The sound of the heater blasts as my music shuffles in the background. A storm rolled in while I was at dinner with some old friends that night. My car was filled with the scent of teriyaki smoke that emanated from my saturated sweater from grilling earlier. It took about an hour to make it home from the average 25 minute drive. Bumper to bumper with limited vision, the snow pounded against the caravan of cars. A thought crossed my mind, "We're in this storm together." As I sat on this thought patiently waiting in traffic I came to the conclusion that this is what life is. It's this snow storm we must pass through on our way home.
Sometimes we may not comprehend or understand the "Why" of things. Why do I feel this way? Why did this happen? or Why am I here? In this moment? The Prophet Lehi explained to his son Jacob, "Thou knowest the greatness of God; and He shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain." (2 Nephi 2:2) Our storms we are in happen directly and indirectly and can occur from our choices or from the decisions of others. More often than not I find that I am my own whirlwind, hurricane or tsunami. Our individual and unique weaknesses are meant to help us trust in our Heavenly Father and grow closer to Him. "I give unto men weakness that they may be humble... For if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)
To consecrate means to set apart and make holy or sacred. As we grow in faith our lives begin to change and our perspective becomes just a little clearer to see through the storms. We set ourselves apart from the things that hinder us whether it be addiction, lack of moral judgement or giving in to influences we're prone to. The light within us grows a little brighter and our smiles a little wider. With each new challenge overcome and weakness strengthened there is an outward reflection of our inward commitment, for Christ will be in our countenance.
Just like the storm I was driving in. I was alone, but I wasn't alone. We are all here together, and need one another. A prayer. A phone call. A visit. The greatest act of charity is to forget oneself and put the needs of another before your own. In any circumstance, turn outward and look upward and "when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." (Luke 22:32) We are all Ohana.
Hurrying through the crosswalk to the seminary building, the fall leaves sailed through the air in the pick-up of the chill wind. Being late was a regular occurrence for me in high school. I flung open the glass doors and got hit, pleasantly with a wall of warm air. Even years after the move from Oahu to Utah I was still convinced I wasn't accustomed to the weather. I scurried up the stairwell to the second floor, peering into the glass on the doors of all the classes that had already started along the way. I arrived at my door, turning the handle slowly as if I could sneak in and no one would notice I was late... again. I take an empty seat near the back of the classroom showing up just in time for the lesson.
My teacher announced that this morning we were going to do something different. He pulled out the classroom phone and placed it on the desk in front of him. "Today each of you are going to call your parents on speaker and tell them how much you love them." (Years later I discovered I suffer from social anxiety - probably why I was always late and uncomfortable in all my classes.) Students were called and my heart pounding was the only sound I could hear. As I tried to focus I listened to a few of my other classmates calls. They were sweet with responses of "Oh I love you too" and "That made my day honey." My eyes widen and sweat starts to bead on my forehead as I hear my name. My heart sinks to my stomach and keeps dropping like its fallen into an endless pit. I slowly make my way up to the front, hands shaking as I struggle to find the keys that make up my parents phone number.
The phone rings, and with every ring I silently say a prayer that I hear the answering machine and can just leave a message. The ringing stops and I hear my fathers voice on the other end. "Hello?"
"Hey dad, its me"
"Yeah, Im just calling to say I love you dad."
An awkward pause.
"Is everything ok?"
"Yeah dad, Im just calling to tell you I love you."
"Hang on, let me go get mom."
The room fills with laughter and I turn bright red. One of the most embarrassing moments for me turned out to be one of the greatest lessons I've carried throughout my life. How much do we lack in letting the people closest to us know that we love them? We know how we feel, but do they?
"We should remember that saying 'I Love You' is only a beginning. We need to say it, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to show it."
-Elder David A. Bednar
Many of us know of someone who may struggle silently and needs to feel the presence and love of our Savior. They need to know that He is aware and it is our responsibility to remind them. "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other." - President Spencer W. Kimball
The Gospel of Christ is intended to empower us to act. We keep commandments and covenants because we love. We sanctify ourselves because we love. We serve because we love. And "We love Him, because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19) While the Pharisees were in commotion over WHO was right they failed to see WHAT was right, as they questioned the Savior, "Master which is the greatest commandment in the law?" And He replied, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God... And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matthew 22:36-39) Heavenly Father commands us to love regardless of who they are, what they have done or where they are at in their lives. As we reach out in love to those in need our own burdens become a little lighter, our steps a little less heavy and our hearts a little more full. Let us say, mean and show love to others, for "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35) It could be the answer someone is looking for and the difference they need.