How Can We Grow Our Capacity to Love?

By Hannah P

I have always been a peacemaker, eager to please. Even today, if you asked me to pick up a leaf on the sidewalk I’d bend over and grab it; only after doing so would I stop to ask why. Trusting others came naturally, but as I easily lived and loved I found many times that trusting people, loving people, and letting people love me ended in heartbreak and sadness.

In high school I developed a motto that “everyone leaves” and built a wall around my heart where I hid my emotions and my feelings as a way to protect myself. It worked amazingly well, so much so that I was never disappointed. In this way I was safe, and as I continued in college with new classes, faces, apartments, and acquaintances, my motto was only confirmed. Time after time my wall was strengthened. What I didn’t realize was that when I kept people away from my heart I couldn’t love them, and I could definitely never let them love me. It made for no heartbreak, but very few actual relationships. One of those relationships that suffered was the relationship with my Heavenly Father.

I didn’t understand exactly how to feel that God loved me, or how to know that His spirit was guiding me. I trusted almost no one. When I prayed to feel God’s love and felt nothing, I didn’t understand that it wasn’t because He didn’t love me, it was because I was unwilling to open my heart to the love that was there.

Within the last few years my motto changed because I met people who knew how to love. They loved everyone unconditionally, and they trusted everyone, especially me. They had really “big hearts” and they lost nothing by loving others. They helped me realize that when you put your trust in God you don’t need walls. As I slowly let people love me and loved them back, I trusted that if the heartbreak came, I could rely on my Savior to carry the load. My friends teasingly had said that I had a heart of ice, but as I let it thaw and melt, I was able to feel the love of my Heavenly Father. His spirit came into my life more fully and I trusted that if people left, the hole they made would be filled with the atonement of Jesus Christ. My love for others only grows as I continue to love and feel the love of my Savior.

I fully feel the words of a prophet when he said, referring to the love of Christ, “He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.” As I broke down all the walls I built around myself, I gained a fuller relationship with God, with my friends and family, and everyone around me. I still struggle with the words “I love you,” but every time I say them, I know just how important it was to learn how. My new motto is, “Your heart will grow to hold as much love as you are willing to give to others.” Maybe this could be yours?

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