Nobody Saw Me Do It
A trip I took to New Zealand with some close friends was a great experience in every way, but the repercussions of one particular moment strengthened my testimony of the importance not only of being honest, but of repenting in this life.
We were to return home from New Zealand in three days when I backed into a parked car in our hotel parking lot. The damage was minor, scraping off a square inch of paint on the other car’s left rear side. But my heart sank as I thought of my responsibility and of the four dollars I had left to my name.
No one except a friend accompanying me had seen the accident, as it was late at night. A series of thoughts went through my mind as I walked to my room:
“This sort of thing happens all the time, and no one ever worries about it. No body damage was done to the car. No one could possibly know who had done it. I don’t have any money. What if this person tries to take advantage of the situation and charges me hundreds of dollars for a new paint job?”
I entered my room and immediately got down on my knees, intending to ask Heavenly Father to let me know that not doing anything about the situation would be all right. But the second I closed my eyes, I knew I couldn’t ask Heavenly Father to condone something that was wrong. Instead, I quickly asked him to help me do what was right.
Without even waiting for the answer I had known all along, I immediately got up from my knees and wrote a quick note explaining what I had done and where the damage was. I included my room number and asked the owner to please contact me. I slept well that night, realizing that the result didn’t matter: somehow I would make the appropriate amends for my actions.
The next morning, a very nice-looking man knocked on my door, the note in his hand. He quickly let me know that the damage was nothing to be concerned about and that he was surprised and pleased that anyone would have bothered to leave a note.
“Are you sure?” I asked, explaining that I wanted to do the right thing. He reassured me that I need not worry about it, and left.
What would have happened had I not taken these steps? I never would have been able to make amends to that man. One month later while watching a similar accident on television with my family, I received another reward besides that of peace of mind.
“That’s what I did in New Zealand,” I said to my husband, who was already familiar with the incident.
When my oldest daughter asked what I had done about it, I seriously explained that it was late at night and that, since no one had seen me, I went to my room. My list of rationalizations followed.
“Mother,” she said, looking me straight in the eye, “I know you, and you would never do that!”
Her faith in me made me eternally grateful I had repented of my error while in New Zealand. Perhaps it’s like repentance in this life instead of the next: restitution for my actions was fast and physically easy because the man and car were right there. I could simply ask him what I needed to do—and do it.
Had I tried to repent later, the process would have been longer and more difficult because I never could have made restitution. I would have had to find another way through much prayer and deliberation. I am grateful that I repented quickly of my error and didn’t disappoint myself or my daughter.
The Physician’s Faith
One day in 1945, my mother encountered our former bishop, Nicholas G. Smith, on the street. He inquired about our family and, upon learning that I was pregnant, asked Mother if she thought I would like a blessing, to which she replied that I would. At that time, Brother Smith was serving as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve.
He came by my mother’s house that evening, as promised, and laid his hands upon my head. While I don’t recall everything he said, one part of the blessing stands out vividly: “I bless you that this child,” he began, and then paused. I felt his hands tremble. When he began again, he said, “I bless you that this child, or children, will be born without any complications and that they will be a comfort to you.”
After Brother Smith left, my family and I discussed what had transpired and what it could mean. I asked my physician, Dr. Morgan Coombs, about the possibility of twins.
“There’s no indication of twins,” he said as he shook his head.
“Someone doesn’t agree with you,” I replied, and told him about Brother Smith’s blessing.
“Well,” replied Dr. Coombs, “that’s good enough for me. I’m sending you down for X rays.”
The X rays, reported Dr. Coombs the next day, showed only one baby. “I have looked at them from every angle,” he said.
A few minutes after our conversation ended, my water broke and I went into labor. In the hospital delivery room, Dr. Coombs asked one of the attending nurses to obtain two sets of sterilized instruments and baby supplies, despite her protests that the X rays showed only one baby.
“I don’t care about X rays. I want two sets of everything,” he said, and cautioned those attending the delivery that “when the first baby comes, you be ready for the second baby.”
I delivered two healthy baby boys and named one of them in honor of Dr. Coombs. Because of him, the hospital staff was prepared for twins—an important preparation since the second baby was born breech.
The night of the delivery, Mother called Brother Smith at his office and told him that all had gone well with the twins.
“Twins?” He sounded somewhat surprised. “That’s really something. Were you expecting them?”
“Not until your blessing,” Mother replied.
“My blessing? What did I say in my blessing?” he asked.
After Mother related the story, he said, “It’s interesting you would call tonight. I have a young couple sitting across from me who just asked if there was anything to priesthood blessings. You just gave me my answer.”
