I recently parked on a side street by the Provo City Center Temple and cried against my steering wheel. I stared up at the holy building, brilliantly illuminated against a black night sky and poured out my heart to God.
I was carrying the weight of unrequited feelings that overwhelmed me—compounded with feelings of foolishness and shame. For over a year I had asked the Lord to help me understand an important relationship in my life and how to approach it with grace and hope. Ultimately left with confusion and disappointment, I had started to ask God to take my feelings from me. Despite my best efforts, a strong desire to love and show that love remained.
I felt ashamed that I wasn’t able to master my feelings. The refrain of stupid, stupid, stupid, played over and over in my head. As someone who has been perpetually single, I thought I should know better and do better. Alas, the heart, as always, wants what it wants.
That night, through my tears, I tried to turn my heart to Christ and I was taught an important lesson.
I imagined myself placing my love and my feelings for this man on an altar before Christ. I tried to offer it to Him. I wanted His help and His power. As I pondered on that image, another formed in my mind—it was of a loving Heavenly Father doing the same thing, except the thing He placed on the altar was His Son.
I was reminded that Heavenly Father bore feelings of great and abundant love for His children. He poured out this love in an offering of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. And, in a moment filled with spiritual clarity, I recognized how often His love is rejected.
Ignored. Dismissed. Underappreciated.
“Is this how you feel?” I asked. “How do you bear it?”
My prayer began to change. I repented of how often I take my Savior for granted and reject the love He offers in a myriad of ways. I marveled at the tenacious way Christ continues to stand ready to embrace me and love me.
“I don’t want to be less,” I told God. “I want to be more. I want to be more.”
I wanted to be more like Jesus Christ. I want to be filled with love and able to bear the rejection of it. I wanted to have a soft heart, an entreating heart, a heart always pricked and tender to those around me.
There are still boundaries to make, lessons to be learned, and love to let go of. This wasn’t God telling me to continue to allow my feelings to run rampant and overtake the realities of the situation. However, the Lord gave me a desire to be present, filled with gratitude, and receptive to all of the experiences of my life, even if they were painful or didn’t end the way I wanted them to.
In scripture, we are told again and again about the sacrifice of a broken heart. I believe our Heavenly Parents broke their hearts in offering up their precious Son. Jesus Christ stands with open arms with abundant love that is persistent and patient. I learned that even though my feelings felt unbearable, they were a sign of righteous desire, tenacious hope, and charity.
God showed me that I shouldn’t try to rid myself of what makes my heart beautiful, but rather sanctify my feelings and experiences with Him.
Ultimately, I hope I can have a stronger heart as I remember the sacrifices of the Lord and accept His abundant love, always remembering He will never reject me. I hope, through Him, I can be more.