Elder Lynn G. Robbins: Love Is a Choice

Wed Feb 08 05:00:01 EST 2023
Episode 211

Love is a choice—Elder Lynn G. Robbins believes this so much, he wrote a book about it. After years of counseling with couples in his church capacities, Elder Robbins has seen firsthand how Christlike love helps us develop deeper and more lasting relationships. He teaches us that being a disciple of Christ helps us form strong bonds with those we love, but only if our efforts are driven by intentional and deliberate choices. So in this Valentine’s Day episode of All In, we invite you to consider the power of choice and responsibility in all of your relationships—romantic or not.

After a couple gets married, that infatuation begins to fade and if they confuse that for true love, they may wonder, ‘Where is that special feeling? Am I falling out of love?’ Their marriage is at a very critical crossroads at that point where they need to discover what true love is.
Elder Lynn G. Robbins

Show Notes

2:30- Falling Out of Love vs. Growing in Love
14:09- Greatest Happiness Found in the Home
17:45- 100 Percent Responsibility
23:39- Anger and Loud Tones
29:53- Abuse
38:48- The Greatest Sermon Christ Gave?
41:51- Happily Ever After—A Choice
46:28- Why Choose Love?
48:13- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Links and References

Love Is a Choice book

“Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration.” —President Gordon B. Hinckley

“Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall” talk

“A determined man finds a way; the other man finds an excuse.” —David B Haight

“Choosing Whom to Marry” article

“Agency and Anger” talk


Morgan Jones Pearson 0:00

As I considered what might make a great Valentine's Day related episode of this podcast, I looked up at my bookshelf and saw a book that I have loved for a long time. Love is a choice by Elder Lynn G. Robbins. I read this book for the first time when I was still very single and felt there were so many useful insights on how to simply become a better disciple of Jesus Christ, and how to love those in every relationship in my life better. So regardless of your relationship status this Valentine's Day consider this episode our Valentine's Day gift to you. In his book, "Love is a Choice," Elder Lynn G. Robbins writes, "Many popular songs and films make reference to an everlasting love. For the world, these lyrics are simply poetic for us they are genuine expressions of our divine potential. Elder Robbins goes on to say true and mature love is manifest after we discover each other's imperfections and still commit to one another. There are no perfect marriages in the world because there are no perfect people. But the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us how to nurture our marriages toward perfection, and how to keep the romance in them along the way." On today's episode, Elder Robbins shares with us the principles that make this possible. Elder Lynn G. Robbins was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 5, 1997. After serving for over 25 years he was released and given emeritus status on October 2 2022. He previously served as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy as well as in a number of area presidencies throughout the world. In his professional career, Elder Robbins was one of the founders of Franklin Quest. He concluded his career there when he was called to preside over the Uruguay Montevideo Mission in 1994. He and his wife, Jan, are the parents of seven children and 21 grandchildren. This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Pearson, and I am so honored to have Elder Lynn G. Robbins on the line with me today. Elder Robbins, welcome.

Elder Lynn G. Robbins 2:26

Thank you, Morgan. I'm pleased to be with you and honored.

Morgan Jones Pearson 2:30

Well am so honored and I told Elder Robbins this before we started but I read this book "Love is a Choice" years ago, long before I met my husband. And it has been a blessing to me. It's a book that I've revisited multiple times and something that I just thought would be so perfect. And I had this idea for this episode very last minute. And Elder Robbins was so gracious to be willing to do this in advance of Valentine's Day. And I think there's no better topic that we could talk about than the fact that love is a choice. And so, Elder Robbins to set the stage for our conversation, how did you decide to write this book?

