"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
September 24, 2012
Messy, Sweaty Love
by Kathryn H. Kidd

There’s a whole lot of garbage on Facebook, as you Facebook subscribers are well aware. But hidden among all those annoying notices that somebody has sent you a rutabaga and that somebody you barely know is listening to a Barenaked Ladies tune at this very minute, there is an occasional gem.

I found a gem on Saturday. It was a quote, in the form of a note. Here it is:

Dear Human,

You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of … messing up. Often.

You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering.”

Now I’m not even going to hazard a guess as to the doctrinal soundness of this quote, but it certainly speaks to the human condition. We human beings spend a lot of time spinning our wheels, trying to love people unconditionally. What happens? Real life gets in the way — that’s what happens!

Here are just a few instances where we try to love as Jesus loves, only to find ourselves coming up short:

  • We’re asked to love people who are as easy to love as sea urchins or cacti — all prickly and full of thorns. Quite often the reason they need us to love them is that they’ve pushed everyone else away.
  • We’re asked to love at the most inconvenient times. It’s not just during our favorite television program (those can be recorded and watched later), but right before our hardest final exam or the day our big project is due at work or the afternoon before we’re putting on the Pursuit of Excellence program for the Young Women.
  • We’re asked to go way, way out of our comfort zones. It’s easy to pop a casserole in the oven, but people usually don’t need the casserole. They need their laundry done or their floors mopped or their seventeen children babysat on the same day your entire extended family is flying in to celebrate Thanksgiving, or something else that is not even remotely what we had in mind when we decided to show them how much we care.
  • We’re asked to love people without judging them or even (sometimes) without offering them advice, even though they’re wearing neon signs on their heads that say, “I’m messing up my whole life and I don’t know why.” (Boy, are those signs hard to ignore!)
  • We’re asked to love the people we home teach, even when they won’t answer our phone calls or let us in the door.
  • We’re asked to love total strangers who drop their problems at our feet and say, “Fix me.”
  • We’re asked to love people we can’t trust — people who make promises they don’t keep, or who pilfer things from our homes when they don’t think we’re looking, or who make up the most creative little stories starring us (and who spread those stories to anyone who will listen).
  • We’re asked to love people who refuse to help themselves — who think of themselves as victims and who expect everything to be handed to them just because they don’t want to pick themselves up and do their own work.
  • We’re asked to love people who don’t look like we do, don’t talk like we do, don’t vote like we do, and don’t even pray to the same God we pray to.
  • We’re asked to love people who have no intention of loving us in return, and who would even harm us if they only had a chance to do so.

The quote was right. We’re human. We can’t do all those things — not even close. But we can try. Even when we fail this time, there will be an opportunity tomorrow to love again. Maybe tomorrow we’ll be better, or maybe we won’t.

Eventually, as the quote says, we’ll be in a place where we can love unconditionally, perfectly. Until then, what matters is that we pick ourselves up and try again.


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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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