Tuesday, February 19, 2008

An Arm Around Her Shoulder and a Hug

I spoke in the Western Hills ward on Sunday, and stayed for the entire block of meetings in order to fulfill a particular assignment from the Stake Presidency. As I was standing in the hallway prior to Priesthood meeting, I noticed one of the sisters I know crying almost hysterically and being comforted by two other sisters. I found out that this sister lost a grandson last week in a particularly difficult way to accept.

Seeing that she was being comforted by others, I started to walk away - but I was struck by my resolution this month. This was exactly the type of situation I had resolved to seek, so I walked over and gave her a hug - and ended up helping to escort her to an empty room, then finding the Relief Society president and helping to arrange for continued help throughout the rest of the meeting schedule.

I was struck by a few things:

1) We shouldn't limit our comforting and mourning to only those situations where no one else is around to provide it (or for only the short time after it initially is needed). Even if it appears that "everything is being taken care of" (or has been taken care of) we still should give whatever we can - even if it only ends up being a token of the fact that we really do care. People who are grieving or mourning or need comfort need to know that everyone around them cares about them; getting help from only the first few who happen to see the need simply isn't enough. In a very real way, mourning and comforting is ideally a community activity - not just one that is isolated to a few.

2) I really don't know if my actions will have a lasting impact on this sister; I do believe they will have a lasting impact on me - and that is not an unimportant thing. It is not selfish to want to feel how I felt as I helped her; it is a good thing.

3) This sister called me yesterday to thank me for being willing to step outside my role as a visiting High Counselor and help her simply in my role as a friend and brother. I hadn't looked at it that way as I hugged her, but I am moved by that statement. There is too much formality and structure sometimes to how we interact with each other. Sometimes we simply need a hug and a shoulder upon which to cry.

I continue to be amazed at how the Lord helps me see opportunities to fulfill my resolutions, when those resolutions are focused on becoming more like Him. I am leaving for Houston on Friday; I am looking forward to whatever I will be able to do and learn there.


Mama D said...

You are right that we should still reach out even if it appears that "everything is being taken care of."

Thank you for caring so much. And for noticing a need and then DOING something about it. You are a wonderful example!

carrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
carrie said...

ray i'm so proud of how you are continually working on your new year's resolutions...especially when many have already given up by now. by some it would be considered an act of courage to approach someone you do not know to offer your sympathy and comfort. so many people are not comfortable dealing with their own feelings let alone reaching out to others. you are growing in leaps and bounds with this and i believe your willingness to not only listen to the Holy Ghost but to follow through on the promptings, no matter how uncomfortable they may seem at first is where and only where that growth can take place. it's the "i think i can" attitude that pushes us to step outside of our own comfort zone and it's that sacrifice that is felt and understood that matters to those receiving it. thanks for sharing your experiences, that we may all take courage in following our individual promptings.

Kevin said...


Good example of what I am trying to be better about in my life. A member of our Stake Presidency has asked us whenever we visit a ward to ask the Lord for guidance about who we can help while we are there. I'm not too good at it yet, but had a chance in my home ward this last week.

A sister, originally from Chile, and married for many years to an American, bore her testimony yesterday. Turns out that two years ago, she had been assaulted in a grocery store express line by a lady who screamed that people like her (read: immigrants and any non-native English speakers) were ruining our country. She struck this sister several times, threw her groceries on the floor, then ran outside to a late model luxury sedan and drove off.

This poor sister was so upset that she couldn't go to the grocery store for several months without her husband. I made sure that I stopped and talked with her in the foyer, expressed my concern and appreciation for her.

I'm thinking about how I can apply some sort of more disciplined way of improving my spiritual life and compassion like you have here. Keep it up, Ray, and I'll follow in your wake.