I Tossed Your Name Aside


Your example of Christlike love continues to influence my life today.

You may not remember me, but I will always remember you.

When I was a young woman, my husband and I moved to a farm near yours. Eventually you were assigned to be my visiting teacher. Although I was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we did not attend church and were definitely not receptive to visits from Church members. When you and your companion first tried to visit me, I made it abundantly clear, using coarse language and threats, that you should never return.

Your short note soon arrived in the mail. You asked for my forgiveness if you had offended me and wrote that you would just like to be good neighbors. You included your name and phone number and told me to call if I ever needed a hand. I chucked the note into a corner with the junk mail, ignoring a small twinge of guilt. My husband and I kept to ourselves, and you did not visit again.

In late spring I called you. My five-month-old baby had rolled off the bed onto a hardwood floor. I was very worried because my little one wasn’t acting as she should. I did not drive and had no car. I couldn’t reach my husband, and all my family and friends lived more than an hour away. Your note still happened to be lying on a pile of papers in the corner.

I was blunt when I called you. “The baby needs to go to the doctor immediately. Can you take us?” I asked. Whatever you were doing that day, you left it and took us to the doctor, who treated the baby for a skull fracture.

You brushed off the sacrifice of time and resources with a simple, “That’s what neighbors are for.” I never forgot your service.

Periodically after that, you offered me rides to town. Kind and helpful, you always said it was no trouble. One afternoon after a shopping trip, you asked if it would be OK if we stopped on the way out of town to pick up some things before you took me home. You seemed hesitant as you explained that the stop would be at the church. You also assured me that your errand could be done later if I would rather not go there. I said it would be fine.

When we arrived at the church you told me I did not need to go in, but I followed you into the building. Despite distancing myself from religion, I was still part of a large, close-knit family that was active in the Church. I often helped my mother with Relief Society functions, so I began to help clean up after this one, too.

Although I attended some Relief Society activities with you after that, I never did allow you to visit me at home, nor did I attend church. A year or so later we moved away.

I’ve forgotten your name, but I’ve always remembered how you made me feel. Many years have passed, and I now marvel at the kindness you showed me. Your friendliness exemplified the love of the Savior. I trace the beginning of my personal testimony to your example.

For about 10 years after I knew you, I continued to avoid Church contacts. I would say or do whatever was necessary to discourage Church members from returning to my home.

But other influences were affecting me. We moved often and for a time lived in a very large city. An older woman in my apartment complex befriended me. She was helpful, concerned, and sincere like you—like my family. And like my own family, she included me in her prayers every day.

When I eventually wanted more in my life, I read many religious books, including the Book of Mormon. I did this privately. No one besides God knew that I was watching and observing, reading and studying, and praying about it all. Eventually I asked my older neighbor her thoughts about religion. I felt a strange delight when she told me she was a Latter-day Saint. She was very surprised to learn that I was too. I knew I had sensed something unique in the family I had grown up in; it was not until I also felt and observed it in others like you and her that I realized its value.

I try now to follow your examples. The love and kindness you showed me are at the core of the doctrine of the Church. Thank you for not hardening your heart against me. Thank you for loving me even when I deliberately set out to offend you. Thank you for being forgiving and kind instead of seeking revenge. Thank you for your simple, selfless example of Christlike love.

[illustration] Illustration by Richard Hull