Here Am I; Send Me
I had timed my drive perfectly. I live 45 minutes away from our beautiful, if rather small, chapel in Kanagawa, Japan. I have lived here for a year and a half and I am still a bit terrified to drive—the roads are narrow, the traffic is unavoidable, and the cyclists and pedestrians are abundant. I was eager to attend a special meeting with prominent female leaders in our church and headed out with confidence.
I got a phone call just a few minutes into my drive—a sister from my congregation wanted a ride, and the 10-minute detour to pick her up turned into another 20 minutes as her mother needed a ride to work. I chauffeured and strained to stay relaxed as we arrived at the church to an event that was now half over.
As I found my seat, I heard the last minute or two of Sharon Eubank’s powerful testimony. “As soon as I wake up in the morning,” she said, “I tell the Lord, ‘Here am I. Send me.’” I felt a physical change as the truth of her words radiated through me. It was warmth and clarity, motivation and purpose.
That idea—that we are here to be God’s hands—to me, this is the essence of charity. It is the pure love of Christ, and it never fails. That isn’t to say that our efforts will always yield the results that we want, but rather that if there are mountains steeper than our love or oceans deeper, what we feel is not charity. I have only skirted around the edges of what it means to feel that love. Shakespeare described something akin to it in his sonnet:
Love is not love,
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken.
Those glimmers I have felt are high points in my life—I am productive and bright—I feel acutely the blessings I have been given and feel a compulsion to give back. Thus a cycle of giving and joy continue and I wonder how any one could live any other way. According to Dieter F. Uchtdorf, this is the only way to live:
Without charity and compassion we are a mere shadow of who we are meant to be—both as individuals and as a Church. Without charity and compassion, we are neglecting our heritage and endangering our promise as children of God. No matter the outward appearance of our righteousness, if we look the other way when others are suffering, we cannot be justified.
Thinking back to that long drive, I consider it a metaphor for how I would like to live my life—ready to abandon my neat and tidy plan and take the detour that turns into more opportunities to share His goodness, even if I end up a bit worse for wear. I think back to the poem that my four-year-old and I recently memorized by Emily Dickinson:
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
This year, I am striving to search the scriptures and my own heart, to pray to a Father who knows the quiet hearts that hide sorrows my eyes cannot find. And to say with increasing fervor and deepening desire, “Here am I. Send me.”
Marlee Bangerter is from eastern Washington, but happily resides in Japan with her husband and four children. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelors degree in English and has found many ways to express herself through writing, which included working as a freelance blogger for BabyCenter and crafting witty texts to her sisters. Her hobbies include reading (especially the same books over and over again to her four-year old), exploring a foreign country, and (occasionally) fantasizing about America. You can connect with her on Instagram @marlee.bangerter or on her blog.