As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when we enter the waters of baptism, we make promises to our Father in Heaven. We promise to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. Sometimes I think we repeat those things so often that we don’t really stop and think about what that means, or what power is held in that promise. That is we don’t think about it until we find ourselves in mourning, or in need of comfort, and we find those that are willing to walk by our side. Or, on the flip side, we may find ourselves thinking about it when we are fulfilling our part of the covenant; though most of us will shrug off the act of service we performed as a simple thing, or maybe nothing worth noting. Most of the time, we probably have no idea what our small acts of empathy, sympathy, and kindness do for others. But I do believe there is great power that comes from mourning with those that mourn.
I think of the story of Lazarus. By Jewish law and custom, he was truly dead. The fourth day had come and tradition said his spirit had left his body. His sisters, Mary and Martha, mourned for him. They wished for what many of us wish for when someone we love dies. They longed for a miracle. And they knew the Savior could have saved him had He been there. As the story goes, we know why the Savior waited for that fourth day, to show the true power He had. But what I find so touching was that, even though he knew the miracle he would perform would wipe away the tears and anguish felt by Lazarus’ family, he still wept. He mourned with Martha and Mary.
Recent events in my life, and the lives of those I love, have had me more carefully considering the power of those promises that we make at baptism. My dear friend and visiting teacher was diagnosed with cancer a couple of months ago. I wept when she shared the news. We have since wept together as she has begun her treatments which she will continue for the next several months. I prayed about what I may do to help ease her burden at this time. The answer I received was not what I expected. It was a simple answer and a simple task. Each day I find an interesting or comical fact and text it to her with a small personal note from me. We’ve learned lots of interesting things, like hippos sweat red when angry, and ancient Incas considered themselves wed when they took off their shoes and traded them. I’m not sure I would have ever gotten married if that was the stipulation, but I digress. I wasn’t sure why I got this particular answer, but I know that each day it makes my friend feel loved. I wish I could take away the suffering that she has to go through, but I can’t. I have prayed, along with many of her family and friends, that this burden would be lightened and that she would feel the least amount of the effects that she could. Those prayers have been answered.
This amazing friend of mine, who is handling her trials with such elegance and grace, still continues to be my faithful visiting teacher. I have felt guilty about this in a way. I look at her burden and think, no matter what I’m going through, it isn’t as bad as her. Even though, as of late, I have had my own personal struggles. Last month, when my wonderful visiting teachers came the night before I was leaving to take my daughter to BYU, I did not plan on sharing any of my worries or struggles, it was going to be a “yep, I’m doing great, can’t you see my game face, and of course I don’t need anything” kind of conversations. I should mention I adore my visiting teachers and it’s not that I don’t feel comfortable sharing with them, that’s just who I am. Super woman, right? But that night, super woman fell apart. I don’t know why, but it was like the dam burst that night and I poured out my heart to them. I knew there wasn’t anything they could do, per se, but they listened to me cry, and tell them my problems. I felt better just knowing how much they loved me. And I would be wrong to say they couldn’t do anything. They prayed for me and I felt those prayers. This past month as I visited with my friend going through cancer, we were talking about how we each had been praying for one another. She knows how stressed I can get, and it can cause me to lose sleep, especially when I have a new book coming out. I worry. She, unbeknownst to me, had been praying I would be able to sleep. And I had been able to. I even remember being pleasantly surprised that I had slept so well.
There truly is power in sharing one another’s burdens, and keeping our covenants. Like the song goes, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”