When he was serving as a member of the First Presidency, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf emphasized God’s love for all of His children. He said:
“At times we may even feel insignificant, invisible, alone, or forgotten. But always remember—you matter to Him! . . .
“. . . No matter where you live, no matter how humble your circumstances, how meager your employment, how limited your abilities, how ordinary your appearance, or how little your calling in the Church may appear to you, you are not invisible to your Heavenly Father. He loves you. He knows your humble heart and your acts of love and kindness. Together, they form a lasting testimony of your fidelity and faith. . . .
“God sees you not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “You Matter to Him,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 22).
Our Father in Heaven loves you. He knows you. He is aware of the many challenges you face. You have been given many unique gifts that can be used to bless and serve those around you. Your fellow Church members need you. You are a son or daughter created in Heavenly Father’s image, “entitled through your worthiness to receive revelation to help with your righteous endeavors. You may take upon you the holy name of the Lord. You can qualify to speak in the sacred name of God (see D&C 1:20)” (Russell M. Nelson, “With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible,” Ensign, May 1988, 35).
It is important to keep the Spirit in your home even when you are unable to attend church. Increasing your faith and strengthening your relationship with your Savior, Jesus Christ, and your Father in Heaven is a personal pursuit and should be part of your daily life (see Deuteronomy 6:6–7; Acts 17:11).
There are many ways you can draw closer to your Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, and invite the Spirit into your home. Here are a few suggestions:
- Pray and study the scriptures daily. There are many blessings that will come into your life as you make prayer and scripture study a daily habit. President Thomas S. Monson said, “As we remember prayer and take time to turn to the scriptures, our lives will be infinitely more blessed and our burdens will be made lighter” (“We Never Walk Alone,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 122). The scriptures and other Church materials are available in a variety of accessible formats:
- Audio (audio.ChurchofJesusChrist.org)
- ASL (ASL.ChurchofJesusChrist.org)
- Book of Mormon Stories
- Bible Videos
- Book of Mormon, Braille
- Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, Braille
- DAISY format (DAISY.ChurchofJesusChrist.org)
- Talking Book
- Web Braille (braille.ChurchofJesusChrist.org)
- Make gospel study a personal pursuit. The new Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families is a great tool that will help you and your family to “learn doctrine, strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship.”
- Have the Church brought to you. Ask your local leaders if the sacrament can be brought to you in your home. You can also ask about the possibility of getting an audio recording of Church meetings.
- Honor the Sabbath day. You can strengthen your relationship with your Father in Heaven and with Jesus Christ by keeping the Sabbath day holy even when it is difficult to go to church because of your disability. Prepare during the week so that you can reserve Sunday for uplifting activities appropriate for the Sabbath. Such activities may include studying the scriptures, reading or listening to general conference talks, writing letters, doing family history work, and spending quiet time with your family and loved ones. By keeping the Sabbath day holy, you will invite the Spirit into your home, and your faith and testimony will grow.
- Keep covenants. You will be strengthened spiritually as you strive to keep the covenants you have made. President Henry B. Eyring testified: “You and I are witnesses that whenever we have kept our covenants with God, especially when it was hard, He has heard our prayers of thanks for what He has already done for us and has answered our prayer for strength to endure faithfully. And more than once He has made us cheerful as well as strong” (“Gratitude on the Sabbath Day,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 101).
Everyone has something to contribute. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said: “The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole” (“Concern for the One,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 18).
You have been given unique gifts and talents from your Heavenly Father. It may be helpful to ask others what they see as your skills and talents. Brainstorm with someone you trust about ways you can best serve others. Let your local leaders know of your desires to serve and how you can use your talents and skills to bless others.
Our Heavenly Father wants you to serve others for Him. Even if you don’t have an official calling, you can find ways to minister to others each day. Pray to know how to serve others and for opportunities to do so. You can learn more about ministering at ministering.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Sister Jean B. Bingham has said: “Like the stars which are each placed in a particular orbit and location, we have an influence on those around us. Because you are unique, there are things only you can do in your particular way to bless [others]” (“Keys to Progress: An Eternal Perspective” [Brigham Young University–Idaho devotional, Nov. 27, 2018], byui.edu).
At times we all may feel like we don’t fit in at church. We may feel that because we look different, talk different, think different, or act different, we don’t belong. We may even feel like we don’t have anything to contribute. That is not the case. Every person is needed in the Church of Jesus Christ. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12).
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, then a member of the First Presidency, explained why everyone is needed: “Brothers and sisters, dear friends, we need your unique talents and perspectives. The diversity of persons and peoples all around the globe is a strength of this Church” (“Come, Join with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 23).
Here are a few things you can do to get to know others around you and to help them get to know you better and come to appreciate your unique talents and abilities.
- Introduce yourself. Take time to introduce yourself to others and to find things you have in common with them. This will help you build relationships and help everyone feel more welcome. You may find that you have more in common than you think.
