“Not Just Teaching a Lesson,” Ensign, Sept. 2002, 53
Our prophets and other leaders have asked us time after time to go about doing good, to do our duty, and to be good examples. Sometimes we may wonder what difference it makes. A Relief Society teacher who was just doing her best to teach her lesson completely changed my life one Sunday.
Several years ago I found myself in a position I never would have imagined. My hopes for happiness were turning to despair, and I was fearful and anxious. My self-confidence was plummeting, and the feeling that I had no one to confide in about my troubles contributed to my feelings of isolation. Each day was a struggle, and nights were sleepless. At times my life seemed a ruin, hardly worth continuing, I thought. A belief in God and concern for my small daughter’s future kept me hanging on.
I had not been active in the Church for some time. However, some wonderful visiting teachers and neighbors gently encouraged me until I felt comfortable attending church. I was usually late and often missed meetings, but I felt more and more as though I could not survive the week without the peace and safety I found in Relief Society.
One Sunday, Jane was teaching the lesson in Relief Society. She is a fun, bubbly person and a gifted teacher. I cannot recall exactly what the lesson was about that day, but it seems that Jane was talking about being worthy so we could be instruments in the hands of the Lord to bless the lives of others.
She related an incident from her life as an illustration. She had been shopping in the basement of a thrift store and overheard a mother repeatedly scolding her young child. The little girl was in a stroller and obviously was not excited about the bargains. As Jane listened, she thought that the mother sounded as though she might be angry enough to become abusive. Jane, a mother of four small children, felt uncomfortable, but headed off to another aisle. As she walked away, she felt compelled to turn back and approach the woman. She did not know what she would do or say and was not eager to interfere, yet she obeyed the spiritual prompting.
When she came close to the woman and child, Jane felt an overwhelming sense of compassion and love for them. She smiled her infectious smile, her mouth opened, and she told the mother what a lovely child she had. The Spirit touched the angry woman. She looked at her child through new eyes, her face and heart softened, and she agreed with Jane as if it were a new revelation. The mother and child went their way, their lives changed for the better. Jane said she felt drained of energy by the experience and went to her car to weep, regain her composure, and express gratitude to Heavenly Father.
As Jane related this story, our hearts in Relief Society were touched and our eyes were wet with tears. She continued by saying how much the Savior loves each one of us. She looked around the room and said to various sisters, “Jesus loves Sarah,” and “He loves Sister White.” She looked right at me and said, “Jesus loves Diane.” She then continued the rest of the lesson.
I have no idea what else she said that day. When she looked at me and said that Jesus loves me, I felt what I can only describe as a lightning bolt of the Spirit, and I knew without a doubt that despite my faults, the Savior truly loved me. It was almost overpowering, and it was the strongest witness I have ever had. After the closing prayer, I quickly found my daughter and returned home without stopping to chat with anyone. I was so profoundly affected and so full of gratitude for the Savior and for Jane that I could not speak.
Many times I longed to tell Jane what happened that day, and how thankful I am that she was doing her duty and living her life so she could be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. Time has passed. I moved far away and lost track of Jane. And though she probably thought she was just teaching a lesson, she was in fact the “small means” (see 1 Ne. 16:29) to a spiritual miracle that gave me hope and changed my life forever.
I am certain this sort of thing happens many times, perhaps unknown to teachers and parents who are the means of effecting great changes in the lives of their spiritually thirsty students and family members. They are just doing their duty, performing what the Lord asks of them. We cannot underestimate the wondrous and good things that are brought to pass when we do what small and simple things the Lord asks us to do (see Alma 37:6).