One of my personal struggles is understanding how justice and mercy will accomodate for all the right choices I make that others do not. (What a snob I am!) For example, I believe in forgiveness and I want those around me to gain salvation. But I get discouraged when I think about how I try so hard to do the right thing and it appears that others don’t care about trying so hard. The other day while listening to the soundtrack from Les Miserables I had an insight.
If you don’t know the story it might not make as much sense, but in the finale Valjean is dying and he says his good-byes to Cosette. Then the voices of Fantine and Eponine, who have previously died in the play, begin to sing. They say these words,
“Come with me, where chains will never bind you. All your grief at last behind you. Lord in Heaven, look down on him in mercy. Take my hand, and lead me to salvation. Take my love, for love is everlasting. And remember the truth that once was spoken. To love another person is to see the face of God.”
I just had the strongest feeling of unconditional love from the two women, who had made their share of bad choices, as they sang to Valjean. What I felt was the idea that in the next life I will have an understanding of the hearts of the people in my life who I judged, and in perfect clarity I will feel of the grief they experienced on the earth. That feeling of love, charity I suppose, would cause me to not care in the least what they chose as it compared to my choices.
Yesterday while listening to an episode of “This American Life” entitled “Unconditional Love” my understanding of the concept was additionally expanded. I don’t really want to go into the details of the stories, but you can find the podcast on iTunes or here. But I listened to it while I was jogging and nearly had to stop because I was practically sobbing. It just became so clear to me.
Love is not meant to get love. Or in better words, “charity seeketh not her own”. Parents don’t love their children because of the satisfaction of their children’s love in return. (Although that is a joy that after listening to this podcast I realize many parents take for granted.) They just love them. Unconditionally.
Imagine if I could apply that principle to all the people in my life. Totally selfless love without any conditions or expectations of love or reward in return. (Yes, it seems so obvious to me now.)
These are all the feelings the Savior has for us. The feelings I can spend my lifetime trying to obtain. But I believe as a gift to us, we will be able to feel that love for our fellow-men in glimpes in this life and in full in the next. It gives me such hope.