During the sacrament at church today, I did a lot of thinking. I was visiting my friend’s home ward because she was giving her mission farewell talk. I thought of her and how she would soon be with the people of San Antonio, Texas. I thought of the people she would meet, and those who would accept the joyous message of the gospel, and of those who wouldn’t. And I felt so much love and appreciation for the people who go out there and at least try to deliver that message.
I thought about how much of our lives can be determined by the seemingly small actions of others. You hear stories about somebody who had been contemplating suicide but received a smile from a stranger and changed their mind. You may have received a simple call from a friend on a day where you just needed it. One small choice while driving can drastically affect the lives of others. Letting someone over when they signal, or cutting them off, are both very small decisions that can make a big difference in the scheme of things.
I thought about how I got where I was sitting this afternoon. I thought about where I am in life and how much happiness I have. The talks were focused on the topic of “burdens.” We all have them. But I understand that they’re needed, and I understand why. How is it that I’m so lucky to have this understanding?
It’s because of others.
I sat and thought about the numerous hands that were placed in my life that made huge differences. I don’t remember exactly how I got invited to church, but I know my friend Ashleigh Haren had a part in it, before she was even my friend.
Her family took me to church every Sunday. They lived two streets down. They probably didn’t consider this to be a very big deal. But they helped me form the habit and the desire to go to church every single week starting from age 7. It’s a habit that I kept after they moved away when I was 13.
My Utah family driving all the way down for my baptism and confirmation... My great-grandparents sending me a subscription to the Friend Magazine when I was little made me aware of what kind of person I wanted to be.
The Duvalls took over as my weekly ride to church. It was totally out of their way for them to come get me, but they did. They sustained my weekly habit until I was 16.
Then I had a license and a car. I kept going every Sunday. People expected me to be there. I needed to be there. Bishop Nielson allowed me to serve as the Laurels President when I was in high school, in spite of struggles he knew I had. Learning to serve in a calling was important to my growth as a member of the church.
My sister Shivani and the Petrell family also took me to church. They invited me to Family Home Evening on a few occasions. The first time I ever saw the picture of Christ in Gethsemane was because it was hanging in their hallway. Aunt Roxanne picked me up for seminary. I already knew the Lord because I felt His presence in their home.
Primary teachers in Sunday school, teachers in Young Women’s… All of these people had a hand in educating me. Some taught me how to even look up a verse in my Book of Mormon. One printed cute little quotes and things to put in my scriptures. Others expressed love to me. They all prepared and prayed and led by example.
Sister Spencer gave me my Young Women’s medallion even though I hadn’t really completed the Personal Progress program. In her infinite wisdom, she felt I deserved and needed that recognition because I didn’t have the same support at home that the other young women had. I still have that medallion, and it means the world to me that she felt I deserved it.
Sister Stefan and Sister Hertzberg so diligently visited my mom. They showed me the meaning of what it was to visit teach, and how to love and serve their visiting teachee. This formed a strong testimony of visiting teaching in my heart, one that I still have and continue to act on in my calling.
All the families at church, loving each other, showing me how it needed to be done... I gained a desire to have that someday.
So many people… I am so overwhelmed by it.
Granted, I was born a “good kid,” as my parents can confirm. I am a blue personality. I am a perfectionist. I have always naturally desired to do what was right; I’ve always had integrity and a desire to achieve. When the opportunity came along to do what I felt I needed to do on Sundays, I readily accepted. But what on earth would I have done if nobody had invited me? What if Ashleigh and her family, and the Petrells, and the Duvalls, and everyone else hadn’t given me the opportunity?
I probably wouldn’t have been sitting at church today. I probably wouldn’t have gone to BYU. I wouldn’t have had a number of the relationships I’ve had, or learned from them or their families. I certainly wouldn’t have the hope and understanding I have in my life. I know a lot of things in my life would be much different, much more difficult.
The balance and focus and direction that I have is due to the gospel. It’s due to those who presented it to me, who invited me in. My fate rested largely in the hands of others. It depended upon the obedience of others, His disciples who were acting on His behalf, being a tool to build His kingdom.
And I am so grateful. I am so grateful the Lord placed these people in my life. I’m so grateful He gave them the courage to invite me. I’m grateful for the people who prepared for church, who were just acting in His name always, making an impact on me without even knowing it. I’m grateful for those who were open to promptings, who were worthy of promptings, and who followed those promptings on my behalf.
I am so blessed. I hope I can bless others also.