Sister Wilcox spoke at stake conference in March. Here is a copy of her talk:
My nephew sent an email from his mission about a talk he gave and his testimony of 1 Corinthians 12:12-20 about the body of the church. Verse 13 says: For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be bond or free and have been all make to drink into one Spirit. It is essentially passage that is talking about a body needing all its pieces. And how the arrangement of these pieces are really divine. And that we each have a place. I had a chance to reflect on the places that I belonged throughout my life, but one place came to mind teaching me that I also knew what it felt like to feel out of place.
I was in the 4th grade. It was picture day, and I took picture day seriously. The night before I put my hair in rollers. I wore the Easter dress my mom had made me. It was blue and white pin striped and at that time of life, the more ruffles the better. I had white knee socks and light brown sandals.
As we lined up to go into the cafeteria, I just realized that, with my almost 5 foot frame, I would be in the back row again. I threw a fit and unfortunately ended up getting what I wanted. I was sat in the front row. My hair covered the student behind me, dress covered the students to my sides, legs stuck out a mile in front of me as my classmates legs tucked pretty neatly under their chairs. And to top it off I had a mouthful of crooked teeth.
I wonder as a mom now if it was as painful for my mom to see this… and I can only imagine what my classmates parents thought of it!
In 1 Corinthians 12:13 it says the by the Spirit we are baptized into one body.
Verse 14: It says the body has and needs many members.
Verse 17: Is my favorite as it says; If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing, or if the whole was hearing, where were the smelling… (or in my case… if we were all on the front row, where were the back row?)
Verse 18: “But now hath God set the members everyone of them in the body as it hath pleased him.” He knows where we are and our placement in places is where it pleases Him.
I have gone grudgingly into callings, trying to be ‘all ears’ and forgetting that hands are also necessary, but I tend to end up repenting plenty.
One calling I had years ago, I thought certainly no member in the church in my life time had ever suffered quite as much as I. I was nursery leader at the time when my second child was in nursery and my third was on the way. I struggled plenty to feel the importance of that place for me then.
I slowly realized that I became my nursery aged daughter’s hero when she grabbed my hand after Sacrament meeting to go to nursery together. We practiced songs together at home. I was able to decide the types of games she likes to play in nursery … rough and active ones. And she helped decide on the treat. She was very happy in nursery, and eventually I was too. And I was able to see the joy in it in every other nursery calling I got, but for that first one, I gained the chance to struggle with the Lord in prayer and to find a testimony of that every piece of the body is important. I have spent very few callings away from primary in the 20 years I have been an adult in this church.
Lately the Olympics have been on in our home and very often throughout the coverage there has been a commercial for ipad air using a poem by Walt Whitman… It says; “What amid these oh me oh life? Answer; That life exists and identity, that the powerful play goes on and we may contribute a verse.”
That life exists and identity even an eternal identity. Our identity truly existed far before this mortal existence as we were taught and loved and enjoyed, as we enjoy our own young children at our Heavenly Father’s knee. What an exciting experience to prove ourselves, and write our verses. But often there we have struggles remembering this. Next week all of us Junior Primary workers will teach Lesson 10, which is titled “Heavenly Father Watches Over Us.” If we learned this and learned this well, and sealed it in our heart, (like Joseph Smith and like the Brother of Jared), we would no longer need faith because we would know. We would know our Heavenly Father, we would know our identity and our worth to him. We would know our place in His kingdom and rejoice for the chance to serve in even the smallest part. We would see everyone we encounter as such as well. How much less scary is it to invite someone back to a place they already belong!
My mom passed away at the end of my high school years, and for a while there my dad fell apart. For the next 4 years I didn’t have a home to go home to and even if I was away, I didn’t have a home to support me from a distance. I had many times in which I recognized tender mercies of the Lord, but overall I struggled those years.
Then I had the opportunity to enter the Endowment Room of the temple for the first time, and then the Celestial room. And with each of these rooms I regained a sense of belonging somewhere. I had the chance to kneel across the alter of the Temple to be sealed to my husband. He’s a great guy and we have had a great life trying to focus our family around service in the temple.
Through the years I have felt the influence of my mom at times, but much more often I have felt the influence of my Heavenly Father through the Holy Ghost… Which is I am sure how my mom would want it, which is what I most desperately want for my own children as well.
Many times my husband and I have prayed to Heavenly Father to know his will when it comes to what we say and what we should do for his children in our home on this earth. We have received many answers to this prayer.
However, this last year, I have had the opportunity to be with my oldest child as he received his patriarchal blessing I was a bit surprised at how it both humbled me and lifted me to understand again that my son, is His son. He is watched over by Heavenly Father most carefully.
What an exciting time to be here! Heavenly Father knows what our special verse should be! It’s definitely more than time to leave the 4th grade behind… (except for you that actually are in 4th grade.. stay there, work hard and look cute in your pictures:)
But I mean leave pain and regrets behind. Being a part of the church, and in the part that you are needed, and writing our little verse is the most exciting thing to wake up to every day!
In 1 Nephi 8, Lehi teaches of his vision of the Tree of Life. There is more commentary and analysis in 1 Nephi 11. And there are lots of parts to it. But 2 parts mean the most to me. First, the iron rod: the word of God and my day to day effort to inch my way down it. That daily effort is needed and returning to it is necessary for safety and progression. And second the Tree of Life where there waiting for us is great joy and the sweetest of fruit.
I am grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ that allows this relationship to be maintained through repentance and forgiveness, and all the ordinances, covenants, scriptures and safe guards that are our iron rod that lead us ever closer to him….
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Thank you so much for sharing your talk with us, Sister Wilcox!