Bleached Bones

I pull an old book off the shelf and begin to peruse the pages. The pictures are beautiful and the message is personal. 21 Days Closer to Christ, it says. I remember starting the book once or twice, but I never actually completed the 21 Day process. With Easter quickly approaching, I think the timing is perfect.

I notice in the introduction, the author suggests that this book can be more flexible than the title implies. It doesn’t need to be 21 days. The book can be read as quickly or as slowly as desired. Weeks, instead of days, is one example.

I think of the 40 week adventure my baby sister recently began. Her own journey into motherhood. I want to share this book with her. What better time to draw nearer to Christ than we you are preparing to shoulder the responsibility of welcoming a precious child of God into this world?

I think of other women I know – women who are currently carrying heavy loads in life. I know that the Savior can make those burdens lighter. In several cases, He is the only one who can provide the healing that they need. Suddenly I have a list of five, six, seven women with whom I want to share this book. The list keeps growing. “Maybe I can do this,” I think. It would be a budgeting splurge, but I look up the price of the book to see how many I can afford to buy. The book isn’t new, so perhaps the price has gone down since it first came out. A quick internet search immediately dashes my hopes. I don’t know that I can justify spending my family budget on even one book, much less the several I am suddenly wanting. Still, I want these women to know they are loved. What can I buy them, surprise them with, send them?

As the day ends, these questions are still weighing on my mind. I pray, “Heavenly Father, there are so many amazing women with such heavy hearts. Please let me know how to help. What can I do? Who do I need to focus on first? Where do I start?” I feel helpless and overwhelmed. I’m just one person with finite time and resources. But I’m willing. I am a member of the Relief Society. I have a divine mandate to “reach out and help those in need.” But how?

Life continues. The questions fade into the background. I read a book. I spend time with my family. I live my life.

Then it happens. Unexpected opportunities start to present themselves. A conversation here, a gathering there. Reaching out to a friend online. The thought to send a card in the mail. An invitation for a walk that leads to the discovery of real needs that I can easily help with.

It takes me several days to notice, but in simple and ordinary ways, my prayer is answered. Subtle, quiet, simple promptings help guide me to places where I really can make a difference. And it feels good.

“Every day, Relief Society sisters around the world experience the entire range of mortal challenges and experiences. Women and their families today live face to face with unrealized expectations; mental, physical, and spiritual illness; accidents; and death. Some sisters suffer loneliness and disappointment because they do not have families of their own, and others suffer from the consequences of poor choices made by family members. Some have experienced war or hunger or natural disasters, and others are learning about the strain of addictions, unemployment, or insufficient education and training. All of these difficulties have the potential to bleach the bones of faith and exhaust the strength of individuals and families. One of the Lord’s purposes in organizing the sisters into a discipleship was to provide relief that would lift them above “all that hinders the joy and progress of woman.”

~Julie B. Beck

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