A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak at Time Out for Girls in Orlando, Fla. Sharing my journey and testimony with girls all over the country has always been one of the sweetest blessings in my life. Feeling their love and amazing spirits uplifts, inspires and motivates me to be a better daughter of God.
On the airplane ride home, I sat next to fellow presenter Hank Smith. Hank is a good friend of mine, a seminary teacher in Springville, Utah, and an incredible influence on the youths of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His hilarious storytelling ability helps young people connect with gospel principles in a fun and engaging way.
I decided to take advantage of sitting next to a well-read, spirit-filled seminary teacher and proceeded to bombard the poor man with questions I had been stewing over about prayer, God’s love, faith, finances and temple work. I got off the plane that Sunday afternoon having received some answers to prayers and with new spiritual insight on some of my ponderings.
The next night, I was invited over to a friend’s house. It was late, I was tired and as much as I love visiting, I wasn’t sure I wanted to change out of my comfortable pajamas and leave my husband — again — after I’d been away all weekend.
But almost automatically (and with the blessing of my husband), I said yes, and headed over — though I didn’t change out of my pajamas.
As soon as I arrived, my friend asked me about my weekend in Orlando. I briefly told her some of what Hank and I had discussed on the plane, and she seemed eager for more detail. What followed was a beautiful conversation in which we both were brought to tears.
I learned that she had been searching for answers on a particular subject for weeks. And one of the things I shared with her was a direct answer to not only my prayer, but hers as well. Then she shared a sweet story about her grandmother and life on the other side. I felt so reassured and peaceful as what she told me was yet another answer to my prayers.
I felt so happy that I made the effort to visit my friend. She later told me that it was not at all a coincidence I had come over that night.
One of the talks Hank shared with me was Elder David A. Bednar’s “The Tender Mercies of the Lord” from the 2005 April general conference.
“I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are available to all of us and that the Redeemer of Israel is eager to bestow such gifts upon us,” Elder Bednar said.
The phrase “eager to bestow” jumped out at me. The Lord wants to show me that he loves me. In fact, he is eager to bestow that love and precious gift upon me, his daughter.
I have decided to begin a “tender mercies” journal in which I write little things I notice during the day that are the Lord’s way of saying, “I love you. I am aware of you. I am here.”
“The Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ," Elder Bednar said. "Truly, the Lord suits 'his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men' (Doctrine and Covenants 46:15)."
There are so many ways in which God expresses his love that are not merely coincidences, as my friend stated. And as important as recognizing those acts of love are, it is equally important we live our lives not only to be worthy recipients, but worthy benefactors, acting on promptings and inspiration to provide those tender mercies to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
It has been my sweet experience over the past few weeks that as much as we look for and recognize those tender mercies, he will shower us with more, even “that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.