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Angels at My Side: Two Stories

By Elizabeth Pinborough

The Errand of Angels

I nearly squealed aloud when I read the quarterly theme: “The errand of angels.” I recognize the phrase from “As Sisters in Zion,” with the rest of the clause being, as you know, “is given to women, and this is a gift that as sisters we claim.” Yes, as women we are taught that we, like angels, can humanize and divinize, heal and calm, and spiritually uplift those around us. Although it’s a gift to be desired and is sung to a lilting melody, isn’t this task quite heavy to bear?

Not only do we need to bear up others, but the worldly inclination says we’ve got to look great doing it! Can’t you see my angel wings peeking out beneath my pearls?? Don’t we, too, especially we, need angels to bear us up as we bear such burdens—the children who cannot sleep, the terminally ill parents, the body that just will not maintain a comfortable shape or that keeps breaking down with illness and heartache? The ponderous spiritual questions, the loss of friends or jobs, the weightiest emotions we never knew we would be asked to feel, the children who sleep in this world but who are lively with spirit beyond?

Surrounded by Angels

I have gone through an all-encompassing, mind-bending and soul-molding trial these past 7 years (the Biblical 7. Is it over yet?). I go to church not because I am strong but because I am weak. The weight of my body is sometimes too great to drag around. My eyes are weak, my brain is jumbled and aching, and I cry.

In the early days after my brain injury happened, I cried all the time. Multiple times a day. My brain could not control my emotions, so there was constant overflow. It was the most exquisite pain I have ever felt. I could get up and try to take a shower and end up crying inconsolably in the shower for half an hour. Over, and over, and over. One particularly gruesome night, I was out of my mind with pain pounding in my head, writhing in agony in my bed. I could barely think straight to pray. With as much energy as I could muster, I begged God for assistance. After I cast those keening words at the ceiling, I felt a calm presence come around me. I knew my bed was surrounded by angels. God did not take me out of that circumstance; rather, He sent messengers to be with me. I know it with all my heart.

An Angel in Sacrament Meeting

Have I mentioned how much it stinks to cry silently in Relief Society? You know what I’m talking about; you’ve been there. It’s fine to feel so heavy for a few weeks, but when it feels like that across years, going to church becomes something to endure. Yesterday was one of those days where I couldn’t keep it together for the whole meeting. As I sat wearing my FL-41 glasses to tamp down blue light so I didn’t aggravate a migraine, I could barely mouth the words of our closing hymn through my tears. My faith and my endurance were faltering. I could not bear to be there. The lesson was wonderful and timely, my leaders wise and compassionate. Still, I cried.

Then, in sacrament meeting, my intuition kicked in, and I became aware that I was not alone. I felt the strong presence of an angel standing next to me. He was there protecting me. He stayed for a couple of minutes and then he was gone. I felt so cared for, so noticed, in a hard time. I don’t know why he needed to be there other than to let me know that God cared for me specifically.

Angels Are Real

Do you remember Elder Holland’s remarkable April 2008 conference talk “The Ministry of Angels”? He said, “God has used angels as His emissaries in conveying love and concern for His children. . . . Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near. . . . I testify that angels are still sent to help us, even as they were sent to help Adam and Eve, to help the prophets, and indeed to help the Savior of the world Himself.”

Angels are real, and it is our privilege to call on them in our need. They will rush to be with us. They’re our advocates, healers, and friends. They surround us and lift us up. Perhaps more than we’ll ever know.

Angels, a Prose Poem

When you’re called to be sick and not well, when you’re called to mourn, not rejoice, when you’re called to sit in sackcloth and ash not splendorous robes, when the ache of days fades to the ache of night, when friends become foes and foes strike in their might, when God beats a distant drum and doesn’t warm the hearth, when sweet becomes bitter and heart wilts with fright, angels are watching from the wings. And perhaps they bear up the most unspeakable things. Perhaps they lift up the most sorrowful songs and breathe breaths of life into the weariest lungs. And perhaps they draw maps in the stars and desperately beckon, look, here’s where you are. Here’s God’s throne. It’s not that far. —Elizabeth Pinborough

About Elizabeth Pinborough

Elizabeth is a Salt Lake City poet who believes in miracles. Her current project is a book of dialogic poems about Bible stories that explores conflicting voices in scripture. She writes about her experience with brain injury on her blog www.theartofstriving.com.

3 thoughts on “Angels at My Side: Two Stories”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing some of your sacred experiences here. I am so sorry for all the pain you have experienced. I know that God can truly consecrate our afflictions for our gain, and you are evidence of that. Your heart has become open and loving and ready to receive God's grace. All the best to you

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