60: Practical Religion
Stories in this episode: Armed with yeast and flour, Ben jumps in to make a difference for his community after his involvement in two tragedies; Lecia grapples with three-in-the-morning anxiety until one simple practice brings peace; Chris finds himself stuck in the mud and snow with no way home—except to follow the nudges he gets from the Spirit.
Armed with yeast and flour, Ben jumps in to make a difference for his community after his involvement in two tragedies; Lecia grapples with three-in-the-morning anxiety until one simple practice brings peace; Chris finds himself stuck in the mud and snow with no way home—except to follow the nudges he gets from the Spirit.
PLEASE NOTE: stories may contain themes addressing topics that are sensitive for some listeners. We suggest previewing before sharing with children or youth.
President Nelson's talk: "Spiritual Treasures" from October General Conference 2019 that KaRyn quotes.
KaRyn also quotes from Brigham Young, you can find those quotes in the 3rd chapter of "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young," called "Living the Gospel."
If you or someone you love is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, please, please reach out to someone for help. You can text 741741 anonymously from anywhere in the US, or you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Visit their website here: suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Link to Ben's pottery website: potterboy.com
Instagram account Ben created to help people connect, he shares stories of people and ways you can help:@protopiansunited
Ben with the mini sourdough loaves that he bakes and delivers to neighbors, calling it "Sourdough Sunday":
At one point Ben started inviting people to gather at his house and connect while eating the sourdough bread, but because of COVID, Ben and his family are back to delivering it . . . this time with a telescoping rod.
KaRyn's beautiful collection of dishes, including the jadeite cake stand that broke as she carried it to a Relief Society social:
Some photos of other rare dishes that KaRyn loves to collect and use in her everyday life. One as a jewelry dish, others for a family dinner:
KaRyn Lay 0:04
Welcome to This Is the Gospel, an LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host KaRyn Lay. You know, there are a lot of things about the gospel of Jesus Christ that can feel pretty abstract sometimes.
For example, have you ever wondered what it actually means to apply the Atonement to our lives? We throw that phrase around, like it's just a thing we come into the world knowing how to do. But if I'm being totally honest with you, I'm not exactly sure all the time what that looks like in practice. What about receiving forgiveness, or more importantly, giving forgiveness to someone else? And don't even get me started on the concept of receiving revelation or accessing and using the power of the Priesthood? There are so many, "But how?!"– moments in my life.
I'll never forget in the October General Conference of 2019, when it felt like President Nelson was speaking directly to me and my questioning heart. He had just gotten done inviting the women of the Church to explore and integrate the covenant power of God in our lives through the priesthood when he said, quote, "Now, you might be saying to yourself, 'This sounds wonderful, but how do I do it? How do I draw the Savior's power into my life?'" end quote. And you know that scene in movies where the main character looks around to see if someone is in the room with them reading their diary? That was me in that moment. It's possible that I had even written that specific question down. "But how?" He continued, quote, "You won't find this process spelled out in any manual. The Holy Ghost will be your personal tutor as you seek to understand what the Lord would have you know, and do. This process is neither quick nor easy, but it is spiritually invigorating." End quote, and . . . mic drop. As someone who can sometimes get caught up in that desire to do everything right, the fact that there is no checklist for how to apply some of these gospel principles in my life? Well, I guess I needed a prophet of God to remind me that the work of discipleship is all about the process, and that the process is spiritually invigorating.
So even though we are necessarily on our own personal journey to understand how to "do" the Atonement, and all those other wonderful parts of the gospel – the good news is that we can still learn from one another in our practice. And on today's episode, each one of our storytellers is going to share their experience of taking a principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, from theoretical to practical in their lives. Our first story comes from Chris who fine tuned his ability to follow and trust the promptings of the Spirit, long before he would need it. Here's Chris.
