Friday, March 19, 2010

The Power of Unconditional Love

Girls' Camp, July 2009

We got a new bishop a couple weeks ago and I went to meet with him a couple weeks ago. I've applied to be an EFY counselor this summer and still have not heard back from them. They contact your bishop as a reference, and I figured that it might be good for the poor guy to actually know who I am if they called him up.

My bishop is amazing.
He was paralyzed by a shot to his spine when he was 14 and is in a wheelchair. Being in a wheelchair led him to wheelchair sports and he was on the national wheelchair cycling team in the paralympics! He was also a scoutmaster for many years and has great insights from that experience.

Meeting with him was different than any of my previous appointments with bishops. Instead of letting me lead the discussion, he took control from the beginning of it. It took me by surprise at first, but it turned out to be a great experience. He started asking me questions about my idea of being an EFY counselor. Why do I want to be an EFY counselor? How will I relate to the young men in my group? Am I a ready for these kids to put me on a pedestal as an example of virtue and chastity?
I wasn't very prepared because I hadn't thought about these things since my interview before.

I told him about my experience last summer as a
tent mom at Young Women's camp. My goal was to show my girls the love of Christ since I did not know if they had experienced that love in their lives before (and I discovered that many of them came from harsh backgrounds where they indeed had not felt the love of Christ). That decision transformed me into a better leader and opened the hearts of these sweet girls. I think they served me more than I was able to serve them.

At this point in the conversation the bishop grew very quiet. He asked, "so, do you think that giving your youth the Love of Christ is the single most important thing you can do for them as a counselor?"
I reflected for a few seconds and then said, "Yes. It is."
"I was going to say unconditional love, but that is the love of Christ. In the world there is so much conditional love, and I believe that unconditional love can transform today's youth. I now know everything I need to know."


There is so much conditional respect, admiration, and love in the world. If you wear the right clothes, say the right things, listen to the right music, watch the right TV shows, you get attention. If you refuse to be a blind follower of pop culture, you risk being alone and unpopular. What a terrible way for the world to be.

What we forget is that people are eternal beings. The fads we give up so much time and money to follow will fade in an instant, but the people and relationships we take for granted will exist throughout the eternities.

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendors....Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat, the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden. -C.S. Lewis

I love that line, "your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses." My neighbor is precious because they are eternal, but also precious because Christ is manifest in them.

It was not always easy. Sometimes they fought with each other over petty things. Sometimes they complained about the activities. Sometimes they screamed about bugs in the middle of the night. Sometimes I had to pray really hard to find some ounce of love inside me; I felt like I would snap from frustration and exhaustion, but I knew that if I was unkind to these vulnerable girls, I could cause serious damage. And the Lord helped me to see the divine in these girls, to love them when they seemed unlovable, to feel a portion of the love that their Savior has for them.

I saw amazing things happen as I loved my girls with all I had to give. They learned to love themselves. They learned to love each other. They learned to love the Lord and gained stronger testimonies of the Gospel. I received sweet notes from some of them, humorous because of their preteen methods of expression.

I think you are so nice. When I talk you always listen you don't just fake like the other people.

I really like you because you are respectful and you are nicer to everyone even if they're not nice to you.

I just want to thank you for being so nice and respectful ALSO very understanding to all of us girls

Thanks again I will always remember you and you're my hero!

You are the best camp leader ever!

But the truth is, through this experience I learned more than I think those girls did. I learned that pure, unconditional, Christlike love truly is the most powerful thing in the world. It opens and heals hearts. It makes it possible for a 19-year-old white BYU student to be able to relate to 12-year-old Black, Hawaiian and Filipino girls. It brings the Spirit of the Lord into whatever place you are in, even if it's a dirty campground. It refines and purifies me, making me a better person day by day. Knowing that there are people who love me unconditionally helps me to have the courage it takes to work towards becoming the best I can be.

And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another....
And thus they became the children of God. -Mosiah 18:21-22

And that is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing - sharing the love of Christ with whoever the Lord puts in my path so we can all become the children of God.


  1. I completely agree with those girls. You are SO nice! I will always remember you and your example Tasha, you are my hero! :)

  2. I just love reading your blogs. Good luck with being an EFY Councelor. I can tell by your blogs you will make an excellent councelor and spread the love of Jesus. God bless you