On Linda’s fifth birthday, her daddy brought home a swing set and put it up in the backyard. She could hardly wait for him to bolt all the parts together and hang the seats from the top pole. Swinging was Linda’s favorite playground activity, and now she could swing as often as she wanted. That was important because Linda’s mom was really sick and could not take her to the park or schoolyard much anymore. Linda had no brothers or sisters yet, and there were no neighbor children her age, so she often had to play by herself.
Mom had always been Linda’s best friend. They took walks, read stories, and visited the library together. They drew pictures and sewed clothes for Linda’s dolls. Linda helped Mom do the household chores and weed the garden. She went with her to quilting parties and the grocery store. But not lately. Now Mom spent almost all day in bed. Sometimes Linda sat quietly on her stool beside Mom’s bed while Mom told her stories. Mostly though, Linda found things to do on her own. She felt lonely and a little scared.
Dad usually fixed dinner after he got home from work. One day as Linda helped set the table, he said, “You know that your mom is really sick, Linda.”
“Yes,” she said, wondering what was coming next. Dad looked so tired and worried.
“Well,” he said, taking a deep breath, “your mom has to have an operation.” Dad went on to explain that while Mom was in the hospital, Linda would stay with Sister Beckstram during the day, and Dad would bring her home at night. Mom would be in the hospital for several days.
“Will she be all better then?” Linda asked.
Dad took another big breath. “I don’t know,” he said. “We all hope so. I will give Mom a priesthood blessing before she goes to the hospital. We can both pray for her too. I don’t know yet what Heavenly Father plans for your mom. We have to trust Him to know what’s best.”
Linda felt scared. She realized that Mom might die. It was a hard thing to think about.
That evening Linda went out to her swing set. Maybe swinging would help her feel better. Back and forth she went, pumping her legs until she was swinging as high as she could go. It didn’t help. She was still scared.
A few days later, Mom went to the hospital. She hugged Linda before she got into the car. “It will be all right,” Mom said, kissing Linda’s cheek. “We need to have faith.”
It was a very long day. By the time Dad picked Linda up that night, it seemed as if a week had passed. While Dad fixed dinner, Linda went out to her swing set. She sat, rocking a little, but didn’t really feel like swinging. As she sat there, a clear, strong thought came into her mind—“Sing Primary songs while you swing.”
Linda pushed off and started to swing. As she pumped, she sang “I Am a Child of God.” The big, heavy feeling she had carried around all day seemed to melt away. She sang “I Have a Garden” and “Teach Me to Walk in the Light.” Then she sang “I Am a Child of God” again—all the verses. It was amazing! Linda felt GOOD! The scared feeling was gone. It was as if she could feel Heavenly Father singing with her. There was comfort and peace. Linda knew that her mom would be all right. She knew it. She sang and sang and sang.
Mom had to have many more operations, and Linda often felt scared. With each operation she was afraid that this time Mom would die. But whenever she was worried, Linda remembered the secret she had learned on her swing set. She tried it again and again, and it worked every time. She soon discovered that she really didn’t have to swing; just singing the songs of the gospel gave her peace. As she got older, she learned more songs. She could sing for a long time without repeating herself. She just kept singing until the scared feeling went away.
Years later, Linda discovered a wonderful scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants: “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads” (D&C 25:12).
“That’s exactly what happened to me,” Linda thought. “My songs were prayers, and Heavenly Father always answered them while I was still singing.” Still later, she realized that it had been the Holy Ghost who first whispered the idea of singing to her as she sat on her swing so sad and scared. What a wonderful secret He shared with her—a secret Linda has never forgotten.
“Hymns can lift our spirits, give us courage, and … bring us a spirit of peace.”
Hymns, First Presidency Preface, x.