One of my favorite bloggers, HP, took a friendly dig at me the other day, and it set my mind in motion and first reminded me that the word â€œloveâ€ is problematic, but then that my conception of love is perhaps vastly different than others. This post represents a meandering look at â€œlove.â€
We live in a capitalist society of consumerism, which is based on the laws of supply and demand. This means that we often have a concept of scarcity ingrained upon us, and we are typically unable to think in terms of abundance in many areas. This concept of scarcity works in time, where we only have so much time to give. It works in money, where once itâ€™s all spent itâ€™s gone. It works in cars, and clothes, and slices of pumpkin pie.
But for me, it is a fallacy to apply the concept of scarcity to love (caring for and about others). If I love my wife, it does not mean I have less love to give to my children, my neighbor, or to God. My role may be different with each, but this does not need to affect my love for them. My capacity to love is infinite, Like God.
Of course, it can be empirically proven pretty quickly that the actual state of love and the capacity to love are not equal. There are several ways we limit our love:
1. We limit our love based on lack of intimacy (I donâ€™t know anyone in Sri Lanka, so I love them less than my MIL or I spend more time with my in laws than my parents, so I must love my in laws more (illogical)).
2. We limit our love based on lack of trust. (I donâ€™t trust that Geoff wonâ€™t hurt me if I care about him and treat him as an equal, so I refuse to care about him.)
3. We limit our love based on our perception of others. (I see you doing or saying things I donâ€™t like, so I donâ€™t love you.)
4. We limit our love based on our perception of ourselves. (I am a good LDS person, and good LDS people canâ€™t love Rob Zombie, thus I do not love Rob Zombie.)
5. We limit our love based on our perception of love. (You canâ€™t really love someone fully if they arenâ€™t your wife. My Sister is not my wife, so I donâ€™t love her fully. Or thereâ€™s that old Harry Connick Jr. tune, â€œwhen a body loves two people, he canâ€™t love either one.â€ )
In short, in love, our limitations are only created by ourselves. (That is not to say these limitations may not be legitimately reasoned out, but we are still the origin of them.) But do we need to be limited in these ways? Are these limitations more based on our relationship with someone else and whether we like them, or are they based on our capacity to love them? Can we not fully tap into infinite love even with these limitations in place?
Pratt described breaking the barriers to infinite love:
“I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I lovedâ€”with a purenessâ€”an intensity of elevated, exalted feeling, which would lift my soul from the transitory things of this grovelling sphere and expand it as the ocean. I felt that God was my heavenly Father indeed; that Jesus was my brother, and that the wife of my bosom was an immortal, eternal companion. . . . In short, I could now love with the spirit and with the understanding alsoâ€
(Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979], 260).
He elsewhere attributes this to the power of the Holy Ghost in his life:
“The gift of the Holy Ghost . . . quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use”
(Key to the Science of Theology, Classics in Mormon Literature Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978], 61)
Put another way:
“Soul blends with soul, in all the raptures of mutual, pure and eternal love”
(Key to the Science of Theology As quoted by Truman Madsen here )
So to me this says that the spirit allows us to transcend ourselves and love deeper, even infinitely so.