Remember those candy-colored pop beads we used to play with as kids? The plastic ones with a hole on one side and a tail on the other so you could connect them without a string, almost like the cars of a model train. They were bedazzling because they were so easily reordered and rearranged—countless configurations, whether clustered by hue, aligned like the rainbow, or placed in pretty patterns. No need to fiddle with a tricky clasp; you could pop them open at any point and have a fresh new string of beads!
Similarly seeking out pretty colors and a feminine atmosphere, I recently went to get my nails done. I happily relaxed into the gentle pampering and let my mind drift from my paused to-do list to the playful pop music in the background and then let it rest on a nearby conversation between a middle-aged mom and her manicurist.
As I listened in, I realized this lady was not your typical chatty customer. True, she was telling the nice guy doing her nails about the race car movie she’d just seen with her husband—a good topic for casual conversation. But then she started to ask him questions, and it became apparent that she not only knew his name, but she also knew his hobbies, and she was truly interested in his answers. She knew he was a Formula One aficionado who would know all the intricacies of the sport, and she was drawing out wisdom from him that had the entire room riveted!
The following Saturday morning, I tuned in with eager anticipation to the introductory message of General Conference—Elder Bednar’s heartfelt expression of gratitude to “they of the last wagon.”
As I listened, I started to reflect on that lovely interaction at the nail salon. In a place that might sometimes reflect pride or privilege, I’d been humbled by a simple display of love. It made no difference to this kind sister where her brother currently stood in some imaginary social line. Rather, she seemed to appreciate his unique bead as a beautiful part of the stunning strand where we all belong. Her sincere interest modeled the sort of appreciation Elder Bednar expressed so sincerely to those further back in line—those not currently in the spotlight—the “less conspicuous” who are “no less serviceable.” I was moved by Elder Bednar’s humble admission to those like this Maserati-loving manicurist: “Your unpretentious, consecrated lives inspire me to be a better man and disciple.”
That was the sense the movie-going woman was exuding—she was being enlivened by this gentleman’s particular passion for sports cars, and she recognized that his enthusiasm and interest were blessing her.
The more I’ve pondered Elder Bednar’s message and my memory of that overheard conversation, I’ve realized both are about consecration—that higher level of covenant living that lifts every relationship.
In an earlier talk, Elder Bednar explained that “consecration encompasses sacrifice and much more—even a commitment to become dedicated to and developed for holy purposes.” It’s a commitment “to make ourselves fit for use and fully available” to help the Lord accomplish His great work. That’s a powerful way to live because that kind of generous offering (regardless of our position as we make it) naturally “increases our desire to serve, bless, and love others” (David A. Bednar, speaking at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 11, 2018).
It’s been prophesied repeatedly that “the last shall be first and the first shall be last” (see Matthew 20:16; D&C 29:30; 1 Nephi 13:42). Perhaps that’s partly because, as Howard W. Hunter explained, “when we understand why [we serve], we won’t be concerned about where we serve." Like beads in a beautiful strand, position matters little as long as we’re willing to sparkle and shine wherever we are.
Why not pause to look around and see who’s sparkling next to you? They’ll appreciate your attention, and others might be watching. Your gratitude could start a chain reaction that could make the whole world more beautiful!
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