I don't really believe in God's love for me (I believe it testimony-wise, but it's not IN me like other elements of my testimony are...I've always felt less than, I've always doubted God's love for me), and the family-of-origin and other patterns that just keep hurting keep that part of my "glass, darkly" view on life alive.

    For me, this is one of those things that only God will be able to do for me, because I find I can't just choose charity on my own. I can't even choose to really believe in His love for me...I've gone so long with other beliefs, that that is part of what I need healing from.

    That doesn't mean there aren't things I can "do" that help me open my heart more, but ultimately for me, I find that the change isn't deep enough and the reflexes come back. It's a key reason why I'm working the steps. I am powerless over my fear, shame, resentment. No matter how hard I try to 'do better' they come back. It's been both an ugh but also an aha for me.

  4. FYI!! Anonymous is a spammer...NEVER CLICK ON HIS WEBSITE and spam his comments. Ugh...I clicked on it once and he won't stop posting comments. He says the same thing on my blog.

    Computer is back to normal...hopefully and now I am playing catch up! I do love this post, especially the quotes by Elder Ashton and Pres. Kimball.

    I am working on this as well. It's hard to be humble and not self-righteous. I am learning to pray more and give my everything to God. He is my strength and I need him to guide me to a better way.

    One thought I have that I learned at church is this...

    Service+Love= Teaching by the Spirit

    When we serve other, even those we don't like or have issues with, we learn to love them and when we love them we are able to invite the Spirit to teach them. This is also true for forgiveness. First serve, then, love, and finally forgive.

    Perhaps that is why Christ wants us to always be serving others. It is only then that we are truly happy and ready to receive guidance from His Spirit. If we sit around in a self-pity, resentful, and fearful state, we don't feel like serving or loving anyone, not even ourselves.

    Service acts as a catalyst for all of the virtues.

    I of course need to take my own advice.