For several years before he passed away, Grandpa was a sealer in the temple. I had the wonderful blessing of having him perform my sealing. I also was able to arrange for him to seal some good friends of ours who had been married for decades were ready to make their marriage eternal. I was thrilled when I found out that their sealing would take place when I could attend.
As I have found is always the case with sealings, the Spirit was strong. The love in the room was palpable. I was grateful to be there, happy to see Grandpa again in his white clothing. His voice, that of a skilled former actor and orator, resonated with love and power and wisdom and conviction.
I am grateful for the counsel he gave. It’s counsel I actually had heard several times before my own wedding, as my younger sister and many of my younger cousins found their spouses before I did. I also had the rare blessing of being able to have that counsel reviewed after my wedding, such as on this day. It was good to hear again the five Cs:
He always actually added a sixth C: Covenant. (I can still hear his raspy, deep voice saying, “OH! And there’s one more!”) He talked about how the sealing ordinance is the pinnacle of all the covenants we make in the gospel, and about how our marriages will be stronger as we keep all the covenants we made prior to the covenant of marriage. I loved the way he tied all of those covenants together.
But the real lesson Grandpa taught me on this particular day was about the Atonement and about the scripture in 2 Nephi 25:23 that teaches us that “it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do.”
After giving his usual counsel, he began with the powerful sealing ordinance. Just as he got to the end, he forgot something. It wasn’t just an ‘and’ or a ‘the.’ He forgot something really important. And everyone (except maybe the couple at the altar) noticed it. You could feel it in the room. There was a silent but perceivable ripple of concern. Did he notice? (No.) Would it be OK? (After all, a key part of the ordinances is getting the words right, right?)
My husband and I just decided we would let Grandpa know what had happened. When we told him he missed something, he chuckled, ‘Oh, did I?” And then he chuckled again and went on his way.
Here was the crowning ordinance of the gospel, performed in a holy temple, and Grandpa had goofed! Of course at some level I knew that everything would be OK. And even back then, I don’t know that the full impact of the message he had taught by his example had hit me. But recently, as I have been struggling and wondering if there is enough grace in the Atonement for me and my mistakes and ruts and weaknesses (especially the ones that have an impact on the important elements of my life, like my family), both my husband and I recalled this experience independently, within a day of each other. (That’s when I knew I wanted to write about it.) Now that I think about it, it was almost as if Grandpa was teaching from across the veil to remind me that if we are doing our best, the Lord’s grace really is sufficient.
[W]e must be careful, as we seek to become more and more godlike, that we do not become discouraged and lose hope. Becoming Christlike is a lifetime pursuit and very often involves growth and change that is slow, almost imperceptible. The scriptures record remarkable accounts of men whose lives changed dramatically, in an instant, as it were….
But we must be cautious as we discuss these remarkable examples. Though they are real and powerful, they are the exception more than the rule. For every Paul, for every Enos, and for every King Lamoni, there are hundreds and thousands of people who find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible. Day by day they move closer to the Lord, little realizing they are building a godlike life. They live quiet lives of goodness, service, and commitment. They are like the Lamanites, who the Lord said were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not. ? (3 Ne. 9:20; italics in original.)
We must not lose hope. Hope is an anchor to the souls of men. Satan would have us cast away that anchor. In this way he can bring discouragement and surrender. But we must not lose hope. The Lord is pleased with every effort, even the tiny, daily ones in which we strive to be more like Him. Though we may see that we have far to go on the road to perfection, we must not give up hope.
Thank you Grandpa, for the many things you taught me. I hope somehow you can know how your lessons are still helping me today. I love you!