The Wrong Road, Right Message

“The Wrong Road, Right Message,” Ensign, Mar. 1992, 62–63

The Wrong Road, Right Message

You’ll really like Jan*,” Sister Deibler said as she skillfully drove the winding back roads leading to our visiting teaching appointment. New to this rural ward, I’d been assigned as partner to Sister Deibler, a faithful convert of several years who was familiar with the area and members.

“She’s got a great sense of humor—and two of the cutest little children!” She paused, as though hesitant to say more. “Jan has been a member since childhood, but because of some tragedy in the family, she fell away and married outside the Church. Her husband doesn’t want anything to do with the Church, but Jan says we’re welcome to come on two conditions: we come only when her husband is away, and we don’t mention the Church or the gospel while we’re there.”

Oh, great! I thought, wondering how welcome two visiting teachers could be in a home where the gospel was a taboo topic.

Sister Deibler was right—I really did like Jan. We had a lot in common. We were both expecting our third child, and we talked easily about our children and our pregnancies. It was also easy to discuss the monthly message. I’m not sure if Jan really didn’t mind after all, or if she just didn’t recognize our discussions as “spiritual.” I do know that my testimony grew stronger than ever that the gospel embraces all truth and touches every facet of our lives. My testimony of the inspired nature of each month’s visiting teaching message was also strengthened.

One hot summer month, Sister Deibler and I had a special prayer before visiting Jan. The subject for the month was going to be a hard one to disguise in casual conversation: the Atonement.

As we chatted with Jan, Sister Deibler and I exchanged glances. Jan was joking a lot, but she was not happy. I sensed that her marriage was in trouble and that she was worried about the effect of her expected baby on her marriage and family. As usual, she made light of it, but behind the thin veil of her dry humor, Jan was obviously hurting.

We were comparing notes on our respective pregnancies—talking about how challenging it was to keep up with toddlers when we ourselves could barely toddle—when Jan said flippantly, “Boy, I wish there was a way out of this! If it were possible to back up and turn around, I’d do it.”

She paused, and when she continued I knew she was referring to more than just her uncertain feelings about her marriage and pregnancy. Almost defiantly, she demanded, “What can you do when you’ve taken the wrong road and there’s no way to turn around?”

The Spirit whispered, “Now!” and filled my words with power.

“Jan, there is a way. Every one of us at some time makes a wrong turn. Heavenly Father knew we would, and because he loves us, he provided a way to turn around. It cost him a lot to give us that opportunity—the life of his Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

We looked at each other through misty eyes, and there followed the most meaningful discussion I’ve ever had about the Atonement.

I knew then that the messages we take into the homes of our sisters each month are inspired. Through the experience of visiting Jan, I learned what a sacred opportunity and obligation we have to deliver these messages of love, hope, and counsel to each other.

  • Name has been changed.

  • Suellen Weiler is a Spiritual Living teacher in the Lawrenceville First Ward, Sugar Hill Georgia Stake

Illustrated by Doug Fryer