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Something cool is going on where I live—the city is building an amusement park in a granite quarry. I live where granite was mined for the California state capitol, and today there are huge, empty pits leftover from a bygone era. One of them is filled with water and now has 10 paddleboats with a fountain and waterfalls. Next to that is a new amphitheater that seats more than 2,000 people. And in an empty 500-foot long quarry, a series of challenges is being constructed. Zip lines will zoom past a 7-story waterfall, walkways of rope will wind around the perimeter, and the sheer face of a cliff will excite climbers from the entire country.
I picture the rock climbers harnessed in for safety, using the carabiners we’ve all seen as key rings– those D-shaped metal rings with a spring-hinged side. They’re used as connectors and to hold a freely running rope, a must in safety-critical climbing.
Which brings me to the object lesson here. These connectors, these links, are like us. The other day I was talking with a less-active friend, and she told me I was the only Mormon friend she has. Then I thought about some other less-active women I meet up with from time to time, and I realized Heavenly Father has put me in an interesting situation. It’s very possible I’m the only link to the LDS church that these women have. Do I represent my faith adequately? Do I make them feel safe with me, able to trust, to be real, and be vulnerable? Am I an adequate carabiner for them?
Think of the families you’re assigned to minister to—are some of them struggling to feel included in the ward? Are some trying to find their way back to church? What kind of help do we give to these brothers and sisters? Within our families and social circles there are people who need someone to listen, and to love them without judging. They may need us to guide, to care, and to catch them when they fall. Are we filling that role?
I dictated “carabiner” into my phone recently, and autocorrect turned it into “care bringer.” What a perfect improvement. Maybe we should start calling them by this nickname, if only to remind ourselves to bring caring and love to those around us.
In his wonderful 2012 Conference address, The Care Giver, President Henry B. Eyring urged us to be “slow to judge those going through trials. Most people carrying heavy loads begin to doubt themselves and their own worth. We lighten their loads as we are patient with their weaknesses and celebrate whatever goodness we can see in them. The Lord does that. And we could follow His example—He the greatest nurturer of all.”
Truly the ultimate care giver was—and is still today—Jesus Christ. By following his example, we can offer a glimpse of mercy and compassion to those who feel none anywhere else. Even the D-shape of the carabiner can remind us that disciple begins with D.
Think of those you know, members or not, who are suffering (hint: It’s everyone). Now consider this admonition from the Savior: “Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5).
We can be a connecting link in our immediate families, as well. In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, it states, “Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other.” That’s strong language. Loving and caring are not just suggestions or options. They are solemn responsibilities.
What if you’re the person who needs rescuing? What if your life’s challenges feel as if you are grasping at loose rocks, all but tumbling down the cliff? This is when we need to be humble and realize life was never meant to be navigated in a vacuum. We must swallow our pride and allow others in. Smart climbers do not climb alone. And we cannot expect to scale the mountain without a carabiner—or several.
First, we need to allow the Redeemer to guide our choices and shoulder our burdens. This is not the time to pull away from him, but to draw closer to him. He will catch us when we fall, he will extend a hand to pull us up, his love never falters. But we can also allow those around us to offer support and assistance. Yes, some people will not be of much help– and may need help themselves. Keep searching until you find a carabiner that works—they’re all around us. And many are honored to be placed in that role. Love grows when we serve and accept service. Let people in. Talk to them, share with them.
Praying to our Heavenly Father and listening to the Holy Ghost is how personal revelation works. And that’s a carabiner of the highest order. The Lord tells us to pray, exert faith, and humbly listen. It will open the gateway to feeling loved and secure as well.
As I watch the construction of the climbing wall in my city, I’m grateful to see so many safety precautions installed. But I will always think of the smallest one—the humble carabiner—that can make all the difference in someone’s life.
Hilton’s LDS novel, Golden, is available in paperback and on Kindle. All her books and YouTubeMom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Interfaith Specialist for Public Affairs.