The great Fred Rogers once said, “I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be.”
I don’t think there is anything wrong in recognizing an individual’s future potential– indeed, we are counseled by the words of the prophets to do just that! However, we cannot overlook the value of each individual child of God as they are at this very moment. Despite where each of us might be in our own life’s journey, all of us are equally valued and equally adored by our Father in Heaven.
Do we see others with similar eyes?
We live in a world that is growing increasingly competitive and egocentric. What would happen if we slowed down and really saw one another? If we dropped the personas and were just real for a moment?
It’s been said that there isn’t a person we wouldn’t love if we could read their story. I think the first step to reaching that type of compassion and empathy is putting down our own masks.
In her recent Conference address, Cheryl A. Esplin shares a story originally told by Sondra D. Heaston. She first asks:
What if we could really see into each other’s hearts? Would we understand each other better? By feeling what others feel, seeing what others see, and hearing what others hear, would we make, and take, the time to serve others, and would we treat them differently? Would we treat them with more patience, more kindness, and more tolerance?
Sister Heaston then elaborates on an experience she had at a church Young Women’s camp:
One of our … devotional speakers … taught us about ‘becoming.’ One of her statements … was, ‘Be someone who reaches out to know and serve others—throw away the mirrors and look through the window.’
To demonstrate this, she called up one of the young women and asked that young woman to stand facing her. [She] then pulled out a mirror and put it between the young woman and herself so that she, [the speaker], was looking into the mirror while she tried to talk with the young woman. Not surprisingly, it didn’t even begin to be an effective or heartfelt conversation.
This was a powerful object lesson that illustrated how difficult it is to communicate with and serve others if we are too worried about ourselves and see only ourselves and our needs. [She] then put away the mirror, pulled out a window frame, and put it between her face and the young woman’s face. … We were able to see that the young woman had become [her] focal point and that true service requires that we focus on the needs and emotions of others. Ofttimes we are so worried about ourselves and our own busy lives—as we look in mirrors while trying to look for opportunities to serve—that we do not see clearly through the windows of service.
What would happen if we put down our selfie sticks just for a moment and looked into the eyes of our brothers and sisters? And not just a casual glance, but a real, true searching? We just might discover a level of understanding and vulnerability that often proves elusive in this day and age.
Although at a vastly smaller scale and in our own imperfect way, we take our first steps toward seeing what He sees. Our hearts move toward feeling what He feels.
Sister Esplin explains that as we “reach out in love and service even in the smallest ways, hearts are changed and softened as others feel the love of the Lord.”
I know this to be true. If service comes from a place of true authenticity and Christlike love, miracles happen. Souls are transformed.
Sister Esplin encourages each of us to ponder on the following questions as we seek to look through windows of service:
- Who in my circle of influence could I help today?
- What time and resources do I have?
- In what ways can I use my talents and skills to bless others?
- What might we do as a family?
I strongly believe that the Lord has given each of us special gifts and talents, and often it is through those that we discover our calling with which He wishes us to serve those around us. We don’t have to be something we’re not.
We are called upon to be ourselves– the glorious children of a God who loves us completely.
What an honor and a privilege it is to be His hands– even in our own small way.
Thanks for joining us for General Conference Book Club today!
How will you use your talents and gifts to serve others this week?
What might you do today to discover the Lord’s will for you as you seek to be His hands?
This Sunday we’ll review “Where are the Keys and Authority of the Priesthood?” by Gary E. Stevenson. Come and join the conversation!
New to General Conference Book Club? Check out the details here.