This week we gave one of the less active families we teach a “Weg Zum Tempel” plan paper so they could write out their goals so that they could go to the temple. A few years ago they’d had the opportunity and they had all of the necessary paperwork to go, but because of external circumstances, they were not able to go. They feel bitter, angry, and hurt by this and they have let it color their view of what is possible for their family.
Sister Armstrong and I have been praying to know what we should talk to this family about, what we should do to help them to come back to church and to feel the wonderful blessings that they are keeping themselves from. And this was our answer.
Going into the lesson we knew that there was the potential of a conflict, and, being honest, there was more than a little fear on my part. But I was hopeful, I knew that this lesson was what the Lord wanted us to talk about and I knew that this is what they needed.
And so, with all the hope and the faith I had we presented it to them. We watched a video about a family’s backbreaking efforts to be able to go to the temple and that no sacrifice was too great to experience those blessings. We gave them the paper and bore testimony.
I sat there and began to bear my testimony of Eternal Families. The blessings that it brings, the security of knowing that things will be okay, some way, some how, if you’re sealed together in the temple. I bore my testimony of the blessings and I couldn’t hold back the waterfall as I spoke of my personal experience and that it was still possible for them, even if it hadn’t worked the first time.
The mother began to cry too, the two kids (who are always running around, screaming, and fighting) were perfectly still and quiet and listening intently.
But the father was stoney faced.
We spoke as representatives of Jesus Christ, promised them all the blessings that He wants them to have and it was all thrown back in our faces.
The slap of the softly spoken daggers was a physical blow.
I have always had a difficult time loving people. Letting them into my small little comfort zone of a heart and letting them feel the fact that I love them overwhelmingly. I believe one of the greatest reasons I came on a mission was to learn to love people, and I feel that I have.
I have felt such great love for these people and to have every invitation, spoken out of love, tossed carelessly back, was a heartbreaking experience.
In that moment I felt as if the pain I felt was greater than any I had felt before. I cannot describe the level of grief I felt to know that this family would not be able to go to the temple. Not because of any particular worthiness issues, but simply because, they wouldn’t take the steps necessary to taste of the tree of life.
It wasn’t until later that night, after another upsetting call with Frau H who told us she has no time and no more interest, that I realized why my grief was so great.
President Henry B. Eyring, in a talk he gave in a 2011 General Conference spoke about charity. He said, when we serve others, the Lord lets us feel charity, which we know is the pure love of Christ. When we keep serving, and keep working to love others, then charity becomes a part of us.
I have only been serving the Lord diligently for a few months and my small growth of charity is still small, but the charity I feel for this family was overwhelming as was the pain I felt for the rejection of the Savior’s offer.
It was that night that I realized that the pain I was feeling for this family was probably nothing in comparison to the pain that Christ probably feels for this family not taking the opportunity to go to the temple. And in that moment, I began to feel the Atonement working in ways that I had not previously experienced.
The healing and the comfort, that is still working in my soul, was not because of my sins, or because of a personal loss, but it was a comfort of empathy. Because, probably for the first time in my life I had felt a completely selfless love for someone else.