Covenant Belonging by Gerrit W. Gong
Content by Stefani Leavitt
This Valentine’s Day, we’ll be approaching six years since I experienced what has thus far, been the hardest day of my life.
Around 10 PM that night, I sent a desperate plea to Facebook. I had just spent hours watching my one-month-old daughter lying on a hospital bed that she looked much to small to be in, being poked and prodded as doctors frantically tried to find out what was wrong with her. I sat in shock as a doctor showed us scans of the massive bleed in her brain, sobbing as he told us the best prognosis would be severe disability, although the most likely outcome was death.
I posted to Facebook as a last ditch effort.
“I hate posting this on Facebook, but we are in desperate need of prayers. Our little Olive was admitted to the Pediatric ICU this afternoon, because she was getting more and more lethargic and was hypothermic. After many tests, it was determined that she isn't clotting at all and a CT scan revealed that she has bled into her brain. We are fasting and praying for a miracle for our sweet little girl. If she can receive the medications she needs to begin clotting, she can receive brain surgery and perhaps regain function. Please pray for sweet Olive.”
I felt alone and lost and afraid. During the night, the doctors were able to finally get Olive clotting and we were asked to okay a dangerous surgery that would either save her life or end it. After a quick, urgent prayer, we chose to take the risk.
Almost six years later, Olive is walking and talking. She’s learning to read. She is a living, breathing miracle.
It should come as no surprise that I think of this time in my life often. Olive is a constant reminder of the goodness of God. She’s a reminder of the power of prayer and she’s a reminder of belonging--both covenant belonging and the belonging that connects each and every one of us.
Two moments stand out to me as I think of the power of belonging and Olive’s story.
One is that Facebook post. As soon as I posted it, the messages began coming in: Messages of love and support, offering prayers and kind thoughts. People adding Olive to prayer lists all over the country. Candles being lit for her at mass. There was an outpouring of love that knew no boundaries. I truly believe that charity, the pure love of Christ, can be shown and experienced by any person, regardless of their faith. And as we show that love, we connect to one another. We belong to one another.
The other moment of belonging was shown through the power of a priesthood blessing. After the doctor had told us of Olive’s likely passing, we went into her hospital room and my husband and our bishop at the time laid their hands on her head and gave her a blessing. With its final words, in what he later told me he had been fighting against saying for its duration but finally had to say, my husband quietly stated, “I bless you that you will live a long and healthy life.” I knew in that moment that we belonged to the Lord as well.
I know that moments of belonging come into our lives every day. As we look, we will find how God’s love ties each of us together in a network of belonging and that we are tied to him through the covenants we’ve made. As we move along our paths, no matter where they lead, no matter what trials they may bring, I know that we will find peace in knowing that we can always be tied back to Him.
I AM STATEMENT
I AM connected to God and others through my covenants and through the love of Christ.
FAITH IN ACTION
Find a way to connect to those people that seem different from you. Attend a cultural celebration or event in your area or make time to talk to people from different life circumstances than yourself. See the love Christ has for them and how covenant belonging and His love can tie all of us together.
Try to find ways in which you and your ministering sisters are similar, but also how you are different. Ask them to share a new skill or interest with you.
In his talk, Elder Gong said, “When we look with an eye of faith for the patterns, arc, or connected dots of our experience, we can see His tender mercies and encouragement, especially in our trials, sorrows, and challenges, as well as in our joys.” As you read about the challenges that Nephi faced with his family in the wilderness, think of how their covenant belonging and their connections with each other helped them survive these challenges.
Strengthen One Another in the Lord by Elder Gerrit W. Gong