Sunday, February 8, 2009

Danielle

Having the responsibility to write an article in our Relief Society newsletter for February, is a little harry. Of course the lesson of the month should be on love, but what type? I went back and forth on relationship with spouses, children, extended family, God's love for us and our love for him. And finally I remembered the 1st time I felt Christ like love for someone else. I'm sure for most of you, this lesson of love came at a much earlier age and I wish it had for me, but the feelings and memories of this experience are priceless and my thoughts on love have been changed for the better.


Danielle

When we were living in Las Vegas, Hans was assigned to home teach the Carter family. Although the husband had served a mission and the wife was raised in the church, they had not been active for many years. Eric & Danielle lived comfortably in a lovely home. They were generally agreeable to us coming over to teach a lesson, even though we seemed to have little in common. Eric & Danielle were always very positive, but after every visit Hans & I were left with the feeling that we weren’t really doing any good.

Even though I still felt like Danielle and I had very little in common, I was the only one in Relief Society who knew her. So a few months later, I asked to be her visiting teacher. I would visit her and give a lesson at her home and then during other parts of the month we would go to lunch, or dinner, or shopping. This calling gave me a reason to be a friend, and I kept waiting for a “change” in this family or at least in Danielle: reactivation, a phone call, something, anything that would let me know that she was making spiritual progress. None of these happened. I prayed and wondered if I should continue visiting her and asked if it was worth it; she wasn’t changing and really didn’t feel that I was needed.

Much later I received my answer and to my surprise it was that I should stop waiting for something to happen and just love Danielle, the way Christ loves her. Being her visiting teacher and friend was not about seeing results after so many visits. I learned that I could be there for her without expecting anything in return; I was not to expect a gift, a phone call, a card or a personal witness that she was changing, I was to love her and that was enough.

To me this was a totally foreign way of thinking. My perception of friendship had always been the “give and take” sort, but God was trying to teach me Christ-like love and to be what Danielle needed: a friend who loved her unconditionally. I had the thought that I would teach Danielle to be different, but I realized that I too had a lesson to learn from the Master teacher.

I can’t say that Danielle and her family are now active in the church and that because I had a changed of heart, she changed. But I am so grateful for the experience. I know that if we follow our Savior’s example and heed his words, “As I have loved you, … love one another.” (John 13:34), He can change us and help us feel joy, even when those we love do not follow Him.

3 comments:

Farnsworth Family said...

Thank you for sharing your article! It hit really close to home. I have been visit teaching an inactive neighbor for just over a year. They have a picture of the temple in their home, they are welcoming when we come by, but that's it. She doesn't return my calls, but is friendly if I do reach her and when we get into their home, it's hard to leave because we have such great conversation. Sometimes it gets frustrating, but month after month, we try. Thanks for sharing that I am not alone! I will keep up and will try to look at things from a different perspective!

Jill said...

That is a beautiful sentiment, Monica, and very well expressed.

Michelle said...

I loved reading that story. It is a great lesson, and beautifully written. You should submit it to the ensign! You know where they have those little mini-stories near the back?
By the way, I could really use some advice on weaning. Did you ever get pregnant before weaning the previous child? Weston can't seem to sleep without nursing. I read that the taste of breastmilk changes during pregnancy and so babies often wean themselves... I was kind of hoping that would happen. :) If you have any wisdom, let me know! Thanks.