Anyone who has ever lived with a teenager in the house will commiserate with my husband and I, as we constantly remind our 17-year-old son that he doesn’t yet know what he doesn’t know-he doesn’t know enough yet- and to trust our counsel a bit more.
This week, my journey on the road to Jericho offered me a twist on this advice: I don’t know how to use what I know.
In February of 1999, President Gordon B. Hinckley offered the following advice:
“Every convert who comes into this Church should have an immediate responsibility. It may be ever so small, but it will spell the difference in his life. … I cannot understand why converts aren’t given more responsibility immediately when they come into the Church. The tendency is to say, ‘They don’t know enough.’ Well, take a chance on them. Think of what a chance the Lord has taken on you. Give them something to do, be it ever so small, something that’s specific and by which they will grow. … You will not develop people in this Church unless you give them responsibility.
With the ever-increasing number of converts, we must make an increasingly substantial effort to assist them as they find their way. Every one of them needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God’ (Moro. 6:4). It is our duty and opportunity to provide these things.”
I love President Hinckley—his zest for life, his vivacious love of others, and his unashamed, powerful testimony. I listened to this advice, noted in my journal, and have quoted it many times in the 16 years since he offered it … yet, although I had this knowledge, I didn’t realize how necessary it is until this week.
As I put the finishing touches on my youngest daughter’s butterfly face paint for our congregation’s annual Halloween Trunk or Treat; I asked my teenage daughter to carry the two dozen cupcakes into the van, my son to drive us there, and my tween daughter to please grab the bags of candy for us to hand out. We were rushing to get everyone there and everyone’s costume completed (I was the ‘Ah Yeh!’ girl from a recent Studio C skit—hilarious!) My husband is in the bishopric and would meet us there, since he had an international call that he had to finish before leaving his office.
… I had completely forgotten that I was to give a ride to a recent convert in our congregation, a single girl still in college. Until she sent me a text asking when I’d pick her up. Uh-oh! I was already at the church building, which is 20 minutes away … when the traffic is good, which it now wasn’t, since it was smack-dab in the middle of rush hour! Sighing, I left the kids in charge of Batman (my son), and headed out alone to pick her up.
I thought this was my Good Samaritan act for the week—giving her a ride. I would use my incredible listening skills, be a good friend, then be done. The Lord had other plans.
As we drove back to the activity, we talked about this and that and she shared some of the difficulties she been going through: a recent break-up with her fiancé, finishing her final year of undergrad work, looking for an internship, her parent’s divorce … enough, frankly, to make me want to stay in bed and avoid people. However, here she was, dressed up as one of the happiest witches I had ever seen, excited to go and be with her “church family.”
As I shared about my week as a mom and the things on our family calendar, she offered to come help out at the Halloween party my son and daughter were throwing for their high school orchestra. My first thought, “No thank you, I’ve got it sorted.” Then I asked her, “Why would you want to use your Friday night to help make caramel apples?” Her response startled me, “I want to be useful. Everyone always helps me. I want to help too.”
And I remembered President Hinckley’s counsel that everyone needs a friend, the nourishing of God’s word, and a responsibility.
She didn’t just need to be taken care of and served, she needed to be a vibrant, contributing part of our church family. She needed what I need, to feel that I am a necessary part of a greater whole, that my unique skills are appreciated and valued.
And now I have made a friend. Too often, we view service as something we reach down and do for someone else—rather than as a reaching across to strengthen one another. Together, she and I gripped hands and strengthened each other.
In the same February 1999 talk, President Gordon B. Hinckley shared,
“In a recent press interview I was asked, ‘What brings you the greatest satisfaction as you see the work of the Church today?’
“My response: ‘The most satisfying experience I have is to see what this gospel does for people. It gives them a new outlook on life. It gives them a perspective that they have never felt before. It raises their sights to things noble and divine. Something happens to them that is miraculous to behold. They look to Christ and come alive.’”
I had the knowledge of the gospel. Now through this journey, I am gaining the perspective I never had before—I am having my understanding raised to things more noble and divine than I ever anticipated. To see other’s strengths in the face of incredible adversity as I’ve learned to quiet my judgmental thoughts. To learn from another’s life journeys as I’ve learned to truly listen. To learn that helping each other and allowing others to work with me brings a depth of joy and added happiness to daily life. I am learning to look to Christ with more single-mindedness and I am coming alive more deeply than I imagined through this journey.
Growing up all over the world gave Emlee Taylor an opportunity to see the incredible differences the Lord created in humanity; and even better, the passions we all share as members of the human race: love for family, faith, & a desire to make a difference. Emlee lives life with passion—focusing her time now on raising four children and teaching them to recognize truth and to live true to that truth, regardless of others’ expectations. Emlee is passionately in love with her bestest friend and husband of more than 20 years.