Relief Society message: Blessings of charity

Kathleen Davidson Carlisle of the Cottonwood Ward, Afton Wyoming Stake in Fairview, Wyo., was a child when she and her family packed up their household and began the cross-country drive from their home in Atlanta, Ga., to south central Utah where her father, George Davidson, a former minister, had accepted a new assignment.

Sister Carlisle remembers one particular Sunday morning because of the beautiful sounds filling the car of a choir on the radio.

“As I listened to the words to ‘Come, Come, Ye Saints’ my ears strained to hear each word, and unexpectedly, my eyes filled up with tears,” Sister Carlisle remembers. “I looked out of the window and when the choir finished, I asked, ‘Who are those people that sing like that?’”

Some time following their arrival in Utah, the Davidson family visited The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the children began attending Primary. Kathleen’s brother was of Cub Scout age and her mother willingly accepted a call from the bishop to help with Scouts.

George and Diane Davidson with their children Kathleen, Debra and Steve.
George and Diane Davidson with their children Kathleen, Debra and Steve. | Photo courtesy Kathleen Davidson Carlisle

“One wintry day, my mother and brother were returning home from a Scout activity when a semi-truck struck their small car from behind, leaving my mother severely injured; it was uncertain if she would live,” said Sister Carlisle. “My brother was sent to a hospital for observation and my sister and I went to a neighbor’s house.”

When the two sisters came home several days later, they were surprised to see some women they recognized from the Church in their home.

“They were cleaning, doing laundry, speaking in quiet voices in the kitchen and they left us with ... food!” she said. “It was profoundly comforting. I felt that those ladies cared about us. I found out that they were members of Relief Society and that the motto of their organization was, Charity Never Faileth.”

One night when the young girl was missing her mother, she got out of bed and sampled some rice pudding brought by sisters of the Church. As she did so, she remembers contemplating what charity meant.

“I knew it meant love, but I realized that it meant more than that. It meant action and love,” she said. “They took care of my family and me when we were in need of comfort. They took care of us for two months until Mom was well enough to come home. I knew I wanted to be like those ladies, I wanted to be able to feel love for others and take care of them when they needed it. This memory of love in action protected me as a college student when I was investigating the Church in earnest on my own.”

Several years later as she was away at school, Kathleen’s roommates invited the missionaries to their apartment.

“I really felt the Spirit of the Holy Ghost when the missionaries taught me,” she recalls. “I knew I wanted to be baptized. ... I remembered those Relief Society sisters who had helped my family long before. I remembered the love that I felt from them.”

Today, Sister Carlisle has a calling in Young Women. She patterns her service after the example of those Relief Society sisters of her youth. She never forgot the tremendous example of sisters who served her family — patterned after the Savior — an example of living and showing charity and love through ministering to others in small and simple ways.

“As I’ve gotten older I’ve thought how we rarely get the chance to know when our love in action impacts others in a long-term way. These ladies in Relief Society left a lasting impression on me. They taught me what real love in action is.”

In Daughters in My Kingdom, President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, said, “This society is composed of women whose feelings of charity spring from hearts changed by qualifying for and by keeping covenants offered only in the Lord’s true Church. Their feelings of charity come from Him through His Atonement. Their acts of charity are guided by His example — and come out of gratitude for His infinite gift of mercy — and by the Holy Spirit, which He sends to accompany His servants on their missions of mercy.”

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