I received an interesting phone call yesterday morning. It was littlest sister. I love it when she calls me! But this time, it was different. Littlest sister was crying. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me, between sobs, "I'm all alone. And I'm scared."
I got a bit nervous when she said she was alone. But my heart broke when she said she was scared. In an effort to comfort her, I assured her that she had called the right person, but as soon as those words were out of my mouth, I couldn't help but think, "What can I do? I'm an hour and a half away."
I asked why she was alone, and she informed me that everyone had left to go get something from Grandma and Grandpa's house, but she had said she didn't want to go. She sobbed a bit more, then, in the saddest tone I've ever heard her use, she simply said, "I'll be ok."
And she hung up.
Those words "I'll be ok" really struck a chord with me. I've used them myself on countless occasions, but in most of those situations, I didn't believe the words when I said them. They probably actually mean something like, "I know there's nothing you can do to help me, so I'm going to pretend everything is fine so you can stop being concerned about me. Then, I'll go back to dealing with this on my own."
So when littlest sister hung up like that, I felt pretty concerned. I called my grandmother (neither of my parents have cell phones) and informed her of what had happened and asked her to please send my parents home quickly. I waited a bit and called home, but no one answered. I waited some more and no one answered. That scared me. I waited some more, called again, and finally my mother answered. Again, I told the story of littlest sister's surprising phone call. I was intrigued by my mom's side. Apparently, they needed to go to my grandparents' house, and asked everyone if they wanted to come. Littlest sister didn't want to, so Mom explained she would be there alone. My parents had driven only a few blocks when they realized they might need to make a stop at the grocery store on their way home, but since they weren't sure, they went back to the house to take inventory. They found littlest sister, and she went with them to run errands.
Littlest sister was only physically alone for a small amount of time, but she still felt alone and afraid enough that she needed help.
I've been pondering this and thinking about how it could be used as a metaphor in the Gospel. By this example, I don't mean to say that littlest sister or my parents did anything wrong. But here's what I've been thinking. Sometimes, we decide to do something different than what our Heavenly Father asks us to do. When we stray from the straight and narrow path, we find ourselves alone and afraid. We might cry out for help, but sometimes we look in all the wrong places before realizing that returning to Heavenly Father's path is the only way to resolve that loneliness and fear. That's where the Atonement of Jesus Christ comes in. It makes up for our mistakes, but also for our pains and sorrows.
Maybe littlest sister could be compared to someone who wakes up Sunday morning and thinks "Meh. I'm not going to church today." The same thing happens the next week, and again the next. Other habits develop that damage their relationship with their Heavenly Father. Soon, this someone is missing out on the blessings that come from regular participation in the Gospel and they start to feel empty. They look other places to fill that void (like littlest sister's call to me) but these places are so far from where this someone should be that they only get temporary help. Lasting help only comes when this someone uses the Atonement (my parents coming back home) and begins again to fully partake of the Gospel in their life (when littlest sister left with my parents to run their errands.)
The battle from beginning to end cannot be won alone. I feel blessed to know my Father in Heaven is helping me fight.