Sister Neill F. Marriott: ‘With all energy of heart’

I was once part of a class wherein the students were asked to label themselves as a giver or a taker. It was a rough hour for me. Did I really love others as I loved myself?

Knowing Heavenly Father is the God of love and the source of all that is good, shall we not go to Him and plead for this love? All of us need His godly love which will open our hearts to truth and direction, making us effective and steady builders of His kingdom.

I remember crooning along to the radio as a popular song spilled forth its lyrics “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” Actually, the song is right and wrong. Yes, most of us feel the need for more love — a young woman who doesn’t come to church, a worried youth leader, a discouraged missionary, an exhausted mother juggling work in and out of the home, a beleaguered father worrying about his family, a single adult who battles loneliness or a confused member who feels rejected. Here’s the truth: There is not too little of love available, our God is a God of love. His power and love span the heavens and are continually within our reach, but we must reach out to Him.

We are commanded to love one another. John writes: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). Heavenly Father wants us to be encircled in the arms of His love and often He lets one of us be the carrier of His love.

How do we attain His love? Mostly, we ask, but this asking should come from a humble, trusting heart. Finding love, feeling loved and loving others is a combination of work and faith. Are our hearts soft and humble enough to allow our Father’s love to enter for ourselves and for those we teach and lead?

A 3-year-old, knowing his parents were out of town, could not go to sleep. He cried, he complained, he raged and no amount of cajoling could keep him in bed. His exhausted grandmother found him hunched in the corner of the stairway. He looked up and with a quiet, tearful voice finally said, “I need a hug.” This grandmother learned something from her little fellow. He, with the purity and wisdom of a child, recognized his need for love in a hug and he asked for it.

In our church responsibilities we have a constant opportunity to give love. Everyone wants to feel loved and accepted and with our callings come a distinctly focused avenue for giving love. Your influence upon your associates can change lives of young women, families and individuals for the better.

Joseph Smith said, “Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind” (Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, [2011], p. 23).

“Each of us will stand to be judged of [Christ] according to our works and the desires of our hearts” (“The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles”). When our works are nurturing and loving toward those we teach in a church class, offering friendship during a youth activity or leading in a priesthood quorum, we are serving as the Savior would. The very first principle we try to live as we learn to teach in the Savior’s way is to love those we teach. A teacher’s love paves the way for a student’s learning.

We have a beautifully instructive key for loving a troubled youth, a distrustful Primary child, or even a distracted gospel doctrine class of adults. A careful study of Moroni 7:48 reveals several truths about loving others. Watch for certain operative words in this verse: “Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of the Son, Jesus Christ.”

One, the love the teacher or leader or parent wants to feel comes by praying for this love with all energy of soul. This is no casual prayer. Full of purpose, hope and faith, we plead with all the hope and intent we’ve got, believing He will answer us.

Two, we must be true followers of Jesus Christ, doing the best we can in our fallen condition.

Three, we realize the stunning fact that Heavenly Father bestows love on us. He is love’s source; we can’t force ourselves to love. Our good intentions or our sweet personality or our white-knuckled efforts cannot create love; it only comes from Him, to us and through us. Thus, because He is the source, we earnestly go to Him to have love for another; then we begin to serve in all our relationships with love from God. Then it is that we become effective builders of His kingdom.