I believe in angels. Mormons do. We've been ridiculed for this belief. But we still cling to it, because angels are a physical reminder of God's love. This past month, I have had a lot of experience with angels.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland clarified Mormon doctrine on angels in one of my all time favorite talks. He said,
"God has used angels as His emissaries in conveying love and concern for His children....Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near. Sometimes their assignments are very grand and have significance for the whole world. Sometimes the messages are more private. Occasionally the angelic purpose is to warn. But most often it is to comfort..."
I believe in unseen angels, truly I feel my mom's presence often. But right now I want to write about living angels. Elder Holland said:
"I have spoken here of heavenly help, of angels dispatched to bless us in time of need. But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods."
Since I've hurt my back so many people have done so much for me and my family. Below is a pillow made by a friend. When I start worrying about whether I'll ever get better, Bill likes to throw it at me.
On Will's nightstand sit the trophies of his many play dates. Not only have my friends taken him for the morning (and sometime the entire day) but they do crafts. He's made Christmas ornaments, painted a picture frame and even made a race car.
Here he is in a knight costume at the park on a day-long play date. Even though my dad told the Ward we didn't need dinners, friends brought them anyhow. One night a couple who didn't know about my injury brought over a bunch of tamales as an early Christmas gift.
Last night the primary children came to my home to sing and act in the Christmas pageant, since I couldn't make the Ward Christmas party. These angels even had halos.
But by far the most angelic service has come from my father.
My injury came at a time when Bill's work was most pressing and he did not have the option of taking time off. My dad canceled everything and has taken over my job. Just today Will told me, "My grandpa is my mom."
My dad makes breakfast, walks the kids to school and back, drives to lessons, does the laundry, makes dinner and does the dishes--all while trying to run a major business. He has been amazing and I so appreciate his help. It has been an honor to be served by him.
It has also been satisfying to have someone who truly understands my daily challenges. The other day he said, "One person can not take care of four children. It is impossible!" When after 19 days Bill finally had a day off, my dad was jubilant. He said he couldn't believe how much easier it was when Bill was around. I replied, "Believe me, I know."
Watching my dad wait for Bill for dinner, I can't help but see the irony. For so many years, it was my dad who was late to dinner. My dad never complains, he understands long hours. Now he also understands the long hours a mother puts in. He keeps talking about my mom. He speaks almost in awe of how hard and for how long she worked. She had it much harder than I do.
Since I became a mother, my gratitude for my mom increases every day. But this injury has given me a greater appreciation for my mom. For the last 10 years of her life my mom lived in a lot of pain. Walking and standing were particularly painful for her. I tried to be understanding, but really I wasn't. It is so hard to see beyond your own experience. I always pushed my mom to walk a little farther--mainly because I wanted her with me. I never understood the price she paid afterward.
This week I started feeling a little better and my dad and I went to the fabric store to get something for a Christmas present. In less the 10 min., I was pretty miserable and trying to hide my pain. I'd been to that same store with my mom many times and remember her leaving early to go sit in the car. I just didn't get it, I couldn't see how just standing could be painful. Now I do. I'm glad for the times when I was understanding and helpful. I wish I had been more.
All of us have limited experiences, we don't really know what others are going through. Someday we might, or we might never. For that reason most acts of service are to some extent acts of faith. We serve without perfectly understanding the trials others face; we serve without perfectly knowing the impact of our actions.
I am grateful to be served by so many. There's a part of me that hesitates to write this because I believe once again I've been blessed and loved far beyond my merit. But I wanted to publicly thank those who have helped me, especially my father. I want to get better so I can serve others as well as I've been served.
Elder Holland closed his talk:
"I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face."
I too,testify of angels.
“I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, . . . my Spirit shall be in your [heart], and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”