Hard to Love

Christmastime is beauty. Falling snow brings a deafening silence to a worn out world, and makes our homes sparkle in the chill darkness.

We rightly celebrate the beauty that the birth of our Savior and his Atonement has purchased for us – the promise of peace on earth and life eternal. But today, I pause to remember that the beauty that we create in our homes and neighborhoods at Christmastime and the beauty that really was Christ, seem to be very different.

It was written of the Savior, “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

He was hard for the world to love. His was a heavenly beauty. A beauty of His pure mind and heart and will and power. Even for those who were awaiting His coming, He was not what they expected Him to be. He wasn’t the powerful military man, He was born without worldly position, His career was humble, He wasn’t even handsome. Christ though, cared very little for the world’s opinion. Those that knew He professed to be the Son of God, scoffed at Him. Would the Son of God keep company with sinners? The scriptures foretold that the Savior would come to save them – but really, a carpenter? It seemed ridiculous!

How little our world has changed since Christ walked among us.

We are all so particular, showing our love to those we think deserve it, if we show it at all. It’s so much easier to love others who act and look the way we want, who treat us exactly the way we want, who have friends in high places, choose grand vocations or visit grand locations. How could we love someone so ugly, so dirty, so poor, so rich, so stupid, so popular, so rude, so insensitive, so arrogant, so annoying, so worthless? How many of us in this world live without love? Even if there’s guilt for not loving someone, the list of ready excuses is easily summoned up to ease our consciences – I’m too busy, I’m too tired, they should already know I love them, there’s others who could love them better, I’m tired of loving them –they’ll never change. There are always so many reasons not to love someone.

I wish my husband could wash the dishes and vacuum the floor more often, follow my wandering thoughts better and please not be so honest with me about my own weaknesses. Sometimes he is hard to love.

Little boys keep me up at night, wake me too early in the morning, cling to my leg and threaten my sanity. They throw food on the floor, throw valuable items in the garbage, throw tantrums of epic proportions, and I throw up my hands. Sometimes they are hard to love.

But before I drown in self-pity, or worse yet, hypocrisy – I stop.

I don’t listen to those that need a listening ear, I judge to quickly, I do thoughtless things embarrassingly often, I leave mounds of dirty dishes in the sink, and sometimes even throw epic tantrums of my own. I am hard to love too.

It seems to be the one thing that absolutely everyone who has ever lived on this planet has in common.

Even the Savior was hard to love.

But he wasn’t hard to love for the same reasons. We misjudged him. We are selfish and mean and a million other things we hate to admit. Christ was perfect, but hard to love because He taught and expected us to learn “hard things”. Hard things to make us better. Hard things to make us humble. Hard things to help us love everyone else. Everyone else, who, like us, is hard to love.

I’ll admit, I’m a simple thinker. There are so many people on this earth and our lives are tangled and twisted together in often the strangest and most difficult ways. Problems are not easily solved. Forgiveness is not easily bestowed. To even more complicate matters, I don’t pretend to understand why our Father in Heaven chooses to burden us – sometimes so heavily – each in a different way. As in Christ’s time, some blind, some lame, some poor, some homely – and yet inside, all longing for one thing – to be loved.

Loved no matter what. No matter what they look like, no matter how smart they are, no matter how little they seem to matter in a world consumed with the apparent value of everyone and everything.

Sometimes I weep at my inability to love. I try to forgive myself and try again. Love. This is the gift that our Savior gave us, this is the gift He asks us to give everyone. So this Christmas Eve as we light the tree and read the story of that miraculous birth so long ago, I recommit myself to love. I will try to love as He taught us to love.

Because we are all hard to love. And yet, He loves us still.