In Sunday School we talked about shepherds. We discussed the people that we look up to and who have made a difference in shaping who we are. They are shepherds in our lives. They lead us by their wonderful examples and guide us to becoming a better person. They are non-judgmental and lead with love.
In sacrament meeting President Gerritsen talked about rescuers. People who reach out to help and lift others. They pray for those in need and immediately go out to help when prompted. They never give up and are persistent in their efforts to bless the lives of those around them.
I have been blessed to have some amazing shepherds and rescuers in my life. I wish I had time to list them all and tell each one of them how much they have made a difference in my life, here are just a few:
My Mom: My mom has put up with me for 29 years. During that time she has rescued me from more than one rough spot. She has been there through all of my health struggles. She is a strong woman and wonderful example to me. Her sense of humor has cheered me up on more than one bad day!
Jolyn Emerson: When I was a teenager I had my moments of misguided stupidity...what teenager doesn't...and during these years I was lucky enough to have Jolyn as one of my young women leaders. She was such an example to me. She saw potential in me that I didn't see in myself. She was always there to reach out with a loving hand and show me a better way.
Dave Dixon: My first high school seminary teacher. Bro. Dixon was the kind of teacher that taught me more by his actions than by his words. He truly lived the gospel, and quietly showed me how to as well. He started me on a path of discovering who I really was and the kind of person I wanted to be. I don't believe I would be the person I am today without the influence he had on me during that time of my life.
Marie Wilcox: I was a pretty shy and backwards person in high school. Yet, there was one teacher who truly saw something different in me. Mrs. Wilcox was my HOSA advisor. She took a shy girl and gave me a chance to be a leader. She gave me responsibility and taught me how to be a hard worker. Being an officer in HOSA taught me to have confidence in myself and the good things I was capable of doing. I learned how to step out of that shy bubble I was in and take charge when necessary. I'm not sure how she saw it, but somehow she knew there was a seed of leadership in me that simply needed to be watered.
Tim Carver: Bro. Carver was one of my teachers at the Institute. He is an excellent teacher and much of my gospel knowledge comes from things I learned in his classes. He taught me how to relate the gospel to my life and grow closer to my Heavenly Father as I lived those principles. I took many classes from him during my time up at the institute and somewhere along the line he became more than just another teacher, he became my friend. I started realizing that he was teaching me more outside of the classroom than in it. I was learning from his example and the way he lived his life. He has such a huge heart and was always there whenever I needed someone to talk to. He went above and beyond the call of duty to help me during some of the harder times of my life. It's been years since I sat in his classroom as a student, but Bro. Carver and I are still good friends. He always wants to know how I'm doing and puts my name in the temple if he learns I'm having a difficult time. He will always have a special place in my heart.
Bishop Shaffer: I know I already mentioned him in one of my recent posts, but he fits into both of these categories so well that I couldn't leave him out here. For the past three years Bishop Shaffer has been leading, guiding, and rescuing me as I've struggled down some dark and difficult pathways. He too has gone above and beyond the call of duty for me. He has taught me a lot about hard work and sincere love. With his help and guidance I have been able to overcome things I thought were impossible. I have been able to find help and healing. I've learned how to let down some of the walls I've built up since I was young and experience a new kind of life, a life I never knew was possible. He is the kind of person I can truly talk to about anything. He never gives up on me, even when I give up on myself.
I am deeply grateful for each of these people as well as the others I have failed to mention. I only hope and pray that I can pay it forward and be a shepherd and/or rescuer for someone else in need.
"If you don't spend your life caring for others, in the end, it will not matter what you cared about instead." -Bishop Shaffer