love is keeping the promise anyway.

{Taken a few days after I moved to Seattle; Gas Works Park}

Today marks one year of living in Seattle for me. I've thought about it a lot and I think the lessons I've learned in Seattle involve love--romantic love, unconditional love, loving those around me (friends, clients, professors, strangers), loving life each day, anything involving love. 

As corny as this post already sounds, one catalyst for these lessons was listening to "The Fault in Our Stars" while studying for my classes or working on paperwork in the clinic back in May. Another catalyst for these lessons in love has been my study of the Atonement through the scriptures and church books.

I don't know why, but when we studied the Atonement in Primary and even in Young Women's, I always felt a bit intimidated by it. I did not understand the encompassing nature of it and the way it blesses our lives each day. I always felt it was about my shortcomings and repenting and becoming better. It seemed like I would never be good enough. It seemed like my shortcomings would be insurmountable. It seemed like a lifelong process of trying to always catch up.

It is a lifelong process.

What I don't think I learned enough about, regarding the Atonement, was the Savior's love as part of His sacrifice for us. I always knew He loved me, but for some reason, I felt the Atonement was separate from the Savior's love. In the last few years, I've come to realize...

Love is the Atonement.
Love is Christ.
They are one and the same.

In "The Fault in Our Stars", one of the characters uses the word "always" to convey love to his girlfriend, but after a procedure in which he becomes blind, they break up and heartbreak inevitably follows. As I was reading this book, I thought to myself, "I wish these people knew about the Plan of Salvation. I wish they knew of the love the Savior offers, the ultimate salve for a broken heart." And this quote immediately came to mind: 

"In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.
Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.
The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions—temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful."
--President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Grateful in Any Circumstances"

Because, through our Savior, "always" does not mean heartbreak.
Always truly does mean love, when it comes to the Gospel. 
And as wise Augustus Waters (a main character in the book) says, 
"Love means keeping the promise anyway."
Despite the heartbreak of life, we keep our promises to the Lord and our Savior, Jesus Christ. And He always, always, always keeps His promises to us.

He heals the heartbreaks. He takes away the sting and bitterness. He binds us together through sacred temple ordinances, so we are able to return to Him one day. He is our advocate. He is merciful and unconditionally loving. He brings people together so they can build the kingdom together and form eternal families. 

I'm grateful for the Savior's love in my life and a loving, eternal Heavenly Father. I'm grateful that we can always count on their love and their plan for us. The knowledge of The Plan of Salvation is why my life has been filled with so much love, despite the heartaches of mortality. Without the guidance and direction from the Spirit for my life, I wouldn't have ended up where I am today. I know the Lord has made my life infinitely richer than I could've on my own and I know this to be true:  

"... ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." (2 Nephi 31: 19-20)
The promise of eternal life is the always. It is the infinite love and all I desire in life. I'm grateful for these lessons in love I've learned and I hope to continue to develop this virtue and be a lifelong learner of love. 

"Love is the very essence of life. It is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Yet it is not found only at the end of the rainbow. Love is at the beginning also, and from it springs the beauty that arched across the sky on a stormy day. Love is the security for which children weep, the yearning of youth, the adhesive that binds marriage, and the lubricant that prevents devastating friction in the home; it is the peace of old age, the sunlight of hope shining through death. How rich are those who enjoy it in their associations with family, friends, and neighbors! Love, like faith, is a gift of God. It is also the most enduring and most powerful virtue."  --President Gordon B. Hinckley

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