Sunday, May 28, 2017

Falling In Love

     I was asked this week to give a talk in church about having Christ as a constant companion, and throughout the week I brainstormed ideas and wrote my talk. What I actually said and what I wrote differed a little, but I figured I'd post the written version of my talk here on my blog:



For me, falling in love, not just love for a family member or a friend, but really falling in love with someone is one of the most powerful, overwhelming, and intoxicating feelings I’ve ever experienced. Falling in love has been so joyous and yet so painful, so safe and yet so dangerous.
I’ve only really fallen in love with 6 individuals throughout my life thus far. I’ve had many crushes on guys, and rarely girls, where I think wow, he’s really cute, or really nice, or really spiritual. But I’ve only really fallen in love 6 times, to different degrees.
Of the 6 people I’ve fallen for, 2 of them ever fell for me, too. And both of those relationships ended because eventually lines were crossed and mistakes were made. The relationships ended because it wasn’t a safe environment for me or them, and it wasn’t bringing us closer to God.
Of the remaining 4 relationships, those being the ones that didn’t fall in love in return, 1 died out simply because of distance. He moved away, and we didn’t really have a means of contact, so the relationship ended quite suddenly, and falling out of love with him followed soon after.
1 of the more painful endings for me was a friend I fell for before I really even knew I was gay, and definitely before I knew that what I was feeling was being in love with him. He was straight, and I had put a lot of work into building our friendship. But I guess I came on too strong, and even though I didn’t even know at the time that what I was feeling was love, I made him uncomfortable, and eventually he cut contact with me for that.
The last 2 relationships are ones I still have today. 1 of them, and actually the only 1 on this list that’s a girl, was someone I fell in love with over time. We were friends and eventually best friends throughout our childhood. And somewhere along the way, as I got older, I fell for her. But for reasons that I’m not even aware of, the being “in love” just very slowly died out. Despite that, her and I are still in contact, and I still consider her one of my best friends.
The final relationship I have to talk about was someone that I fell intensely for. Out of all of the relationships, this was the strongest for me. So strong in fact that I put him on a pedestal, and created this false belief in my infatuation that he was a perfect being. I was so entranced that I made him into something that he wasn’t. And it wasn’t fair to me or him.  After years of believing he was perfect, reality finally hit me. I realized that I had fallen for him so deeply that he had essentially become my deity. I turned to him when I had gospel questions, and not God. I talked to him far more than I talked to God. That’s not to say that he was a bad influence on me, because he wasn’t and hasn’t been. He has actually been a great influence who honestly has saved my testimony and even life on multiple occasions. But the bad influence for me was my own choice to leave God behind in favor of someone who, while an honestly fantastic human being and fantastic friend, isn’t and can’t be perfect as a mortal. I’ve just now been coming to the realization the past couple weeks that if I want our friendship to continue and be healthy and beneficial for the both of us, I need to find ways to put God first.
There are a few reasons why I bring these situations up. One of them is that I feel that some of those can be related to my relationship with God. Like the first 2 relationships, when I have committed sin, I have pushed myself away from God and lost some of the deeper contact I had before the mistake. Like the relationship that died out simply because of distance, there have been multiple times where my relationship with God suffered simply because I didn’t put myself in situations where I was close to him. Like the relationship that I slowly fell in love with, and slowly out of love with, my relationship with God has gone up and down. Sometimes God has seemed like just an acquaintance, other times a friend, and other times a best friend. And there have been a few times in my life where I had put God at the forefront of my time and attention like the last relationship I mentioned. Where I treated Him like the perfect being that He is. And treated him like my God.
The other, is that I’ve realized that when I fall for someone, they often become the most important person to me, and get first priority in many ways. If I want to text someone, I’ll text them first. If I want to call someone, I call them first. If I want to spend time with someone, I spend time with them first, etc. I often also try to be like them, or at least try to like the things that they like. For example, I used to say my favorite animal was horses simply because I knew that my best friend who I was in love with said horses were her favorite animal.
But really the reason I bring this up is that I’m starting to realize how great it would be if I could fall in love with God. Because if I could fall in love with God, He could be the first one I text. He could be the first one I call. He could be the first one I spend time with. And He could be the first one I follow. If God loves people, then I can try to as well. If God’s favorite animal is a giraffe, I can try to make that my favorite animal, too. That’s not to say that I want to lose my uniqueness, nor do I think that’s what God wants me to do. But I want to find a way to fall in love with God, to honestly and deeply fall in love with God, so that I can follow Him more deeply and with more conviction and with more surety.
God is perfect. Unlike some of the other relationships that ended in painful ways, God would not cut off the relationship with me. Only I can do that. Unlike the relationships where I put my trust in someone who may honestly be a fantastic person who can help me immensely, but is ultimately mortal and imperfect, God is not. God is immortal and perfect. If I can truly fall in love with God, maybe I won’t need to worry about pleasing others or trying to be in love.
But how can I fall in love with God? Honestly, I don’t completely know. It seems difficult for me because my two main love languages are physical touch and quality time. And I don’t think it’s possible for God to physically touch me, at least in the way I comprehend physical touch, while I’m a mortal. And I’m not sure how quality time works since I can't really hand God a controller and have Him play Super Smash Bros. or Mario Kart with me. But some of the ideas that I have had are that I can talk with Him. Like I call my best friend at least once a day, I can learn to talk to God at least once a day. Like I mimicked my friends favorite animal, perhaps I can learn to implement God’s favorite things and things that God loves into my life. I can spend time to get to know God. After-all I’ve never fallen for someone I didn’t know. And God has scriptures, conference talks, and prayer available to get to know Him. I can come to church to learn of Him, and to share of what I have learned. There are many good things that I can do to get to know God. I just need to do them.
In reality, I don’t know how or when I will fall in love with God. It could be a month, a year, or maybe a lifetime. But I really feel that if I want to live a life with Christ as my constant companion, I need to have Him be my number one. And I need to trust and know that He loves me no matter what, and that He is perfect, and would not hurt me or lead me astray. I can't fully control who I fall in love with, but if God really is perfect, what isn't there to fall for?

3 comments:

  1. Love can be a rocky road for all of us. I especially appreciated your thoughts on infatuatuon and emotional dependency. These can be hindrances to a full fledged healthy relationship/friendship. There have been instances in my own life I became enamored only to have it fizzle out over the short term.

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  2. I really appreciate you posting this Mitchell. This week I too have found myself dealing with infatuation, as well as trying to grow my relationship with God. The battle of which comes first is disabling me from truly giving the attention to both of those relationships in a healthy way. It's tough sometimes, but Heavenly Father truly does love us, and that's the hope that I have. Thank you again for your vulnerability and humility brother. Best of luck to you!

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  3. Hi Mitchell,

    I am the Elder from North Carolina that you talked to at the FHL on September 8th. I'm glad that you were able to draw closer to God even at your lowest. From what I have learned, our Father in Heaven truly cares for us even when we have drifted far from his presence. He yearns for us to access the enabling power of the atonement of his only begotten son so that we may come out strong during our afflictions (see Mosiah 24:13-15). As long as we continually try to follow the Gospel to the best of our ability, the Lord will not forget our efforts. In the words of J Golden Kimball, “I may not always walk the straight and narrow, but I cross it as often as I can.”

    Since I cannot access Facebook during my mission, I don't have the opportunity to send you a message through Facebook. You can email me at elder.jstephens@gmail.com. Keep being awesome. :)

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