Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bittersweet Feelings

Most everyone now knows that our beloved prophet passed away on Sunday. Since then, I have been tossed back and forth between feelings of sorrow and feelings of relief. I love this man, and will miss him greatly. So much of my testimony has been crafted and strengthened through his guidance and love. President Hinckley is the prophet of my youth, and almost all of my memories of prophets are centered around him. On the other hand- it has been very apparent that the distance between he and his wife has been a hard burden for him to bear. A lot of his recent addresses in conferences have had a farewell-esque feeling to them. He is finally where he has longed to be, and I am grateful for that.

For family home evening last night, Ross and I were talking about our favorite President Hinckley moments. The one moment that sticks out greater than all the others was the same for both of us. In the fall of 2002, President Hinckley came to BYU-Idaho in company with Thomas S. Monson and Henry B. Eyering to dedicate the newly built Hinckley Building (which is gorgeous, by the way!). He got up to give his address, which was an ineresting account of the history surrounding the settlement of Rexburg and the establishment of the University. To be honest- I hate admitting this- but it was kind of boring, and I found myself being a little dissappointed. I was sitting in the Kirkham auditorium, and I had waited all week for this moment. I had been praying for some guidance in a certain area of my life, and that morning I had a deep impression that my answer would be found in President Hinckley's talk. Anyway, after a few minutes of this talk, he started to stumble over his words. It seemed that he was struggling to read his prepared talk. After a few more minutes of this stumbling he paused, closed his book, and said that he was ready to listen to the Spirit and give us the message we needed. There was another pause as he looked down and collected his thoughts. Then he looked up into the camera and said, "I love you kids." He laughed, and so did everyone in the congregation, and then he chocked up, began to openly weep and said once more, "I love you kids!" We were all overcome with his love. I could feel it in my heart. There was not a dry eye in the room. How could there be? The prophet of the Lord had just expressed to every student on that campus that he loved us kids! He took a few more moments to overcome that emotion, and then went into one of the most beautiful talks I have ever heard. He pled with us to not enter into tawdry and demeaning acts. He begged us to avoid temptation and to stay strong amidst the currents of evil that were all around us. He expressed how amazed he was at our strength and courage and admonished us to continue forward. I could hear in his voice the pain he felt at the thought of us committing sin. I could see in his eyes how proud he was of our accomplishments. It made me want to never go astray EVER so as to avoid hurting a man who cared sooo much for ME!

It was incredible! I can't explain in any better words just how much that moment meant to me. I KNEW with every fiber of my being that this man was a prophet, and I KNEW that he loved me. Don't get me wrong- I already had a testimony of his divinity as a prophet. There was no lingering doubt or anything of that nature before this experience. That knowledge had already been received. This moment just cemented that testimony for me. From that time on, any time I heard President Hinckley speak, I felt that love in my heart.

Part of me was sad when I heard of his death because I was sad that Emma and Sara would not have that beautiful man to lead and guide them in their youth. After I realized how silly that was- he was 97!!- I found great joy in the thought that her prophet will be Thomas S. Monson. That is wonderful! I am grateful for all of those amazing men on the council. I have faith in their abilities as conduits with God. I am also grateful for the organization of this church. We don't have to worry or concern ourselves with who should take on the office next. There will be no voting or debating- it is just known. President Monson has been well groomed for his new responsibilities. I love President Hinckley, and I am grateful for what he has done for me, my testimony, and the Church in general. His example will live on as I, and all the other stalwart members out there, continue to try to stand a little taller, be a little kinder, etc.


Heidi Ferguson said...

I loved your story about him coming to Rexburg and hearing him tell you guys that he loved you...it really touched me too. And also made me feel guilty for not going to the devotional when he was speaking (I just didn't want to fight the massive crowds!) I have the opportunity to go to his viewing now, but I just don't think that I want to see him that way, I would rather remember him as alive and full of life, like he always seemed to be to me, and I'm just picturing the heavens opening and he just walks in, like Elijah.

Ross & Amanda Goodman said...

I totally agree. I went to the viewing of my Great Grandpa Jones when I was 11, and I swore that I would never go to another one. I want my last memory of people to be of them alive and well. My friend wants me to go to his viewing with her. I think if I do go, I just wont look at him. I love your imagery of comparing him to Elijah- beautiful!

Brian, Sophia & Cameron said...

Thank you for your story. I think the thing that I loved most about President Hickley was how you could always feel how much he loved you whenever he spoke. Thanks for your beautiful reminder.