In Sunday School today, we talked for a while about fellowshipping, keeping track of each other, and what we can do to show love to people who may be less active or inactive. A few people pointed out that, ultimately, we have to have our own foundation and drive, our own testimony and tenacity, and I ultimately agree--you don't ride to exaltation on other people's testimonies. But that doesn't negate the obligation we have to uplift and befriend and nurture those around us (and for the record, I think every person who made one of the comments I referenced would agree whole-heartedly). My testimony is solid and has been for a very, very long time, but that being said, its impossible to overstate the influence that good friends and conscientious leaders have had on me.
When I was a teenager, my entire family was inactive except for my mom. I would've kept going even if I felt all alone, but I was much more actively engaged and spiritually fed because of the kind attention, affection and encouragement of people like Brett and Erica Allen, Lynette Mikkelsen, Marci Leishman, Rod Arlint, Judy Best, and dozens of other people who consistently made their love for me known in both large and small ways.
I always appreciated that, but I appreciated it more after living in a different ward for 2 years and never felt in all that time like I was actually a member of the ward or that anyone there really cared one way or another whether I was there or not. I had a small calling that only required my time once a month, and I still struggled to find the motivation to do it. It was a large ward, and yet few very people reached out, welcomed us (and at that point in my life, I was still absolutely no good at doing that myself).
In Lindsay, I had the opposite challenge of having either a really big calling or 3-4 smaller callings at the same time the whole time I was there, which would make it really easy to feel like just throwing in the towel because there's no time or energy left. But I had amazing friends. I had one of the best bishops anyone could ever ask for: he was my good friend, a trusted confidante, who knew the youth, who knew what was going on in our program and with our kids as individuals, who used his third hour on one Sunday a month to teach my girls. I had an amazing counselor who always knew what to do before I asked, who certainly became a sister to me, who loved those girls even more than I did. So many women (and men) in that ward reached out to me, became my friends and my extended family, and often expressed their love, appreciation, and affection. In the years that I lived more than a thousand miles from my family, I can say sincerely and with a very full heart that I never lacked for sisters and brothers. Their love was the fuel that I ran on for years.
So, yes, we ought to have a firm enough foundation, a strong enough conviction in our testimony that we can stand firmly even if we stand alone. But because that testimony involves a covenant to care for one another, none of us should ever have to stand alone.