Doing Good Works or Being a Christian

I exploded when my thirteen-year-old son Rob refused to take the bulky package to the post office for me. My harsh voice let him know just how uncooperative I thought he was. Even his tears didn’t stop my tirade. Just then an older son quietly picked up the package and said he would do the errand for me.

“Why can’t you be more like your brother?” I asked Rob. He left the room unhappily.

Self-righteously I wondered why it was so difficult to do something nice for someone—the package contained clothes for a needy family I’d read about in a New York newspaper. But a few minutes later, when I knelt to pray for its safe delivery, I was shocked to have this thought come: “Don’t call me Father when you act like that!”

I reviewed the things I’d said so angrily to Robert; I had intentionally hurt him. I hadn’t spoken with love or with the spirit of the Lord. Penitently, I went to find Robert. His forgiveness came readily—with a smile. I went back and prayed again, a chastened petitioner.

I learned a lesson that day: I can never make the Lord partner to an unloving frame of mind, regardless of what “good works” I might think I’m accomplishing. And if I want to be his child and have my gifts acceptable to him, I must act in a spirit of love. Lila M. Selover, Hillsdale, New Jersey

A Hug from Mom

Last Sunday in sacrament meeting I couldn’t stop the tears that came during the closing song, “When upon Life’s Billows.” Just a year and a half before, I had sat next to my mother in Sunday School and this had been the opening song.

As we sang, my mom had slipped her arm around my shoulders and hugged me. In a wave of feeling I still remember, I knew then how much I was loved and that I could never doubt this love.

Though she is no longer with me, I still feel mom’s soft arm around my shoulders and I know that I have felt a love that crosses the boundaries of death. Jane Hulihan, Provo, Utah

[photo] Photography by Eldon K. Linschoten

What if She’s Right?

A few years ago, I attended a January Spiritual Living lesson in Relief Society that has made a marked impression upon my life.

It seems to me that the first Spiritual Living lesson of each new year teaches repentance. I didn’t attend Relief Society that day expecting to learn anything significant or new. However, the teacher presented an idea that was new to me, prompting some deep introspection. Apparently I was not the only one stimulated by her remarks. The room was suddenly alive with questions and comments. Later, outside the meetinghouse, some of the sisters approached me and asked why I hadn’t said something to correct what they thought were misconceptions of the teacher. I could only reply, “Because I’m afraid she might be right. I’m going home to do some further study and find out if she is.”

Over the next several days I reread the lesson from my Relief Society manual and other sources on the subject. A conviction grew in my heart that the message she left with us was true, a message I needed to learn. What a blessing it is to be taught by a dear sister who prepares and teaches her lessons by the Spirit of the Lord! Loraine Tolman Pace, Logan, Utah