I know I shouldn’t have a favorite apostle… but I do. And if the sheer number and variety of Elder Holland memes mean anything, I’m not the only one.
Elder Holland has a way with words and, more than any other, is able to keep me on the edge of my seat when he speaks. To My Friends, is a beautiful collection of thoughts and talks from Elder Holland that give us “counsel and comfort” that keeps me turning pages.
To My Friends is organized in such a way that you don’t have to read it in order. As a collection of conference talks and other addresses, you can easily find comfort and inspiration where ever the book falls open. It is a deceptively heavy book, I’m sure it has far less to to with the weight of the beautiful and artistic pages as it does with the Spirit and insight that resides therein Just open the book and start reading, you are sure to be inspired!
As the name suggests, reading this really is like having a heart to heart talk with Elder Holland. Though I may have heard the messages and stories before, I was comforted in the personal and pointed spiritual inspiration and comfort I received through a chapter that, by it’s title, didn’t seem to have anything to do with what I was struggling with. I’ve been haunted by overwhelming feelings of inadequacy lately (as I’m sure we have all had happen once or twice in our lives). I found surprising comfort in the first chapter: To My Friends Who Love The Lord. We may remember this talk from a few years ago when he spake of the apostles, following the crucifixion of our Lord, went back to their old lives. In Elder Holland’s modernizing words, the Savior said to Peter:
“Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.”
To me He said something very different. To me He said:
Then Courtney, why are you here? Why are your cheeks wet with tears yet again, and why are we having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then, when I first helped you discover who I mean you to be, that if I wanted your children to be raised by someone else I would have sent them to someone else? What I need, Courtney, is YOU–and THEY need you. I need someone to be an example to them, to teach them what I need them to know, even if it’s not what other people value. I need someone who loves them. Motherhood is not an easy job. Balance is hard to find but not impossible. It is a mighty partnership with God and you will change the world. So, Courtney, for the millionth (and I hope the last) time, I am asking you to stop comparing yourself to your neighbor, and your sisters, and women you have never met. Be their mother, be his wife, be yourself, grow, learn, be happy, and help them do the same. Laugh, learn, teach, labor, and serve loyally until the end of time, because the weight and joys of motherhood never end. I know it’s hard, but I’m with you, and I trust you.
Maybe one of the reasons why I love Elder Holland is because he gives me a good hard kick in the pants right when I need it. This book will continue to sit on my night stand so as to be close at hand for evening reading (or times when I lock myself in my room in for my occasional melt down).