Today as I was sitting in Church preparing to take the Sacrament, I started to think about how imperfect I am, how I fail quite regularly, and how I have not always lived my life in a way that I would be proud of. But as I was sitting there, pondering on my failings, praying that I might be better and do better as I go along, Heavenly Father redirect me thoughts. I started to look around and see people, families, individuals, people I know well, people I don’t hardly know at all.
I think Heavenly Father helps me see, once in a while when I am actually listening, other people. Not what they have done in their lives, but see people, as His children, as my brothers and sisters. He helped me to see that just as I was pondering upon my failings, my weaknesses, my mistakes in life, so too were all of these people, because none of us are perfect. I started to wonder and watch those around me. I have no idea the personal struggles of each individual person. Some may struggle with an addiction of some sort. Some may have a sickness that they keep to themselves. Some are there as a last resort, looking for relief from burdens or trials. Some are there because they are made to be there, and are hoping to find one last evidence, one final reason to stay rather than turn their backs.
I love the family that my Church and community provides, and as I sat and pondered, I saw these wonderful people and felt more strongly than ever, that they are each my brothers and sisters. They are each important to me, and to our Heavenly Father, they are each a beloved son or daughter. I know this with all my heart, but sometimes the Lord reminds me more extensively to help me remember again.
I remember the first time I really felt this lesson with every fiber of my being. I was working at a pharmacy in Wasilla. At the time I was 7 or 8 months pregnant with my first child. We had such a huge variety of people that came through that pharmacy on a daily basis, and I mainly ran the cash register and computers up front, dealing with the customers every day. The building where the pharmacy was, was a very large building housing a variety of doctors’ offices as well as the pharmacy. We were right next to the main doors so we could see the people who came and went, whether to the pharmacy or the other businesses located there.
As I was watching people come in one day, I noticed a man walking in the door. He was a tall man, very dirty from head to toe. He had on very grubby torn clothing. It was pretty evident that he was probably homeless. As I saw him walking in, I thought to myself, “I sure hope he doesn’t come in here!” At that very moment the Holy Ghost whispered a message from my Heavenly Father, “He is my child and I love him.” This is something I have always known, that we are each children of our Heavenly Father, but this simple message shook me. I could not believe how easily I had judged this man. I had never met him, I didn’t know him, but I had judged. He did come in to the pharmacy that day. He was a kind, happy man. Very gracious to me and everyone he talked with. I learned a very important lesson that day.
I am still a judgmental person on occasion, but that was the beginning of my eyes being truly opened to others as my brothers and sisters, to others who have difficulties, to others who are trying their best from day to day, to everyone around me. Today as I sat and pondered, I knew there were people in the room who probably struggled with addictions of some kind, whether mental or physical. There were moms there who barely made it to Church because they knew that’s where they needed to be, but it took everything they had just to get there. There were people grieving, people hurting, people at wits end, everyone needing relief of some kind, including me. As I sat through the rest of our Sacrament meeting, I asked Heavenly Father to help me see individuals, to see actual people, brothers and sisters, and in seeing, to have compassion, to have a willingness to help, to try and lighten someone else’s burden. I think when we truly see others, knowing their struggles might be different, but they are struggling just the same as we all do sometimes, that we can be more compassionate, we can be more kind, we can be more helpful. That is my goal this week.