Instant Messages

By Jonathan H. Westover


Ready to Serve

It was the Saturday night following a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I lived in off‑campus housing about a 10‑minute walk from Brigham Young University, and few students were around. I didn’t have much to do that night, so I was flipping through channels when I came across a movie that had just started. It took a few minutes to realize that the movie was less than appropriate, and for a minute I thought, “What’s the big deal? No one is around. After all, it is on TV, so all of the worst parts must be edited.” However, the Spirit nagged me a bit, and I finally relented and decided to turn off the TV and read a book.

About half an hour later I heard a knock at the door. It was one of the other students from my student ward who lived in the neighboring apartment complex. He told me that one of the girls he home taught was sick and needed a blessing. He had spent the last 30 minutes calling members of the elders quorum and knocking on doors, trying to find someone who was both home and able to help give a blessing. Finally he had come to my door. I agreed to help, quickly got changed into Sunday dress, and then walked with him over to the girl’s apartment.

When we arrived at the apartment, it was readily apparent that things were not well. Immediately we went over to the ill girl lying on the couch and prepared to administer a blessing.

As I addressed the girl by name and prayed on her behalf, I found myself making promises of restored health and providing words of comfort that were not my own. I closed in the name of Jesus Christ, and as we opened our eyes, I saw a huge smile on the ill girl’s face. She thanked me for the blessing. She soon recovered from her illness and was able to get back to her studies and finish the semester.

As I reflect back on that experience, I feel a great deal of gratitude for the priesthood and the opportunity to be a priesthood holder. I am grateful for the promptings of the Spirit, who knew that I would be needed and helped me remain spiritually ready by making the right choice. I know that as we remain worthy, we will have the Spirit to direct and guide our path, that we might be ready and able to serve those around us.

Singing for Grandpa

When my dad was young, Grandpa taught his family to memorize songs while they drove on long road trips. Grandpa’s favorite hymn was “I Stand All Amazed.”

That would be the opening hymn the wintry day my family filed into the funeral chapel behind Grandpa’s casket. Unlike my dad’s family, I have a hard time singing. I don’t memorize lyrics easily, and if I can’t read the notes, my weak alto voice struggles to stay on key.

I took my seat behind the podium because I would be giving the eulogy after the hymn and prayer. As the music began, I looked around, dismayed to realize there were no hymnbooks nearby. I wouldn’t be able to sing Grandpa’s favorite song as we honored him. This small setback seemed to add to my loss, and I worried I might get too emotional to speak.

Timidly I sang the first phrase, certain I couldn’t remember the rest: “I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me.” Then the words and notes started flowing into my mind. I sang all three verses without stumbling or going off-key. As the hymn concluded, I felt the Savior’s love—and my Grandpa’s. I delivered Grandpa’s eulogy, calmed by the Spirit and grateful for the gift I’d just been given.

Though I’ve needed a hymnbook to sing “I Stand All Amazed” ever since, I’m always grateful when I can sing it. My grandpa’s favorite hymn reminds me of the love existing for us beyond the veil.

Choosing My Attitude

I arrived home from babysitting expecting to leave again within a few minutes. Some of my friends from school were in a band, and their concert was that night. Walking through the door, I saw my family seated on the couch, watching a movie and sharing a bowl of popcorn. Looking back, I realize it was a beautiful scene, but in that moment the only thought my mind recognized was of the concert that had already begun.

Anxious to leave, I reminded my parents, the only car-key bearing members of our family, of the time. They were not, however, to be moved. Dad said it was too late at night. Mom told me she still had to hem my brother’s pants before church the next day. They smiled and invited me to join the movie. I stared in disbelief.

I went to my room. I wanted to stand there and scream. I wanted to cry, write negative things in my journal, and listen to loud music. But then I realized that maybe not being able to go to the concert wasn’t that big of a deal. Maybe being downstairs with my family and their popcorn was where I needed to be.

A scripture came to my mind, the scripture mastery verse from Joshua that talks about choosing whom we will serve (see Joshua 24:15). In that moment I realized the Lord has given us agency for a reason—that it’s not just about making good choices. Sometimes decisions are made for us, and when that happens, the choice we have is how we will handle them.

I knew how I would handle mine. I knew whom I would serve.

I turned off my music and ran downstairs, lacing my hand through my mom’s welcoming one.

Illustration by Sam Lawlor, photograph © istock/DNY59