Angels Among us

Many years ago, I tossed and turned in bed knowing that the pregnancy I was so excited about was coming to an abrupt and much too early end. As I alternated between breathing, crying and wondering about the immediate future, the words to a hymn came into my head:

So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged; God is over all.
Count your many blessings; angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end

I immediately felt comfort knowing that the Lord was aware of me and what I was going to have to go through. I decided to let Ron sleep and went into the bathroom to continue what I knew would be a long labor. As I lay there, praying and breathing, I was surrounded by a blanket of peace that gave me the strength to keep on going. As things progressed and the contractions were getting beyond what I could handle, I silently prayed that I would be able to make it to the car and the hospital as right then, I couldn't even sit up, let alone walk. My contractions slowed down enough for me to wake up Ron who then woke up one of our older children to be in charge in our absence.

The first angel in that experience was a loving husband who really didn't have any idea what to do, but gently helped me out to the van and raced across town to the local hospital. When we arrived at the hospital I was greeted by another angel friend who happened to be on shift as an emergency nurse. She stayed with Ron and I through my labor that night and into the morning hours where she was the one who lovingly showed us the body of our little baby after his birth. Ron left to go home and get the six kids at home ready for church and give an assigned talk in sacrament meeting (In LDS churches, the talks are given by members of the congregation) and she checked in on me later on after her shift was done, in fact, she talked to me several weeks later to see how I was doing. 

I had been very sick for several months and was actually feeling much better although I was extremely tired. Monday morning they sent me for some tests and on the way, I fainted in the wheelchair. It was soon decided that my blood loss wasn't slowing down and I needed to go in for a D&C. 

During the operation, another friend of mine was working in the lab when an OR nurse came running in, asking for my blood batch alerting her to the desperate situation that had occurred in the operating room as they couldn't control my bleeding.  Again, another angel was there, as my friend, quietly took a break for a few minutes in order to pray for me. When I did come out of the surgery, the doctor informed me that he was seriously scared for my life and felt very relieved that I had survived despite my rapid blood loss. The transfusion wasn't done but I went home exhausted and mourning to an extremely busy household of little people who didn't really understand what their mommy had been through.  

Another angel showed up often over the next few years: the angel I called my 'dish fairy'. She would come in at random times, take me into the kitchen and have me sit and chat while she cleaned my kitchen and washed my dishes. Sometimes, I would go for a nap, other times, I would feel well enough to actually walk into the kitchen and help with the cleaning. There were times over the years, that I would be out running errands and come home to a sparkling clean kitchen that had no resemblance to the mess I had hurriedly left and I knew that my dish fairy had visited in my absence. Every time she visited, she commented on how she loved washing dishes and what a wonderful feeling she got when her kitchen was clean. She not only gave me the gift of a clean kitchen back then, but also helped me to change what had been a bad attitude towards dishes and keeping a clean kitchen.  

There were other angels that helped me during that experience: a friend who visited at the exact moment I was locked in my bathroom sobbing, friends who put up with my extreme mood swings and lack of patience and friends who just sat and listened as I wondered out loud why I had to go through this.

It was the strength of the angels seen and unseen that helped me to make it through the dark wall of grief that was surrounding me to where I could once again see light.

I began to see that God did indeed know me individually and that He loved me and would always be watching over me. Angels, seen and unseen were there to help me to begin to understand the depth of love He really did have for me.

In 2008, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a talk called "The Ministry of Angels" click here to read his talk  He spoke of how God knew that His precious children would be alone in mortality. "God knew the challenges they would face, and He certainly knew how lonely and troubled they would sometimes feel. So He watched over His mortal family constantly, heard their prayers always, and sent prophets (and later apostles) to teach, counsel, and guide them. But in times of special need, He sent angels, divine messengers, to bless His children, reassure them that heaven was always very close and that His help was always very near. Indeed, shortly after Adam and Eve found themselves in the lone and dreary world, an angel appeared unto them who taught them the meaning of their sacrifice and the atoning role of the promised Redeemer who was to come."

He went on to say how there is the "heavenly help of angels dispatched to bless us in time of need" but how there are also those "who are instruments in the hand of God" "...Not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me. Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind."

In my experience twenty years ago, I learned that each time a simple act of service was given, my dishes washed and dried and breakfast crumbs swept from the kitchen table, angels around me were blessing my life.

This experience also helped me as I contemplated the service I gave and give to others. ( In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, every woman is assigned two ladies who visit every month.) The visiting teaching program is one way that Heavenly Father watches over His children and sends them angels to comfort them in times of conflict. When we think of our role as visiting teachers, do we remember that we are those sent to help "succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees"? (D&C 81:5 ; Hebrews 12:12).

One of my daughter's friends ( I think of her as my friend as well) told a story of lifting up the hands that hang down as she told her experience looking at this picture drawn by Gary Kapp.

This picture depicts 3 Nephi chapter 17 where Christ asks the people to bring their sick and afflicted to Him so He could heal them. This friend noted that each of those in this picture who were sick and afflicted were brought to Christ by someone else...a caregiver.

Her thoughts really got me thinking..... we all desire to come unto Christ to be healed of whatever our personal burden is. We all have burdens as the hymn, Lord I would follow Thee (LDS Hymn 220) reminds us in the second verse:

Who am I to judge another
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can't see.
Who am I to judge another?
Lord, I would follow Thee.

We all need each other to come to Christ...we can't get there alone..As humans, we can't exist alone: we were created to need help and support from others. While I used to think I was a strong independent person who didn't need anyone, I have been taught how incorrect that line of thinking is. We are not meant to be alone: we are here to be instruments of God to lift and help others and to be lifted and helped.

Each of us can be an angel to those around us by the positive acts we contribute: washing the dishes and cleaning up those kitchen counters, making those monthly visiting teaching visits, sitting beside someone who is new and or struggling with energetic kids or even just smiling as we walk past someone we don't know.  All of these acts, not only lift those around us, they remind them and us that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and is aware of everyone of His children and that we are His instruments to "succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees"