President Russell M. Nelson called the new focus on ministering a “new and holier approach.” Listening to his description of what ministering can be, I realized the key, for me, is absolute reliance on the Holy Ghost.
Since General Conference, I reflected on my relationship with the Holy Ghost. Three varying experiences came to me.
Heard the Voice but Didn’t Listen
On Monday, while packing for a trip, I had the distinct impression to pack an item.
“I don’t need that!” I thought.
I continued on. The thought came again. I put the item on my counter with other things to pack.
I planned on using a carry-on for everything I needed. My packing is a Tetris game. As my space diminished, I confronted the thought once again. “There is no way I’ll need this item this week.”
I left it on my counter.
I arrived at my destination Tuesday afternoon. I needed the item Tuesday night. There was no bailout. I was out of luck.
Heard the Voice, Didn’t Listen, Merciful Second Chance
Initially, Anthony planned to travel with me. We’d set up the seats as aisle and middle seats. We rotate the middle seat experience. My name just happened to be the name for all the middle seats on the boarding passes.
Sunday night, after a glorious conference and while working on my church calling, the thought came to flip our names on the seats.
At the time, I felt it was some test of faith to believe Anthony would be well enough to fly. I acknowledged the thought and mentally noted some verbiage in a blessing he received.
I didn’t change the seats.
The next morning, worse than ever, Anthony decided to cancel. In all the hullabaloo of shifting finalized plans, I didn’t change the seats until Anthony’s flight was already canceled.
Suddenly I jumped on the reservation to change the seats.
Someone had already claimed Anthony’s aisle seat on the six-hour flight to the mainland! No other seat was available.
I grabbed the only available non-middle seat on the next three-hour flight leg right in front of the lavatory.
I felt grateful for the one window seat but kept replaying the prompting over and over and over in my mind.
I’m not a huge fan of seating between two strangers on a long flight. Anthony felt horrible I’d gotten stuck with that middle seat. But I knew it was my fault.
At 8:45 pm, right as we left for the airport, I felt a thought to check the seats again. I did.
A window seat had opened up! I pounced. I felt prompted to check the next flight seats, so I did. Another window seat opened up! I snatched it up, too. Ecstatically, I went to the airport.
The middle person on the first flight was 10-year-old Maddie bursting with enthusiasm about her first trip to Hawaii. Her family was spread out nearby, all in middle seats. Maddie’s mom glanced appreciatively as Maddie and I chatted for a long time. She asked really great questions and I loved our conversation.
The next middle seat person was Steven, the most extroverted person I’ve ever met. I now know more about his life than many of my friends’ lives. He told me a story about a time he went on a trip with a bunch of Mormons. I said I was a Mormon. He laughed and said he was amazed at how many people say they’re Mormons when he told that story. Apparently, he tells that story a lot.
I asked if he’d learned about the doctrines of the church. He said the people he traveled with told him all about the church, but his mom is Catholic and his dad’s Jewish. I quickly added, “Well, why not throw Mormonism into the mix?” He laughed and laughed, then looked super serious and changed the subject.
I felt like my seat changes provided purpose other than just my comfort.
I didn’t hearken to the Holy Ghost’s promptings initially, but I received a redemptive second chance when I hearkened the second time.
Believe Better Things Are to Come
Today, I stood in line for my first flight home. (Both flights were window seats!)
I wanted to be first in line for my boarding Group 3, because I didn’t want any chance of checking my bags. Arrival time was really late and I didn’t want to wait for bags.
A United employee approached me and asked to see my boarding pass and passport. She asked the expected questions. Then, she stopped and said, “Oh, you’ve been selected for additional screening.”
My heart dropped. I’ve been selected for additional screenings before and ended up being the last person on the plane with my belongings tossed helter-skelter out of my carry-on.
I followed her, expecting to do the screening immediately. A lovely older lady’s wheelchair blocked our passage so the United lady told me to wait there—in Group 5’s line.
I began panicking. The flight was so full. As I looked around the gate, I didn’t see people, only carry-on baggage.
I prayed for peace. The Holy Ghost whispered, “Did you consider that this could be a blessing and not a curse?”
I felt peace as the thought infiltrated my brain. Perhaps I could be first on the plane. I cheered right up.
Soon afterward, security led me past the wheelchair and through the doors. Unfortunately, we couldn’t communicate well, so a lot of sign language ensued.
Then security lady motioned for me to open my bag—the bag that was too full to bring an item suggested by the Holy Ghost. It took me an hour of carefully rolling and positioning clothing to get the zipper shut.
Rolled clothing came out in droves. I winced. She looked shocked so I laughed. Instead of pulling everything else out, she just felt around the bag and then checked the other compartments. I got the pat down. They motioned for me to put everything back in the bag. Somehow it zipped! I’d asked her to help hold the bag while I zipped it shut.
They motioned me down the gangway as the first person on the plane.
The Holy Ghost not only brought peace in a stressful moment but taught me that what I view as a trial or burden could result in something better than I ever imagined or could accomplish on my own.
As I considered how I’d interacted with the Holy Ghost, I realized ways I can improve my relationship and reaction to His promptings.