Sitting in the temple last week I had the opportunity to think about charity. What better topic is there, really? But this time it was like a new topic completely, at least to me.
The scripture that got me going was 1 John 4:18 - "perfect love casteth out fear." Thinking of all of the things that worry me, scare me, even paralyze me, it is amazing to think that love - perfect love -banishes them if I let it.
So my mind went like this.
Perfect love, that's like Christ's love. And the pure love of Christ is called charity. So it's kind of charity casts out my fear. But I usually think of charity as something I need to possess so that I love other people, so I see them for who they are. Yet this scripture makes it seem like it's something for me. Maybe charity isn't just Christ's love that I need to have for others, but it's Christ's love I need to accept for myself. That's how it casts out fear. Perhaps my usual construal of charity skips a step. (For some reason lessons on God's love for me and charity never overlapped in my mind... who knows why?)
Charity is something I work to have everyday for other people. Kindness, patience, love, non-judgement. And this is so important. But I think that to have that degree of love, to truly see others for who they are and have real charity, we need to possess it for ourselves. It is a gift. We need to feel our worth and our purpose. And as we accept the love of Christ for ourselves and seek after it, it will naturally radiate. I can't skip straight to praying to purely love others if I can't first feel that love for me.
This isn't to say that we have to be 100% positive self-esteem, confidence, and happiness all the time. And it doesn't mean that we need to focus on our own needs primarily. But I do think it is vital that we take the time we know we need to rejuvenate and remember our relationship with God first.
Spend time with God everyday, even if it's just reading a few verses of scripture. Pour your heart out in prayer. Do things that make you feel happy - that make you feel like the best you. If you love to cook, don't go too long without trying out a new recipe. If nature enlivens you, take the long way walking home.
I believe that we were given talents and desires to bless our lives as well as the lives of others. Developing our gifts isn't just for the end result. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it is more for our learning and joy along the way. So don't be frustrated when you feel you fall short in a skill. The important thing is that you took the leap, and that you keep going. Enjoy the journey.
So much changes when I do this in my life. When I stop getting caught up in daily tasks and comparing myself to others, and just find simple ways to love myself. I am so much more loving to other people when I make sure to remember who I am - I, Katrina, who loves to dance and cook and take photos and serve others and drink in nature. I am supposed to be me, with all that comes with me. And I remember that so much more when I stay close to God every day, and when I don't forget to use the gifts he has blessed me with. That allows me to rejoice in others so much more than when I'm unsure of myself.
Now when you read Moroni 7:48, maybe you'll have a new aspect of charity to pray for. At least I do.
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, 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 his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen." Moroni 7:48