I am a hugger. And I prefer hugs to handshakes. Whether we are old friends or newly acquainted, I naturally feel inclined to exchange a hug in a greeting or when I am leaving.
Hugs heal and connect you with another soul in deep and unspoken ways. Hence, my ears perked up when Elder Daines said, “Covenants are the shape of God’s embrace” during his October 2023 General Conference address. For several moments, my mind hung onto those words. It is an endearing image to see in our mind’s eye our Heavenly Father wrapping us deeply and completely in the arms of His Love. I immediately began to ponder, “What is required to regularly feel God’s heavenly hug?”
According to Elder Daines's remarks, covenants are linked to God’s love. Hence, when we are keeping our covenants, we can feel embraced by God.
When we choose to walk the path of Christian discipleship, the first covenant we accept is baptism. In the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 18 outlines the specific commitment we are making under this covenant:
“And now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” (Mosiah 18: 8, 9)
At the end of June, my father unexpectedly passed away. Regardless of the nature of death and one’s associated faith, the pain of the mortal separation can be heartbreaking and challenging. Through the logistics and heartache of placing my father’s affairs in order, it was such a comfort to me and my family when a friend, neighbor, or extended family member contacted us. Sometimes the outreach was simply condolences. In other instances, it was to offer assistance. Those gestures were beautiful blessings and strengths in our time of need. Among these many kindnesses, one in particular stood out to me.
Several weeks before my father’s death, I participated in a women’s conference at a stake an hour away from my home. There, I met a young lady with whom I immediately formed a friendship. We stayed in touch, and I informed her when my father passed away. She directly inquired about his funeral services expressing an interest to be present. I appreciated her thoughtfulness, but let her know it would not be necessary, given our brief acquaintance and the traveling distance.
On the day of my father’s services, it was a sacred sweetness to observe my new friend in the church pews. I was further touched as she drove an additional half hour to participate in the graveside dedication services. This young woman was truly fulfilling her covenant commitment to “mourn with those that mourn … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” Throughout that day, I was literally and spiritually encircled, even embraced in the Lord’s love for me and my family.
When we seek to honor God by keeping our word through the covenants we accept, He will pour out His blessings upon us, as well as on those whom we love. I will forever be grateful for a gracious God who loves each one of us enough to embrace us with heavenly hugs as we strive to live up to our covenantal promises.
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