By Jody England Hansen
The Gospel Doctrine lesson #44 manual objective is “To help class members understand how the Father and the Son show their love for us and how we should show our love for them.”
To discuss John’s teaching that God is love, and how it instructs us on our mortal journey.
Some years ago, I watched a piano tuner work on repairing our very old grand piano. It is a wonderful piano of high quality. It has a worn and scratched finish, since it is over 80 years old and was used in a night club for many of those years. This man was an expert tuner and repairman, and it was a pleasure to watch him remove the keyboard, and mechanism, then carefully find a small, intricately carved wooden part which was broken, and work on repairing it.
I remarked on how beautiful the workmanship was. I could almost hear the passion in his voice when he said that a well made piano is one of the most beautiful things in the world. Then he talked about how disappointing it was that so much of his time was spent tuning and working on PSOs – Piano Shaped Objects. He explained that there were many people who were building nicer and bigger homes in the area, and they usually had a large picture window in the living room. Many of them seemed to think the best thing to put in front of the large window was a shiny grand piano. But many of these shiny grand pianos were cheaply made at sea level in a hot humid country far away. Now that they are sitting in a room at high altitude in a dry climate, the hastily prepared wood and poor workmanship would prevent this piano-shaped-object from ever making the beautiful sounds that a well made, true piano could make. He then told me that, even though my piano was scratched and worn on the outside, it had the fine inner workings of a real piano. The sound it made was truly beautiful.
It struck me in that moment that I might be a something-shaped-object. I might look the part, and even act the part of, a loving mother, a strong woman, a good Christian. But where was my heart? Did my inner workings express who I claimed to be? Who I promised to be? Was I just a Christian shaped object?
The reading for this lesson is about the being of God. Who God is.
There is no attempt to describe God as a shiny object, with an outer look meant to impress. There almost seems to be an unspoken recognition that there is no language, no words that can comprehend the incomprehensible. So there is this simple, yet sublimely universal statement.
God is love.
No conditions. No limits. No boundaries.
Then there is the simple lesson of us experiencing this God of love. The lesson is to love.
This is not about looking like you love. It is about being love, expressed from each part of you, in all ways you live.
I think we, as humans, have a deep need to process, discuss, and wrestle with our thoughts, expression of belief, and the countless differences in opinions and interpretations. After all, there are as many ways to be Mormon as there are Mormons. I truly believe that God sees that and reaches out to help us learn love for all, not in spite of, but rather feasting on the delicious messiness of the differences.
One of the few things I think I come close to knowing, is that God knows and loves us each in our individual, unique different being. We are asked to completely do the same. In that, we experience God, in pure light.
Here is one of the simple lessons.
1 John 2:9-11
9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
Regardless of what you say, or how you appear, if you are not love, you are blind to light. Blind to God.
God, who is love, sees us clearly and completely, and loves us. Then asks us to do the same, because God loves us, and wants us to experience that great light.
The covenant we make when we are baptized, and then renew each week in partaking of the sacrament, is also a part of this reading.
Mosiah 5:7 And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.
This miracle of being reborn as God’s literal children, the moment we take on the name of Christ can be transformative as we allow our hearts to transform, and choose the inevitable path that a child of God would follow. The path to see as we are seen, and love as we are loved.
This past week, I was able to glimpse what God might possibly feel if this verse is part of the divine experience.
3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
On Saturday, my husband and I became aware of some heartbreaking news that impacts many people in our life. Our first thought was how our children were doing. We were able to have a number of conversations with them, and talked with each other about our concerns.
Then we saw what they had done on their Facebook pages. They had each posted the picture of the three of them, gathering at a celebration, arms around each other, love and devotion for each other. With it, there were firm and clear expressions of their love for each other, and nothing had power over that. Not now, not ever. Even in the different and unique natures of each of their lives, they stood with and defended each other, eloquently speaking for that love they share.
This showed me they were living the deep truth that we have tried to teach them in the way we try to live. Love one another. Turn to that love at all times, especially when life happens, and circumstances or the actions of others cause pain or confusion or heartache.
They were there for each other, standing together, holding each other, fiercely loving each other. Walking in truth.
I have joy in my children.
I try to comprehend the deep pain of our God who weeps for us when we cause pain and suffering to each other.
I can only imagine how God, being love, has joy in us when we are beings of love.
Related Mormon Women Project Interviews
All Here Together, Bianca Morrison Dillard
Sometimes we say flippant comments like, “I don’t how anyone could do this or think this.” And I feel like that’s because we probably haven’t asked that person. Because when we ask, we can go, “Oh, yeah!” If we listen to other people’s stories, we can say, “Yeah, I still don’t agree with you, necessarily, but I get where you are coming from.” I think that’s so valuable because people do things for good reasons.
Playing From Her Heart, Tina Richerson
I live an abundant life. The blessing of knowing that at any moment I have access to divine energy is just awesome. I know who I am now. I know who I am. I’ll tell you what – one of the biggest blessings is saying, “I’m a homosexual and I’m a daughter of God. The Lord loves me and there’s a work to be done, brother and sisters. There’s a mighty, mighty work to be done and it’s called building up Zion.”
Other Related Women’s Voices
Eternally Encircled in His Love, Bonnie D. Parkin
All that we do in Relief Society should reflect the love of our Savior and the love of our Heavenly Father. This great love should be the source of our motivation to serve others. It must be both our point of origin and our destination!
Strength in the Savior, Chieko Okazaki
Through the years, my circumstances have changed. I was a single woman, then the wife of a nonmember, then a partner in a temple sealing, a mother, a mother-in-law and grandmother, and now a widow. I have known the Savior’s love in all of these circumstances. My own faith has been rewarded as I have felt the Savior’s presence and power in my home.