Thursday, March 26, 2015

The 5 Words That Changed My Life!

A few years ago I read a BYU devotional talk entitled "Personal Ministry: Sacred and Precious" given by Sister Bonnie D. Parkin. At the time she gave this talk, Sister Parkin was the Relief Society General President for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

To put it simply, this talk changed my life. Well, to be more accurate, 5 words in that talk changed my life.

This is how the talk begins:

My daughter-in-law’s mother, Susan, was a wonderful seamstress. President Kimball lived in their ward. One Sunday, Susan noticed that he had a new suit. Her father had recently returned from a trip to New York and had brought her some exquisite silk fabric. Susan thought that fabric would make a handsome tie to go with President Kimball’s new suit. So on Monday she made the tie. She wrapped it in tissue paper and walked up the block to President Kimball’s home.

On her way to the front door, she suddenly stopped and thought, “Who am I to make a tie for the prophet? He probably has plenty of them.” Deciding she had made a mistake, she turned to leave.
Just then Sister Kimball opened the front door and said, “Oh, Susan!”

Stumbling all over herself, Susan said, “I saw President Kimball in his new suit on Sunday. Dad just brought me some silk from New York . . . and so I made him a tie.”

Before Susan could continue, Sister Kimball stopped her, took hold of her shoulders, and said: “Susan, never suppress a generous thought.” 

Did you see 'em? Did you see the 5 words?
If you didn't, I'll write them again...

"...never suppress a generous thought."

 I loved that thought and I started thinking more about it day after day. I wanted to try it out so if I had a thought to send a friend a note, I sent a note. If I had a thought to give someone some money, I gave someone some money. If I had a thought to make someone dinner or offer to babysit some kids or give someone a ride, I did not suppress those generous thoughts. I acted on them and I began to notice something...the more I acted on those thoughts, the more of those thoughts I would receive. 

(Let me say here that there is a risk in putting something like this out into the public. It may seem that I am trying to point out all of the good that I think I do. Trust me when I say, I know the good is being done by the Lord. I'm merely pointing out what can happen when we let the Lord work through us to bless the lives of others. It's all Him...ALL HIM!)


It was fun and exhilarating to feel a prompting to call someone on the phone and then find out that person had really needed that phone call and had even prayed for help that day. The Lord had let me be part of His answer to that person's prayer and I loved it! I felt as if I was constantly on this grand adventure in following the Spirit and serving the Lord. I met wonderful people and had happy, faith promoting experiences that kept me wanting more!


But then the promptings started to change a bit...or maybe I started to change.

One night I was sitting by the door of my 4-year-old daughter's bedroom. She was crying in her bed. Sleep had never been an easy part of her life. From day one, I knew it would be one of our greatest struggles.Yes, I tried all of those methods and read lots of books. At this time, I was trying to let her cry it out while still being close enough, but I was frustrated. It had been a very long day and I might have lost my patience a time or two or ten during the day.

I sat there by the door, with a little bit of frustration but then the Holy Ghost clearly whispered, "Go to her." I fought it, thinking it was just me giving in and I was bound and determined to stick with the "book's" instructions. But then the Holy Ghost knew exactly what to say to me, "That was a generous thought I just gave you."

My mouth dropped open and I knew He was right.

I got up and snuggled up with my crying, sleepless girl and just loved her and let her know that everything was gong to be okay. What followed was a sweet experience as a mommy apologized for the events of the day, and then talked with her 4-year-old daughter about life and love and our Father in Heaven. She even asked me some very deep questions during that snuggle that I would have missed if I had dug in my heels and refused to see that impression for what it really was.

From that moment on, I started to see generous thoughts as not just opportunities to give stuff and money and time and tangible things. I started to see them as simply loving, forgiving, sustaining, teaching and being on the Lord's errand.

The generous thoughts kept coming but they were different now. They required more sacrifice, more courage, more hard work and more faith.

Case in point:

One day I was driving home from the gym (Don't be too impressed. That was an unusual occurrence which only made this situation more of a divine intervention than a coincidence.) at 6:15am and drove passed a little woman sitting on the side of the road on her walker. It was 6:15 AM! What was she doing? The Holy Ghost whispered, 

"Stop and help her."

"No."

"Stop and help her."

"I have to get my kids off to school."

By this time I had driven passed her. "Turn around and go help her."