I got a call from my mother one evening, and she said, "Chris, I heard dad's truck drive by my window, just making sure it's you, because your dad is in the TV room watching TV." And I said, "No, I wasn't me. It must have been somebody else." My mom and dad moved on my 20 acre property about 24 years ago. They live just about as close as, you know, hitting a golf ball to their home. I borrow his truck occasionally, but I usually ask. So she found that this was a little unusual that I didn't ask. Dad had a habit of leaving his keys in the ignition in his truck, because he often misplaces them. And he uses it for everything. Being on 20 acres, he uses it continually. So he just leaves the keys in the truck, and when he needs it, it's always there. So somebody had definitely stolen his truck. We called the police and the police kind of looked over the country a little bit, but they didn't find a thing.
My mom and dad were devastated that the truck was gone. Simply because dad uses it all the time. And mom works and she uses the car, so dad is left without a truck. The next day, I was getting ready for work. I had a strong impression that I needed to go find the truck. And this feeling I had gave me the confidence that I could find it if I just go look for it. That feeling continued to be with me through the whole day, and so when I got home from work, I quickly put my jeans and T-shirt on climbed in the truck, said a prayer in my heart that I would be led to the missing truck.
The area that I live in is out in the country. Our acreage is mostly desert, as well as all the property and countryside. Not a lot of trees. Just a lot of open space. I remember going to the end of the driveway, and I was faced with my first dilemma. Do I go left? Do I go straight? Or do I go right? I tried really hard to listen to the enticement of the Spirit. Basically giving up the steering wheel – so to speak – to the power greater than me.
I've learned through my life that the Spirit talks to me through impressions. And basically speaking to my mind, not in an audible voice per se, but thoughts that are not normally mine or my way of thinking. I think about this experience where I really found this to be true.
A few years previous, I decided to go hunting one Thanksgiving before the Thanksgiving feast that evening. So I took off to the hills with my gun, and very unprepared for anything. All I cared about is just having my gun and my truck and taking off. I went to the mountains and found a road that went for miles. The further I went, the deeper the snow became. And I knew that I could get into trouble. But I thought I was safe. Because my truck has four wheel drive. The snow was getting deeper and deeper. As I came around a corner, I slid off the side of the road. And I definitely got stuck. So I threw in four wheel drive. And it did not seem to help at all, the tires just spun.
It got deeper in the snow and deeper in the mud, and before long I was high centered, there was no way I was getting out of the situation. My only option here was to start walking back to the road. I had been on this road for a long time, and walking it was going to take a long time. So, knowing this, and given that it was Thanksgiving Day, there weren't gonna probably be a lot of people out. And I didn't tell my wife where I was going because I didn't know exactly where I was going. So really, nobody knew where my location was. That was perhaps maybe one of the scariest feelings. Just knowing nobody knew I was there – to help me. I started my journey. And I noticed up on the side of the hill, there was some construction going on. Some removal of brush and some trees and things like that. I thought maybe if I go up there, there will be some tools like a shovel or some things that may just help me to get out. As I walked up the hill, I found really nothing that would help me. But to my right I noticed this huge machine, it was a huge earthmover. I thought man, if I could just drive that down the road and pull myself out, that would be great. It didn't take me long to think, yeah, I think maybe I could do this. I'm gonna go see if I can somehow get this down the road. So I jumped inside, look for the key, as I put my hand down to the side of the seat, I noticed a little pocket on the side and reached in there, and lo and behold, there was a key, and it actually fit the ignition. I tried turning it over. And it started right up – to my amazement. I figured out how to put it in gear, and I stepped on the accelerator. The engine revved a little bit, but it wouldn't move. And I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get this thing to move.
I kept stepping on the accelerator and nothing. Time is starting to get short, I need to do something. Since I couldn't move the machine, I turned it off, put the key back and started walking down the road again. As I was walking, I had an impression in my mind that said turn around and go back and try again. I knew that this wasn't coming from me because I was so set in walking. I knew that that was my only choice. But as that impression came to my mind, I knew that maybe I had another choice, and I was going to give it a shot. So I hopped back in put the key in started it up, hit the accelerator, and still, nothing happened. So I gave up, turned it off, put the key back and started walking again. As I walked, I had that same impression come to my mind. I turned back around, got back in this machine and started it up again. This was the third time and I thought okay, third time, it's got to be the charm. I stepped on the accelerator. Still nothing happened. I was getting frustrated and just wondering what in the heck am I gonna do? And I sat there with the engine running, just contemplating what other choices do I have? I tried one last time – I stepped on the accelerator. And I thought I felt the machine move just a little bit. And that gave me some hope and some courage. The longer I let the machine sit there and run, the more this machine was starting to move. And it suddenly dawned on me that we're dealing with a machine that that works with hydraulics. Perhaps this thing just needs to get warmed up. So I let it warm up a little Bit more stepped on the accelerator, and before long I was moving down the road. And was able to get to my truck and pull it out.
