Two members of the Church share a time in their lives when the hymns gave them the courage to move forward.
Helps for Home Evening
Most Ensign articles can be used for family home evening discussions, personal reflection, or teaching the gospel in a variety of settings.
Begin family home evening with a hymn family members know by heart. Choose one story from the article to read together. Discuss how the hymns inspired the person in the story, and ask family members to share a time when the hymns strengthened them. Testify that having the hymns in our minds and hearts can help us through our trials.
Deciding to Serve
As a child, our oldest son, Brian, never liked to sing. Period. No exceptions. I love music and felt the need to do something to encourage him to pay attention to the profound messages of the hymns. Reminding Brian that the song of the righteous is a prayer to the Lord (see D&C 25:12), I encouraged him to follow my finger with his eyes as I ran my finger along the words. While the congregation sang the hymns, Brian read them, and I felt that he was, in his own way, offering a prayer to the Lord.
As our four children reached adulthood, our youngest son, Jeff, made the decision to serve a mission and was called to the Idaho Pocatello Mission. Jeff had been on his mission for about six months when my husband, daughter, and I joined Brian, the nonsinger, for sacrament meeting in his singles ward. Brian had recently graduated from college but had not committed to going on a mission. Similar to his aversion to singing out loud, he feared public speaking to the point of being petrified at the thought of speaking in front of people as a missionary.
That day in sacrament meeting three young people who were preparing to leave on missions gave inspiring talks. When the congregation began singing the closing hymn, “I Believe in Christ” (Hymns, no. 134), I smiled at my now-grown son Brian and reverted back to my old technique of running my finger beneath the words. It immediately brought a grin to both of us. Then as we sang the third verse and I ran my finger beneath the words, I noticed a subtle change in Brian as he read the verse:
I glanced at Brian and found that he was fighting back the tears. At first I was afraid that something was wrong, but then I felt a swelling in my soul and my own eyes began to fill with tears. The Spirit was strong; I felt as if Brian and I had been engulfed in it, although I did not understand why it was happening.
After the closing prayer, my husband, daughter, and I quickly left the chapel with Brian, who was still visibly moved and unable to speak. He and I went to his car and sat quietly. When he could finally gather his emotions, he whispered, “I need to do what Jeff is doing.” I said, “You mean go on a mission?” He responded humbly and tearfully, “Yes.”
I began to cry too, and we both embraced each other and rejoiced. Brian told me that during the hymn his heart had begun to swell, and he had literally felt that “the Spirit of God like a fire [was] burning” (Hymns, no. 2). It was a testimony to him that he needed to serve a mission. He could no longer delay or deny the prompting.
After he made that momentous decision, Brian met with his bishop and began the application process. He received a call and served two rewarding years in the England London South Mission, where—with the help of the Lord—he learned to both sing and speak publicly without fear.
Sowing Seeds of Love
As the mother of three young children and a newborn baby, I found that my motherhood experience was not turning out the way I had expected. Our second child, five-year-old Samuel, was severely autistic, which meant I had to deal with some very challenging behavior. I desperately wanted to become the patient, kind, and long-suffering mother I knew I needed to be for my children, but as Samuel’s behavior worsened, I seemed to be snapping at my other children almost constantly. Despite starting each day with good intentions and renewed determination, I would reach each evening with the usual sense of despair at my dismal failure to curb my temper and improve my behavior toward my young family. I was physically and emotionally exhausted, and I felt completely unequal to the calling of motherhood.
One Sunday morning as I arrived late to Relief Society, our music director announced that we would be singing hymn number 216, “We Are Sowing.” Having grown up as a member of the Church, I was familiar with this hymn and had always associated it with missionary work and sharing the gospel.
We had barely reached the end of the second line when the words took on a new meaning for me and my emotions prevented me from continuing to sing. At that time my son certainly felt like the “dry, unyielding plain” the hymn described, and my relationship with my eldest daughter was rapidly becoming a “lonely mountain glen.” I thought about what seeds I was sowing in the “rich, brown furrows” of my children’s hearts, and I realized that through my words and actions I would sow in them either spiritual weakness or spiritual strength.
As the hymn progressed, the Holy Spirit continued His quiet tutoring within my heart. I learned that I needed to stop thoughtlessly sowing my words. I needed to temper my tongue and sow my actions with “tears and love and prayer.” I needed to sow for my children a childhood of the praise, acceptance, and love that would fill them with the “fruit of life eternal.”
Since that day my prayer has become, “Thou who knowest all [my] weakness, leave [me] not to sow alone!” My life is still filled with many of the same challenges, but this simple hymn gave me the courage to lean on the Lord as He helps me change my attitudes and behavior so I can be the mother I want to be. I now have this wonderful hymn posted in my kitchen beside pictures of my children, and when I read the words, I feel my commitment to motherhood renewed.