woman carrying child and car seat

Illustration by Stan Fellows

I buckled my daughter into the well-worn car seat. Our budget was tight, so I was grateful for the recent hand-me-down. It served as a booster seat since my daughter had outgrown her previous car seat. I looked forward to running errands on that beautiful day.

We pulled into our first stop, the library. As I unstrapped my daughter, I noticed a young Hispanic woman parked next to us. A baby, unable to fully support himself, sat directly on the backseat, hunched into a little ball. The young mother struggled to cinch the seat belt tight enough for his small form. I had two thoughts.

“She doesn’t have a car seat for her baby. I could give her mine.”

And then I talked myself out of it.

“She probably doesn’t speak English. I might offend her. My car seat is awfully worn; maybe she wouldn’t want it. If she did, how would I replace it?”

So I did nothing.

She slipped into the driver’s seat and drove away.

Before I reached the library’s doors, regret engulfed me. I knew I had made the wrong choice, and there was no way to undo it.

I pulled on the doors but they didn’t budge. The library hadn’t opened yet. I spent the rest of my errand run endlessly replaying the scene, haunted by the fact that I had done nothing.

After my last errand, I decided to try the library again. I pulled into the same parking spot as before. To my surprise, I saw the same mother and son parked beside me again. An immense burden lifted from my heart.

This time I acted without hesitation. I unbuckled my child’s car seat and approached the young mother. She didn’t speak English. With gestures, I pointed to her baby and the car seat and her car. Together we buckled the car seat in the car. As I showed her how to use it, I realized I already knew the only Spanish I needed to know: “gracias.”

My heart overflowed with gratitude to a merciful Heavenly Father for giving me a second chance to help a sister in need.

I added one final errand to the list—a nearby thrift store. I buckled in my daughter and drove carefully to the store. In the back corner of the shop, sitting on the floor, was a car seat—identical to the one I had just given away and just as worn. I purchased it, awed and humbled at the morning’s sequence of events.

Through the Savior’s gentle but effective teaching, the lesson had been planted deep into my heart: follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost—the first time.