It's been an emotional few weeks in many areas of my life and my heart is feeling a bit tender. I know so many people who are struggling right now--struggling with money or relationships or faith. Struggling with addictions or depression or any number of other burdens--seen or unseen. I'm tired of the acrimonious debates around--not between candidates, but between regular people who ought to know and be better.
The longer I live and the more deeply I feel God's presence in my life, the more I realize that he is, above all, loving and generous.
I don't think he's wishy-washy or apathetic. I think he loves us enough to want us to be our best. I also think he's demanding and that he is mighty. He is not created in our image--we our in his and he expects certain things of us.
But that being said, I am confident above all that he loves us. Deeply and eternally, more powerfully than the most affectionate mortal parent has ever loved a child.
And while I believe he is demanding, he is not petty or capricious. And he is unfailingly generous.
I believe that God is a loving father. A perfect, eternal, being who's entire raison d'etre, who's entire work and glory is bringing about the eternal welfare and happiness of his children.
I wish all of us could be kinder and more loving to each other--especially to those with whom we disagree.
Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of our faith taught it this way:
“While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men, causes ‘His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.’ [Matthew 5:45.]” (source).
We are so ungenerous with each other. We are suspicious of motives and judgmental of actions. We do with each other exactly the opposite of what we hope for ourselves: we look at actions with the harshest of interpretations and from that judgment, we infer motives.
We judge ourselves on our intentions and what we hoped to do, but we judge others on what they have done and what we assume they meant.
We affix each other with labels that reduce the humanity and dignity and value of other people. Liberal. Conservative. This. That. All of these are shorthand for, "I don't have to consider you as a person, as my brother or sister. Because you are different, I can discount what you say and feel."
If we were generous like God, we would assume most people meant well even when they did badly. We would assume that things they said might not reflect the person inside. We would hesitate before judging them. We would love them in spite of disagreeing with them.
Love doesn't mean "agree" or "endorse". Being generous doesn't mean endorsing a person's actions and beliefs.
But can we not just be kind? Can we not presume good faith? Must every disagreement between us become a skirmish between Good and Evil? Must every difference be proof of the absolute idiocy or knavery of our opponents?
I am convinced that there is very little that I know as much as I think I know it. Time and experience have softened or changed many social and political opinions I had earlier.
The one thing I've learned, one thing I know, is that God loves us all much more than we comprehend. That he is always far kinder and more generous than we are.
One of my favorite verses of scripture is unique to Mormons. It reads:
"Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used..." (D&C 59: 18-20 source)
To me this defines generosity. I love that I worship a God that made beautiful things to please our eyes and gladden our hearts--things with no other utility than to make us happy. And I love it even more that doing that makes him happy--he made beautiful things and it pleased him to do so. Regardless of how we act or if we thank him or anything. That is love and generosity and I wish we could all show a little more of it to each other. Especially when we deserve it least.
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