I was belting along with a song in the car last week
When my 2-year-old daughter said in a long-suffering voice,
“I love you, Mom, but you’ve got to stop singing.”
I laughed (since I know she got that phraseology from me…)
Though it did make me think more about the expression:
“I love you, but…”
I realized I didn’t really like it
Because it makes it seem like love is contingent on conditions.
But, when I was reading D&C 24 this last week, at first glance, it seems like God was using an “I love you, but” phrase with Joseph Smith:
“I have lifted you up from thine afflictions…Nevertheless, thou art not excusable in thy transgression.” (v. 1-2)
Or how I read it: “I love you, Joseph, but you’ve got to stop making these mistakes.”
I reread those verses, and some other calls to repentance in the scriptures,
And I realized I had interpreted them wrong.
There was an important distinction I missed:
God doesn’t use “I love you, but…”
He also doesn’t just use “I love you.”
He uses “I love you, and so…”
God never loved anyone less because of their weaknesses.
His love is unconditional and all-encompassing,
And His calls to repentance aren’t an asterisk next to His love;
They are an indication of it.
As Sister Carole Stephens says, “His laws are a manifestation of His love for us and obedience to His laws is an expression of our love for Him.”
God expects us to change,
He knows we need to, if we want the eternal happiness that’s waiting for us.
And He doesn’t expect us to do it alone.
He is always there,
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