Think of the last time you experienced joy. Real joy – not the thrill of a roller-coaster, or when you aced a test or got a raise at work. I’m talking about the kind of deep joy that seems to warm your entire soul. The kind of sensation that makes you feel as if the heavens have opened and a loving God is encircling you in his arms. That is joy. And often times it is through another person that enables us to feel our Savior’s love.
I recently witnessed a touching example of kindness that exemplified the Savior’s loving warmth and healing touch that brings true joy.
I am privileged to serve as an advisor to the Lehi, Utah area Special Needs Mutual to over a hundred mentally differently-abled teens and adults. Once a week my life is deeply blessed as I learn lessons from angels-on-earth whose differently-abled abilities, and humility invite the Spirit. Their loving presence adds a new dimension of faith, courage, patience, love, and individual worth.
At the close of the evening, I was waiting in the foyer for everyone to be picked up when I noticed Suzy, a darling girl who happens to have downs syndrome, sitting on the couch, hunched over with her head buried in her arm, crying. Before I could make my way over to her, Stewart, a young man who also happens to have down syndrome, put his hand on her shoulder and asked if she was okay. Suzy shook her head no. He then quickly sat down next to her and started to rub her back and tell her everything was going to be okay. She turned toward him snuggling into his chest which subdued her cries.
With his arm now around her, he turned to me and said, “I’m helping her because she is sad.” He continued to whisper as he patted her shoulder; “It’s okay, it’s okay.”
This sweet boy reached out in love and kindness as talked about in Mosiah 18:8-9,
“...and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light. …and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”
Another recent example came after the announcement of the new LDS church handbook policy changes, I began hearing from SSA/LGBT individuals, friends and family who said they had experienced an increase of love and outreach from neighbors, friends, colleagues and ward members during this difficult time. Bravo and thank you. But sadly, this isn’t the case for everyone, so I ask you to be the person who makes the difference by reaching out in greater kindness to your neighbors, family memebers and co-workers who may be deeply hurting. There are many, many, too many people in a dark place, contemplating suicide – please, please don’t let this be anyone’s outcome.
Hug. take a plate of cookies, send flowers, invite individuals and families over to dinner. Show love like your life depended on it – to the hurting it does.
I believe our actions, facilitated by prayer, is to recognize those around us who may be suffering pain or discouragement. What if everything you did and said came from a place of love? We all could do a bit better in this arena, don’t you think? I know I could.
Yes, there will be times when you feel discouraged and alone, and when those feelings arise drop to your knees in prayer, seek to know He is there. I testify He lives.
Elder Richard G. Scott’s counsel is precise: “You become an instrument through which the Lord can bless another. The Spirit will let you feel the Savior’s concern and interest, then the warmth and strength of His love” (Ensign, May 1994, p. 9).
And that is joy.