Elder Robbins 3:14

Well, I would say there's a lot of things that happen in your life, that get you thinking and pondering on a certain topic. When I was called to be a bishop over 30 years ago, I remember interviewing his sister from my ward who wanted to divorce and she used the phrase, I have fallen out of love with my husband. And she wasn't the only one that I heard that phrase from. And when you have that thought on your mind, I couldn't doctrinally reconcile in my mind, how we are agents to act and not be acted upon reconciling that thought with the most important decision of life, your spouse who you marry, and if it's even possible to fall out of love. So when you begin thinking of that, I am pondering and study as I was reading the scriptures, I couldn't help but see some doctrinal inconsistencies with falling and being agents to act and not be acted upon. So just coming back to the word falling for a minute. Falling implies something accidental, something that you have no control over. And we tend to think of because we use the phrase falling in love, falling out of love as something that happens to you like being smitten with Cupid's arrow. Something that is beautiful and wonderful, but over which we don't have much say it's something you fall in and out of. And so when people believe that they've fallen out of love, they think that It's irreconcilable, there's no other choice but to separate or divorce because it's out of my control. So I want I want to share three, quickly, doctrinal insights that teach us that it's impossible to fall out of love if you have two willing parties. The first one was anytime the Lord puts something in the command form, it presupposes agency. We can either obey or disobey. But it does presuppose agency. And when he puts love, in the command form, "a commandment I give unto you." He's not saying I hope you fall in love with your neighbor. This is an appeal to the conscious mind, implying cognitive reasoning, Choice and Accountability, that I'm an agent to act. That love is as much a verb as it is a noun, that I can actually choose to love my neighbor. Or I can choose to love the 14 year olds that I teach in Sunday school or that I can choose to love another person, and especially in marriage. So it's one, it's a commandment. Two, in the book of Mosiah, chapter four, verse 15, the Lord speaking to parents says, "And you shall teach them to love, and to serve one another." How can you teach love if it can't be learned? So once again, the Lord is trying to help us understand and discover love that is a verb, discovering in the mind as much as in the heart. The third insight comes from Paul, who in Ephesians, speaking husbands, but this applies equally as well to wives, said "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it." So Paul is saying, if you want a blissful happy marriage, the kind of love that's going to be an everlasting love, true love, is Christlike love. And then we read in First Corinthians 13, and Moroni 7 like a 14 point definition of what this love is. And when a person reads through this 14 point list, it's important to ask oneself, are these behaviors that the Lord is describing here well within our control, or is it in some way outside of our control? Are we agents to act and not be acted upon? So the first one is suffereth long meaning it is patient and it is kind, can you fall out of kindness? And what we discover point by point is that the Lord is describing behavior. We can choose to be kind to other people, we can choose to apply each one of these 14 points in our lives. So if a couple is willing, even in a marriage where the embers may have grown cold, their love can be reignited if they will just follow the Savior and His teachings. So those are three doctoral insights that teach us that you can't fall out of love. That is a conscious choice. You might fall out of what we call infatuation, which is in the movie Bambi you remember, Thumper is twitterpated when he sees a beautiful little bunny. And that's what we sometimes call love at first sight. It's a chemical reaction, very strong attraction, that after a couple gets married, that infatuation begins to fade, and if they confuse that for true love, they may wonder, where is that special feeling? Am I falling out of love, and their marriage is at a very critical crossroads at that point where they need to discover what true love is.

Morgan Jones Pearson 9:13

I love that and I love that you start out your book talking about that kind of twitterpated kind of love. I remember years ago, I my sister had a friend who was talking to her mom, and she said, "I just don't feel butterflies anymore" talking about her fiance. And her mom said "Well, the butterflies are gonna go away at some point regardless," and I think it's important to realize that going into, especially a marriage. Elder Robbins, you write that there is kind of a counter to this idea of falling out of love which is growing in love. What does that look like?