- Ask for help when needed. Don’t be afraid to ask for accommodations that will help you learn the gospel and participate in Church-sponsored activities and worship services. In many cases, small adaptations for one person often benefit all. For example, if you have trouble reading the printed program for a meeting, asking for it to be printed in large print may be welcomed by many in the congregation. If you have trouble hearing in meetings, ask to use the assisted listening devices available in most chapels, ask teachers to turn on the captions when playing a video during class, or request that the teacher ask you in advance to be prepared to pray or read aloud during a lesson.
- Prayerfully seek opportunities to serve others. Serving others is one of the best ways to get to know them and form genuine friendships. Heavenly Father can help you know who you can serve and inspire you with ideas of how to best meet their needs.
- Jeffrey R. Holland, “Songs Sung and Unsung,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 49–51, or view video at “Songs Sung and Unsung”
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Come, Join with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 21–24
- Katie Steed, “Why Don’t I Feel Like I Fit in at Church?” ChurchofJesusChrist.org/blog, Feb. 6, 2018
- “Questions and Answers: What can I do when I feel like I don't fit in at church?” New Era, Nov. 2015, 44–45
President Russell M. Nelson explained: “For reasons usually unknown, some people are born with physical limitations. Specific parts of the body may be abnormal. Regulatory systems may be out of balance. And all of our bodies are subject to disease and death. Nevertheless, the gift of a physical body is priceless. Without it, we cannot attain a fulness of joy” (“We Are Children of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 86–87).
As part of Heavenly Father’s plan, we experience adversity during mortality. Although the details of our challenges will differ, unanticipated tests and trials—physical, mental, and spiritual—come to each of us because these are all part of our mortal experience. No matter what difficulties or challenges we face, they can help us grow spiritually and become more like our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
What the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail about trials can also apply to those challenged with disabilities: “Know thou . . . that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7).
There will be times when you may need to communicate with others that you need help, support, adaptations, or accommodations because of your disability. Sometimes, a disability may be hard to talk about. Often, others want to help but aren’t aware of your needs or aren’t sure how to help. They might avoid asking you about your situation, because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing or may think the conversation will be awkward. If you aren’t uncomfortable talking about your disability, you will often find that those who love you are willing to listen. Pray to Heavenly Father for courage and guidance about how to talk with people about your disability. Ponder what you would like others to know about you. What are your strengths? What are your challenges? What have you found to be helpful? What talents do you have that could help you serve others?
Realize that most members of the Church are open to guidance on how to help and include those with disabilities. Recognize that your brothers and sisters may also be prompted about how to help.
The Holy Ghost can help family members, teachers, and leaders know when to reach out and how they can be helpful.
Here are a few tips to consider when helping others understand your needs and your situation:
- Be patient as other members learn about you and overcome misperceptions.
- Focus on the positive when asking for a change.
- Clarify what was said. You can do this by repeating what you understood from the conversation or by asking others to repeat what they understood from the conversation.
- Be open to different views or ideas about how to accomplish a goal, and ask for others’ thoughts about the situation. Don’t think that your way is the only way.
- Keep the conversation focused on a specific need. If it gets off topic, bring it back to the topic.
- Be grateful. Thank members for talking with you and being willing to listen.
- Can I be baptized? If you have a desire to be baptized, talk with someone you trust, such as your parents, your caregiver, or a friend, about your desires. Also communicate your desire with your bishop or branch president. They will be able to help you make the best decision. In general, ordinances are not withheld if you are worthy, have a desire to receive them, and can demonstrate an appropriate degree of responsibility and accountability (see Handbook 1, 16.1.8).
- Can I participate in temple ordinances? If you have a desire to go to the temple, communicate that desire to your bishop or branch president. He will be able to help you make the best decision about receiving temple ordinances and help you prepare to receive these ordinances at the appropriate time. In general, ordinances are not withheld if you are worthy, have a desire to receive them, and can demonstrate an appropriate degree of responsibility and accountability. You should also be able to understand the purposes and eternal significance of temples. Once you have received a temple recommend, prayerfully consider any help you may need because of your disability. Be sure to communicate your needs in advance with someone you trust or with a temple worker when you enter the temple. In every temple there are temple workers who are available to help those with disabilities.
- Can I receive the priesthood? All worthy priesthood-age males are encouraged to receive the priesthood. If you have a desire to receive the priesthood, talk with your parents, and discuss your desires with your bishop or branch president. In general, the priesthood is not withheld if you are worthy, have a desire to receive it, and demonstrate an appropriate degree of responsibility and accountability (see Handbook 1, 16.1.8).
- Can I serve a mission? Many mission opportunities are available for members with disabilities who have a desire to serve a mission. If you feel the Spirit prompting you to serve a mission, communicate your desire with your parents and your bishop or branch president. Learn about missionary opportunities. For information on missionary opportunities for youth and young adults with disabilities, see ChurchofJesusChrist.org/service-missionary.
- Brian K. Taylor, “Am I a Child of God?” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 12–14
- Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “You Matter to Him,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 19–22
- Donald L. Hallstrom, “I Am a Child of God,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2016, 26–28
- Jennifer Kearon, “Your Infinite Worth and God’s Infinite Love,” Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, May 6, 2018
- “Questions and Answers: What can I do when I feel like I don’t fit in at church?” New Era, Nov. 2015, 44–45