“Following a Prompting,” Ensign, Aug. 2002, 67
As a young newlywed—one of the few in my ward—I became a visiting teacher for the first time. I had visions of being inspirational, loving, and kind, and of doing great acts of service. In other words, I wanted to be the perfect visiting teacher. Yet when I received the names of the sisters on my route, I had feelings of trepidation. One was a sister with nine children and her own successful business. Another was a nurse who had six children and had remarried after the tragic death of her first husband. The third sister had four children and a wonderful marriage and was extremely talented. What did I have to offer these women? I was inexperienced in life, and I felt inadequate. I knew I could give them love, support, and service, but I was searching for something more.
I loved the sisters I visited, and I let them know I was available when they needed me. But other than our monthly visits, my grand dreams of service were limited to an occasional loaf of bread or a plate of cookies. It seemed their service needs were usually met by their extended family members, most of whom lived nearby.
One morning, about an hour before I was scheduled to go visiting teaching, I began thinking about Karla, one of the sisters I visited. It was a month when the visiting teachers were to choose a message from a general conference talk. My companion wouldn’t be accompanying me this time, as she had just recently moved from the ward, so I had scheduled the appointments and prepared the lesson on my own the night before. Yet that morning, my lesson didn’t seem right. I felt impressed to choose a different talk—one on overcoming adversity. I began to look up scriptures and resources pertaining to the topic, and I quickly made Karla a special handout with information I found in the Family Home Evening Resource Book.
As I was putting the finishing touches on my lesson, I questioned my choice of subject matter. Karla had seemed to be doing just fine the last time I talked to her. With some misgivings, I gathered up my materials and quickly left for my appointment.
Arriving at Karla’s door, I took a deep breath before knocking. She greeted me with her usual smile and invited me in. We began chatting, and from all outward appearances she seemed happy. “Why did I have the feeling she needed this particular lesson?” I wondered. “She seems just fine. How can I talk to her about overcoming discouragement?”
I feared my lesson might sound like a lecture or, worse yet, that Karla might think I assumed she wasn’t handling her life well. I hesitantly told her I had felt she needed to hear about a particular conference address, but after talking with her, I wasn’t sure it was relevant to her situation. I explained how I had been praying to be in tune with the needs of the sisters I visited and how forcefully the inspiration had come to choose this particular lesson. I related how, during the hour before my appointment with her, I had found scriptures and extra resources that seemed to open up in just the right places.
Karla asked me what subject I had been impressed to discuss with her. When I told her, the smile slipped away from her lips and tears welled up in her eyes. I listened as she opened up and told me how she had been struggling during the past couple of weeks. Her husband had been working out of town, and she was feeling discouraged and alone as she dealt with some challenging circumstances.
I shared with Karla the message I had felt impressed to give. Before I arose to go, we knelt in prayer, and she thanked Heavenly Father for knowing her needs.
I will never forget that humbling moment when Karla confirmed she needed to hear the lesson I had been prompted to prepare. I was ashamed that I had doubted the necessity of my message, yet I was grateful for the opportunity to learn the importance of listening to the Lord’s promptings, no matter how inadequate I felt. That day I came to better understand the importance of visiting teaching and of being an instrument in the Lord’s hands.—Claralyn C. Sant, Laguna Creek Second Ward, Sacramento California Stake