Elder Robbins 10:01

Well if we understand doctrinally that you can't fall in or out of love, and that once you hit that critical point where the twitterpated feeling, the infatuation begins to fade, as you become more familiar with your spouse and are now living under the same roof, you begin to see idiosyncrasies. There is no perfect marriage in the world, because there are no perfect people, there are some that are getting closer and closer to it. But there are challenges in every marriage, there are differences of opinion, not that he's right, and she's wrong or vice versa. It's just that we're different. And it may be decisions on how we manage the finances, or how we discipline the children, or where we go on vacation, or what kind of car we buy, where we live, there are thousands and thousands of decisions and of course, both husband and wife have their unique perspectives on each one. And sometimes they can be irritating. So I remember President Hinckley on two different occasions and sister Hinckley, as well. But President Hinckley saying every successful marriage depends to some degree on mutual toleration, or being forgiving of these idiosyncrasies and the things that can become irritations in marriage if you're not careful. And if you're not patient, and long suffering, and kind, and all the Christlike virtues that make a successful marriage. So growing is growing in love, you could compare to growing a garden, where it needs a lot of nurturing, and a lot of care, and tenderness and all of those virtues that I just mentioned, I will share a story that I think helps illustrate this. I've always considered the mission field kind of as a life in miniature quoting President Kimball, but you're enrolled in several important courses in the mission field: Patience 505 and Diligence 501, and one that I would call Pre-marriage 505, where you're learning to live with another person, seven days a week and 24 hours a day. I had a missionary come into my office when I was serving as mission president in Uruguay, many years ago. And this was a missionary, an elder, who had not gotten along with his first companion, nor his second nor his third. And now he was on his fourth companion, and was not getting along. And he said, "President, on the next transfer day, would you consider transferring me to a new area, or giving me a new companion because this just isn't working out." And I said, Elder, who is the common element in these four failed companionships? He actually teared up, because I don't think it had dawned on him. I said, "If you don't repent, and learn to get along with your companions, learn to love them, then I'm going to prophesy a divorce in your future, because you can't get along with anyone." Here again, love is a choice. You can choose to love a companion, there's going to be differences. But you can choose to be kind, forgiving, tolerant, understanding, and all of the Christlike virtues, which you will need for your future marriage. So I tell missionaries, if it were possible for you to have perfect companions your entire mission, you ought to pray for one that's difficult, because it will be that companion that will enroll you in Pre-marriage 505.

Morgan Jones Pearson 14:03

I love that.

Elder Robbins 14:05

You have to make the decision and you have to grow in love.

Morgan Jones Pearson 14:09

Yes, sir. Absolutely. Well, and I want to back up a little bit to why this all matters so much to you. Personally, I love you quote President Hinckley, who said "You will know no greater happiness than that found in your home. The truest mark of your success in life will be the quality of your marriage." And so obviously Elder Robbins if this is something that you feel passionately about, and want other people to experience—that happiness that comes in the home. I wondered, how has this this statement by President Hinckley proven to be true in your life and in your home in your marriage?

Elder Robbins 14:53

Well, it's not just President Hinckley, President McKay said that "No success can compensate for failure in the home" you're familiar with that quote? And Harold B. Lee, who said, "The greatest work you will ever do is within the walls of your own home," so all of the prophets have really talked about this and focused on it. One of the ways in which our testimony of a gospel doctrine or principle is strengthened, or we recognize the power is through what I would call The Firefly effect. The Firefly effect, or the phenomenon of a firefly is only witnessed at nighttime. It requires a dark background, in order for the light to be manifested or seen. Otherwise, it's hidden in plain view. Brigham Young once said that the "truth is made manifest by contrasting it with its opposite." I could say with absolute certainty, along with Alma, that wickedness never was happiness, to see the tragedy, the broken lives and broken homes that come from not following the Savior not following his teachings, and not being faithful to those truths. To see that so plainly over and over, thousands of times, my testimony is so strong, that the Savior's way is the right way by in part having seen the opposite. Sometimes when I perform a marriage or sealing in the temple, I will quote from section 49. "And they twain shall become one flesh, and all this that the Earth might answer the ends of its creation. That the very earth was created for families. Families, according to the proclamation on the family is at the core of the plan of salvation, and for our happiness in this life, and happiness in the next life. So I am so grateful that I understand these principles. I'm so grateful for the Savior's teachings on them, so that I can apply truth in my own life, my own family, my own home, and in my own marriage, and I'm so grateful for the loving and valiant wife, who is my best friend. I mean, we have our little hiccups, like every couple does, but hopefully we're growing closer and closer to that point where the world one day maybe beyond the grave, a perfect marriage.

