Alma gives a beautiful dissertation about the seed of faith in Alma 32.
But as I read this chapter recently, I realized that the advice and principles in it are just as true if you change the word “faith” to “relationship.” Here are the answers to five common relationship questions, as explained by Alma 32.
1. How do I know if I’m dating the right person?
“Now we will compare the [relationship] unto a seed. Now if ye give place, that a [relationship] may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true [relationship], or a good [relationship], if ye do not cast it out by your [pickiness, laziness, busyness, fear of commitment, etc.]…it will begin to swell within your breasts…”
We must try things out! We can’t close off our heart to the possibility of love! And though you might experience fireworks, you also might just have a long peaceful feeling that it is right—a feeling that grows with effort.
Jonn D. Claybaugh said, “Some people expect the Lord to provide a dramatic revelation about their eternal mate, but what usually happens is that we drop our defenses and communicate with a potential spouse, we experience subtle, ongoing spiritual promptings about the relationship. Inspiration can come only when we are honest with ourselves, our potential mates, and the Lord” (“Dating: A Time to Become Best Friends,” Ensign, Apr 1994)
2. Once I’ve found a good relationship, then what?
“As the [relationship] beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us.”
I know that, at least in part, the reason I didn’t get engaged until I was 29 was because I neglected good sprouts, replacing them with fun, other girls, and fear. How many of us have seen terrible outcomes from fantastic relationships that are left unattended? Spencer W. Kimball said, “The successful marriage depends in large measure upon the preparation made in approaching it…One cannot pick the ripe, rich, luscious fruit from a tree that was never planted, nurtured, nor pruned” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969, p. 242).
3. The relationship is dying after it was growing. Not my fault, right?
“But if ye neglect the [relationship]…when the heat of the sun cometh…it hath no root and withers away…Now, this is not because the [relationship] was not good…but it is because your ground is barren.”
Yikes! We know there will be trials, and we know that the Lord will not tempt us above that which we are able (1 Cor. 10:13), but we can tempt ourselves above that which we are able. And we must remember that we can’t blame it on the relationship. We must remember that who we are affects how our relationship grows. Do we expect the other person in the relationship to carry us through every trial? We must work to improve ourselves, not just rely on the other person, so that trials can be prepared for and overcome through a team effort.
4. How do you know when the seed has grown into “true love?”
“…ye will begin to say within yourselves—it must needs be that this is a good [relationship]…for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.”
There was a prophet who helped us understand this very question. David O. McKay said, “‘How may I know when I am in love?’ That is a very important question…in the presence of the girl you truly love you do not feel to grovel; in her presence you do not attempt to take advantage of her; in her presence you feel that you would like to be everything that a [great man] should become, for she will inspire you to that idea. And I ask you young women to cherish that same guide. What does he inspire in you?” (“Chapter 14: Preparing for an Eternal Marriage and Family,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay)
His answer? Basically, is your soul enlarging? Is your understanding being enlightened? Does the thought of being with them more sound “delicious?” If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, chances are you’ve begun to experience “true love.”
5. Is all this work worth it?
“But if ye will nourish the [relationship]…as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience…behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet.”
The most amazing miracle is the miracle of love I see around me every day. I am grateful to see true abiding and lasting love. The kind of love where the end isn’t just “sweet,” it is eternal. For “if a man marry a wife by my word…by the new and everlasting covenant…they shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths…and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fullness and a continuation of the seeds [of relationships] forever and ever” (Doctrine & Covenants 132:19; emphasis added).
May we all seek to find, nurture and grow the relationships around us—whether it be with significant others, friends, spouses, or children. For truly, if we look for this truth to be planted in our heats, we will all find that we have room to grow.
Zack Oates is an entrepreneur, hot tubber and blogger (but not in that order, necessarily). He lived in Ukraine for two years serving an LDS mission and started a nonprofit in 2008 called Courage to Hope, which works with victims of domestic violence in Ukraine. He has traveled to six different continents in six months this year, and recently proposed to his beautiful fiancée. Check out his blog, bowlofoates.com.