There is something truer than truth and it is love.

-George Handley (Mormon scholar and friend)

What being an ally this week has taught me:

Love is dirty. It stains you as much as it sustains you. It ails you, it heals you. It is the poison you drink the and antidote that saves you. It is the pull in your perspective. It gives you ears to hear.

When you decide to love without reservation you also agree to be changed indefinitely. Love requires sacrifice, it demands all. It determines all. Love remodels the soul, and the physical-once you decide to love you will never feel or look the same again. When someone chooses love, those around them wonder “What happened to them? They look tired. They seem angry.” Because love is not comfortable, it’s not pretty, love is work. It is war you fight every day.

Love is different from romance. Romance is romance. Love is labor. It’s hard labor. It’s not showing up with roses, it’s showing up with resolve. Love never sleeps, it will wake you up in all the ways. Love will burst your bubble. It will give you new eyes to see.

Love will dictate where it is to be applied and where it isn’t. Love will send you away or it will pull you closer. If you listen to its incessant demands, love will tell you where you need to be-in a relationship, out of a relationship, in a pew of a fraught church, in a new community or alone. Love will give you new legs.

Love has no patience for your concerns about social acceptance, or habits of your heritage. It will transcend your insecurities and insist you follow. You must follow love. You must follow love. You must follow love or it will follow you and hunt you down until it engulfs you.

Love is the act of doing for others what they cannot do for themselves. It is honoring the marginalized, speaking for the silent, standing with those who stand alone. It always feels radical, it always feels scary, it always requires bravery.

And it’s possible that love can actually make you feel like your heart is swollen, bruised and pained. You will feel it pounding in your ears in the mornings and you will grab your chest with your hands and apply pressure, and you will say, “I feel like my heart may break into a thousand pieces.”

Of all the elements on the earth, love is the heaviest.

And in return, love offers you courage. And I think that is about all it gives. But it is enough.


  1. Courtney, thank you for this. For me it’s much easier to feel right (or self-righteous) than to do love. My heart is splitting and breaking between the people I care for, and while it sometimes appeals to do a scorched earth curse on those who are hurting my most vulnerable, that flame-thrower approach also creates casualties.

    I am so proud of you (remember us from London?) Thank you for all the civic good you do here in Provo. Thank you especially for your interest in Chris. He loves you too.

  2. romanticmind says:

    Bless you, bless you for your beautiful writing.

  3. So beautiful and timely! Music to my heart and my soul.

  4. I couldn’t write a reply yesterday because I was crying too hard. Thank you.

  5. Divine love is not what we so fluently and passionately expound upon. See February 2003 article in the Ensign by President Nelson (at the time just Elder Nelson) entitled ,”Divine Love”. While God loves all His children unconditionally He cannot/ will not show His love to His children unconditionally. For Him to show His love to us we must show Him our love. “If ye love me , keep my commandments”

  6. I know that my love for my own kids is totally conditional, just like God’s love for me. I only show them my love when they show me theirs first.

  7. Amen to Courtney and Steve. Sometimes I feel like the God I believe in and the God other LDS people believe in is so different. I believe he errs on the side of mercy and love. There is so much I don’t understand, but surely mercy wins out in the end. And who are we to decide how and when God shows His love to His children? He has rules and laws, but those aren’t going to prevent Him from showing us love and mercy. I do believe that God will judge us as we judge others and that all of God’s commandments point us toward loving others as we love Him, and trusting that His love surpasses all of this. He’s willing to get his hands dirty and work. He never sets us aside because we are too hard to deal with. He will never give up on love between us and Him.

    Courtney, thank you for describing how I feel about love and Christ’s love and empathy. It is so heavy. It is so filling. It is so brutiful.

  8. I’ve read this several times this week. I remember ten days ago I couldn’t get out of bed; I’d burst into heaping sobs at a moments notice over people I loved. My husband hugged me and said, “I don’t hurt, but I’m sad that you hurt.” I told him that I wish that he cared enough to hurt. He responded that he’s trying to figure out how to care without being hurt himself. {sigh} If we do not connect with each other we can’t feel their hurt and help hold them in our hands. Christ connected/ministered one by one. He loved radically. He still does.

  9. Robert Bennett says:

    Thank you for heartfelt, even heart-wrenching, words in troubled times. Only Pablo Neruda and Rainer Maria Rilke could have put it better. That’s rarefied company indeed!

    “I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
    or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
    I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
    secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

    I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
    the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
    and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
    from the earth lives dimly in my body.

    I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
    I love you directly without problems or pride:
    I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
    except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
    so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
    so close that your eyes close with my dreams.”

    Pablo Neruda

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