Morgan Jones Pearson 17:45

Well, and I love that acknowledgement. Because I think all of us, you know, especially when you're starting out, like me and my husband are, it feels like we are learning a lot at a very rapid rate. And so hearing somebody like you say that you're still learning that makes me feel feel a lot better. Elder Robbins, one thing that you are known for, and I have to say years ago, my boss at work showed us the video of you (and we'll link this in our show notes) video of you talking about what you call 100% responsibility. And in this book, you talk about that idea and you share what you call the anti-responsibility list. I wondered if you could share what this is and why it's so important that we take full responsibility for the role that we play in a marriage.

Elder Robbins 18:42

Okay, thank you. The gospel is like a jigsaw puzzle, that you need to have interconnecting pieces in order to see the entire picture. Any Christlike virtue has a complimentary virtue. I don't know of one Christlike attribute that doesn't have a complimentary virtue. So in this case, it's agency and responsibility. And the war in Heaven wasn't for partial agency. It was for 100% agency in this life. And, you know, the Lord teaches us, He may command us what to do, but nevertheless, it has given thee, thou mayest choose for thyself. The one perfect parent never forces His children. Meaning that's just another way of recognizing that we have 100% agency. The complementary doctrine or principle to that is that we are responsible for our choices, or the use of that agency. The only groups of people that aren't are little children, those that are mentally handicapped and until they learned the gospel those that have not yet received the law. The rest of us are responsible for the use of our agency. Everybody wants agency. Everybody wants to be able to choose. But people are often uncomfortable with the other side of this equation, which is responsibility. Because we aren't perfect, we sometimes make poor choices. And then we say or do things to avoid being responsible. This is where you get to that list that you refer to. We blame, we make excuses, we rationalize, trivialize, minimize, complain, murmur, hide, we're guilty of self pity. We do so many things to avoid the shame, the guilt, the embarrassment, the stress, the anxiety, the pain, the negative consequences of poor choices. It's a natural man defense mechanism to avoid all of those negative consequences. But when we go to those because these are two doctrines that are interconnected, agency and responsibility, it's a very tricky thing that Satan does. He begins to control us, not with a frontal attack on agency, but a backdoor attack on responsibility. And if he can tempt us, to avoid being responsible by any of those things that I've just mentioned, then he begins to subtly control our agency, and in a very cunning way, is still waging that war that he fought in the premortal life. Just one more thought on agency and responsibility and how they're connected. In the Book of Mormon, we read a book about Korihor, he is one that divided them. And he taught agency but not responsibility. He's quoted in the Book of Mormon as saying, "Whatsoever a man did was no crime," meaning we're not responsible for the choices we make, or anything that we do. So that agency without responsibility is agency actually run amok. Any virtue taken to an extreme, becomes corrupt, and can be our downfall to quote, President Oaks in the 1992 talk that he gave. So we see the effects with Korihor teaching that. You also see it with Laman and Lemuel, who epitomized what it meant to be irresponsible, who blamed Nephi, who made excuses, who are guilty of just about everything on that list. I love the quote from David B. Haight, Elder Haight, who said, a determined man finds a way, the other man finds an excuse." All the excuses in the world will never get the plates. You know, the brass plates. Nephi was a champion, he never went to that not responsible list. He said, I will go and I will do I'm never going to give up because I know that the Lord won't give a commandment without providing a way. But that you can see how cleverly Satan began to control Laman and Lemuel's agency through a backdoor attack on their responsibility.

Morgan Jones Pearson 23:39

Elder Robbins, this is so good. And I just want to ask you as many questions as I can. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna keep rolling. But I loved in the book, you talk about how anger is also a choice. And you quote President David O. McKay, who said "Let husband and wife never speak in loud tones to each other, unless the house is on fire." Why does the way that we speak to one another matter? And why would you suggest to a couple that has found themselves maybe creating bad habits in this regard, why would you suggest that that be something that is focused on and kind of eliminated?

