For years I’ve thought about what people will say about me at my funeral. I recognize it’s an unusual thing to think about, but when have I ever been normal?
It all started over a decade ago when my Grandma Cornish died. I remember sitting at her funeral and recognizing that people weren’t just saying nice platitudes, she was a genuinely good person and people genuinely loved her, including me. (Though I never did become as ladylike as she tried to get me to be.) I remember thinking what a truly good person she was, and realizing that at the time I didn’t know if people could say the same things about me. Actually, I still don’t know if they could say the same things about me. I mean, I know what is in my own heart and it is continually becoming more honest and pure, but is that translating to my actions and can other people see that I’m doing my best to make righteous choices, even when I misstep? (Just to be safe I want a funeral full of amazing musical numbers and very little speaking. Also, I hope at least one person sticks their foot in their mouth, because that’s kind of my specialty.)
Because of my interest in this topic I really love reading how righteous men describe other righteous men:
Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more,save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!
And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;
Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.
Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.
Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.
(Alma 48:11-13, 17)
This year, Sister Nelson and I have had the privilege of accompanying President and Sister Hinckley to 11 countries for which I have had some responsibilities. That has given us a rare opportunity to observe him closely under a variety of conditions. His teachings are always inspiring and relevant. They should be studied carefully and applied individually. They represent the word of the Lord for His people.
But my purpose is not to review the content of President Hinckley’s messages. Instead, I would like to focus upon his spiritual capacities. He has developed many, including “faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, [and] diligence.”
(Spiritual Capacity, Conference October 1997, Russel M. Nelson)
NOTE: This is one of my favorites because after this talk President Hinckley, with the good humor we all grew to love, stood at the pulpit and quipped, “I thought we were conducting general conference. It’s turned out to be a funeral.” He then caused the entire assembly to erupt into laughter when he added, completely straight-faced, that Elder Nelson had “taken extreme liberty. I challenge him to a duel down in the basement of the Tabernacle right after this meeting.” When President Hinckley sat down, President Thomas S. Monson stood to speak and offered to backup the prophet with President James E. Faust.
Fortunately for Elder Nelson, the duel was cancelled two talks later when President Hinckley stood and said, “Brother Nelson, I’ve repented. Thanks very much for your kind words. We’ll postpone the duel.”
(LDS Living – 9 Conference Moments No One Saw Coming)
I love how the Lord’s people, past and present, speak of each other. I love how much respect and love they have for one another and it is reflected in their words as they describe each other. I think their testimonies show in their reverence for their fellow servants of the Lord. Their words are sincere. There is no envy, there is no competition, there is no malice, the pure love they have for each other can only be had when they have learned what pure love feels like. We can only learn what pure love feels like when we feel it straight from the source, our Heavenly Father, and when we learn to feel in return and for others through both the repentance and grace aspects of atonement of Jesus Christ.
So, how would the righteous people I love and respect, and hopefully who love and respect me in return describe me? Who knows, and hopefully I’ll be around for a good long while so I have plenty of time to improve their opinions, but I hope that my desire to be righteous will continue to improve to the point that amid the laughter over the strange situations I’ve found myself in and awkward things I’ve said my love Savior shines through. I hope that my life can reflect my testimony.
I love the subtitle of the Book of Mormon – another testament of Jesus Christ. It took me quite a few readings (I’m not always a quick learner) but I’ve learned to see past the fascinating stories of faith and courage to see that every story in there testifies of Jesus Christ. I see how the words the righteous men and women say, and even more so, in the things they do throughout the book truly testify of their knowledge of Jesus Christ. I hope that I can continually improve in my life and someday when others look back they can say the same about me. On the title page of my Book of Mormon I have written in the following, and it is a promise and a hope that I can live up to it so that when I die it will be true and can be printed on the program:
Another Testament of Jesus Christ.