I drove home through the rain from the General Women’s Session of LDS General Conference tonight. It’s cold here, suddenly. Fall showed up promptly on the autumnal equinox.
I didn’t want to go to the church and make chit chat during the dinner. I wanted to sit home and watch the broadcast on my couch, surrounded by boy children. Every six months when the General Women’s Session happens, I always get irrationally grumpy about the fact that while women everywhere are posting selfies with their daughters at the broadcast, I get in the car by myself and drive to the church alone.
I have a rich family life so I’m not sure why I get so weirdly bugged about this. But I also signed up to bring large women’s underpants to contribute to the birthing kits the women of our stake are sending to Zimbabwe. It was the underpants that got me to the church.
Then when I arrived I saw Bea, and we sat together, and I got to “borrow” her daughters. Bea asked about Jack. I love it when people who have known me forever do this. Bea was my visiting teacher (like a ministering neighborhood angel person) years ago when Jack was five and Charlie a toddler. You know, that glorious period when Jack hated Charlie and screamed every. single. time. he saw him, day in and day out? She’s known me through all of that.
Anyway, my point is Bea knows. And we love each other. I felt that tonight.
My friend Debbie is the stake Relief Society president and stopped in the midst of her rushing around to give me a hug and tell me that she LOVES teaching piano to my Charlie (who is nine, has autism, and has gone to exactly one lesson thus far). She squeezed him into her already crazy schedule and tells me that it is HER honor. For real. I told her I never know what is going to come out of his mouth. She said she loves him. Excuse me while I sob awhile about the beauty of the people in my life.
Love was the theme of the evening.
The speakers were all my favorites, and they spoke about love: love for unlovable people, love for self, love for people with different lives and opinions, love for God and his commandments. I couldn’t even absorb all of it. It’s going to take re-listening and unpacking their talks to fully appreciate them.
As the speakers talked about loving each other as a means to healing our lives and relationships, I thought of my university students. I am not kidding when I say that when I teach them and walk among them on campus, I feel immense love for them. I honestly feel that I see them as the amazing people they will someday become, that they are on their way to becoming. It’s a true sense of love, though most of them are strangers to me.
I felt this way at the library today when I went with Charlie, and at the gas station when we stopped for a soda. All the people out and about struck me as being very different from me in lots of ways, but as people. Like me. I loved them.
Yesterday, I sat waiting to turn left at a red light. Cars were turning in a steady stream into the lane to my left, and as each one rounded the curve, they were blinded by the setting sun and immediately reached for their car’s sun visor. It was like clockwork: car turns left toward me, driver is blinded, driver lowers visor. And it happened like eleven times in a row.
Watching this, I thought about how we are all people and are all essentially the same. Outwardly we are different. Inwardly, we are human.
I’m not sure if I know this because of Jack, or because of my sisters in the gospel, or because God just allowed me to feel it. But I have found that God loves us, that we can love ourselves, and when we do, loving each other isn’t that difficult.