In what seems like a lifetime ago, many people would be surprised that I served as a Mormon Missionary in Tennessee. Although I am no longer affiliated with the Church after I came out, my mission was one of the most meaningful experiences in my life.
I was a fairly new convert to the religion when I embarked on my missionary service so my enthusiasm was high and my deep feeling for service was a commitment I felt to my core.
Some of my more poignant memories of this part of my life came during the Christmas holidays. My missionary companion and I used to have a practice where we would drop by the individuals and families, we were teaching, with little written Christmas messages that we would read and leave with them. Usually these were scriptural passages appropriate to the season.
It gave us the opportunity to contact these individuals in between lessons. It had an even deeper meaning that still reverberates in significance to me today.
Some of the individuals would receive our messages with polite tolerance while others would receive them gratefully as if it was what they needed to hear that day. It is the latter group that I want to write about.
As missionaries, we had no spare money to buy gifts for the many people we were teaching and serving in the field. These were people we genuinely loved and would have adorned with gifts on Christmas if we could have afforded it.
All we could do was share these messages.
Fast forward to now.
In our rush to find the right presents for everyone with a more limited budget for many of us this year, perhaps we need to remember the power of sharing meaningful messages with each other.
How many around us would simply appreciate a smile and a few words of encouragement that things will be alright. How many will simply be grateful for someone taking the time to show some interest and say I was thinking about you and wanted to know I care about you. How many would just love a hearty, “Merry Christmas!”
The power of messages delivered face to face brings an element to the season that outweighs the most beautifully wrapped present. The warmth of such messages last longer than any store bought gift. They can last years in beautiful memories.