“Yes, you do.”

Perhaps the most powerful spiritual experience I’ve ever had–or at least the one which has had the most visibly permanent influence on me–was almost two years ago.

A member of the stake presidency had come over to my house to meet with my wife and I, to extend me a calling.  Now, this was a serious and reverent event, but I, being a goofy little dork by nature, decided to “break the tension” with a dumb remark.  I joked, “Wow, I feel like I need to start being better now or something!”

As my wife and I laughed nervously, President Petersen leaned forward and, with a mixture of Christlike firmness and warmth that I hope someday to achieve, simply looked me in the eyes and said, “Yes, you do.” 

That could certainly be taken as a humorous criticism, and when I tell this story, I usually play that line for another laugh.  However, there’s no denying that it’s true.  It’s true of me and of everybody.  Always.  And while it’s crucial to having any confident joy in life to be merciful in our expectations of ourselves, it’s also necessary to keep striving for improvement.  When he said that to me, I could see it was meant in a spirit of friendly concern and of authoritative counsel, and I can only say that I’ve tried to live up to it. 

Perhaps the first, most important thing to do with inspiring events like this is merely not to forget them.  In remembering, we nourish our souls and keep the hope alive that we’ll draw nearer to our holy goal.

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