He Knew My Need

It was a lovely Sunday morning, but clouds of despair and discouragement had gathered within me. For weeks, I had felt increasingly unable to cope with numerous personal commitments and still give my family the quality time they needed. The harder I tried to foster a spirit of love and harmony, the more contention increased.

My challenges seemed insurmountably great, and it was with a heavy heart that I sat through the opening exercises of Relief Society. The lesson was on fellowshipping members—the new sister, the inactive sister, the active sister. “Remember,” read the manual, “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” (D&C 18:10.) I thought of the few sisters in our small community, many of them inactive. Once I had felt close to all of them, but after recent rebuffs by two or three sisters, I felt estranged from all of them—even those who were once close friends. I felt drained, empty. Why should I press my friendship on those who didn’t want it?

“Right now,” I thought bleakly, “I’m one of those active sisters who needs fellowship. I can’t even cope with my own family. What makes me think I have anything to offer anybody else?”

When the teacher challenged us to fellowship one sister during the week, I dutifully wrote down a name. “How can I expect the Lord to help me,” I thought, “if I’m not doing my share?” But a wave of hopelessness and guilt washed over me as I stuffed the name into my purse. “I know I’m not going to do anything with this. I have nothing to give. Who would want anything from me, anyway?”

Then the lesson was over. Before I could slip silently out the door, a sister from a neighboring community walked back and sat beside me. “Hey, I know this may sound crazy,” she smiled, “but I’ve had the strongest feeling lately that I need to get better acquainted with you. How about getting together one day this week?”

Before I could answer, a second sister, one from my own community, was at my side. “Are you feeling okay, Kathy?”

I looked at her through rapidly brimming eyes. She put her hand on mine. The tears I had fought back all morning now began to fall, but my spirit soared, and I nodded in answer to her question.

I had not felt able to cope, nor worthy to ask the Lord for help. Yet he had known my anguish, and these sisters had answered his call. How could I not cope, I realized, with him on my side! Kathleen Pederson Whitworth, Beaumont, Texas

Singing Brought Us Together

When our stake offered to house a group of Saints from Mexico who were coming to Salt Lake City to attend the temple for a week, we agreed to have at least two guests in our home. No one in my family knew a word of Spanish, and I was concerned about communicating with them. The day soon came when my husband ushered in two smiling guests, a man and his wife, who greeted me with “Buenos Dias!” They knew no English—not a word. My heart sank. How would I get through the week?

The first evening, a friend who could speak some Spanish interpreted for us. The next evening she wasn’t available, and I felt self-conscious as my guests sat and watched me preparing dinner, clearing up, and puttering around at other chores. Unconsciously, and I suppose to help break the silence, I began humming a hymn.

Immediately Brother Regino’s eyes lit up. He started singing the same hymn in Spanish and finished the song with me. He started another familiar hymn, and I joined him with English. His wife and my family soon joined us, and with delighted smiles we continued singing until we exhausted all the songs we knew. By then we felt the warmth of being close to one another, even without knowing the other’s language.

I have always cherished that week the Mexican Saints were with us, because I learned one important thing—that people who share the gospel of Jesus Christ are “of one heart and of one soul” (Acts 4:32), and language is no longer a barrier. Wanda West Badger, Salt Lake City, Utah

L O V E Spells …

It had been a particularly bad day at home, and I was finally out of patience. I had tried everything I could think of to keep the kids under control, but nothing had worked. Frustrated, I sat down at the kitchen table. Almost pleadingly, I prayed to my Heavenly Father, “There has to be some way to get through to the kids!”

As I sat there, my gaze was attracted to the window above the sink where I had set a small red sign with large white letters. It was a handout that my oldest daughter had received in Primary about a week before. All it said was LOVE. L-O-V-E. Suddenly, the letters stood out and into my mind came the words, “Love Overcomes Virtually Everything.” I knew that Heavenly Father had answered my prayer.

Since that day, in any situation that has seemed practically insurmountable, the letters of that word have come back to give me renewed hope and direction. Marie Decker, West Jordan, Utah

Writing Gave Me Perspective

While I hope that someday my journal will be of value to my posterity, one of my primary purposes in keeping my journal is to help me.

As a full-time wife and mother of four young children, I find that my work rewards are very subtle and can be easily dismissed or overlooked altogether. Recognition is rare and salary increases are nonexistent. I often feel inadequate. These feelings sometimes overshadow my strengths and cause me to doubt myself as a worthwhile person. My journal helps me combat these feelings.

In my journal, I write the small successes and triumphs that I would be hesitant or embarrassed to share with someone else. These “victories”—the elation I felt when our daughter learned to read after so much work for her, for example—serve as a partial measure of my growth as a mother and a woman.

I also include my disappointments and failures. Writing of my hurt over something a child said actually lessens my feelings of discouragement by placing the remark in the proper light. With the perspective gained by a few hours, some experiences even become funny and I can laugh at myself.

I record my hopes and dreams that are still too private or too fragile to voice out loud. I include special acts of kindness by friends and family, and phrases and ideas from sacrament meeting talks, Sunday School and Relief Society lessons, and talks given by General Authorities that especially touched me.

Despite my efforts to thwart it, depression does sometimes come. Recognizing this attitude, I turn to my journal to find similar times in my life. Inevitably, these passages are followed by entries describing a “lifting of the cloud.” Remembering that the depression is temporary helps me deal with it.

Writing in my journal at the end of the day causes me to examine and evaluate what has happened. During the day, I often miss the significance of some important events. This is also a time for introspection and personal revelation. If I am upset about something that happened or concerned over how I handled a certain problem, this is a quiet time to see how I might have been more effective or more compassionate.

Keeping a journal does not change my day’s events; it does, however, combined with prayer, help me better understand and deal with my feelings about those events. Acknowledging these feelings allows me to more fully accept myself, with all my strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps this acceptance of self is the greatest benefit of all for me in keeping a journal. Jane McBride Choate, Loveland, Colorado

[illustrations] Illustrated by Robert Noyce