I've learned to trust my impressions since that Thanksgiving experience and realized that is how the Lord speaks to me. By giving me the impressions and gentle enticements, to do something. And now here I am at a crossroad listening to that enticement and being nudged, to take a left. So I turn left and continue down the country road a while when a feeling came over me to turn left on the next road. I slowed down and took a road that veered off through the desert, which was full of potholes, mud, and wondered why I'm going down this road. I drove for 20 more minutes until I came to a canal bank. On one side of the canal was just water. And the other side was probably about 20 – 30 acres of just trees and heavy brush. Then the impressing came to me stop and just get out.
So I got out of my truck and walked down the other side of the canal bank into a thicket of bushes, which emptied into a large field. And I could see the tree line on the left of me going up the field. I got about 500 yards, and the adversary really started to work on me. Putting thoughts into my mind saying, "What in the heck are you doing? Why are you going this way? There's no really possibility of anybody coming down here in a vehicle? There's no roads, there's nothing. This is a waste of time." So as these thoughts hit my mind, I convinced myself that it was probably true.
So I turned back and headed back to the truck, and as I was walking back, I got that same Thanksgiving Day impression, "Turn back around and keep walking." So I made a deal with myself that I would walk to the end of the tree line enough to look around on the back end of the trees. but that was it. That's as far as I was gonna go. As I started to look around the back–end of it, I saw a little red truck, tucked back in some trees. It was my dad's truck. And I stood there with an amazed look on my face, and was humbled to know, I was led by my Heavenly Father, to find this needle in this huge haystack.
I started walking to the truck. And as I got closer, I noticed the perpetrator was still in the vehicle. When I got to the hood, I noticed him passed out, or sleeping. And my thoughts immediately went to: I have no idea what to do now. The blessing of being led by the Spirit though, through this whole ordeal gave me a sense of calmness. Which still applied here. No thoughts of being in danger, but just being aware of the whole situation.
In my attempt to wake this person up, I started banging on the hood really hard. And he didn't wake up. So I started hitting the hood some more and this time, he woke up to me looking at him gazing into the window. This startled him a little bit, and long story short – we had a conversation. For reasons beyond my understanding, I wasn't angry at him. For some reason I had compassion on him and let him walk away without consequences. I even offered him a ride back home, but he rejected the offer.
So, when he left, I went ahead and got back into my truck and went back home and told my mom and dad that I had found the truck. They were in awe, and asked, "How did you find it?" The only thing I could tell them was that I was led and directed by the Spirit.
The way the Holy Ghost speaks to us is different for each person. For me, these promptings come as thoughts. And they're usually followed by a feeling in my heart or my chest that confirms the message is right.
I haven't told very many people this story, just those who are closest to me. But I have had a couple of people ask me, "How do you know that the Spirit actually directed you to the truck?" And what I tell them is that I've learned in life, that when I get impressions, that are righteous impressions, that I need to follow my Heavenly Father's guidance. And I've learned that when I do listen and do exactly what the Lord wants me to do, I always benefit from the results.
Because of this experience, I have had the ability to pay more attention to what the Lord is telling me, especially as the Church is going into the ministering. I've had many experiences now where I'm just driving down the road, and I get the impression that I need to call somebody or go visit them. And I've been amazed each time when I follow through and go visit somebody just out of a whim, that they needed somebody to talk to, or they needed help with something. That is the spirit. That is revelation. Just the ability to recognize when He speaks to me.
