I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cleveland, Ohio. I was a missionary for 18 months. When I had been out about 15 months, I was asked to train a new missionary. Her name was Sister Robertson and she was AWESOME. I feel like she taught me much more than I taught her. For real.
One of the greatest lessons she taught me came about when we were teaching a wonderful lady named Gail. Gail had such a pure heart and such a desire to do exactly what God wanted her to do. We loved her so much. In the course of teaching Gail, we discovered that her biggest concern was that she just didn't understand her relationship with God and His true nature. We tried so hard to help her understand. We read scripture after scripture about who God really is and how much He loves us. We had a fabulous friend named Carla who came teaching with us, and she also tried so hard to help Gail understand, but to no avail. We all wanted so badly for Gail to feel that God was her Father and that He loved her. We wanted her to understand that God is not some unknowable, unreachable Being, but a Being who knows and loves us and aches for us to return to Him one day. But nothing we did made any difference.
Finally, after a few weeks of teaching Gail, we all realized that coming back to teach her was not going to be helpful anymore. We were going to have to stop teaching her. We were heartbroken. We had been studying and praying and working so hard to help her. And I was at a loss. I just didn't know what to do or what to say to Gail. I felt like such a failure because I was the one who had been a missionary for almost a year and a half. I was supposed to be teaching Sister Robertson how to be successful. But instead, she taught me. On that last visit with Gail, Sister Robertson said, "Gail, I know that God lives. I know that He is my Father. And I know that when I die, I will give Him a hug. I know that I can give Him a hug because I am created in His image, which means that He has a body. He has eyes to see me with. He has hands to touch me with. I will hug Him because He is my Father, and He loves me. And I love Him."
At that moment, I felt so much love and so much hope and so much joy. I knew that what she said was true. That has stuck with me over the years and I think of that experience quite often. I am so grateful that I know that God is my Father and that He loves me. I know that I am created in His image. And because of that, I know that I can be like Him. I know that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Savior and our Redeemer. I know that while Jesus was here on Earth, He had a Father who was a separate Being from Himself. I am grateful for this knowledge and the peace it brings.
For further goodness on this topic, please see this talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who is a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
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