A Conversation With a Friend
I spoke with an old friend a little bit ago. That conversation has been turning around in my head for days. A small piece of it was the casual sorrow that no one had been availed to dress her partner in his temple garments before he was cremated. I have heard so many stories of people who haven't been allowed to help because other family didn't wish it or even the possibility that so many people were available that some would simply be usable to help due to the quantity of volunteers. I have never heard of a church member passing who was unable to be dressed in his temple garments because there was no one who was willing or able to serve. To say that I am appalled suggests a simple emotional response whereas what I feel is much more complex and difficult. As I ponder on that thought and recall experiences of asking for blessings and being unable to get them because priesthood holders were too busy and watching others ask for help and not able to get it either. It's a bit disheartening to see it still happening. I'm a woman and can not given blessings so I can only watch others not get what they need. I am a woman and am limited in what roles I can have in my church. So here I sit and think about all this and wonder when will change happen. When will the church culture stop pulling people in so many different directions so that important service is unable to be performed or even seen as unimportant while decorating for church activities takes more precedence? When will a ward community itself look into each of their hearts and determine that what they want is not to focus on the minutia of culture details and calling desires, but the pure surrender to service. To set aside perfect sacrament programs and instead make sure that shut ins and those in nursing homes get the Sacrament. To have fewer exclusive events that focus on teaching about service and charity... and instead have events that ARE service and ARE Charity. How amazing would it be it the local organizations that support the most impoverished found themselves with no need of volunteers? That families in need were 'adopted' by other families who helped them to get basic needs met, but also mentored and worked with them to find the resources to become more stable on their own. there are some programs that do this- the program in Canada for Syrian refugees comes to mind- what can we as a community of Christ do to create the same amount of successful service? Instead of 'love bombing' people who start to fall away or shunning and ignoring others, what if our focus was pointed so strongly into understanding their needs and to love them that we lost ourselves in the joy of service and love?
I can't change the direction of a culture myself, but I can determine how I respond in it. My response at this point is to move my service and my focus into local groups that are focused on the impoverished.... something I understand a bit to well for my taste. Working with groups that are focused on trying to understand and meet immediate needs for those in my community has been wonderful and I have been amazed at how valued and needed I have felt and how much I have learned. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I have understood about specific topics and I hunger to learn more. This is the service that I feel called to perform. I can't make others see things the same way that I do, but I must confess that I am weary of hearing the stories of people who are not being served in the religious communities that they worship in and I am weary to think that I was one of them.
Dare I ask for all of us to do better... to be better... to reach out to someone everyday and to be the person they need that day? It is the resolution I have for this year and one I feel compelled and called to do. I have hope for a future where I don't hear so many stories of people who are unable to get the help they need. I intend to work as hard as I can to serve better and to seek out those who need me this year. Here's to a focused New Year for all of us!