That was Chris. You know, my favorite part of Chris's story, besides that moment when his mom called him, is the way that both his experience on Thanksgiving Day and his experience with finding the truck in the impossible field, transformed the way he ministers.
I heard someone say once that our God is an efficient God. I can't remember who said it. But I think Chris's story proves that. None of our practice sessions with the gospel are wasted on God. It might have taken Chris three times to trust himself with the message from the Spirit and get that earthmover moving, but it only took him one time to trust the message from the Spirit in the field when he got out of the truck. And now as he ministers, it takes him no time to heed the message, when he feels that nudge to check on a neighbor.
It's a beautiful illustration of that eternal principle that we get better and better when we show up to practice. Unless you're me on the JV soccer team in 10th grade. No amount of practice is improving that game. While our next two stories seem to have similar elements at the beginning, with each storyteller making a pretty difficult discovery, they find their own unique path of practical gospel application.
A quick note to our listeners, even though they are told carefully, these next two stories include references to emergency medical events, and a brief mention of suicide. First up, we'll hear from Leica.
My husband Jay had a major medical event when he was 42, but that's not the story I want to tell today. But in order to understand my story, you are going to need to hear a little bit of his.
It was a Saturday morning when my seven year old daughter and I found my husband slumped on the bathroom floor. He was not breathing, and his face was a horrible purple gray kind of color that I will never forget. I was a little bit – not a little bit, I was panicked in that moment. I hollered at my daughter to go call 911. I'm gonna be honest, My hands were trembling so much that I wasn't totally sure if he had a pulse or not. But I assumed he didn't, and so I just started doing CPR, and the people in the 911 phone call agreed with me that that was the best course of action.
And the paramedics arrived, and then they were able to shock him with their defibrillator paddles and got his heart back into a normal rhythm. So they had to defibrillate his heart again in the ambulance, and again, when he first got to the hospital. They had put him in a medically induced coma to prevent brain damage from the oxygen he had missed out on. So they had intended for him to be in this coma for maybe a day or so, but he stayed in for three days. He wouldn't wake up like they had wanted him to or expected him to.
His neurologist came in at one point and said to me kind of harshly, "Quit saying 'when he wakes up' and start saying 'if.'" And that really threw me. I, I couldn't go home for a while when I left the hospital that day because I was upset and I didn't want my kids to see how scared I was. I did think he was going to die. His mother always thought he would live and come out of it, but I did not feel that. And I was scared. And the hospital chaplain came and visited with me and to prepare me for the worst like they do, and that didn't help.
I had four kids at home who I needed to care for and be strong for and I had a son on a mission who was due to come home in less than a month. I was really worried about him. I was worried about him not being there and not seeing his dad. And I spoke about my fears to one of the ICU nurses and she said, "Yeah, if you want your son to see his dad one more time, you should bring him home immediately." So I called the mission President and I talked to them and I talked to my son, and he he felt like he could stay. He felt like he could stay until his release date and so I honored that. And I guess I'm kind of embarrassed that both my mother-in-law and my son had more faith in, you know, a positive outcome. But I just, I think I was just scared.
So eventually, miraculously, and that's a whole other story, but my husband did recover from this event, he came home and he recovered completely. But I almost did not recover.
I have always considered myself to be capable and independent woman. I mean, I get things done, right. That's who I am. But after Jay's incident, I started to come unglued. Things that normally were really easy for me were suddenly very overwhelming. I specifically remember one of my kids coming home from school with a flat tire on their bike, and I just burst into tears. Like the thought of having to change that tire was just too much for me, even though I've literally changed dozens of flat tires for my kids over the years. This one just felt way bigger than the rest.
Everything that happened felt like too much. You know, sometimes when you're having a lot going on, and then you get that one more thing, and it's the last straw? Everything was the last straw. And it's so unlike me, but it just – I don't know – I don't like changing tires anyway, but I can do it, I've had lots of practice with it, but this one, I was just like, "No, I cannot do this." Everything felt like that. Everything made me want to cry, I was just on edge a lot.
