When it comes to serving there are the rare opportunities and callings that you just don’t care for, many more that were dreaded but actually turned out to be beloved and then there are some that bless and change your life in incomprehensible ways. How privileged I am to have had several of those opportunities to serve in my life. The most recent has been to serve with my husband, Mike, in a Young Single Adult ward in the Salt Lake Area.
My skills in writing and articulating my thoughts, feelings and insights of the past six and a half years are hopelessly inadequate. How do I begin to identify the men and women who have impacted my life in such a profound way? I marvel at their mastery of gospel principles both in practice and in knowledge. I marvel at their level of strict obedience demonstrated solely on personal motivation and discipline. I marvel at their conviction and testimony of dedicated home and visiting teachers that don’t just “visit,” but strive to become friends with those within their stewardship. I marvel at goodness and kindness and love.
For the past several months I have been studying the life and teachings of the Apostle Paul from the New Testament. Year after year, he fought an uphill battle of trying to reorient the people who were steeped in tradition of outward religious manifestation teaching a more important notion to be inwardly, rather than outwardly converted. He was mocked, hated, spit upon and beaten for his missionary efforts to relay this message of the gospel from our Savior.
Paul, in no uncertain terms, traveled the known world of his time to teach the new notion of pure religion. So what is pure religion? Joseph F. Smith defined pure religion as follows,
“This may be interpreted as meaning that a person who is religious is thoughtful to the unfortunate, and has an inner spirit that prompts to deeds of kindness and to the leading of a blameless life; who is just, truthful; who does not, as Paul says, think more highly of himself than he ought to think; who is affectionate, patient in tribulation, diligent, cheerful, fervent in spirit, hospitable, merciful, and who abhors evil and cleaves to that which is good. The possession of such a spirit and feeling is a true sign that a person is naturally religious.”
In every sense of the word, Pres. Smith’s quote has just described the current and past members of the Winder YSA 2nd and the Winder 19 wards. Each and every week I drove away from the church building feeling not only edified, but uplifted and inspired to do and be better. Thank you, all of you, for your example of pure religion. Thank you for constantly demonstrating the qualities I just listed whether anyone is watching, whether in the confines of your apartment with your roommates, or alone.
Thank you also for allowing us to participate and observe your struggle with a variety of issues. You are strong and capable and demonstrate resilience and the ability to move forward. You demonstrate great courage when your life’s goals do not seem realized and a level of humility as you teach us to trust the Lord’s timing and course for you. You are God’s greatest instruments in building His kingdom and I feel great confidence in the future of the church with you at its helm.
I feel profound gratitude to have served with a husband that magnified his calling every step of the way with a relentless energy for the task. I am grateful for the support of our children who shared the dinner table, holidays and a great deal of family time with members of the congregation. I am thankful to have served with amazing individuals who taught me so much about life, dedication and pure charity. Thank you Kimballs, Burdettes, Ralphs, Hubers along with Jonny Day, Mike Scrogham and Brian Bowers for those precious lessons. Yesterday, I was overwhelmed by the kind gestures of support that we felt at the farewell dinner and by the attendance of so many past and present members of the ward, by all the social media posts and the photo album that will be such a keepsake for us.
One thing I have tried to live by and have tried to teach my kids is that to be a true friend, you should strive to leave those with whom you associate better than you found them. The tables have been turned, I am being left better than I was found. I love you, I admire you and I will never forget you.