Saturday, December 7, 2013

"I have loved thee as thy friend, With a love that cannot end."

Life is hard. Life is really hard. Among the trials of life, I have often wondered if anyone actually cares. There have been many times that I feel that people basically put up with me as long as they can, and then they'll leave. I know that it is self-defeating logic, and obviously isn't true, but at times, I question and I wonder. Through it all, however, the Lord has placed certain people in my life for me to have certain experiences with at certain times. It is by those tender mercies that I have been able to hold on.

In the 122nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord declared, "And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he? Therefore, hold on...." (Doctrine & Covenants 122:7-9). 

During these times when life gets hard. The Lord does not require us to do everything. He simply requires us to hold on. We can hold on because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Lord will also place others in our lives to give us strength when we need it. My life is full of experiences of that. I know that certain people are placed in our lives at certain times to help us out. I shall only share one such experience however.

A few months ago, I was with a companion, who I will call Elder W. Elder W slept in til 10 AM. (For those of you that don't know, missionaries are supposed to be awake at 6:30 AM). Elder W used cooking materials that I had purchased to make his lunches. Elder W would, on some days, not even make an effort to leave the apartment until evening. I was totally miserable. To make matters worse, he was the District Leader, so I could only talk with the Zone Leaders about it, but we had the exchange with them at the very beginning of the transfer.

Well, there was one other set of Elders in the district at the time: Elder Goodman and Elder Eddy. We went on an exchange with them, and I went with Elder Eddy. It was the second time I'd gone on exchanges with him, at which point, we'd become pretty good friends. During the time we spent together, he asked me if I liked Elder W, which I explained the whole situation. Then, I asked him for a blessing, which he obliged.

It was a really tough point in my mission, but a friend was able to help me through it. As I've thought of that experience, as well as many others I'd had before and since, it has brought me back to reflections on the Savior. Our purpose in the gospel is to grow to become more like the Savior. What has the Savior said (whether by His own voice or the voice of his servants) about friendship? He's said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13), and that we "are...to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:9).

Elder Eddy comforted me in that time. It is each of our duties to be friends to all, for that is part of the baptismal covenant. I know that I am not perfect at it, but I strive to be. The Prophet, Joseph Smith, taught, “Friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism.’ … It unites the human family with its happy influence” (http://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-joseph-smith/chapter-40?lang=eng).

As with every other gospel principle, the Savior is the perfect example of the perfect friend. Why is that? Because He was perfectly virtuous. “That friendship which intelligent beings would accept as sincere must arise from love, and that love grow out of virtue" (http://www.lds.org/new-era/2009/09/friendship?lang=eng). When you truly become friends with someone, their well-being and comfort is as great as your own. It must be just and holy if it is to last longer than a transitory acquaintanceship. That is what the Savior did. He has such a friendship with each of us, and loves each of us so intimately that He came down to perform the Atonement for each of us. I know that He did that, more surely than I know I exist.

 Let us each strive to be better friends day by day.