It has taken me a long time to see this perspective, and I never thought I would be to a point where I could sincerely say that I am thankful for this "gift." It has been a huge mountain to climb and one that has given me a firm testimony in the atonement.
The Gift by Phillip A. Harrison (First published in Heartbeats, the newsletter of Heart t'Heart, March 2007)
It was a day of excitement, a day of anxiety. It was a day of
rejoicing, a day of tears. It was a day of parting, a day of beginning.
I waited for one last chance to say goodbye. I knew my turn was next,
and I listened as James, a friend of mine, was just finishing his
"I just can't wait to get started. I know it will be great!" James was saying.
"You don't have any last questions, any concerns?" the interviewer asked.
"No, I just want to get going. I've waited long enough for this chance.
I've read all the manuals. I don't think anyone could be any more
ready than I am."
"No false modesty here," said the other with a smile.
"I don't think it's lack of modesty," James replied. "I like to think
of it as just being well-prepared and eager to get started.
Anything wrong with that?"
"No. Go on. Have a wonderful experience, James. I'll be looking forward to your reports."
"Don't worry. I'll send them all right. I know what to do."
With that, and a parting handshake, James' interview was over. Now at last it was my turn.
The interviewer turned to me and said: "Well, the day has finally come, Philip. Did you think it would ever arrive?"
"You told me it would. And of course, I believed you."
"Is there anything you want to ask before you go?"
"Oh, so many things. I don't know where to start."
"What is on your mind in this moment?"
""Well, for one thing, I keep thinking about James. I heard the last
little bit of his interview with you. He seems awfully sure of himself.
He doesn't seem worried about this at all."
"No, he doesn't. I would feel a little more comfortable if he weren't quite so sure of himself."
"Isn't he ready? He was always one of the top students."
"He knows all the answers, all right. But the way he's feeling now---like he's got all the answers he'll need in the future---that could pose a problem for him. A certain lack of need to stay connected."
"I'm not sure I understand."
"Well, that's okay. James' journey isn't what we're here to talk about. Let's talk about you, Philip, and your feelings."
"Oh, I am full of such mixed feelings. So eager to go, and yet so scared."
"What scares you?"
"The mists, you know. I am afraid of the mists we heard about. You've
been there. You know what it's like. Tell me about it."
"Well, it's not the same for everyone. My
experience had to be different, you know. But it's not a cut-and-dried
thing. You can overcome it, you know. At least enough to get
"But what if I don't? What if I can't remember?" I threw
my arms around him. His arms were there, around my shoulders, like
always. So strong, so comforting. I continued, trying to express my
fears. "What if I forget you, Jehovah? What if I can't find my way
back to you? What if I don't find that connection? What if I get so
caught up in the world I don't remember to look for you?
"Never fear, my precious one. Don't you think I have though to this already?"
"But everyone doesn't worry like I do, do they? James surely didn't seem to."
No, everyone doesn't. But for those who do, I have prepared a special gift."
"Will it help me remember? Will it help me find you again?"
"That's exactly what it is designed to do."
"Can you tell me how it works?"
"I can tell you a little, but you won't
remember it, of course. But it may give you some comfort right now, so I
will tell you what I can. You remember we talked about weaknesses?
And how they are an inevitable part of your mortal experience?"
"Yes, I remember. I guess it sunk in pretty easily---I have so many weaknesses already. Like all this doubt I am feeling."
"Well, there are some additional
weaknesses I have prepared for you. One special on in particular. It
will challenge you sorely, I'm afraid. It will cause you a great deal
"Is this what is going to help me?
"It will help you remember me."
"Because you gave it to me?"
"You won't realize I gave it to you at
first. At first you will think it is your fault---merely a defect in
yourself. but in time you will realize that it connects you to me."
"How is that?"
"Because I am the only one who can help
you with it. I am the only one who can ease the pain this challenge
will present to you."
"Does it have to be painful?"
"I'm afraid it does. Pain is a great
teacher. It is an even greater attention-getter. And that is what
people really need---something to get their attention. And because I
want your attention, I am giving you this gift of weakness."
"But everyone doesn't get this gift, do they?"
"Everyone gets some version of it. But
they don't all get the gift I am giving you, Philip. The gift I have
for you is particularly for you, because you have expressed such a
desire not to forget me."
"What is the gift called, Lord?"
"It is called 'Addiction.' At least that is what you will call it."
"And it will help me remember you?"
"As soon as you learn that I am the only cure for it. Will you accept the gift?"
"Yest, I accept the gift, somewhat fearfully, perhaps, but gladly---if it will help me remember, and return to you."
"It will. I know your heart, and I know
this gift will be a bridge between us. It may sound fearsome, but in
the end you will see it is glorious. Everything that binds us to each
other is glorious, is it not?"
"Yes, Lord, everything."
One more embrace, and the interview was over. My tears dried, I turned
to face my mortal life and the weakness, the gift, that would bring me
back to my Lord.