Tara let the soft strains of the prelude music wrap themselves around her. Slowly she felt herself relax. People whispered, feet scuffled, but she heard only the muted notes of the organ.
The bishop stood and welcomed everyone to sacrament meeting. Tara looked around. All around her were families—mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. Everyone had someone. All except her. She was alone.
The Millers, who picked her up every week, had invited Tara to sit with their family, and Tara did, but it wasn’t the same as sitting with one’s very own family.
Tara listened to the talks and the prayers, but it was the music that touched her in a way she didn’t fully understand. She only knew that it made her feel warm and peaceful inside.
She’d been baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints six months ago. Since then, she’d attended church every Sunday. There was so much to learn that sometimes she felt overwhelmed.
But she kept coming back, wanting that sweet feeling she had whenever she entered the church. If only her parents would come with her, just once! If they did, they’d experience the same feelings she had. She just knew it.
She pushed away the thought. Her parents weren’t likely to ever come to church with her. They’d been against her joining the Church in the first place. They’d only agreed to let her be baptized because she’d asked them so many times. She was nearly ten now, they’d said, and old enough to make her own decisions.
This morning had been like every other Sunday morning since Tara had started going to church. Her mother had been tight-lipped with disapproval. Her father had barricaded himself behind the Sunday newspaper. Neither had spoken to her as she got ready. When she’d begged them to go with her, their answer was the same as it always had been: No.
In Primary, Tara felt the same spirit she’d had in sacrament meeting. Again, it was the music that sparked something inside her. Why wouldn’t Mom and Dad come and feel it too?
As the Primary children sang “I’m trying to be like Jesus,” tears started rolling down her cheeks. She brushed them away, hoping no one had noticed. She listened to the words. Had she been trying to be like Jesus in how she acted around her parents? Or had she been demanding that her parents believe as she did?
She grew uncomfortable, remembering how she’d tried to pressure them into coming to church with her. She wanted so much to share the gospel with her parents and have them by her side at church that she hadn’t been very loving or patient. Sometimes she even got mad at them for not coming.
During the ride home with the Miller family, she decided, I’m going to practice what the song says. I’m going to try to be like Jesus. She smiled as she let herself into the house.
Humming softly, she changed out of her Sunday clothes. She was still humming as she went downstairs.
She found her father in the living room, lying on the sofa with the newspaper tented over his head. She gently pushed it aside to give him a kiss.
He looked up. “What’s that for?”
“Because I love you and I’m happy.” She smiled at him and then went into the kitchen.
Her mother was stirring something on the stove. She looked up as Tara came in.
“Can I help?” Tara asked.
“Would you set the table, please?”
Tara hummed as she put plates, glasses, and silverware on the table.
“What’s that you’re humming?” her mother asked.
“A song I learned at church.” Tara hesitated. “Would you like to know the words?”
Her mother smiled. “If it makes you this happy, I think I would.”
Tara sang the words, her voice breaking on the last one.
“It’s a beautiful song,” her mother said, a little hitch in her voice. “Are all the songs at your church that pretty?”
“They’re all different,” Tara said. “But most of them make me feel this way.”
“What way is that?” Her mother stopped what she was doing and turned to Tara. She looked like she really wanted to know.
Tara chose her words carefully. “Happy inside. Kind of peaceful.”
Her mother pushed back a strand of hair. “I’d like some of that feeling for our whole family.”
As the family sat down to dinner, Tara felt her mother’s gaze on her. Hesitantly she asked, “Tara, would you give a blessing on the food?”
Tara looked up, surprised. Her family never said a prayer before a meal. She looked at her father. He nodded and said, “Your mother and I have been wanting to start having prayers in our family. This will be a good way to begin to do it, if that’s all right with you.”
Tara smiled peacefully as she bent her head. “Heavenly Father, we thank Thee …”