“She Wouldn’t Give Up on Me,” Ensign, Feb. 2011, 48–49
When I joined the Church in 1990, I was friendshipped by great families, was given a calling, and felt that I belonged. But a year later, after moving to a new ward, I began to drift away. I stopped attending meetings and started dating a man who was not a member of the Church.
I still believed the Church was true. I just didn’t think I was good enough for it anymore. Then Kathy was assigned as my visiting teacher.
Kathy called every month for the first few months to try to schedule an appointment. Because I always dodged her visits, she started mailing me the Visiting Teaching Message instead. Every month the message would arrive like clockwork. This went on for four years, even after I married my boyfriend and we had two children.
Some months I would throw the message away unread; other months I would read it and then throw it away. When my marriage failed, I found myself with a toddler and an infant to raise alone. I suddenly needed answers. When my monthly Visiting Teaching Message arrived again, I decided to attend church for the first time in ages.
I felt so awkward, as if all my sins were written upon my sleeve. A sister I had known in the young single adult program welcomed me, and we sat down together. Suddenly here came Kathy. I looked away, embarrassed that I had not answered any of her kind notes. She smiled at me, chatted with my neighbor for a moment, and then sat with her husband.
When I got home from work the next day, there was a message from Kathy on the answering machine. I couldn’t call her back. I just knew she wanted to tell me that I wasn’t allowed to come to church anymore, that my sins had been too great. I felt bad that Kathy had to convey this message to me, but I knew it was true. I had no place among the righteous. I couldn’t call her back, but the next evening she called me again.
“I want to apologize,” she said.
Why would Kathy possibly need to apologize to me?
“I didn’t recognize you when I saw you at church on Sunday,” she said. “After sacrament meeting, I asked the sister you were sitting by who you were. By then you had already left. It was so good to see you.”
I was dumbfounded.
“I hope we can sit together the next time you come to church,” Kathy added.
“I’d like that,” I said, suddenly feeling overcome with emotion.
We did sit together the next Sunday—and for many Sundays after that. She served as my inspiration to be a better mother, a better member of the Church, and a better visiting teacher. She always listened patiently, without judging, just as I feel the Savior would.
Kathy sat beside me the day I received my endowment and the day I married my new husband in the temple. She remained my visiting teacher until we moved from the area. Her service blessed my family in ways I’m sure she never could have imagined—all because she wouldn’t give up on me.