Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lessons in love

We had a lovely Relief Society lesson today on 
In the lesson manual was this picture:

I love it. 
Did you read the caption?
"Go about radiating sunshine". 
What I love about it, is that at first glance one would think the young, energietic, blonde would be the one offering the sunshine, right?
But look again.
Who is shining?
Can you even look at the women in bed and not smile?!?
I just want to hug her! 
She is someone the world would look right past, but look what she has to offer?
Pure sunshine!

I'm sure the older women's spirits were lifted by the young lady's efforts to come and see her, 
but I bet ya, that young lady was far more affected by the encounter.
We hear it all the time: that service brings our own problems into perspective. But I think the true value of service is in what we feel-- how the Lord gives us little tastes of His love for others, and how that in turn teaches us of the depths of the love He has for us.

Whenever I think of really learning about the Lords love I think of the 

Mary and Donald.

Although I served my mission on Temple Square, I also served "off the Square" for a time in Idaho City.  The name isn't exactly accurate. It's a very small town, up in the mountains east of Boise. 

Mary and Donald struggled coming out to church due to various health issues. There had been some offensive situations that had also discouraged them from full activity, and Donald when I met him was struggling with some word of wisdom issues.

My companion (oh, she was thee best!) and I would visit with them weekly. Mary would welcome us into their humble home, a fifth wheel Donald had added an enclosed porch onto. Mary would greet us with hugs and her beautiful smile, which always erupted into a little giggles. She never held back her excitement that we had come, and expressed her gratitude multiple times during our brief visits. We would sit at their little table and Mary would treat us with lessons she'd prepared for us out of her old Relief Society manuals. Donald sat near by, at first with the TV softly playing and then eventually with it turned off...we knew he was listening though he never wanted to let on.

We didn't do much teaching, or challenging or committed at Mary and Donald's we just let them know we cared. 

One day Donald told us he'd stopped drinking coffee. We were elated. 

Then in his quiet voice, with his shy face turned down, he said how one night after our visit he decided he would stop drinking coffee. 

"As I got into bed," he said, "it was like I felt a large hand pat me on the back." He looked up at us through his tear-filled eyes, "The Lord loves me don't he?"
We all cried. 
And we assured him, "Yes Donald, the Lord does love you! He loves you so much."

And we felt it. 

We felt the love the Lord had for Mary. Sweet, kind Mary.
And we felt the love the Lord had for Donald. Timid, guarded Donald.

And because we felt his love for them so strong, so unconditional, so full...
we also felt his love for us
He loves us despite all our failings and weaknesses, that we knew all too well.

The picture of me Mary and Donald above, was taken by my friend Desi, on a trip we took back to Idaho City, on one of the rare occasions when neither of us had a new baby to lug along.

I hadn't said much about Mary and Donald before we'd gone to see them, but I had shared how excited I was to see them. 

When we left Desi was visibly moved. First by their humble circumstances, but mostly by the great admiration she saw I had for them. 

"They really are special aren't they, " she concluded. 

"Yup. They really are," I agreed.

"We all are, aren't we." She processed. 

"Yup. We all are. We're all very special."

I'm grateful for people like Mary and Donald who have taught me about true worth, real love, and the nobility within us all. 
 In my mind Donald and Mary might as well be a King and Queen, 
I wish I could remember to look for that divinity in all God's children.
Because it's there. In every one of us.

We just have to look.

We look upon all men as our brothers, all women as our sisters; we look upon the face of every human being that is in the world as a child of our Father, and believe that as each is in the image of the Father, so also each possesses a spark of divinity that if developed will prepare us to return to His presence. …I have never seen a child of God so deep in the gutter that I have not had the impulse to stoop down and lift him up and put him on his feet and start him again. I would like to say I have never seen one of my Father’s children in my life that I have not realized he was my brother and that God loves every one of his children.
    --Pres. George Albert Smith


cc said...Best Blogger Tips

:) what a great lesson! That quote under the picture was never mentioned today, but I noticed and loved it too....especially the radiating sunshine part. The gospel is knowledge, knowledge is light, it's all connected...when we let it work through us and change is, then we can radiate sunshine everywhere we go! :)