Saturday, May 12, 2012

21 - My Mother

I could write volumes about the lessons I've learned from my mother. I'll share just one experience here.

When I was younger, perhaps five or six years old, I determined to acquire from the uppermost shelf in the highest kitchen cabinet a glass dish. This was no easy task, but I managed to reach the desired object by pulling a chair close to the counter and standing on a makeshift stack of phone directories and books. I indeed reached the glass dish...and I pulled along with it a glass lid which tumbled precariously to the tiled kitchen floor. The sound of shattering glass was electrifying. The look on my face must have been one of inexpressible horror.

At the time my mom had been looking the other direction talking on the telephone. I was afraid to turn around knowing she surely was not looking in the opposite direction any longer, nor was she continuing her conversation over the telephone. Without turning to meet her gaze, I climbed down from my perch atop the kitchen counter. Hot tears of embarrassment and disappointment began to stream down my face. At length my sobs became uncontrollable.

My years with my infinitely patient and charitable mother should have trained me to expect a different reaction than I did. I was expecting the worst, but as always she reacted with patience and love. Instead of expressing anger or disappointment, she said, in effect, "Alec, this isn't something to get upset about. What have you learned?" She proceeded to help me clean up the mess I made.

Though I don't remember much from my childhood, I recall this experience with tedious detail. It illustrates perfectly the way my mother would respond to later incidents and mistakes in my life of far greater magnitude.

As a teenager I heard the familiar story of young Jonas Salk spilling a glass of milk. His patient mother repeatedly warned him not to place his glass so close to the edge of the table. He didn't listen; the glass spilled. Instead of saying "I told you so!", mother Salk cleaned up young Jonas' mess and amidst his sobs asked gently, "What have you learned?"

As my mind visualized the predicted scene taking place, the patient woman in this story was, to me, more than just a mother—she was my mother.

I am not alone in expressing gratitude for my wonderful mother. What would this world be like were it not for the strong and noble women who make tremendous sacrifices to raise good children? I like the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
May I say to mothers collectively, in the name of the Lord, you are magnificent. You are doing terrifically well. The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust your Father in Heaven has in you.
Thanks, Mom, for being so magnificent. You are doing terrifically well.

Daughters of God, Elder M. Russell Ballard
Because She Is a Mother, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Are We Not All Mothers?, Sheri L. Dew

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

20 - Healing

This is me on December 22, 2011. I had just wrecked my bike on a busy road in Franklin, Tennessee.

Twelve days later, I looked like this—

Isn't it remarkable how quickly the human body can heal itself? For months I've reflected on this pivotal life experience. The seriousness of the injury is not what made this incident memorable; my cuts, scrapes and bruises really were rather minor. Instead, I call this experience pivotal because it deepened my understanding of the healing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

The Savior suffered every pain we have ever endured. The prophet Alma taught—
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. (Alma 7:11)
Physical pain is only part of the picture. Some of the most painful hues and gradients in our lives involve spiritual, mental and emotional deficiencies and damages. These wounds are often more difficult and take more time to heal. 

But they will heal. As we earnestly seek for love and mercy, help and healing, hope and motivation, the Savior through His infinite atonement will heal our broken hearts. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland explained
[H]owever late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines. [T]here is nothing...that you have done that cannot be undone. There is no problem which you cannot overcome. There is no dream that in the unfolding of time and eternity cannot yet be realized.
Where Can I Turn for Peace?, Hymns #129
The Merciful Obtain Mercy, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality, Elder David A. Bednar