I am a slow learner and I have a problem with feeling very inadequate at times.
I remember when my dad (who was Bishop of his ward at the time) passed away and looking at the hundreds of people waiting in a line, which snaked out of the cultural hall, through the lobby and out into the rain as they waited for an opportunity to bid adieu to him and lend support to his family.
Since he was loved by so many more than just his family, I also remember thinking that I did not envy the man who would have to step into his shoes.
Neither did that man.
He came to my mother’s door soon after he’d been set apart and cried as he expressed his ache over losing such a good friend and concern over having to fill my father’s shoes.
I remember clearly my mother placing her hand on his arm and telling him ever so sweetly that he did not have to fill my father’s shoes but simply use his own to walk in the Savior’s footsteps.
When President Hinckley passed away, I shamefully but admittedly thought again that I did not envy the man who had to try and fill his shoes. But since this church is one of perpetual order, progression and consistency, another was called to fill the position.
Soon after, my family and I got to meet and listen to that man. And as I shook President Monson’s hand, I could not help but remember the words of my mother and feel with all of my heart that this man too had probably cried over losing such a dear friend as well as facing the imposing task of following behind such a beloved prophet as President Hinckley. Nonetheless, he would serve and follow in the footstep of his Savior doing as He would have him do.
Amongst laughter from the personal stories and memories he regaled us with was the permeating feeling that this was a man called of God to take care of His business, minister to the members of His church and be His mouthpiece as we are ushered into the next period of worldly change and ecclesiastical growth.
I did not see an elderly man so very different from the last but saw and felt the spirit of a man who has been prepared and cultivated all of his life to bless the lives of all he may.
I did not see an untouchable man but one who took the time to shake the hands of those who were there, listen to them and love them.
I heard a man who made us laugh, allowed us to cry and encouraged us to stand a little taller and believe a little more.
In short, I met and shook hands with a man who emanated the spirit and qualities of the one whom he has promised to serve,…. and it gave me hope. Hope that I too don’t need to worry about filling anyone else’s shoes but that I simply need to walk in my own as I follow in the footsteps of my Savior.
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