When our final speaker delivered his apostolic message, I spotted something that I had never seen before.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf often uses his hands while speaking, but I noticed that each time he lowered his hands from the pulpit, he used his index finger and thumb to hold his wedding ring (which, by the way, is on his right hand as opposed to the left, because he is European!).
Perhaps it’s nothing more than a subconscious habit, but as I watched President Uchtdorf move to touch his wedding ring time and again, I couldn’t help but feel warmed and consider the potential implications.
Many of us may be familiar with the story of President Uchtdorf and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf falling in love. As a boy, he adored Harriet, and he gave her mother rides on his bicycle to church functions in Germany in an attempt to capture Harriet’s attention. Several years later, after he had grown and matured into a man, she noticed him for the first time and agreed to be married. Having married my own childhood sweetheart, I’ve always been personally touched by how he just adores his wife.
This little observation of President Uchtdorf during the Christmas devotional meant more to me than a tiny quirk. I thought of my own husband, and what emotions he might experience if he was addressing such a large group of individuals. I wondered if he might do something similar, perhaps as a small means of comfort or a reminder of my love and support during his remarks.
Although they bear a sacred mantel, our leaders are real, normal, human people, just like each of us.
Our leaders have received a great deal of criticism in the past several months. As a new wife myself, it struck me that when unkind or critical words are exchanged about any of the brethren, their loved ones are also affected.
How might we feel if our cherished spouse, child, brother or sister, parent, cousin, aunt or uncle, whose primary intent is to follow Jesus Christ and testify of Him, received scathing comments and negative feedback about something he or she taught, or a decision he or she made?
Some recent topics of discussion in the Church have been challenging or difficult to understand. But in our moments of criticism, may we think of Christ.
From President Uchtdorf’s address, we learned that “The Generous One” gives us gifts so wonderful, we cannot comprehend them. His gift is to all of us. And regardless of a particular challenge or difficulty, His arm is extended to comfort, uplift, guide, and bless our lives.
Says President Uchtdorf:
“He gives us peace, joy, abundance, protection, provision, favor, hope, confidence, love, salvation, eternal life … He saves us from loneliness, emptiness, and unworthiness … He transforms darkness to light, grief to hope, and loneliness to love”.
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are invited to emulate that love to all. Christmastime gives us a seasonal reminder to do just that; we can show Christlike love to our families, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers, our classmates, our teachers, our homeless, our poor, our privileged, our enemies, our acquaintances, and our dedicated Church leaders.
Thank you, President Uchtdorf, for a tender Christmas message, and for a little gesture (intentional or not) that reminded me you are a child of our Father in Heaven, just as I am.
By Jessica Burgin
I’m a young married student pursuing artistic endeavors (writing, filmmaking, music). My husband and I are childhood sweethearts from East Tennessee who ended up together by several miracles. We are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and we love our beliefs.