Sunbeam Love

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“Sunbeam Love,” Liahona, Feb. 1999, 7

Sunbeam Love

On top of my desk sits a bright blue beanbag. On each side is a yellow sun. The beanbag sits there to remind me of a personal miracle I call “Sunbeam love.”

It began with a call to teach Primary a few months after I returned to Church activity. My past struggles had led to renewed spiritual commitments, and I was eager to serve.

My first day teaching a group of Sunbeams convinced me I was far from ready. As I met the children, I was shocked at how far down I had to look to find the tops of their little heads. Their faces looked up at me apprehensively.

For an introduction I had planned a beanbag game—with an oversized beanbag I had made myself. With the first toss, I knew immediately I had overestimated the size of these children. The throw sent a wide-eyed girl sailing backwards as she bravely absorbed the bag’s impact.

At home that night, I pleaded with Heavenly Father for help. How do I relate to such tiny, tender beings? Suddenly my vision focused on a picture on my wall. It was a portrait of Jesus Christ holding a small child. I studied the expression of love depicted in Christ’s eyes. How much He must love children! How He desires to reassure them of His love! I then realized with perfect clarity that this was exactly what the Savior wanted me to do: to love them in a way that would reassure them of His love.

It was a simple answer. But to me, it seemed I had been asked to perform a miracle. Six painful years as a stepparent, followed by a divorce, had left my heart numb—especially to the idea of loving someone else’s children. Throughout the night I struggled to reconcile the conflict in my heart. It was only after hours of praying that the Spirit convinced me I could change.

From that Sunday forth, a personal miracle began to unfold. Each week during Primary, I was guided by the Spirit in the art of loving. And throughout the year, I was loved in return. There were excited waves across the chapel during sacrament meeting, shouted greetings from grocery store aisles, and gifts of oddly shaped cookies.

Panic set in as the year concluded and my glorious row of Sunbeams graduated. My heart ached wildly for my little friends. Feeling abandoned, I sat numbly, surrounded by eight tiny strangers.

Then came the introductory beanbag game. As I picked up the worn, oversized bag, I paused, remembering a similar Sunday a year before. How overwhelmed I had felt then! And how far I had come! The memories attending this familiar beanbag fueled me with hope. As I met each pair of bright eyes, I saw their pleading looks, “Please love me, too.”

And so I did.

Illustrated by Beth Whittaker