So one month ago began the countdown of leaving the ward. I knew my wife hadn’t given a talk since she was around 14 and I began telling her, "Amy, three weeks left for the bishop to call you to give a talk…Amy, two weeks left…Amy, one week left." So I answered the phone on Tuesday and said in a loud enough voice so Amy could hear, "Oh, hi Bishop! How you doin’?" Amy turned to me with a face of horror, "Oh no, that’s the bishop?" Now you know the rest.
Ever since last month with the guest we had come and speak to us, a friend and I have often joked that we do the things we do because quality time is our primary love language. For the past two and a half years in this ward, my experience has been full of quality time:
- With friends: spending time playing games, watching movies, going on trips together, or discussing things of joy or even things that have brought us heartache.
- With home teachies: with over 15 different home teaching companions and new home teachies with almost every new companionship, I have had the opportunity to visit with many of you, get to know you, feel the spirit in your home, learn to love you, and respect the love you have for our Savior and this gospel.
- With the ward and bishopric: from dressing up as old people during Halloween to visiting with the bishopric over the many callings and the good and bad experiences Amy and I have gone through.
- With family: from spiritual strength to spiritual turmoil, seeing weddings, experiencing break-ups, witnessing graduations, and hearing of births and pregnancies, Amy and I have appreciated the support and quality time with both of our families as they are very nearby.
- With my favorite person in this world, my wife: searching for hours for car keys thrown in the dumpster on a special anniversary, aiding her swollen hand from some kind of insect sting (wedding ring), enduring the nervousness of being accepted first into the Marriott School at BYU, then the Information Systems program, then the Master’s program, and then receiving a internship offer in North Carolina, and sharing every moment of trial, sorrow, joy, and success with tears of joy or tears of comfort.
These past two and a half years have been among the greatest of my life, I spent one night crying and laughing myself to sleep as I replayed the past experiences in my mind. Even with all these experiences, one person I have turned to for comfort is my Savior. Spending quality time with our Savior is probably the most rewarding use of our time.
Our Savior suffered so great and excruciating pain that as Luke says, "His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." He suffered pains that would have caused any one of us to suffer death. This great atonement is the greatest event that took place in history as it provides a way for us to return back to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ’s presence. So it is critical that we find quality time with our Savior.
I remember the time Amy and I got in a five car accident which caused me to deeply reflect on the value and meaning of life. I found comfort through the Savior, I felt him nearby, I saw miracles through prayer, and I felt assurance that if something separates us through death, we can be together again in life. Truly, as Alma explains to the people of Gideon, "[Christ] will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people."
One moment of deep sorrow for me was when someone I loved deeply decided to leave the church. This was a trying time for my testimony. During this time, I found comfort in Alma’s words once again, "[Our Savior] shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people."
Several times I have had the opportunity to give blessings to the sick in the ward and to my wife. In this time of trial for others, I was able to experience a minute part of what the Savior did for us. Alma again says, "He will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people." Although I couldn’t really take the sickness of others upon myself no matter how much I wanted to, I could try to "comfort those in need of comfort."
Even though the Savior can give us relief in so many ways, the most powerful, I believe, is redemption from the second death, the spiritual death. Oftentimes I feel overcome by my sins and sink down in despair where I lose all hope. When I realize and completely understand that Christ can bring me out of this pit of despair, I find hope, renewed faith, and increased charity towards man. Alma explains that "the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance."
When we spend quality time with our Savior, we truly will feel joy in knowing death isn’t the end, experience comfort we need, receive strength during our time of sickness, and see liberation from our sins.
While on his mission, Elder Orson F. Whitney dreamed of the time after the Savior’s resurrection where he ran to the Savior’s feet, clasped Him around the knees, and begged The Savior to take him with Him. He then recounted, "I shall never forget the kind and gentle manner in which He stooped and raised me up and embraced me…[and] said, ‘No, my son; these have finished their work, and they may go with me; but you must stay and finish yours.’" Elder Whitney continued, "Well, promise me that I will come to You at the last." The Savior affirmed, "That will depend entirely upon yourself."
As we know, our return to be in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ’s presence for eternity is conditional on how we live our lives today, not tomorrow and not yesterday. Let us have quality time with the Savior and not waste away a minute of our lives. Let us seek the forgiveness we need and should give. Let us live our lives in accordance with how the Savior would.
My invitation to you, whether you have been in the ward a couple of weeks or a couple of years, whether you are moving out in a couple of weeks or a couple of years, is that you can spend quality time with those around you and seek quality time with the Savior. Be a friend. Be a good home/visiting teacher. Be an example.
Testimony of Friends, Testimony of Bishopric, Testimony of Savior