A few years ago, when I was preparing remarks to share during an upcoming religious service, it occurred to me that I had nothing to say. The religious views I had contemplated my entire life were no longer of interest to me. The intricacies of doctrine held no appeal. Truth claims were naive, futile and tiresome.
In a moment of determination, I sat down with a pen and a blank sheet of paper and resolved to work out my true convictions. I dug deep and searched for faith inside myself, unsure of what I would find. Withholding self-judgment as much as I could, I asked myself, “What do I really believe?”
After some time, I managed to pick out just two principles, two assertions I could not prove but I nevertheless believed. I wrote them down:
- Every person is valuable.
- Love is worthwhile.
These two statements were all I had, and they continue to be my foundation. The way I think about many things has evolved in the years since this exercise, and many beliefs have come and gone in the meantime. My faith system continues to be anchored by very few points compared to the average saint, a fact with which I have made peace. But some things have held true.
Love is a universal principle, and I happened to discover it through Mormonism. I feel most genuinely attached to the Mormon tradition, and the wider Christian tradition, when I return to the words of Jesus. His teachings about patient, selfless love feel fundamental, as if they describe the very functioning of the universe. It seems that gravitational waves and Christ-love may be approximately the same size and have the same reach.
Reading Jesus’ call to love my enemies makes me feel deeply Christian–not because I live the call but because I trust it. This is why I am willing to take the Jesus’ name upon me. I am so often tempted to try another way. The way of resentment feels automatic; the way of separateness, safe; the way of revenge, just. But love is, as Paul called it, “a more excellent way,” and I hope to spend my entire life learning to walk in that way.
Note: I have appreciated the recent #LoveOneAnother campaign on the LDS.org Blog. Sometimes we get it right.