In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we often discuss what it means to be “His hands on earth.” It means we serve those around us as He would serve them and we love those around us as He would love them. Sometimes we may feel, though, “Why does He ask me?”, when we know He is fully capable of doing it on His own and that He would (more than likely) do a better job than we ever would. Note, though, that our Father is Heaven asks us. He doesn’t demand us, threaten us, or quite frankly, need us. All it is is a simple asking, an invitation. If we do as He asks, we show Him that we sustain Him. We choose to stand with Him and His counsel in a darkening world. Everything He asks us to do is important, and when we do as we are asked, we are blessed.
Recently, God has asked me to serve a lot. And not just me; He has asked my mom, my brother Eric, my sister-in-law Siera and my husband Aaron to serve as well. You see, my healthy, happy, go-big-or-go-home father found out on Tuesday after weeks of absolute unbearable pain, pain that has completely robbed him of any and all mobility, that he has HNP Spinal Stenosis. Due to three herniated discs and one completely ruptured disc, my dad is forced to lay in bed during all hours of the day and night because he can barely place a toe on the floor without crying out in agony. He is unable roll from his back to his stomach, it’s hard for him to lift his head to eat, or to perform daily hygiene, even with assistance. My mom and I rotate night shifts to lay awake with him so we can change out his ice packs, hold a straw & a cup of water up to his lips, feed him oranges, fluff his pillow, rearrange his blankets, distribute his hourly medications, and tickle his back when he can’t sleep (which is basically all the time). I can’t lift my father’s body on my own to move him to a more comfortable position and I can’t fully understand the pain he is suffering but witnessing his anguish is hands-down the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do and I would do anything in the world to take it from him.
But I can’t.
Most times I have to stand by his bedside and shake in grief as I watch him moan and ache and cry and wince from the excruciating pain and pray to God that it will just stop. I know our Father in Heaven wants so badly to be next to my dad, holding his hand through his pain,
but He can’t. It’s because He can’t that He asks us.
In those heartbreaking moments while I watch my dad experience this unimaginable darkness, I think of our Savior, Jesus Christ, suffering my dad’s pain in the Garden of Gethsemane. How desperately must God have wanted to be by His Son’s side, but instead He had to shake in grief as He watched His Son moan and ache and cry and wince from the excruciating pain. Christ was alone. He suffered alone so my dad would not have to.
Many times in my life, I certainly have been the recipient of service. Meals have been delivered, visiting teachers have come into my home, friends and family wrote me letters on my mission, my name has been placed on the temple prayer roll, people give me rides when I need them, and so on and so forth. My testimony of service has grown incredibly throughout my life because I know my loved ones were sustaining our prophet and our Father in Heaven by following the call to “bear another’s burden” and “serve those who need to be served.” Likewise, I know I have served others. I have delivered meals, visit taught, planned church lessons and activities in my calling(s), placed names on the temple prayer roll, written letters to missionaries, offered rides to those who need them, and offered free childcare but never have I been so humbled to be the giver of service as I have been the last couple of days.
I’m doing the best I can to be His hands in this and even though it’s hard and I know God could do it much better than I am, I’m grateful He has asked me because it has strengthened my faith in the atonement. I know that Jesus Christ suffered for my dad’s physical pains but just as our Heavenly Father had to watch his Son suffer, I have to watch my dad suffer. The beauty of it, though, is that I get to love him and support him through it. I know that the healing blessings of the temple, priesthood blessings, and the faith of those who love my dad so much will bless him. May we always serve as He has served and may we always love as He loves.
“And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” Mosiah 2:17