I will stand I will not fall
in a world that’s weak I will be strong.
I’ll be true I will choose his way
Yeah I know what’s right and I will not change.
In a world where so many will not, I will.
When I travel, I try to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit telling me who and how to serve. I try to shake off the inhibitions and serve when I feel prompted, even if it’s awkward and embarrassing. And it’s often awkward and embarrassing.
I just try to be someone God can count on when He asks.
Recently, as I was coming home from speaking in Denver, I was pushing my wheelchair through the crowded airport and everyone was anxious to leave. It was very late and there was no one sitting in the seats at the gates, they seemed to be done for the night and everyone was going the same direction – out.
As I made my way with the mass, I saw a dark-skinned (I’d say African-American, but I really have no idea what nationality she was) airport worker passing by me going the other way. She walked with her shoulders and head down just a little, not sad but not terribly excited to be working that night. I assumed she was there for her shift to clean the airport because she was carrying some cleaning supplies. Her eyes, cast downward, seemed to have resoluteness to them, as if she were thinking to herself, “I’m here. It’s late, but whatever. Let’s do this.” But what really caught my eye was her hair.
She had super big, super wild, and super amazing hair. It was all dark except a chunky blond piece and all of it was styled in a very huge way – swooping up and high, almost like a wave, on the blond side. I loved it and waited for the prompting of the Holy Spirit to tell me to compliment her.
But He didn’t.
I listened harder.
But He still didn’t…
I felt confused – why wasn’t the Spirit telling me to compliment her? It would have been good and might have helped her start out her long night with a lighter heart.
The girl with the great hair was about 10 feet away and coming closer when I heard this scripture in my mind:
Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; (D&C 58:27).
What? Was that the Spirit? Was He telling me to compliment her or not? Or that He didn’t care? Or that it was my choice to compliment her? Or not? What? What about following the Spirit? That’s what I am trying to do!!
I am sure this internal conversation took only moments, but the distance between me and this girl was closing fast and, quite frankly, if it really was my choice, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to compliment her. It was a loud airport. I’d have to yell. She wasn’t looking at me. I’d have to first get her attention. By yelling. And I’m tired. Her hair was awesome, but I’m sure she doesn’t need yet another compliment about it. She probably gets them all the time. And I go out of my way so very often to follow the Spirit. I do some pretty uncomfortable things sometimes – lots of times! Even when I feel inhibited, which is every single time! Surely I have paid my spiritual dues.
I watched this girl walk by me and I tried to make eye contact and show her my smile, maybe she’d look up and I could say “Hey great hair,” but she didn’t. But hey, I tried. I’d have tried harder and made it happen if the Spirit told me to do so, but He didn’t. So it must not have been very important.
The girl was now behind me and the distance between us was growing with each step of hers and each push of mine. I tried to feel good about the decision I’d made. I reminded myself of how many times I really do follow the Spirit. God knows I’ll do what He asks me to do, that’s why He asks me to do stuff so often. I’ll wait for Him to tell me and for sure I will act when He does!
But then another scripture came into my mind.
For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. (D&C 58:26)
Slothful. Unwise. Compelled.
Is this really how God sees me – ME – who acts – even when uncomfortably – when I feel promptings?
But I guess I didn’t come to this Earth to be a puppet, even God’s puppet. I came to do God’s will, yes, but that includes doing good things on my own.
And doing good things on my own means making good choices. On my own. Did I really believe what I spout so often at speeches – that compliments are the greatest things ever and we should open our mouths and freely give them? Why was I waiting for a member of the Godhead to command me to tell this girl that I liked her hair? Do I choose to at least try to brighten her work “day?” Do I choose to at least try to make her smile and lift up her head full of amazing hair?
Yes. I said to myself, but maybe even out loud. I choose to.
I spun my wheelchair around and faced the masses of people all marching toward me as I started after this girl. She was a good few gates beyond and, as fast as I could go, I just couldn’t close the distance. The luggage on the back of my wheelchair was heavy and the ill-tempered travelers were not making it easy as I weaved between them and their baggage.
After several minutes of chasing her, I finally saw her stop by a big rolling dumpster and a few other airport workers. I was slightly breathless when I was finally close enough to tell her that I liked her hair. She looked at me with a strange expression, I’m not sure if it was confusion or annoyance, and said thanks.
It was relatively uncomfortable.
Awkwardly, I wished all the workers a great night and turned to rejoin the exiters. I smiled to myself, partly because I was embarrassed, but my smiled widened with the knowledge that I was slowly becoming someone who not just could do God’s work when asked, but who would choose to do it even if she wasn’t.