I began having panic attacks, I had this weird sense of my own physical vulnerability. So something small would happen, like I would get heartburn or something, and I would be convinced that I was going to stop breathing. That my heart was going to stop, that something really bad was happening in my own body. And it was going to be really scary, the way Jay's had been. And so my heart would start racing, and I would have just a full on panic attack, based on these thoughts and feelings that I couldn't seem to control. I had never had panic attacks before, and they are scary in how real they feel. You, you really feel like something is majorly wrong with your body, and you're gonna die.
I had terrible night anxiety, which robbed me of many hours of sleep. So one night I woke up maybe a few weeks after my husband had come home, and it was the middle of the night and I was gripped by all the usual fear and worry and anxiety that had been bothering me for these few weeks. And, and I started to think about a primary selling that my children were learning at the time. And it describes some of the miracles that Christ performed when he was on the earth.
And I began to silently sing the lyrics to that song in my mind, and as I did, I tried to picture the events that went with them. So things like Christ walking on the water, or calming the storm, or healing the leper. And I found that centering my thoughts on Christ was a lot more effective at calming my night terror than anything else had been. I had tried things like, you know, thinking about something that was fun or exciting coming up in my life, or a good memory that I just had, or you know, some of those Christmas memories that we had just gone through. And it helped a little but not very much.
But, but these thoughts calmed me and I went back to sleep. So it was way better than anything else I had tried. So as I remembered him in those scary nights, as I thought about the words to the song, the miracles he had performed, the way that he loved and cared for people and still does – I felt myself unlocking really powerful blessings. Blessings of having his spirit with me, like he had promised. And the fruit of that spirit, which is peace. And that peace is what allowed me to calm down and go back to sleep.
I still feel anxiety sometimes, although it's not as strong as it was in the month right after my husband's incident, but it is something that I continue to struggle with, that I take medication for and that I often still wake up in the night because of. So, my Christ centered thoughts didn't cure my anxiety, I don't think that there is a cure for anxiety, it's something we all have sometimes, but it did help. It did give me something that gave me relief in the worst moments of it. But I also have a lot of other tools that I use including, meditation and medication and different things like that.
I went for many years not understanding what it meant to access the power of our covenants, and I still don't think I have a handle on it, but I love that he gave me a little bit of it as I went through this experience. The how for me in this situation was always remembering him by thinking about him in moments when I was not strong. In moments when I was weak, I could lean on him for his strength by just thinking about him. Thinking through his life, things he had done for other people, things he has done for me in the past. That was a really practical "how" for me to know that this, this big concept of leaning on the Savior for his strength could be affected by thinking about Him. By always remembering Him.
It wouldn't make any sense to tell everybody, "Hey, to keep your sacramental covenant, you should wake up at three in the morning and think about Jesus Christ while you battle your anxiety." That's just not a useful application for everybody, but it's useful for me.
I love that my Heavenly Parents believe that I can figure it out. That they also see me as a strong and capable woman who, through the Spirit can learn everything that I need to know to live a life that is as practical as it is powerful.
That was Leica. Talk about calling down the powers of heaven. I am a huge fan of visualization, but I'd never thought about using it to keep Christ continually in my heart, or to dispel chaotic thoughts. I really appreciate Leica's example of allowing Heavenly Father to guide her toward the practical application of the Atonement that would work for her. It makes me think of what President Nelson said about the process. There's no manual because the truth is that the "how" of the gospel is different for each of us. It's deeply dependent upon our needs, our current situation, and our unique spiritual gifts. And what works for Leica might work for me, but it might not. So the trick is to offer my heart to my Father in Heaven, and then wait. Wait for inspiration about what's going to work for me. I actually think it's beautiful that there's no one fits all solution, because that also means that I can let go of comparison and judgment and fear about getting it wrong, and focus instead on getting it right. figuring out what the practical application of the gospel looks like for me in my life, in my circumstances, and make it happen. Our final story about putting our spiritual theories into action comes from Ben.
