I Noticed Them Not

Shelli Proffitt Howells, California, USA

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    While recently reading the Book of Mormon, I came upon the following admonition: “Why do ye … suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?” (Mormon 8:39).

    Instead of feeling the peace and comfort I usually find in the scriptures, I was overcome by a lingering feeling of sadness. I had long recognized that I am not a particularly observant person. I had allowed myself to get so involved in my life, my callings, and my family that I just didn’t notice the challenges other people were having.

    I knew I wasn’t doing all I could “to bear one another’s burdens, that they [might] be light; … to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:8–9). I wanted to change; I wanted to be better. I simply didn’t know how. I prayed that the Lord would help me.

    My answer came in an unexpected and unwanted way when I contracted a chronic illness. It slowly took away all my cumbersome busyness. As the disease progressed, I had to give up my outside activities, my callings, and my Church attendance. I’m housebound, I’m lonely, and I feel unnoticed.

    I pray that someday the Lord will heal me. When He does, I promise myself that I will never be so blind again. When I arrive at church, I will look to see who is sitting alone and who is not attending that day. I will take time each week to overcome my shyness and visit somebody who is sick or afflicted or just in need of a friend. I will love my brothers and sisters every day—not just on Sunday or during Church activities.

    I will remember and, I hope, be worthy to hear the Lord’s approbation: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).