Saturday morning, I had a talk with my father.  “Have I told you what my brother Tony once taught me about love?” he said to me.  We were talking on the phone, of course.  He had just finished painting the family bathroom in preparation for Thanksgiving.  Among our many lovely guests will be Manfriend.  The family wants to put its best bathroom forward.

I couldn’t remember what Dad’s brother Tony once taught Dad about love.

“He was engaged to this woman.  Karen Garff.  And one day she disappeared.  They had been spending every day together, but one day, he called her, and she didn’t answer.  She avoided him.  Later he found out she’d been seeing someone else.  He was heartbroken.  That’s why he went to Europe.

“My parents didn’t want him to go alone, so they sent me.  That’s why I went to Europe before my mission.

“While we were there, he said to me, ‘Jeff, I’m going to tell you the difference between good missionaries and great missionaries.  Good missionaries will come to love the people they teach.  And there will be a moment in which the good missionaries will look into the eyes of the people they teach and love—and the missionaries will know that the people they’re teaching know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  And the people being taught will know that the missionaries know that they, the people being taught, know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  But the next time those good missionaries come to the door of those people, they may find that all of the pamphlets they’d given them are stacked on the doorstep.  The Book of Mormon they gave them may be on the doorstep too.  There may be a note that says We Never Want to See You Again.  And when that happens, the missionaries’ hearts will break.

‘But if those good missionaries are great missionaries, they will go home and will try to love again.  They will try to be open to the next people they teach, and love them too, even though they were hurt by the people they taught and loved before.’”

My father was quiet on the phone for a moment.  Then he said, “This was beautiful to hear when I could see that Tony was himself trying to prepare his heart to be able to love again.”

They say (and by “they” I mean God) that perfect love casteth out all fear.  I’m realizing that I’ve been thinking the inevitable consequence of love is that fear goes.  That perfect love—if it is, in fact, perfect love—will body check fear, and like a mother hen, with wide hips and broad wings, take over the roost.  And maybe that’s true.

But maybe sometimes we need to push fear out.  We need to push fear out—to let love in.


One of these days I’ll write a post that’s just plain funny.  I promise.