Last May, I had been asked to speak at a Relief Society function, and I went up to get in my car and realized that my neighbor's car was blocking my driveway. I recognized the car because it was an odd color of green that had a couple of dents in it, and then I realized that it was still running. And I went to the window and the driver was still in there, looked like she was looking in her glove box, I kind of knocked on the window and realized that she wasn't looking in her glove box at all, but was passed out or something was very wrong. I knew it was my neighbor, I'd met her a few times before. I, you know, opened the door and was shaking her leg and was saying, "Wake up, wake up what's going on?" And you know, I don't even know remember what I was saying, but just really, you know, freaked out.
She, she wasn't responsive. I call 911 as quick as I could, and they said you need to get her out and you need to begin CPR. And so I ran into the house, and just you know, yelled at the door, "I need help now!" And you know, my family was still sitting at dinner. My son who was 18 at the time, helped me lift this woman out of the car. We laid her on the grass, it's starting to rain, and I know CPR, but I knew – also knew that she was gone, you know, completely gone. And the fire truck pulled up about a minute and a half after we had her out on the lawn, and they took one look at her and said, you know, "We're not even going to try CPR. She's obviously gone."
The 911 operators is with us the whole time and you know, "Tell me her name. Tell me – How can we . . ." and I couldn't remember this lady's name. I had nothing. And so it's raining, you know, I have to leave I have no way of contacting the people. The paramedics are there and, and basically no they have to wait for the crime scene investigator to come and check everything out. By this point I'm, you know, 20 minutes late already and my son's car was parked out on the street, so I took his car and, and went.
And I think probably one of the most traumatic parts of the story for me is the fact that, you know, I'd known this woman for years, she's, she's been my neighbor for, for 10 years, and I guess I shouldn't say that I really knew her because we wave to each other as we came and went, you know, I knew that she had a partner, they would often sit and smoke cigarettes on the wall, you know, three doors down from me, and I'd wave and say hi, but I had forgotten her name. And, you know, three doors down. I felt like I failed. And I felt like a really, really bad neighbor. And that, that really hurt.
I, you know, promised myself that I would get to know my neighbors better and, and spend more time understanding who they were and a little bit of their story. So, you know, heaven forbid, if anything ever happened like this, again, I'd be able to give it a good answer. So in some ways, I definitely tried to follow through with that, that promise to myself and got to know the guys next door, their names and a little bit of their stories, what they were studying in school. In some ways, I feel, you know, proud that I was able to connect with more of my neighbors after this experience, and recognizing, you know, learning names and, and figuring out a little bit more about their stories, but it really wasn't until another tragedy took place that I realized something much more needed to be done.
A 19 year old neighbor, chose to end her own life. And I was involved with going out and searching for her and reading the note that she had left for her mom's. And ultimately, finding her gone. And in her letter, she talked a lot about feeling hopeless. You know, she had been dealing with some depression for a while, but was getting help and seemed to be doing really well. You know, a sophomore in college and really making good progress – we thought – and then to see this note, and just to see what she, that she just had gotten to the point where she had no hope left in her. And I, and I felt absolutely overwhelmed with the sense that something needed to be done.
My wife and I were on a humanitarian trip in India shortly after this, and spent a lot of time putting together some thoughts and doing some journaling, really feeling like there were some answers that were coming to me about what needed to be done. And one of those came in the form of, I guess, a memory of President Uchtdorf's talk from 2010 that says, "You are my hands." This is the story of Christ, a statue of Christ being bombed during World War Two, and the the villagers as they put their village back together, wanted to repair the statue of Christ. And his hands were badly broken, and they were able to make the repairs on most of the statue, but they decided not to repair his hands and instead hung a sign from the statue that says, "You are my hands."
I felt a need to share some hope and optimism with others. Several months before all this I had been baking bread and taking it and sharing it with my neighbors getting to know neighbors, you know, nobody is ever upset with you when you show up on their doorstep with a loaf of fresh bread. And so, sourdough Sunday had begun with that. So I would start on Saturday nights and and bake on Sunday, and go out and visit people on Sunday afternoons.
