You know the scene. It might be in fast and testimony meeting, or perhaps in a regular sacrament meeting. Maybe even in a Sunday school class or at a fireside. But, let’s be real, it’s probably happening in Relief Society.
“I just love all of you! I don’t even know you, but I love you!”
This is where I turn to my nearest friendly neighbor and pretend to gag myself with my index finger. If there are tears involved in this exclamation of love, I might actually throw up in my purse a tiny bit. Why, why must you say you love me? It’s annoying. You don’t even know me.
This statement was likely made by some woman who refers to herself as a “hugger” and insists on hugging you because…I don’t know…you both showed up to church I guess? I like to hug, but I don’t give my hugs out like pretzels. They are sacred and are reserved for those who I really like and do not see often enough.
Oh, and no matter what, please don’t act excited to see me in that high-pitch whisper voice.
A few days ago a good friend told me about a girl she had been working with who did exactly that (acted excited to see her in a high-pitch whisper voice) who had really grated on her nerves.
We asked ourselves, “Selves, are we bad people? Are we wicked for not wanting strangers to tell us they love us? Or act like they love us? And why don’t we love everyone like they do? Are we bad? Do we even have souls anymore?” After all, Christ loved everybody, didn’t he? And isn’t that his message, to love as he loved?
And then- light bulb. Are you ready for this?
Christ did love everybody. But Christ did not love strangers.
There are no strangers to him. He knows us perfectly, and perhaps it is the perfect knowing that makes the perfect love possible. And we our counseled to be “no more strangers”. Christ has also said, “if ye are not one, ye are not mine.” Can you really (really) be one with people whom you don’t know? I don’t know if I can.
So, no I don’t think we are bad for not loving everybody. We don’t know everybody.
This might sound a little bit bratty, but I choose to continue to dislike it when strangers tell me they love me, even if I am part of a collective group which they have generally good feelings towards. It isn’t love they’re feeling, it’s something else. I don’t know what, but it’s something else.
I am eager to accept the love of those who have reason to love me. Knowing my name and my face isn’t a good enough reason for you to love me.
Let us all love, but first, let us all know.
Now, you know what to do.