Elder Robbins 24:21

Good question. Thank you. I would refer to a August 2018 article that appeared in the Ensign magazine written by Professor Scott Braithwaite, who is a Professor of Clinical Psychology at BYU. His article in that particular edition of the Ensign was "Choosing Whom to Marry." And he mentioned that when he first began his doctoral work, he was given an assignment to read everything written about what predicts divorce, which he said was quite a daunting task. But as he began to research and he said the industry or the profession knows a lot more about this than we may think, he said, multiple studies reported over a 90% accuracy in predicting who would remain married, and who would divorce. Now, there were several variables in that article he wrote. But he said the most accurate prediction came from observing how couples resolve conflict. In 3 Nephi, we read that Satan is the author of contention. And he stirred up anger and the hearts of men to content, one with another, and probably never more so than within the walls of a person's home, because that's where we let down our guard, so to speak. So, David O. McKay's counsel, coming back to your question, never to raise your voice, never to allow contention to enter into a discussion, is wise. And before a couple gets married, or those that have to decide how they will resolve conflict. If they could do it like the Quorum of the Twelve does, the Quorum of the Twelve, and when you include the First Presidency, these 15 prophets, seers, and regulators have very strong opinions. But section 107 teaches us that the decisions of these quorums must be by the unanimous voice of the same. And then a couple of verses later, "And these decisions must be made in all holiness and righteousness," and it lists about 10 Christlike virtues there. And "If these things abound in them, they will not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord." And I've always felt that that principle should apply to a husband and wife as well, that you would never want to go forward with the major decision affecting the couple or the family without coming to an agreement in the same kind of virtuous way that the Twelve do. And that means never yelling, never raising your voice, never letting contention enter. So it would be wise for a couple to have a conversation on when we have differences, how are we going to resolve our differences without getting angry? My first conference talk in 1998 was on agency and anger. And people use the phrase, he made me mad. Or they'll say, I lost my temper, as if anger once again is something outside of our ability to control. I was reading in Reader's Digest years ago, this is even probably in the early 90s, a summary of a book titled "Anger the misunderstood emotion." And William Will Banks, the author, recalled how in high school, he wanted to play high basketball and he was chosen as a member of the team. And one of the first days of practice, the coach had him go out on the court in a one on one drill, while the rest of the team sat in the bleachers and observed. He said that he made a stupid mistake that caused him to be embarrassed in front of the team. His reaction in a situation like that was to lose his temper, stomp and whine, curse and profane. It was an embarrassment. But the coach went out on the court next to him and said, If you ever lose your temper, again, like you just did, it will be the last day you play on this team. Do you understand? He said he understood. His sophomore, junior, senior years past and he never got angry again. After high school graduation, reflecting back upon this incident, and what the coach had taught him or challenged him, he realized that the coach had taught him a life changing principle that day, that anger is a decision. People don't make you mad. You don't lose your temper—that you can actually choose not to get angry. And I think that is important what President McKay was telling us: choose not to get angry within the walls of your own home. And we can choose.

Morgan Jones Pearson 29:53

Well, I think that is profound. Elder Robbins before we get too too much further into our discussion. You take some time, early on in the book to address cases of abuse. I wondered what are the most important things you would say to someone listening to this conversation, who perhaps finds themselves in an abusive relationship?

