“He Blessed My Sour Note,” Ensign, Sept. 2013, 79
My ears burned bright red with embarrassment as my teenage son, Derek, and I finished singing “Be Still, My Soul”1 in sacrament meeting. I had not properly warmed up my voice before the meeting began, and as a result, when I tried to reach a high note, my voice cracked badly.
I slid back onto my bench, feeling uncomfortable despite supportive looks from my smiling wife, assuring me that I had not ruined the spirit of the meeting.
After the closing prayer I headed for my car to retrieve a lesson manual. A sister in our ward stood near the door, sobbing. A friend supported her with an arm around her shoulder. As I passed by, the weeping sister called my name and expressed her appreciation to me for choosing the hymn we sang and for performing it in a way that touched her deeply.
She explained that she had given birth to a stillborn baby several days earlier and had battled anger and despair ever since. As Derek and I sang the hymn, she had felt the Spirit wrap her aching soul in a peaceful, comforting warmth. It had filled her with the hope she needed to bear her cross of grief.
I awkwardly mumbled thanks and headed out the door, feeling blessed and humbled by her words. As I reached the car, I remembered a devotional address by Kim B. Clark, president of Brigham Young University–Idaho. He had said, “When we act in faith in [Jesus] to do His work, He goes with us” to serve others and “blesses us to say just what they need to hear.” He also taught that “what we actually say and actually do may feel a little awkward or not very polished. … But the Savior takes our words and our actions and He carries them through His spirit unto the hearts of the people. He takes our sincere but imperfect effort and turns it into something that is just right, indeed, into something that is perfect.”2
Tears of gratitude filled my eyes as I returned to the meetinghouse. The Lord had blessed an unpolished musical number and carried its message perfectly into the grieving heart of a young sister to comfort her sorrowing soul. In addition, the Lord used this touching experience to carry into my heart a much deeper understanding of a profound gospel principle.