How Do I Love Thee?
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. What did you do for those you love? My wife and I went to our student stake’s Sweetheart Ball. We had a wonderful dinner and then a live band provided the music for an evening of dancing. There were about 300 couples at the event and everyone had a great time.
|At the 1st Stake Sweethearts Ball|
Expressing love and appreciation to those who love us, especially our spouse is vital to keep that love strong. Elder Richard G. Scott spoke of some of the things he and his wife did to show their love for each other:
“I learned from my wife the importance of expressions of love. Early in our marriage, often I would open my scriptures to give a message in a meeting, and I would find an affectionate, supportive note Jeanene had slipped into the pages. Sometimes they were so tender that I could hardly talk. Those precious notes from a loving wife were and continue to be a priceless treasure of comfort and inspiration.
“I began to do the same thing with her, not realizing how much it truly meant to her. I remember one year we didn’t have the resources for me to give her a valentine, so I decided to paint a watercolor on the front of the refrigerator. I did the best I could; only I made one mistake. It was enamel paint, not watercolor. She never let me try to remove that permanent paint from the refrigerator.
“I remember one day I took some of those little round paper circles that form when you punch holes in paper, and I wrote on them the numbers 1 to 100. I turned each over and wrote her a message, one word on each circle. Then I scooped them up and put them in an envelope. I thought she would get a good laugh.
“When she passed away, I found in her private things how much she appreciated the simple messages that we shared with each other. I noted that she had carefully pasted every one of those circles on a piece of paper. She not only kept my notes to her, but she protected them with plastic coverings as if they were a valuable treasure.” (“The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”, Richard G. Scott, General Conference, April 2011)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote the poem “How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) it goes:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland speaking to the students at Brigham Young University the day after Valentines Day a few years ago had this to say about showing love:
“I have taken for a title to my remarks Mrs. Browning’s wonderful line “How do I love thee?” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese , no. 43.) I am not going to “count the ways” this morning, but I am impressed with her choice of adverb—not when do I love thee nor where do I love thee nor why do I love thee nor why don’t you love me, but, rather, how. How do I demonstrate it, how do I reveal my true love for you? Mrs. Browning was correct. Real love is best shown in the “how,” and it is with the how that Mormon and Paul help us the most.” (“How Do I Love Thee”, Jeffrey R. Holland, BYU Devotional Address, February 15, 2000)
One year for Valentine’s Day, I bought a package of the little valentines that kids take to school to give everyone. I put them all over the house in places that were not easily found. For months my wife would be cleaning something and find one. That was one of the best Valentine’s gift I could have given her. Every time she found one she was reminded of how much I loved her. She would always say that it gave her a tickle in her tommy every time she found one.
The apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians said:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25)
Elder Holland described the type of Christ’s love that Paul spoke of:
“True charity, the absolutely pure, perfect love of Christ, has really been known only once in this world—in the form of Christ Himself, the living Son of the living God. It is Christ’s love that Mormon goes to some length to describe for us and that Paul the Apostle did as well some years before, writing to the Corinthians in New Testament times. As in everything, Christ is the only one who got it all right, did it all perfectly, loved the way we are all to try to love. But even though we fall short, that divine standard is there for us. It is a goal toward which we are to keep reaching, keep striving—and, certainly, a goal to keep appreciating.” (“How Do I Love Thee”, Jeffrey R. Holland, BYU Devotional Address, February 15, 2000)
I hope that we will all remember to express our love to our parents, spouse, children and friends as often as we can. Doing so will strengthen that love and help remind those that are dear to us that they are loved and cherished.
I invite you to watch a 3-minute message from Elder Holland’s talk and then share your comments and questions below.