Elder Robbins 30:19

Well, one I would say, don't suffer in silence. Let your leaders know. For example, your bishop. Now priesthood leaders have been taught that their first and foremost concern in abuse cases is for the victim and protecting the innocent. And, to me, if there's abuse, it's worthy of discipline, the bishop ought to apply some disciplinary measures to help the person understand how inappropriate abuse is, one of the interesting things about abuse, and having read so many, many cases about abuse, is that the abuser almost always blames the victim, just as Laman and Lemuel blame Nephi for the abuse that they inflicted on him, not taking responsibility. So being angry, losing one's temper should also be on the not responsible list. Because Satan cleverly once again begins to gain not only control over the perpetrator or the abuser, but the tragic and painful consequences of the victim as well. In extreme abuse cases, like Laman and Lemuel abusing Nephi, Nephi had to separate himself from Laman and Lemuel, to actually protect his life. And that may be the case in extreme abuse cases between a husband and wife, if the wife has been cruelly abused, then she may need to. Of course Nephi received the revelation. This is a tricky, a little bit of a tricky question to ask, because I don't want to say something that would cause a divorce. But at the same time, I would not want to say anything that would cause a woman or a man that's been abused to think they have to endure cruelty, when revelation like Nephi would say, to separate to protect their life. So the abuse that I've seen is physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, but one that is seldom mentioned, is financial. And so I've seen so many cases where because it was the husband, bringing in the income, he considered it my money, and he made his wife a beggar, even for grocery money. So the doctrine that we read in Doctrine & Covenants is if you cannot be equal in earthly things, how can you be equal in heavenly things? So when I perform a marriage or a sealing, I will often mention this, that it is our money. And they twain shall become one flesh, one, united, of one heart and one mind, that can have separate checking books just for logistical purposes, but it is our money. And it is, to me, cruel for a husband to think it's my money and then to make his wife a beggar.

Morgan Jones Pearson 33:41

I love that you brought that up. One thing that struck me as I read your book was the emphasis on finances. And the difference that this makes in marital relationships. You write about it more than I think most people might anticipate in a book about love. Why would you say Elder Robbins that sound financial practices are critical to marital happiness and the success that we find in family life?

Elder Robbins 34:15

Well, I think the American Bar Association statistics, but other studies would confirm this, that differences of opinion in how we manage the family finances is a major wedge in many marriages, and results in many divorces. It's one of the foremost causes. So there is a human tendency for what we call our needs to grow to equal our income, meaning most people live from paycheck to paycheck. They may have a retirement savings, but most families struggle to make ends meet, living from paycheck to paycheck. I remember a study years ago that one of the major challenges that wives had was credit card spending sprees. The major problem men had in that same study was buying big boy toys when the money was needed home, meaning he might buy a pickup truck or four wheel drive and maybe custom wife wants to get to be a beggar with the groceries, while he's enjoying that four wheel drive. So it may lead to other disagreements or conflict in the marriage and differences of opinion in how a couple manages money is a major source of contention in many marriages. And that's why I talked about it.

Morgan Jones Pearson 35:45

So let me ask you this Elder Robbins, what would be your three most important tips for family finances to a couple that is just getting started?

Elder Robbins 35:59

Well, number one, won't surprise you that would be to be pay your tithing and fast offerings. And I like to teach what I call heavenly math here. Because it contradicts second grade math, that 90% with the Lord on your side is worth more than 100% without him on your side. I remember a devastating earthquake down in Central America when I was serving in the area of presidency in 1997. Hurricane Mitch really devastated much of Central America. Within four or five days President Hinckley visited the whole region. He went to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and Managua, Nicaragua, and to San Pedro, Sula, Honduras as well. And in all three cities, this is where people have lost everything where the flooding entered their homes destroyed. He said, In all three cities, his message was the same. If you pay your tithing, I promise you that you will always have a roof over your head, clothing on your back, and food on your table. Because he knew that the church could help temporarily with humanitarian resources, etc. But he knew they needed the blessings of heaven, more than from the humanitarian department. So I thought it was very fascinating that that was the principle that he chose to teach as a prophet, to people that had just lost everything. So that would be number one. Then number two, I would say setting priorities and a spending plan. Because these resources are always going to be scarce. I hesitate to use the word budget because budget is such a negative word to so many people, but to set priorities and have a spending plan, including retirement, and then three, I would say avoiding unnecessary debt. We've heard this from the prophets as well, you might need to go into debt to buy a home or for your education, maybe for a wise business investments such as a dentist needing to buy medical, as medical equipment, etc. And maybe for a car but I would say even with the car, I would avoid going into debt for a car. Definitely not credit cards. If you are paying interest on credit cards, then you need to perform what some have called plastic surgery and cut those cards up. Because if you're accruing interest on them, you're going into debt for unnecessary things. Those would be the three that I have.

