Sara grew up loving all the sciences so much that when it came time to decide what to major in at BYU, she chose their common language: Mathematics. She taught high school and middle school until her oldest daughter was born. Now, she spends her days planning YW and Girl Scout activities, avoiding housework, reading young adult novels, and debating how to raise her three daughters to be strong inquisitive souls. Her daughters are 7, 11, and so very close to 13.
Maggie and I were pregnant with our second children at the same time, with our thirds at the same time. We shared a lot of laughs, and playdates, afternoons at parks, hours in the nursery skipping Sunday School, with some tender moments mixed in. We were, perhaps, an unlikely match. I’d come from pioneer stock and went off to BYU. She was a new member with a checkered and difficult past of drug addiction, scrambling for the light. Her accomplishment overwhelmed me—to come from addiction to striving clean convert and devoted mother She and her family moved out of the ward for a year or so to help an ailing family member. While they were away, the stress of the difficult situation became unbearable and demons from the past resurfaced. She and her husband gave in to that old promise of a numbing release. Cigarettes, alcohol, one thing led to another, until they found themselves slaves to meth. There is nothing worse out there. It locks you away and steals your agency, horrifically and absolutely. I am thankful every day that I do not have to be her judge. The Savior has that covered and I am more than happy to step aside and allow Him to carry that burden. I knew her during a good spell when her intentions and hopes were so good and pure, and that is enough for me.
When Maggie and her husband moved back to the ward, we could tell that there were things going on that were being kept unsaid. They were struggling financially and their children were struggling. I had recently been called as Relief Society president, and the bishop and I felt a desire to help them through the church’s welfare system, but firm conditions and deadlines were set. Toward the end of this period, I passed her in the halls at church and the Spirit told me very powerfully that I must tell her that Heavenly Father loved her. I could count on one hand the number of times that the Spirit has told me something so specific so strongly. I grabbed one of my counselors, and we went to her home. We knocked. We knocked again. And again. We called the house. Finally, she opened the door just a crack and said it was a bad time. I can only guess at why it was a bad time . I am rather conflict aversive and I consider myself to be generally unassertive in most situations, but I pushed the door open and stepped inside. I knew that I had a message for her from her Heavenly Father. I gave her a hug, and told her of His love. And then we left.
Shortly after that day, the deadlines set with the bishop passed and their lives imploded. The police were involved, the children went into the foster system, their marriage disintegrated violently, and our hearts broke. But some months later, while she was at the beginning of a battle she will probably fight for the rest of her life, she told me:“that day when you came and told me that Heavenly Father loved me. I felt it.”
We are often told at church that to feel the Spirit we must keep the commandments. And we often assume that the reverse is true—if we are not feeling the Spirit, it is because of a commandment we have broken. But I know God does not keep a score card of when He can and cannot talk to us. He is much more merciful than that. I know now that Heavenly Father will always try to reach out to His daughters. He is always trying to tell us—all of us—that He loves us. Very much.