Right after we got home from from India, we began a crazy experiment. And that was to move Sourdough Sunday indoors and to begin inviting people, random people, whoever wanted to come, to come and eat a slice of bread and share a story. And so every Sunday until COVID started, we threw open our doors and invited people to come in and just talk. And there was laughter and there were tears and there were strangers that showed up on my door that I'd never met before that saw my post on Instagram or Facebook and wanted to come in and wanted to talk and it was such a crazy experiment, but so much fun. And my kids thought I was completely bonkers. But they joined in. And, you know, I, I baked sourdough, I baked yeast bread, I always had some extra dough sitting around in the fridge waiting to be baked, if more people showed up, you know, sometimes the people would stick around for an hour or two. And sometimes they stuck around for five or six hours. And we had to say, you know, it's time for bed now.
But it created a sense of community and a sense of hope, and a sense of connection, that, that we absolutely needed – that I didn't know that I needed. Many of them came back multiple times, and especially the younger kids that we just returned home from India with, you know, there were, there were kind of a core group of three or four of them that came every week, but it was a different different group every week. And like I said, many of these were strangers, and to see people that weren't members of my faith, but felt a desire to connect to humanity on a Sunday afternoon. To break bread. And you know, maybe that's what pure religion is, right? To learn to love and connect with people. And I felt I felt that connection, so, so strongly during that time.
And when COVID began, we kind of fudged and kept, kept it going for a couple of weeks after COVID was going because I thought, you know, this, this is probably going to go on for a long time, and I don't want to, I don't want to go into hibernation with this for too long. So since since COVID, started, we've continued on with the sourdough Sunday, I bake eight small loaves of bread every Sunday, and it's been really fun to go and deliver these to people at – usually at the end of, especially in the beginning, we delivered at the end of an 18 foot telescoping paint rod. So, so people would come to their front door, and they just start laughing at this bread that was dangling in front of their faces. And, and, you know, there's some people that we've visited, over and over again, that are a little bit more vulnerable or susceptible to feeling isolated. And just feeling like we got to do something to help people know that we see them.
There's a, there's a great quote that I love from Mother Teresa that says, "If we have no peace, it's because we forgotten that we belong to each other." And I, and I think about that frequently. Especially right now with everything that's going on. We, we have to find ways to connect. We have to find ways to see each other and to recognize the pain and the suffering that we're all enduring.
The idea of, you know, mourning with those that mourn and comforting those that stand in need of comfort is, is a huge part of not only my baptismal covenant, but my my role as a Christian, you know, that we, we absolutely have to see each other. And I've found this to be the case now, as I have always, you know, whenever you go out and visit somebody, your problems disappear, because someone else's issues and struggles and problems. You recognize the pain that they're suffering, and your pains are gone, as you focus more on them, and help them to get through whatever they're going through. And sometimes you can't help them get through it. But just having someone to share that burden with you know, "A burden shared is a burden lightened." And I really believe that's what my religion is all about.
And really, we're probably not living our religion until we, we are getting our hands dirty in the act of loving people.
You know, one woman showed up with her husband, and after spending a couple of hours with us said, "You know, I haven't been active in the Church for 25 years. And this is the closest thing to church that I've had in that amount of time. I think if this is what church is about, I think I need to go back." I don't know what her story is or where it will end, but she knew that I was a member of the Church. It really felt like there was a lot of healing that took place as I listened to her talk about her reasons for leaving the Church and, and as you know, she listened to me testify of the love of God. And I suppose that's really the, the best thing I can share is that there's so many things that I don't know about the gospel for sure, but I do know that God loves me and that he loves all of his children. And if I can, I can help share that with other people, I don't know if there's anything that's more hopeful in this world than that we have a Father in heaven who loves us, and He wants us to be happy. And if we will remember those things, life makes so much more sense and, you know, the problems that we deal with and the challenges that we face, there, there will always be an eternal perspective on those things.
KaRyn Lay 40:53
That was Ben. I'm grateful for his willingness to share these experiences that have shaped his desire to practice charity and share hope. If you or someone you love is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, please, please reach out to someone for help. You can text: 741741 anonymously from anywhere in the US, or you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. I promise you, you are not alone.