Morgan Jones Pearson 38:48

Those are wonderful, thank you. Elder Robbins, your book is about and the subtitle says, the intention is to make marriages and families stronger. It's interesting to me as I've read that it's very Christ-centered. You focus a lot on Christlike attributes, and specifically how those Christlike attributes and virtues can bless us in our homes. Why would you say Christ is truly the best place to start if we want to fortify our marriages and our families?

Elder Robbins 39:23

Yeah, well, I would answer it this way. To me, the greatest sermon the Savior ever gave, was not on the mount, not in a temple not in a synagogue and not on the byways of Judea as He taught his disciples, the parables etc. To me, by far, his greatest sermon was His sinless life, what we could call a sermon of a lifetime. So we each stand in awe as we consider his sinless life. If it is true, and I believe it is, that his greatest sermon was His sinless life then we could say that his greatest invitation was, what manner of men and women ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am." You may have heard Elder Bednar use a model of a pyramid or a triangle with husband and wife at the two base corners. And as they become more like Jesus Christ, meaning developing and acquiring Christlike attributes becoming more like him, with Christ at the top of the pyramid, or the apex, as they come unto him, and become more like Him, they are drawing closer to one another. But then eventually, and it will be perhaps a work even beyond the grave, when we eventually become as he is, at that point, our marriage will have become perfected. Until then, we're all working on getting closer and closer to that by developing Christlike virtues forgiveness, kindness, tolerance, understanding, and, and all of the virtues that make up Christlike life. We mentioned 10 of them in chapter six of Preach My Gospel for missionaries, faith, hope, charity, love, diligence, humility, and patience, virtue, knowledge and obedience. There's a lot more virtuous than the 10 that we mentioned there. For example, temperance isn't there or meekness, but that's a good start. And the more we become as He is, the happier marriages and home life, we will have.

Morgan Jones Pearson 41:51

Well, and I should put a put a little plug in. At the end of your book, you devote 50ish pages to different Christlike attributes. And so while I still am working on the ones in "Preach My Gospel," you can extend that study far beyond those that are found in Preach My Gospel. Elder Robbins, your book emphasizes that not only is love a choice, but anger is a choice. Taking responsibility is a choice. Developing Christlike attributes is a choice. But then you have a chapter about how choosing Happily Ever After is also a choice. You write the end is a fitting conclusion for dime novels and Hollywood love stories, but not for true love made perfect in Christ. This Pure Love is endless and is genuinely happily ever after. How do you suggest that we all choose happily ever after?

Elder Robbins 42:52

Well, one, we talked about this a few minutes ago, how Paul said Husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the Church. And how did he love the Church? Well, that's the pure love of Christ. And as we apply the pure love of Christ to our marriages, it suffereth love and it is kind, that that is not only the best formula for a blissful happy marriage, in this life, but forever. And knowing that we can choose to be happy, happiness itself to a great degree is a choice. We learned that in the examples of Nephi, Laman and Lemuel who we could say, when you think of seeing the glass half full of the glass half empty, they had the same glass. They left Jerusalem together as a family. They went through the same hardships, hunger, thirst, fatigue. And yet, when you read about how Nephi saw his glass, it was always not completely full, because he recognized the hardships, but he was happy. And they survived their journeys without murmuring as we read in First Nephi chapter 17. While Laman and Lemuel always saw their glass half empty, if not totally empty. And they said, This is an interesting verse in First Nephi 17 Verse 20, where they said, "Thou art like our father, referring to his foolish imaginations, etc., it would have been better if we had died in Jerusalem better than to have suffered in the wilderness. I mean, they were pessimists, not optimists like Nephi. I think it was fair to the German poet Goethe who said, "We see in life, what we carry in our heart, or we see life not as life is, but as we are." So if you want to be happy, why not look for happiness because it will become a self fulfilling prophecy. Laman and Lemuel were looking for mystery, and they were miserable. Nephi was looking for happiness, and he was happy, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. So why not choose happiness and find it? I believe that Jesus Christ was the happiest person ever to live, because he was the greatest example of every Christlike virtue. Christian art through the centuries depicts him as downcast and a man appointed with grief but Elder Maxwell, in talking about that Isaiah verse said, that, acquainted with grief referred more to Him taking upon Him, our sins, our burdens, our grief, not to His day to day bearing, can you imagine how excited He would be each morning to awaken knowing the impact He would have on many lives that day, bringing sight to the blind hearing to the deaf, helping the length to walk, and performing miracles in so many other ways? I think He would have been the happiest person ever. Because joy, and happiness are Christlike virtues, He would have been exemplary in those ways.

