“Hadn’t I Given Enough?” Ensign, Apr. 1993, 60–61
I was delighted at my chance to be one of the visiting teachers of the ward’s newest convert. My companion, Gina, was in the hospital with a new baby when I first stopped by to see Lisa*.
As I visited with her, I noticed that she had photographs of her family taped to the wall. As Lisa proudly told me about the photos, it was obvious that they held precious memories for her. She apologized that they were not framed, explaining that her husband had promised to get her some frames but that he just hadn’t taken the time to do it. I thought of the many unframed pictures I had at home in boxes and understood her dilemma.
Before I left, I told Lisa that if she ever needed anything, she should let me know and I would be happy to help. I left soon afterward, feeling that we had shared a successful visit. I wanted to help Lisa frame her pictures but didn’t feel I had the funds to help her out.
A few days later, my husband and I visited one of his friends from work. During the course of our conversation, he mentioned that he had an extra 11″ x 14″ frame and mat and wondered if I could use it. I couldn’t pass it up. After all, I did need some frames for my family photos. I felt lucky to have received one so unexpectedly.
But when my husband’s friend placed the picture frame in my hand, I immediately thought of Lisa. I knew that this picture frame was just what she needed. But I quickly pushed the thought aside. After all, the frame had been given to me, not to her. Why should I give it away? I often gave away things to people who needed help. Just this once, why not enjoy my good fortune myself? Besides, Lisa had said that her husband was going to get her some picture frames—eventually.
That night, I tucked the frame away in my closet. In fact, it stayed there for more than a month. But even though it was out of sight, I kept thinking of the frame and wondering if I should give it to Lisa.
The next time I went visiting teaching, I noticed the pictures, still taped to the wall. When I returned home, I looked at my living room full of family portraits in frames of many sizes.
At that moment, I realized just how selfish I had been. The thought came forcibly to me—that frame in my closet didn’t belong to me. I had only received it for the purpose of giving it away. The feeling was so strong that I felt guilty for not giving it away sooner.
I took the frame down from the closet shelf. As I looked at it, I wanted to fill it with a touch of love. So I made a collage to fit inside the frame, using pictures of the scriptures, of fresh daisies, of homebaked goodies, and even of a mason jar filled with hearts. For the center of the collage, I found a picture of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. With glue, scissors, and construction paper, I snipped and arranged; and when I was finished, the picture area, surrounded by the once-lifeless frame, glowed with the warmth of the gospel.
I wrote a note explaining that the frame was for her family pictures and that I wanted her to go ahead and take out the collage of catalog pictures. After tucking the note inside, I carefully wrapped the frame in paper and added a bright red heart sticker that read “You are loved.” I could hardly believe the transformation in myself. No longer reluctant, I could hardly wait to deliver this picture of love.
I had a prayer in my heart when I arrived at Lisa’s door. I hoped that the Spirit would touch her and bless her. When she opened the door, she seemed genuinely surprised and couldn’t imagine why I had brought her a gift.
Lisa invited me in, and I watched her open the package carefully. When she saw the picture frame, tears welled up in her eyes. She quickly regained her composure, but not before I felt the familiar surge of warmth as the Spirit touched my heart. I can’t be sure, but I think Lisa felt it, too. For me, it was a witness that I had done the right thing.