Each of us have little quirks that others likely notice about us and are perhaps even annoyed by. Laura “Laurie” Wilcox loved jewelry, especially bracelets, and frequently could only find one of two earrings in a pair. But do those little annoyances matter when the people we love are gone? Or would we give anything to search for a missing earring one last time?
“I used to question why she needed another one, but the sight of all her bracelets and single earrings in the drawer brought such warmth to my heart the other day that I would not have cared had she purchased a thousand, . . . So love reaches back into the past and turns all the droughts to watered gardens,” Laurie’s husband, S. Michael Wilcox wrote shortly after her passing.
On this week’s episode of All In, Wilcox shared what one of the “questions of Christ” from his new book, What Seek Ye?, has taught him in the years since. Listen to the episode in the player below or read by clicking here. You can also read a full transcript of the episode here.
The following excerpt has been edited for clarity.
Morgan Jones: Another part in your book, Sunset, that I love is, in this section, you give an example of her losing earrings, and you say she always only could find one of the earrings in a pair. But you talked about how, after she passed, those single earrings, even that, filled you with love for her. And you said, "We should love people for what they are at their very best, the totality of all their highest moments from every age. This is the real person, the eternal one, the one we are to remember and hold dear, I of her and she of me." What has the loss of Laurie in this life taught you about loving people as they are and appreciating them for who they are, even in our mortal imperfection?
S. Michael Wilcox: Well, I mean, the earrings thing used to be an annoyance, you know? Like her addiction to bracelets. She loved bracelets. But they become endearments later on, and I think that's probably true for a lot of things. I think that quote is from Sunset.
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Morgan Jones: Yes, sir.
S. Michael Wilcox: One of the questions, or one of the things that I deal with in What Seek Ye? that Jesus asked is, "Why do you look at the motes in other people's eyes?" And I think sometimes we answer, "Because they're there, I can see them." And I can just see hear the Lord say, "Yes, I know they're there. But why are you looking at them? We should not be looking at those things." But we live in a real mote-picking world. It's a disease now. We're always looking at the negative. And so when Laurie died—I tell this story in Sunset—I went to Antarctica. It's such a beautiful place to heal, and Laurie loved Antarctica. So I went down there, and my daughter said, "We will clean out mother's things when you're gone because that'll be painful for you." Her clothes, and all her bracelets and single earrings. And I said, "No, because there'll be things I want. I'll want those single earrings and those bracelets, and there'll be a certain hairbrush and I'll want these things. But when I get back, we'll do them together." So we did, we started in the closet upstairs and went all the way down. Laurie saved everything; I threw everything away. She just saved everything. We threw a lot away, and there were things I wanted and things the kids wanted. When I was done cleaning the whole house, I was sitting in bed late one night and the Spirit said, "Michael, there's another cleansing I want you to do now. It is the cleansing of the memory and the heart and the soul of every negative you ever shared with this woman. Throw them all away. Every mote and every beam, I want you to throw away." So I get to remember Laurie how? In absolute perfection. She was the most feminine, most perfect woman God ever put on Earth. That's the way I remember her. No motes, no beams. She had no motes. I have to deal with my own beams. I have to deal with the fear—I always had a question I dealt with, "Why are you so fearful?" I'm afraid she won't want me. I'm afraid I have too many beams for her mote-less soul.
And after having that experience of cleansing the memory of all mote, of all the negatives, a few months later, the Spirit came back and said, "Now, Michael, what you did with Laurie, whom you love so much, I want you to do with everybody. Throw all the motes and all the beams away. Don't hold in your heart or your mind any of those negatives. We throw them all away. The best you, the real you—sometimes we say, "Now I know the real you"—the real you is you at your best. All the best moments put together make the real you. The you God sees. The you He wants us to see. That doesn't mean that we don't have to make assessments of people's characters and how much we trust them. We do make all those assessments. But we want to see them at their very best. I think it's a gift God gives women—I think he gave it to Laurie, certainly—to see the men they love, to see their children at their very best. And because they see us that way, we try to live up to it. We try to "arise." So that's helped me to not mote-pick and answer Jesus's question, "Why are you doing this?" So I get to say, "Lord, I'm not doing it. I learned not to do it with Laurie, you taught me, I'm not going to do with anybody else."
From a young age and throughout His ministry, Jesus Christ asked questions: deep questions, thought-provoking questions. He asked questions of future Apostles and the Samaritan woman, of those who didn't believe and those seeking miracles. We often think of our relationship with God in terms of us being the questioner approaching the great Answerer. But what if He is actually the great Questioner, and we are intended to wrestle—not to receive the answers from Him, but to give them? Bestselling author S. Michael Wilcox teaches, "How we answer those questions tells our Father in Heaven much about us, as well as revealing ourselves to ourselves." Over time, Wilcox has also learned, "If I am the Answerer and God the Questioner and I can answer His questions with thought and devotion, then my own inquiries to Him are significantly diminished." As you explore these short yet profound questions, you'll learn more about the Savior and more about yourself, discovering personal answers along the way. Available now at DeseretBook.com.