An interesting, personal experience once illustrated the answer to the question posed by Sister Becky Craven in the April 2019 general conference: “Can others easily see His image in our countenance and know who we represent by the way we carefully conduct our lives?” ( Becky Craven, 'Careful Versus Casual,” Ensign, May 2019).
Shortly after my records were moved to a new ward, I was interviewed for a calling to serve in the nursery. I must admit it wasn’t where I wanted to serve, since I had always regarded it as the “black hole” calling. Once you have it you can expect to be forgotten, ignored, and never to be remembered again! My answer to the member of the bishopric was that I would think about it.
There were many reasons why I didn’t want the calling. As a stay-at-home mom, with two children in nursery already, I felt I would never have a break. My husband worked long hours and commuted almost two hours each way daily. Sunday was my only day to be surrounded by like-minded adults and this helped me with the need for adult companionship.
The moment I started thinking about my reasons to not accept this calling, my heart told me something else. So, the next Sunday I was sustained and I started my service.
Being the nursery leader
For a long time, this ward had lacked a structured nursery program. Children and their parents gathered in the room, the adults chatting while the children played. Knowing that this wasn’t how the nursery program should be, I created a schedule, organized the room, and prepared for the lesson. My thoughts were on the children, their needs, and abilities.
There were some children who came from families who had both parents active in the Church. There were children whose grandparents brought them to Church. There were children from part-member families. My goal was to make sure the lessons were geared to the children and not to their parents. I can still picture these children in my mind.
I prepared healthy and fun snacks as I wanted to connect with the children and I knew food was one way to build trust. The children loved watching me cut an apple or slice cheese with my cheese wand. They loved it when I brought little cupcakes for birthdays. While they ate their snacks, they listened to the lesson and I was able to hold their attention.
My heart was changed little by little as I served in the nursery.
Why a shy, little boy addressed me as “Jesus.”
The prophet Alma asked, “Have ye received his image in your countenances?” (Alma 5:14). I had a momentary glimpse of what this might be like when one Sunday a shy, little boy addressed me as “Jesus.” Did he, for a small moment, see His Image in my countenance?
I think of the Primary song, “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” (Children’s Songbook,78).
“I’m trying to be like Jesus;
I’m following in His ways.
I’m trying to love as He did, in all that I do and say.
At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,
But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,
“Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
“Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.”
When I served in the Primary, I wanted each girl and boy to remember that each was a child of God, and was loved, the most important lesson I could teach them in nursery. If each child could feel loved, then I knew I was helping them to feel God’s love.
Maybe this little boy felt it and that’s why he addressed me the way he did. Perhaps because my name sounded similar, he was confused. It didn’t seem odd or even blasphemous because in certain cultures the name is used as a given name. It made me feel happy because I knew he was understanding my lessons about loving the Saviour. I felt humbled by the title that he gave me that day.
My service in the nursery lasted for only about a year, but I learned so many lessons during my time there. I loved those children and still see many of them today. I hope to always try to follow the Saviour: to be kind, gentle and loving in deed and in thought; and to seek to have His image in my countenance.