LESSON 30: JUST LOVE
Every Thursday I take a class about Dating and Eternal Marriage. I love it more than anything. Recently we had a discussion about not pointing out the flaws of those whom you are dating. Now some of you are undoubtedly thinking "well duh, that's rude." With you I agree wholeheartedly. However I have some perspective to share with those who don't find this so blatantly obvious.
Earlier this year I had a boyfriend. It was quite a momentous occasion because for 21 years of my life, my general thought on the subject is ew, boyfriend. Too much commitment. Because I'm really mature. But I digress. So I meet this boy, and he is so cute, funny, he loves the gospel, he is close to his family, he served a mission, he was so so sweet, and his muscles are huge (because I'm a little shallow, but he was such a babe). Really, these are all qualities I look for. In fact, besides the muscles thing(maybe?), the above list are all necessary attributes for me to even date a boy. I don't judge you for your lists. So of course when he asked to be my boyfriend I said yes. Alright, maybe I hesitated for like a week or something, but still, eventually I said yes. Things seemed to go pretty well, I met his mom and his grandma, I visited him after he got his eye surgery, and he was so nice to me.
Then we had a talk. A rather unpleasant talk that I share just for the sake of this post. In this conversation, he told me all of my faults, as he perceived them to be. If any of you know me, you can imagine how brilliantly that went over. I took it super well.
So we kind of broke up. After which time, we had another talk, which was hard because you know how I looove talking about feelings. In this time, he pointed out how in a relationship, both people should be growing and improving, (which I completely agree with) but that the way to go about it is to tell your partner what you don't like about them so it gives them a chance to change. This I very much don't agree with.
Luke 6:41-42 says:
"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye."
In my last class, we went over this scripture, and talked about how, until you are perfect, you should not be pointing out the faults of others, particularly someone with whom you are in a relationship. Although my ex-boyfriend's intentions were good, he was misguided. In my own opinion, if your partner does things that bother you enough to point them out, you probably shouldn't be dating that person. Let me say that I write this not to be completely hypocritical, but to illustrate the negative effects of nit-picking people, rather than building them up.
The bottom line is, people will only change when they want to change. There is nothing you, nor I, nor anyone else can do or say that will make another person be different if they don't want to be. I don't care to go into great detail, but one of said "faults" I possessed would be that I do and say outlandish things to get a rise out of people. Like 98% of the time, I'm trying to get a reaction, because it's usually really funny, and highly immature. It's cool. I own that. I don't live my life to impress other people, and I am not concerned with what other people think. I care for people and I love, but people are going to think what they think, and that's ok. But getting back on track a bit, I am well aware of my own flaws. I know which areas of my life I need to work on, so someone telling me I need to change something about myself, whether it's something I'm already trying to better, or something I love about myself, I've already got it covered.
People just need to love people for the imperfect beings that they are. I've dated a few boys, and I have loved one. I once dated a guy that told me no one would ever want to marry me if I never went to school...and he said I wasn't funny. Probably some of the rudest things I've ever been told in my life. We also didn't last. I mean, I know this is cliche, but hasn't anyone ever heard the saying: "love isn't about finding the perfect person, but about seeing an imperfect person, perfectly"?
President Thomas S. Monson counseled "choose your love, and love your choice." I mean, isn't it fair to love someone despite annoying quirks, if you expect the same? In that talk with my ex-boyfriend about changing someone for the better, he presented me with a scenario. He described a couple being married for 10 years, and every day for those 10 years, the wife does the dishes. All of them, all day. He expressed that he thinks it would be appropriate for the wife to ask the husband to take a turn. I countered with the thought that, were I the wife, I would gladly take care of the household duties whilst my husband works to provide a house, and because I would love him and support him, as long as he used dishes, I would wash them. I come from a house that runs similarly. The only difference is, that my dad will take over and do dishes when he is home, because he loves my mom. Not because she has ever asked or expected him to do so. I have witnessed the two of them often try to coax the other to sit while they did the dishes and cleaned on several occasions. Isn't that what relationships are about? Serving and doing everything in your power to make the other person happy? Besides, negative degradation has greater destructive power than positive affirmation has to promote. So wouldn't we all do better to focus on the good, rather than the bad?
True love inspires changing for the better, not demands it.