I first came across part of Ben's story on an Instagram account that I started to follow this past summer during the Coronavirus times. I was feeling really disconnected and helpless, even though I was trying hard to serve my neighbors and my family the best way that I could. Reading the news, watching things start to disintegrate as we got closer to the election – I guess I was just longing to feel some sort of connection and control. I found this account called Protopians United which was sharing stories of people who needed kindness, and offering ways to actually do something kind for them. So I jumped in and started to participate. And then I realized that the person behind the account was actually the artist Ben Behunin, who makes this really beautiful pottery I had admired at the Deseret Book downtown stores for a long time.
Now that I've heard the whole of Ben's story, I realized that that Instagram account that I first started following, it's just an extension of those sourdough Sundays. Everyone's invited to jump in and learn each other's names, and love our neighbor in word and in deed.
I have always had a thing for vintage dishes and cookware, my collection of jadeite, and milk glass and Mikasa plates from the 1960's started when I was just a wee baby freshman in college. And even though I literally have nowhere to put one more dish in this tiny house, I still can't help myself from checking the glassware section of any thrift store that I ever visit. I do have one rule for myself with these treasures, though. I won't buy it if I can't actually put it to use.
I'm not interested in it if it's too precious to slap some potato salad in for the ward picnic – back when those still happened. And that also means that sometimes, sometimes I drop the jadeite cake stand carrying it to the Relief Society social, or a stray ball from an illicit indoor game of catch shatters the rare, milk glass pedestal dish that was holding the mail. The loss of these pieces is sometimes really, really, really painful for a hot minute. But I've decided that I actually get more joy out of the everyday use of them than pain from the loss of one.
I guess I like my religion like I like my glassware. I need it to be as beautiful as it is functional. And the good news is that as followers of Jesus Christ in these latter days, we are part of a truly practical faith.
President Brigham Young once said this, quote, "The religion of Jesus Christ as a matter of fact, religion, and taketh hold of the everyday duties and realities of this life. The principles of eternity and eternal exaltation are of no use to us, unless they are brought down to our capacities so that we practice them in our lives." What this means is that we can't keep the beautiful concepts of priesthood and revelation, forgiveness, repentance, Atonement, charity, and faith – we can't keep those hidden in some cabinet or high on some shelf with the intention to use them for special occasions, or only when we really, really need them.
We have to bring them down to where we are and figure out our personal "how–to," right now. Every day. We have to walk back to the earthmover even though we know the light is waning. And we have to close our eyes and visualize those miracles of Christ while our chest tightens and our breathing grows ragged. We have to swing the doors wide open, or hang bread from a pole to reach one another in these days of distance and anonymity. And while we're bringing these sacred treasures of eternity closer to the ground, we'll probably drop a few vases along the way.
Maybe even that one that you inherited from your great grandmother, and that will hurt. But this promise from President Nelson can bring us comfort. He said that as our understanding increases and we exercise our faith, our ability to find and draw upon the spiritual treasures will increase. We will find the next practical piece of our treasure anytime we go looking for it.
That's it for this episode of This Is the Gospel. Thank you to our storytellers, Chris Leica and Ben. We will have more information about our storytellers including pictures of some of Ben's artwork, as well as links to President Nelson's talk and more, in our show notes at LDS living.com/thisisthegospel. You can also get more good stuff by following us on Instagram or Facebook at @thisisthegospel_podcast.
All of the stories in this episode are true and accurate, as affirmed by our storytellers. And of course, if you have a story to share about living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, please call our pitch line and leave us a story pitch. The best pitches will be short and sweet and have a clear sense of the focus of your story. You can call 515-519-6179. To leave us a message. If today's stories have touched you or made you think about your practical discipleship a little bit more deeply, please tell us all about it. You can leave a review of the podcast on Apple, Stitcher, or whatever platform you listen on. Leaving us a review really does make it easier for people to find this podcast when they're just browsing around looking for something to lighten their day. And if you can't figure out how to leave a review – which I totally get – check out the highlights on our Instagram page for some tips.
This episode was produced by me KaRyn Lay, with story production and editing from Erika Free and Kelli Campbell. It was scored, mixed and mastered by Mix at Six Studios, and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. You can find past episodes of this podcast and other LDS Living podcasts at LDSliving.com slash pad . . . slash podcasts.