Three Dollars till Payday
I had just started my career as a nurse’s aide in the fall of 1969, and my wages were small. During one particular week, I had three and a half dollars to last from Monday to Friday.
That Monday, my friend and visiting teaching companion asked me to accompany her to the temple. Because this would be my first trip back to the temple since receiving my endowment, I had no temple clothing and would need to rent some, the cost of which would come to three dollars. “What should I do?” I thought. I prayed and finally made up my mind to go.
The following day I was tending my little granddaughter when she asked me for a drink of milk. I had no milk in the house, so I took her to the store with my fifty cents. After buying the milk, we walked back to my house; but when we got to the driveway, I had a strong impression to go back to the street corner.
We arrived to discover a pile of trash. When I looked down, my eyes fell on a piece of green-and-white paper. I picked it up and carefully unfolded it: two one-dollar bills. My eyes again returned to the ground, and about six inches from where the first bills were lay another piece of green-and-white paper of the same size and shape. I picked it up to find that it was thinner than the first, and carefully unfolded it: a one-dollar bill.
The next day when I went through the temple, I felt a very strong presence with me after receiving the name of the woman for whom I was doing temple work, as if she were there with me until I walked out of the temple doors. I have always felt that she and the Lord made it possible for me to go to the temple and still have money to live on until payday. I will always be grateful for the privilege of doing her work for her and for the blessing that made it possible.
Seized by Panic
“Small Boy Killed by Dogs.” The headline caught my eye as soon as I picked up the newspaper. Suddenly there it was again—that wild fear beyond reason penetrating me like poison. It came with greater and greater frequency and intensity these days, grinding away at the very roots of my sanity.
This is ridiculous, I told myself. I didn’t even know the child. But logic was of no avail. My heart went right on pounding, my throat was dry, and my palms were moist. I was experiencing all the symptoms of a deep emotional trauma, yet nothing had even happened to me. Sympathy for people suffering tragedy was one thing; my present overreaction was in a different category altogether.
It was not normal, I recognized, to be seized by this kind of panic at the misfortune of somebody else, and I had to deal with it soon if it was not to incapacitate me. I was reaching the point where I could no longer enjoy my children. Still, I was powerless to stop the waves of terror that struck me afresh each time I read a newspaper, every time someone mentioned an act of violence.
My fears were so personal that I was embarrassed even to bring myself to discuss them with my husband, though they gnawed at me night and day. I was afraid of kidnappers; I was afraid of rapists. I was afraid of riots, revolution, anarchy, earthquakes, and floods.
Surely, I reasoned further, the Lord didn’t intend for me to suffer such extreme anxiety. There had to be a means of escape, and the only escape could be the Savior. He had always been the anchor of my life, and so I redoubled my faith and prayers for release from my agony. I would feel better for a short time … until the world with all its terrors overwhelmed me once more and I was reduced to a mass of quivering nerves again.
“Give me the strength I need,” I pleaded one day. “Point the way to that ‘peace which passeth understanding.’”
“This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” were the words which leaped into my mind. Fasting! So that was the answer. I felt impressed to turn to the New Testament. In Mark 9:14–29, I read again the account of the father who brought his son to Jesus after the disciples could not cast the evil spirit out of him:
“When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.
“And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead.
“But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.
“And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?
“And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:25–29.)
Now I knew that I was being tormented by evil spirits trying to destroy me through fear, especially through fear for the welfare of my children, an area in which I was particularly vulnerable.
I began my fast. The next day was Sunday. I continued to fast through church services, where I sat with my ten-month-old daughter bouncing on my knee. As the meeting progressed, I felt more and more comfort from the Spirit. When we sang the closing hymn, the song seemed to have been chosen just for me. It spoke of God’s love, his constant care, his watchful eye, his unchanging goodness. Every word sank deep into my consciousness. The Spirit was inviting me through the words of the hymn to cast my burden at the Lord’s feet and trust in him to take care of me and my family. God bears all nature in his hands; surely he would guard his children well, came the message.
I began to sense a blessed relief. My burden was lifted and the evil influence was dispelled as I felt the warmth of the Spirit around me.
Never before had I experienced such an overwhelming assurance of God’s protecting care. The manifestation could not have been more all-encompassing if I had seen a vision. I felt the fire of the Spirit from head to toe. Truly, “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”
As soon as we arrived home from church services, my husband asked, “Why are you so happy today?” The change was that dramatic. I thought at first that I would have to fast every week in order to preserve my newfound peace, but such has not been the case. The baby daughter who bounced on my knee that day is now twenty-two years old, and the Lord’s peace still fills my soul.