Monday, April 14, 2008

It's Never Too Late to Love

By Randal S. Chase

Last conference weekend after the first two sessions I received a call from my oldest sister. She is in her 70s and has not been active in the Church since she left home in her early 20s. She's had a difficult life and has never quite reconciled herself to all that she had to face in our small town from people who should have known better.

When Debbie and I first moved to St. George, we found ourselves within an hour's drive of this sister, who I've had very little interchange with over the years--mostly by her choice. I did some pondering about what my duty might be toward her. And while doing so, I had a sort of communion with my deceased father. "I really can't relate to her," I said, "and I don't think she'll be receptive to any effort I make to reach out to her."

I have a wayward daughter of my own, who I pray for daily that somebody will reach out to her. She lives many miles from us and we seldom get to see her. "Would you give up on your (daughter's name)?" my father asked. "No, of course I wouldn't," said I. "Well," said my father, "just remember that (sister's name) is my daughter too, and I need you to reach out to her."

I did. We've spent much time with her, loving unconditionally and helping her through a number of crises, including the death of her husband about 1.5 years ago. I recently gave her a copy of my first book, and wrote a note above my signature. "I hope to see that day when you are sealed to your sweetheart in the temple." That clicked. She started asking questions and sharing her disappointments with me. Slowly, but surely, she was coming around.

Then last weekend, late Saturday evening, I got the call. "I've been crying all day," she said. "I can't stop crying. I've been so touched by conference, and I've never felt like this before." "You know what that feeling is, I presume," I said. "No, I don't. What is it?" "It's the Holy Ghost bearing witness to you that what you've heard is true," I said. And we talked about testimonies. It was the first time in her life that she had understood these concepts.

"Thank you," she said. "I love you." As I hung up the phone, I felt a sense of purpose in moving to Southern Utah that far surpasses any other reason we had once imagined. And I thought, "It's never too late to reach out to those we love." We can't be pushy, and we must always give unconditional love. But if we do, great miracles can occur in their lives. They certainly have in hers.


Christine Thackeray said...

What a great brother you are! Each of us may have different gestation periods and that is OK.

Rebecca Talley said...

Wonderful post. I have hopes we'll be able to reach wayward family members someday.

Doug Johnston said...

Sometimes the people that need to be loved the most, are the ones that we avoid. This really made me think. Good Post!

Shirley Bahlmann said...

This is so cool. I have a brother in law who left the church and said he'd rather visit my mother than his own, because my mother welcomed him and hugged him when he came, while his mother quizzed him about what he was doing and lectured about what he should be doing. I've never forgotten his message. It really helped me with my son.
Now my brother in law is back in the church, and my son and I have a wonderfully loving relationship because of this brother in law's example.
Love people. That's simply all we need to do.

Tamster said...

Thank you very much for that! I have two sisters and a sister-in-law (and their families) who are no longer in the church. Sometimes it does feel hopeless, but this is a wonderful example of why we should never give up and especially never stop loving them. Thank you!