"The truth is that I'm scared. She doesn't look like someone I would usually associate with." (I'm embarrassed to write that, but its the truth.)

"Turn around."

I turned around and pulled up beside her and said, "Do you need some help?"

"Yes! I could use a ride back to my trailer." 

I pulled into the parking lot right next to her and got out of the car. I opened the passenger door and reached for her walker so that I could put it in the back of my car. I was overwhelmed with the stench of cigarette smoke and the lack of a bath for far too long. I got back in the car to take her home and she said, "You must go to church! You must be a Christian!"

"Well, yes I am! I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Would you like to come to church with me this week?" (Where was my boldness coming from?)

"Mormons? No! I hate Mormons!"

That was 2 years ago. That grumpy little old lady on the side of the road has now become a good friend who comes over to my house for dinner on Sundays, plays games with my children and gives us many opportunities to serve. She was even baptized (!) and comes to church every week with us. She still often smells the same and she still lives in the teeniest little trailer I've ever seen. But she has changed me. Our Father has helped me see her, the real her, and it is my honor to serve her. He has told me to love her, just love her. And so that is what I try to do.

Generous thoughts come for all sorts of reasons and at all sorts of levels. I have learned some very important lessons about serving the Lord. Sometimes, when we act on generous thoughts, we will not always be doing something that is warm and fuzzy and the results will not always be wrapped up in bright pretty packages. Sometimes generous thoughts will lead us to unexpected places and present us with opportunities that require great courage and will ask us to step out of our comfort zones...way out of our comfort zones. 


Another thing I've learned about generous thoughts is that the results will not always be what you first envisioned. In fact, sometimes, it may look like you have made a terrible mistake or made matters worse. Hang in there, keep your eyes open for the Lord's plan and remember that He works in mysterious ways. He sees what you do not see and knows what you do not know. As long as you are not breaking the commandments or the covenants you made at baptism, trust Him. He can make such beautiful things come out of chaos. (The universe for instance!) 


The reality is, the two most generous thoughts in the history of the universe were just like this. When our Father sent His beloved son to earth, knowing how He would be treated and the pain He would suffer, was that not a generous thought? Wasn't He thinking of us and how much He loved us and how we wouldn't be able to return Home if He didn't act on that generous thought?


Moreover, who can think of a more generous thought than that of our Savior as He suffered in Gethsemane and on the cross? That was done for no other reason than to help us, every single one of us, because of His astounding love for us. Aren't we grateful our Father in Heaven and our elder Brother Jesus Christ did not suppress those generous thoughts, even though it meant things were going to be harder than any of us can comprehend?

You see, sometimes generous thoughts require us to do hard things. They almost never come at convenient times and often you are asked to do something smell or messy or scary. Sometimes generous thoughts are tangible and sometimes they are spiritual. Sometimes you will be asked to deal with situations that not many people would be part of - except for Jesus Christ. (Remember that last part when He asks you to respond to one of those particular generous thoughts. He gave it to you because He trusts you.)

 You can choose to accept the opportunity of acting on those generous thoughts or not. The Savior will love you the same no matter what you choose. It has been my experience, however, that when we act on the generous thoughts that require us to dig deep and seek the Lord's sustaining companionship, those are the greatest adventures of all and those are the times when you feel closer to the Savior than ever before. It kinda makes you want those kind of opportunities all of the time and it makes you appreciate the sweet, simple, warm and fuzzy opportunities more.

 Never suppress generous thoughts....especially the ones that take guts!

I am not perfect at this yet. There are many generous thoughts I do not act on, for many different reasons. Sometimes my mortalness gets in the way and I forget and have to be reminded how wonderful it can be to follow those promptings. I'm getting better though and I hope I'm helping my children learn.

Jesus Christ will return again someday...someday soon. Until then there is work to be done and volunteers are needed! If you choose to join the ranks, start following every prompting EVERY PROMPTING. You'll learn and you will make some mistakes and you will realize you still have a lot to learn but you will find you and your family being part of grand adventures with the Savior as your guide! You will watch Him working in the lives of others and in turn you will see Him working in your life and you will know how wonderful He is and how in charge He really is and how He really does have everything under control. 

Never suppress a generous thought...

He never does.

1 comment:

  1. That is one of the things I love about you! You are always trying to be in tune to the Spirit! I love you and I am so grateful you shared this with the world.

    ReplyDelete

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