Morgan Jones Pearson 46:28

I have never, I've never thought of it that way. And I have to tell you, I also have never thought of the story of Laman and Lemuel and Nephi quite in the same way that that you've described it. And it's been great for me to think about because I just read that part of the Book of Mormon, again, and have been thinking a lot about the relationship between Nephi and Laman and Lemuel, and how it applies to my own relationship. So thank you so much. Elder Robbins, I have two more questions for you. One is, why are you grateful you have made the choice to love?

Elde Robbins 47:07

Well, in a word, it leads to greater happiness, greater joy. And I have this strong testimony that I mentioned earlier in our conversation, that wickedness never was happiness that the only pathway to happiness is following the Savior. I like a quote from Elder Maxwell years ago, he said that Jesus Christ is the only way to happiness. Any other option is multiple choice misery. That Jesus Christ's gospel is the gospel and the plan, we call it the plan of happiness. So to choose happiness means to choose Jesus Christ as your foundation and to follow Him. And that's the greatest guarantee for happy and blissful life.

Morgan Jones Pearson 48:13

So well said, Elder Robbins, the last question that we always ask at the end of this podcast is what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Elder Robbins 48:27

To me, the simple metaphor that helps us understand what it means to be all in. Sometimes when converts join the church. They have to give up habits that they've had in their past, let's say smoking. It's easier to be a 100 percenter than a 98 percenter, meaning to completely give up the habit of smoking than to have just one cigarette a month, or just one drink a month, or cut way back. But I don't want to be 100% or I only want to be a 98 percenter. I actually have had that happen to me with dieting, where I've made a resolution to give up certain foods, for example, but I found that it's much easier to be all in than to say I'm going to be a 98 percenter. I'll just have one cookie or whatever. Because if I'm only a 98%, or it's not long before, I'm a 96 percenter or a 92 percenter and my resilience, my ability to be true, becomes weaker and weaker because I've left the door open to temptation. So I forget who the author was that originally said this, but they said, temptation often enters a door that has been intentionally cracked or left open. But the only way to avoid temptation is to shut the door on it. So to be fully in, all in is a way of life. And Christ's way of life is the only complete and true and full way to be happy in this life and happy in the next life. So I choose to be all in because that is the greatest guarantee of the fullest and greatest happiness that we could obtain.

Morgan Jones Pearson 50:25

I love that so much. And I think it's interesting given our conversation that, you know, choosing to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ and choosing to be all in and committed to our relationships and becoming like Christ as we work toward those relationships. It's all interconnected and working for us for happiness. And I'm grateful for the chance to love and to try to become more like Jesus Christ and through the relationships in my life. Being married this year has been such a blessing in my life, and I'm grateful for the chance to learn and grow like you said, Elder Robbins, thank you so much for taking the time to be with me and I just I appreciate it more than you now.

Elder Robbins 51:16

You're welcome. That's been a joy for me to be with you. Thank you so much.

Morgan Jones Pearson 51:22

We are so grateful to Elder Lynn G. Robbins for joining us on today's episode, you can find "Love is a Choice" in Deseret Bookstores or on Deseretbok.com. Huge thanks to Derek Campbell of Mix At Six Studios for his help with this episode. And thank you so much for listening. We'll look forward to being with you again next week. In the meantime, happy Valentine's Day.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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