Taylor Ricks has long considered unnamed scripture heroes to be her friends. So much so, in fact, she even wrote a book about them called Everyday Disciples: Lessons Learned from Unnamed Scripture Stories.
In this episode of All In, Ricks speaks about how she came to write Everyday Disciples. She also discusses the story of one of her favorite unnamed scripture heroes and describes what we can learn from his example. Read more of her thoughts in the excerpt below.
Editor’s note: This excerpt has been edited for clarity.
Morgan Jones Pearson: Talk to me about what first inspired you to write this book.
Taylor Ricks: So … ever since I started reading the scriptures [I] would just mark those [unnamed] people, but they didn’t stand out in my mind other than I would just mark them. And then a few years ago, I was going through a particularly hard time. And often, in my ward even before that, I would kind of feel like I didn’t quite fit in—like I wasn’t quite what maybe the other sisters were, or I didn’t have the same talents that they had, or I wasn’t really in a group that went to lunch. Like that’s never been a part of my journey, really, at any age.
And so I just never really felt like I fit. Well, then a couple years ago I was going through a really tough, hard trial. And the details don’t really matter, but it was just one of those times where I honestly didn’t even want to get up the next day. It was really hard.
And I was just listening to good things all day, every day, whether it’s this podcast or books, whatever, I had to have constant good going through my mind. And I’ve always loved writing, and always had that as a goal. In fact, I wrote a book 12 years ago and sent it to Deseret Book, and it was no good. … Anyway, I was listening to one of the books, and I just had this feeling, like, “We need a book about your everyday quiet heroes that you mark.” And I'm like, “That’s so true. Let me try to call one of these authors and tell them.”
And I did. I was praying and trying to get a hold of them and never did for like a week. And then finally, you know, the Holy Ghost speaks in our language, and [the Spirit] was kind of like, “How about you write it?” Like, “This could be your thing.”
And so through this really hard trial, I started writing it. And I call them my “Quiet heroes,” of pulling in all these people in the scriptures that felt like they didn’t have a place. Or maybe they [did], but it looks like they didn’t have a place or they’re easily read right past.
But I was starting to see their stories were so important. They were pivotal in their journeys, they’re pivotal in the stories of the prophets that we do name, and we do remember. And I thought, “Well, that’s me.” Like, “I’m just a mom with some kids doing [the] day to day and nobody’s [going to] remember my name. I’m not going to be somebody people just remember forever or something. But it’s important to Heavenly Father, just like these people were.”
And so I felt like I got this army around me that was protecting me through this trial as I was writing about them. And the fact that now I get to share that army of people with everyone … is huge to me. And I just thought, what a blessing it is that I was able to take my hard time, and maybe pass that on to somebody else and help them see that they are needed, they are important, and [they] are loved, and what [they] are doing really, really matters.
Morgan Jones Pearson: That’s beautiful. I couldn’t love that more. I think one thing that you do such a beautiful job of in the book—and we’ll kind of talk about multiple aspects of this—but the way that it’s structured in drawing us into these scripture stories, but then also weaving in your own experience. There’s something really powerful about that combination. …
I wondered if you have a favorite [unnamed scripture hero] that could kind of give people an idea of what kind of people we’re talking about. I know for me, my favorite one so far … is the example of the people that prayed for Alma the Younger and how, you know, they probably very easily could have been like, “Oh, yeah … he finally got what was coming to him.” And instead, they prayed for him. And so for me, that was profound. But I wondered, what is one of your favorites?
Taylor Ricks: So originally, I thought maybe I’ll do a book of unnamed people in the Old Testament, and then a different one about the New Testament, … and then I'm like, that’s a lot for all of you to take in, you know, so I’ll just pick my favorites. And so there is a lot of Book of Mormon.
But I think my very favorite kind of goes back to the lad with the loaves. … And I think what stands out to me about that story is, here they are in this desert place—like loaves and fishes were not necessarily an easy thing to get. And we don’t know where the lad was going or what his purpose was, why he had those things—I’ve heard some scholars say that he was like the first meal delivery service. And he was bringing it just to the Apostles, but we don’t really know where he was going with it.
But we do know that he stopped, and he sat and he listened to the Savior. And then when he needed those loaves and fishes, he gave all of it—and without reservation, regardless of what he had intended it for.
And I think about that a lot in our lives, that sometimes we just need to sit with the Savior and then give Him everything we have and trust it to Him. And the lad trusted his loaves and his fishes to the Savior, and He blessed it, and then He broke it. And that is significant to me because I think over and over in my life, I have given Him everything. You know, I’ve put it all out there.
And it feels like sometimes He takes the offering and breaks it and I can’t even recognize it anymore. I feel like . . . was all of that for nothing? Was there no point in all of that? But it was through the breaking that he was able to feed the 5,000 and the others there. And then that He was able to gather the fragments that were lost through the breaking, through the tearing it apart.
And then that also stands as a representation to me of our Savior, who gave a perfect offering. And His body was bruised and broken and torn for us. And it was through the breaking that the miracle of His Atonement is real and tangible in our lives. And so I just love that story because I think, “Oh, I’ve just given so much that has felt like it’s just been for nothing. But then when I really look, it's through those fragmented pieces of my story and my life that I’ve really been able to see Christ’s hand and His miracles. And so that one’s just probably one of my favorites.
Everyday Disciples testifies that every voice is needed, every testimony is important, and every soul is great in the sight of God.