All of my childhood life I was taught not to trust anyone but the members of my own family. It was hard for me because I am generally a person who loves to meet new people from different races, religions, and cultures. When I joined the Church at 19, I was taught that “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-39). Somehow, I found myself learning how to change what was instilled into my head as a child for many years, to do what Jesus Christ has taught us to do in the scriptures…LOVE. The more that I show love to those around me, no matter who they are, no matter where they came from, or what their skin colour is, I have felt the love in return. ~Emilia
At the store this week my sister asked me if my 2-year-old knew the lady he was waving to in the checkout line. She thought they were old friends because the lady had a huge smile on her face and was enthusiastically waving back and talking to him.
“No,” I replied. “He doesn’t know her. He waves to everyone.”
The experience got me thinking about my 2-year-old and 4-year-old and how beautifully pure their love is. They don’t have any qualms about strangers until we paint them out to be scary, bad people who could hurt them. They don’t notice that someone’s skin color is different from their own. They don’t care what people wear, what they look like, where they go to church, or where they live. To my young kids, a person is a person—worthy of a smile, a wave, a conversation, and, when needed, a hug.
In contrast, my 7-year-old and 10-year-old are a little more skeptical of people. They pay attention to what someone looks like. They pay attention to what they do—if what they’re doing is something they’ve been taught is good or bad. And more and more, they are paying attention to choices and consequences. Their responses to people are different from my boys because as they’ve grown older, we’ve taught them to be different.
I believe children are born with an innate ability to trust and to love. In the New Testament, it was Jesus Christ who taught us to look to children as an example.
“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3–4).
As I reflected on my desire to raise good kids—kids who are kind, kids who don’t judge, kids who love people despite what they look like, what they believe in, and what they choose—I came to the realization that hate is learned. Love is natural. If I’m going to “not mess up my kids” when it comes to love, I need to learn from their example and then incorporate that into how I lead by example. These are three simple but poignant lessons my kids have taught me about learning to love anybody.
We’re One Big Family
My 7-year-old daughter is the sweetest, most lovable girl you’ll ever meet. She’s the type of girl who will stand up for the underdog and sit by the kid who is sitting alone.
I asked her why it’s important to reach out and love others, especially those who are different, and she wisely responded, “Because we all live on this earth and we’re all brothers and sisters.”
She’s right. We are all children of God. It’s as simple as that. That makes us one big, eternal family. And if we’re all brothers and sisters, whether we know someone personally or not, whether we agree with their choices or not, they’re family and we should love them.
We know love is important to our Heavenly Father because He said that the first and great commandment is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. …
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37, 39).
As my daughter said, a neighbor in this case is anyone who lives on this earth. And as my little boys teach me every day, that means every person is worthy of a smile, a hello, a conversation, and, when needed, meaningful acts of love and service.
This is a wonderful article. To read the remainder of it visit LDS.org.
We would love to hear from you. Kindly share your experiences by leaving us a reply below about how your children have taught you about showing love toward everyone.
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