This was not a story that actually happened at Easter, but it is a very precious one that I’ve been thinking about all day. A few years ago, I was looking through Facebook and saw a blog article posted about challenges that single LDS people face. I was curious to read it and see what another single LDS person had to say about challenges they faced. Maybe I would find a kindred spirit in the words. I opened the article and started to read the different challenges. “Number 1: You are no one’s first priority.” As I read those words, a terrible, noxious weed took root in my heart. I knew I had many, many, people who loved and helped me, but it was true, I wasn’t anyone’s first priority. I knew my friends loved me but I felt I was bothering them if I needed them because they needed to focus on their families. I felt the same way in my own family, because each of my siblings had their families to focus on and I knew my parents first priority is each other. For months I struggled with that weed in my heart and the guilt I felt over feeling like I was being selfish made it worse. I didn’t tell anyone how I was feeling, but pleaded with the Lord to help me.
That summer, I had the chance to participate in another girl’s camp. Those special experiences are always a treasure to me. Having the chance to serve my sweet girls and my friends all day made me feel better during the day but I still struggled with my feelings at night and pleaded for help. The night of the testimony meeting, we had a special guest speaker first. The talk was about remaining optimistic during trials and was very powerful. I was feeling the Spirit as I walked through the field toward the camp fire to start the testimony. It was dusk and the air was sweet and cool. As I walked with my friend and watched the girls walk together over the fire, suddenly an image flooded my mind. It was an image of my Savior’s hands reaching out to me. I could clearly see the nail prints in his hands and the scripture came to my mind “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” And then a clear prompting came to my mind and heart. “You are my first priority, and so are all your brothers and sisters.” The thought overwhelmed me. I didn’t understand it. I couldn’t comprehend it. How could I be the Savior of the whole world’s first priority along with all the people who have ever been? Could the Atonement really be that individual and special? But even though I didn’t understand, through the Holy Ghost I knew that it was true. I felt love fill my heart and root out that noxious weed. It was a miracle. I looked around at the beautiful mountains, the twinkling stars coming out in the silvery blue sky. I watched my wonderful girls walk together and felt so much love for them. I looked over at the faithful friend walking beside me and saw the rest of my dear friends I serve with gathering together at the campfire. I thought of each member of my family, of my Oregon home and all of my people there, my mission, my college life, and all of the experiences, lessons, and people who have been a part of my life. I know the Lord loves me and is aware of me because of all of those gifts he has given me.
That experience was a few years ago. There have been many times since then when I have slipped back into feeling sorry for myself because of what I don’t have. But on this wonderful holiday, I always remember that sweet little story of mine, of the day when the Atonement became so real and personal to me. I know that Christ lives and that he is in the details of our lives, because we are all individually his first priority. I will be forever grateful.
Photo credit, Del Parson mormonartist.net