Sunday, October 12, 2008

good memories

We all experience defining moments in our lives that become key to our spiritual progression. They can be stepping stones to the next level of our progression - or send us off on tangents that remove us from the opportunities we need to grow. They can be moments that we remember with great pleasure and satisfaction or bring pangs of regret and sorrow.
Because I recently had the opportunity to speak to a group of Young Women on the subject of individual worth, which I always equate to infinite worth, memories came flooding back. Music does that to us, don't you think?
I have a favorite Janice Kapp Perry song because I had such a personal experience with Sister Perry, and with my daughter, Nikki, singing it. When I was stake Relief Society president, I asked Sister Perry speak at our women’s conference. We assigned several of her songs to different people or groups to perform, but I asked my daughter to sing "I Am of Infinite Worth." It was perfectly suited to her range, and though she didn’t have a big beautiful voice, hers was pure and sweet and when she sang this particular song, it always brought tears to my eyes and touched me deeply.
First some background. She was about 16 at the time, and so talented I had a hard time believing she was my daughter!. She could sing, the play piano far better than I ever could, and she could play any instrument Mr. McQuilken, the high school band director, gave her to practice. Every summer she brought home a couple of different ones to learn to play. I felt she had more talent in her little finger than I had in my whole body.
But she didn’t think so. They used to call it an inferiority complex. I don’t know what psycho babble label it has today, but she didn’t feel pretty, (and she was) she didn’t feel she had any friends, (but she did) i- n short - she didn’t feel good about herself at all.
Performing in front of people was never a problem for her though, and she finally agreed to sing this song. Then a week before the conference, she came down with strep throat. My presidency and others on the conference committee counseled me to quickly find a replacement for her, but the Spirit whispered that this daughter of God needed to sing that song that day. She finished her antibiotics the day of the conference, and her voice was still a little fragile, but after a blessing from her Dad that it would hold up, she came to sing.
At the appropriate time in the program, she stood at the microphone and I could see that she was trembling just a little, but when the accompanist began her prelude, Nikki calmed down and began to sing. It was beautiful.
"All I need do is remember If ever I wonder if I am of worth,
Remember my Savior, what He did for me When He lived among men on this earth.
Pain and unspeakable sorrow He bore for my sins there in Gethsemane.
Then He gave up His life as He hung on the cross, And He did it all for me.
For I am of worth, of infinite worth, My Savior Redeemer loves me
Yes, I am of worth..............."
At that point, her sweet voice faltered, and broke, and Sister Perry quietly got to her feet, put her arm around my daughter’s waist, and stood besides her while she regained her composure. Nikki finished the song:
"Of infinite worth. My Savior, Redeemer loves me. Yes, I am of worth, of infinite worth,
I’ll be all He wants me to be. I’ll praise Him, I will serve Him, I will grow in His love
And fulfill my divine destiny, for My Savior Redeemer loves me."
The Spirit was so strong that there wasn’t a dry eye in the chapel. As she turned from the pulpit, Sister Perry hugged her, then spoke into the mike: "This is who I write my songs for. Not the well-trained professional voice, but for these wonderful young women who sing with their heart and soul."
After the opening session, as we were dividing into our workshops, I asked my daughter what happened. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "I guess I really listened to the words for the first time, and the Spirit whispered that this song was about me. The Lord really does love me. I’m important to him."
That was why she had to sing that song that day. So she could receive that testimony and validation.
We need these spiritual assurances that we are indeed well-beloved daughters and our Father knows us, and knows what we need. I'm so grateful that I listened to that whisper of the Sprit that told me not to replace Nikki at that conference, even though there was every possibility that her voice would not have been recoverd enough for her to perform. Faith, a lot of prayer, and the sweet promptings gave us both an experience that became a stepping stone to further spiritual development.
And don't we need those moments so desperately in this troubled world? I guess it wouldn't hurt a thing if we even prayed to have more of them! Lynn


Jennie said...

Lynn, your story touched me deeply and brought a lump to my throat. Indeed we are all of infinite worth.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Wow, Lynn, what a beautiful story. That's an incredible self-worth builder for a young girl. Music often does it when nothing else can.

Michele Ashman Bell said...

If every young woman could have such an experience to know, through the spirit, how much Heavenly Father loves them and how priceless they are in his eyes. Thank you so much for sharing this tender story.

Cheri J. Crane said...

Beautiful story, Lynn. =)And I agree with Michele, I wish every young woman could have a similar experience. This world tends to tear them down---we need more things that build them up.

Jeri Gilchrist said...

Lynn, your story really touched me.
Thank you for sharing it. What a wonderful experience for your daughter to have. If only every young woman knew how much they are truly loved and valued in the sight of our Heavenly Father. (I love that song that she sang too!)