When discussing the purpose of life, we often hear the mantra “we are here to be tested,” but how many of us cringe at that thought? So few of us want to feel like a kid again sitting in a classroom taking a test on things we don’t remember, we don’t understand, and we can’t leave until we finish. Comparing life to a test can be a downer and not the inspirational mantra that it should be. But if we look at life as a lesson we learn from over and over again as more things become clear, we can gain the inspiration we need to improve. We didn’t learn algebra before we learned addition. Life can be viewed as a continual learning process, not the end test. It’s more about what we are learning and becoming than about having all the right answers.
The scriptures give us some insight into this view of why we are really here on the earth:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37–40; see also Galatians 5:14).
We are here on this earth to learn to love God, to love others, and to love ourselves. Love is the driving force behind the gospel and our lives. The scriptures are filled with examples of love that we should emulate. God is love, and because we are His children, we have also inherited that divine attribute. Yet there are times in our lives when we don’t fully understand the meaning of this principle, and at times we forget or choose not to live that principle. Here are a few things we can do to return to the view God wants us to choose.
Our lives are centered around us either trying to give love or to get love. Think about that for a minute. Why do we choose to do some of the things we do? Is it because we want love? Or because we love someone?
First, we need to love ourselves, or we will often find we don’t have room to love others. One of the largest stumbling blocks into loving ourselves is our belief in our imperfection.
We are familiar with the scripture verses that teach us to “be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48; see also 3 Nephi 12:48). But is our Heavenly Father’s definition of perfection the same as we are imagining it to be? How do you define perfection? How does He define it?
As you search the scriptures, one truth you will find is that we are to learn “line upon line, precept upon precept” (D&C 98:12; see also Isaiah 28:10). We were not born knowing all that we needed to know. We are not meant to have the end results at this exact moment—we just need to know enough to take the next right step.
One exercise I recommend is to write down what may be preventing you from loving yourself, or what makes you feel you’re just not good enough, fast enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. Then write a statement that corrects that negative thinking. So if you feel that you are not good enough, say, “I am good enough for where I am on my journey right now. I am a child of God filled with His love and His mercy.” The key here is to rewire your subconscious thoughts. After you have written your positive statement in a way that is personal to you, say it aloud at least five times a day. Read it and reread it.
Now that your negative thoughts about your insecurities are out of the way, list a few lessons you have learned from your life experiences or from your struggles. As you reflect on these experiences, look for patterns in the way you learned and overcame difficulties. Can you see your next right step? Take the time to brainstorm ideas and write them down.
Your value does not change according to your circumstance. No matter what choices you make, you are still of infinite value. Your value does not depend on possessions and successes. You are a child of God, like all of us on this earth. Even if we all have different classes in our school of life, we are all still worth the same value. What we have to give back to this world is part of our lessons learned, not our personal value.
To read more about your personal worth, click here.
Love Your Neighbor
In his book Thinking and Acting with a Compassionate Heart, Bishop Illens Dore wrote, “We serve those we love. We come to love those we serve.”
We may feel romantic love, love for our family members, and even love for some of our community members, yet what does it really mean to love our neighbor? How deeply do we love those who are different than we are?
Are we guilty of these responses?
- I wish she would be a better parent; those kids are just a pain.
- Why can’t that woman wear modest clothes? Does she have any idea that she looks terrible?
- I am not going to be a friend to them. They will just want too much from me.
- No way will I invite them to family home evening; they’re just weird.
- I don’t have time to say hi—they will never leave me alone again.
- I am too busy to bother with those older people. They have family someplace; someone else will need to take care of them. I have way more important things to do.
It does take character to be aware of how we choose to live and how we define what love is. Character means that we have the moral strength to live what we believe at all times, even when others are different or when others annoy us or cause us harm. If we believe in love, we need to react with love during difficult situations even if others mean us harm.
To read more about learning to love others, click here.
As natural men and women, we tend to doubt what is not really tangible and have difficulties having complete faith in what God counsels. Part of perfection as defined by the scriptures is to have the pure love of Christ. The fruit that Lehi partook of in his vision that gave him exceeding great joy and was the most desirable of all others things was the love of God. So how do we attain that love? As Lehi’s dream states, we must search for it, hold on to it, and not allow life’s complications to take us away from it.
God’s love is offered to everyone on this earth. We must put Him before fads or friends’ opinions and any other more easily tangible thing in life. The Lord said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). Daily we choose our thoughts and actions. Are we choosing with faith the love of God?
If we could feel His love even for a few more minutes, we would have greater strength to avoid temptation. The more we serve Him and His children, the more we come closer to feeling that love in our daily lives. We can find His love through prayer, scripture study, studying good books, attending church, seminary, conferences, and learning from righteous leaders.
The first and greatest commandment in this life is to love God, love his children and love ourselves—that is the real reason we are here on the earth. We need to learn to love.
Download a free worksheet from Kristena on trusting in self, in life, and in God here.
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Kristena Eden is an author and personal coach who believes that when we read to our children, we instill trust, direction, and a deep personal connection that carries beyond childhood. To read more from Kristena, visit her website at corelivingessentials.com or find her on Facebook. You can also reach Kristena at firstname.lastname@example.org or (801)-855-6732.