I will go before your face.
I will be on your right hand and on your left,
and my Spirit shall be in your hearts,
and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.
Doctrine and Covenants 84:88
Before I was paralyzed, I worked as a children’s party planner in Salt Lake City, Utah. I loved my job and I took it very seriously, considering my position to be pretty elite and my duty to plan awesome weekly themed parties for kids pretty important. It was more of a glorified babysitting service so parents could have a free Friday night, but the kids – and I – loved it.
One evening, before we began the party, I was making my way through the bustle of parents checking in their kids to the large open room where we had all kinds of fun stuff for the kids to play with. There were foosball tables, air hockey tables, and regular tables covered with board games. There were kids drawing on a large chalk board, playing with balloons, playing tag and duck-duck-goose. It was a little chaotic and a lot exciting. I was taking in all of the energy and assessing the group before we got started.
As I looked over all the kids, my eyes stopped on one little girl, about 6 or 7 year old, who looked out of place. Instead of participating in all (or any) of the fun, she was sitting alone in a chair with her long, blonde hair hanging lifeless as she stared, unseeingly, through the room.
As I was looking at this little girl, I felt someone come and stand next to me. Though no one was there that I could see with my eyes, I heard the words, “Go include her.”
With that direction, I reassessed the scene. This little girl had kids less than sixteen inches away playing a rousing game of checkers. Kids just in front of her were playing with a balloon. And kids behind her were drawing on the chalkboard.
She chooses to not participate, I said to myself. She chooses to sit there all alone.
And so I went about what I had to do to get ready to start the party. A short time later I found myself back in that same spot, looking over the group of kids before we got started.
For the second time, I saw that same little girl, sitting in that same little chair, with that same little sad stare. For the second time, I felt the same person come and stand next to me and say again, this time more pleadingly, “Please. Go include her.”
I had other things to do. I mean, seriously, I was in charge of this whole night and had a million things left to do on my to-do list before we started the party. But I rolled my eyes and headed for this girl. I tried to be chipper as I introduced myself and asked if she wanted to play with a balloon with me.
“No,” was her soft reply. “I don’ think so.”
In my mind I rolled my eyes again, but kept smiling. “Well, would you like to play checkers?”
“No,” she said softly again. “I don’t think so.”
I was starting to get really annoyed. I needed to be working on starting the party. But here I was trying to include a girl who wanted nothing to do with me or any of the awesome activities I had available for her.
But as I looked at her, I took a mental step back and really looked at her. Her clothes were clean, but she was wearing a shirt that obviously matched a separate set of pants. And her hair was clean, but it looked like she’d just gotten out of the shower and no one combed through it. My heart took pity on her and I asked her if I could comb her hair. She thought that’d be a good idea.
As I sat behind her, combing her long, blonde hair, she said to me, “My mom used to do this.”
I responded casually, “Oh yeah, was your mom busy today?”
Her soft reply gave me chills then and hasn’t ceased to squeeze my heart even now, many years later. “No,” she said. “She died yesterday.”
I don’t remember much of what else happened that day; I don’t know if we started the party on time, heck, I don’t even remember if we started it at all. I don’t remember what I was wearing; I just remember her mismatched outfit. I don’t remember what my own hair looked like or how I styled it. I just remember hers. And combing it. And how lucky I felt to be asked to help “include” her.
I can’t say I know for sure who it was who stood next to me and asked me to reach out to that little girl—but I have a pretty good guess. And I feel so…privileged…that I was asked to do what that spirit couldn’t.
I believe in angels, I believe they surround us, I believe that they love us. But I also believe there are things they can’t do.
They can’t sit behind us and comb our hair. They can’t bring us casseroles. They can’t babysit.
So they go and find those who are listening and ask them for help – hoping, wishing, praying that we mortals will put aside our to-do lists and ourselves and act without hesitation to serve, uplift, help, and include those whom the angels love. President Monson says “Never, never, never postpone a prompting.” (The Spirit Giveth Life, 1997)
We would never tell Jesus Christ that we are too busy or uncomfortable to do what He asked and so we mustn’t brush off His messengers either. I have often wondered why I felt such a disconnect between me and the spirit I knew was speaking, at the time I thought only the Holy Ghost gave us promptings. It wasn’t until later that I began to understand promptings just a tiny bit more.
Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. (2nd Nephi 32:3)
And what we “should do” is take ourselves and our to-do lists a lot less seriously, open our hearts, listen with our spiritual ears, and never, never, never postpone those delicious opportunities to be on the errand of angels.