I’ve been pondering how I can better love those around me. I have friends with all sorts of mental, physical, emotional, and religious challenges. From depression to anxiety to eating disorders, fibromyalgia, homosexuality, autism, substance addiction, to pornography addiction.
These things–especially depending on how often my friends mention or focus on it–often become the basis for how I perceive them.
“Jeff is a really good guy, even though he’s addicted to pornography.”
“Amy is super-productive for someone with depression.”
“Emily is really cool for a lesbian.”
“Alfred is the best divorced guy I know.”
And perceiving them this way is wrong.
Heavenly Father loves each of us because of who we are, not what challenges us. When we consider the eternal perspective, we must realize that what people many struggle with the most are not eternal aspects of their character.
The fact I spent the last six months incredibly depressed are not an eternal aspect of who I am. However, it taught me critical lessons about myself and empathizing with others and impacts my return to Father’s waiting arms.
My friends may experience pain and trials. They may be depressed, divorced, missing limbs, chemically imbalanced, same-sex attracted, or all of those.
They are children of a Loving God. They may or may not accept that fact. But I can. I can love them for who they are. I can love them for their eternal characteristics–characteristics that may be strengthened by their challenges.
So the way I perceive them, the way I love them must be informed that these trials are temporary. After mortality ends, none of these things will be challenges they face. Anxiety, depression, amputation, same-sex attraction, divorce, eating disorders, addiction, and so many other things won’t affect us any more.
Those then won’t be the things that define my perceptions of my friends. Nor should they be now. If I can change my above perceptions to:
“Jeff is a really good guy.”
“Amy is quite productive.”
“Emily is really cool.”
“Alfred is one of the best guys I know.”
Then I show the love Father does and I focus on their whole worth as God intended.
The people I meet are not defined only by their most obvious characteristic(s). Those characteristics and experiences might end up making them better people, but they are temporary. They will not last beyond mortality. And if I do not recognize that, I do myself and them a disservice.