Sister Clyde: 'Charity is learned'

Charity - even "the pure love of Christ" - is learned, said Aileen H. Clyde, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency.

Speaking during the General Relief Society Meeting Sept. 24, Sister Clyde said: "As we learn, we are capable of being kind, without envy, not easily provoked, rejoicing in truth, bearing, believing, hoping, enduring all things. Charity comes to us as we move from grace to grace as we build precept on precept."Charity develops in us as we see ourselves moving in our lives from a `what's in it for me' kind of love, to the love of family and friends and blessedly beyond that to an awareness of our Lord's unconditional love for us that tells us of our divine kinship with one another and with Him. Such love, or charity, does not spring whole and steady in most lives, but it can come as we learn and grow and reach for ways to know God's love."

Sister Clyde told those listening, "Women of the Church see charity as the salient way of developing our capacities to know God, not merely to know about God."

She continued, "The reality of God and Christ and our relationship to them comes to us through a chain of knowing conveyed by words, even holy words, and by the Holy Spirit.

"It is because of our awareness of the importance of words in transmitting redeeming truths to one another that Relief Society has embarked on an effort to encourage learning by offering help with basic reading skills to those who need them and by motivating those of us who now read to read more meaningfully.

"Being able to read well and with understanding is not the only path to knowing God, but it is a reliable and universal way. I call it universal because as human beings we are all born with a genetic endowment for recognizing and formulating language. Our creator meant for us to value and develop our ability to communicate with Him and with each other. He expects us to use these capacities to learn righteous ways, to lift one another and to develop our divine natures."

Sister Clyde continued: "Each of us has had the experience of matching a truth or a realization through inspiring words or music from others to something deep within our souls. When that connection happens it feels like a small explosion of knowing. We are lifted and warmed; both our minds and our hearts are involved. These experiences, at least momentarily, verify our kinship with one another and with God."

She spoke of a woman she met in California: "She was slight and . . . described herself as a boat person."

The woman, Sister Clyde related, learned English, qualified for scholarships, married, joined the Church, had four children and received a degree in chemical engineering.

Then her husband left them. She sought employment and was hired at a laboratory. "She began to sequester herself at work to pray for help. She also discovered that while reading the Book of Mormon her mind would become clear and she found herself with effective ideas of how to implement her work assignments. Her progress has been such that now when other lab workers are stymied with a project they come to her."

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