It has taken me a couple of weeks to take in all the genuine talks I was privileged to listen to during General Conference and also by the Bishopric of my ward last week. Certainly an exalted month for sincere and direct messages to our members. I took time to ponder over the guidance given to us by our church leaders and as usual, I realize the words are chosen to be thoughtful, yet pack a powerful punch. There is no mistaking of a double standard in their meaning and the only option I found in their counsel is that you were either going to follow instruction by our Heavenly Father or you could choose not to. General Conference is filled with ALL great talks and messages. I want to write about one of my personal favorites by our Prophet and President of the Church, Thomas S. Monson titled "What Have I Done For Someone Today?" I wanted to interject my personal feelings of what I took away from his talk.
"My brothers and sisters, we are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness—be they family members, friends, acquaintances, or strangers. We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us.
You may lament: I can barely make it through each day, doing all that I need to do. How can I provide service for others? What can I possibly do?"
- President Thomas S. Monson, General Conference Oct 2009
How so you might ask?
In every human there is a need to belong, be comforted and be loved. Many who are of the world may say, they need no one. They are fine by themselves. They don't need anyone to help them or befriend them and I would say to that person, selfishness has the need for comfort and attention as well. Those statements in itself are cries for human compassion and more than likely, companionship. For how would you know you don't want the feeling to have friendship, comfort and love if it is not a sweet emotion you've felt before and now fester in your bitterness that is self created because it is what you long for in your life? I say it is NOT possible to thrive successfully in this world and obviously not in the life after with our Heavenly Father without the need to give and receive love, comfort and compassion to others and also to yourself.
If you are a member of the church, this talk for me goes hand in hand with the law of consecration found in D&C 42:32;51:3.
How do you go about receiving love and comfort, compassion and friendship from others?
Do you open your heart humbly to "good" people that can teach you how to be a positive and a better person?
Do you speak and act in a kind manner towards people teaching them that you expect the same in return?
Do you surround yourself with POSITIVE people?
Are you selfless in your actions and know NOT to expect anything in return?
Are you a steward in the service of our Heaven Father?
Do you give honestly of yourself in your callings?
Do you fulfill your monthly Home teaching or Visiting teaching assignments?
Have you considered the lives of those you could be helping if you were NOT so self absorbed?
Do you create an environment of service and volunteering on a regular basis in your own home and community?
Are YOU sincere in your need to follow our Savior's example and give your time and efforts to help someone in need?
Do you ever think to put yourself in the place of another?
If you recognize yourself as a person who does these things, your life must feel so extremely blessed. Every time you are immersed in acts of kindness, you will notice there is no time to complain or be negative. You will see there is no need to dwell on things that are trivial in your own life because you will recognize and count your many blessings. When you give so openly of yourself in the service of others, you are given the opportunity to enrich your own life by creating a positive environment where respectable friendships can flourish through exchanges of considerate words while providing a kind act. What a great way to spend your time and make new friends. Even the most cynical person can soften their heart in a positive environment.
The choice to do something good daily is just that - a choice. The way you view your own life is of your choosing as well. Are you someone who views the glass as half full or half empty? If you are someone who views your life or daily situations as half empty, have you done anything good for anyone today? The benefits to serving others are immediately visible to you most times. One can say the benefits of service or a good deed erases the need to utter negative thoughts, refrain from destructive behavior and emotions such as, but not limited to, selfishness, depression, idleness, loneliness and despair. How can these negative things coincide with doing good for someone? Small or grand acts of kindness for others should be your guide to building your character. The legacy you want to leave for yourself should be who you really are striving to be. I am not sure of anyone who strives to be the most selfish person to have ever lived but I can only imagine that the person who lives doing nothing for others must be very lonely for the companionship of a friend and more importantly, the spirit of the Holy Ghost for guidance and comfort.
"And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God"
I felt overwhelmed since school started for me this semester. I felt pressured to do the best I possibly could in my classes since by my own procrastination, I awarded myself with less than what I have always known I was capable of. I complicated my own college beginnings by working many hours to prepare financially for my mission and to pay for college. I live at home, so I knew being in my household, my parents would expect the same amount of work around the house from me and probably more since I am officially an adult now. I spend a large chunk of my time doing homework from school and actually studying scriptures and church manuals, books and talks in preparation of my mission. When I was asked to be a Primary teacher, I thought I didn't have time to fit in a lesson for 9 year olds. I'm too busy. I knew from my upbringing there would also be no way to turn this calling down. I knew that accepting my calling was my small contribution in keeping our church running smoothly. I was informed around that same time, I would be volunteering with my father to help coach my sister's fourth grade volleyball team.
I had choices to make. I could accept both positions and do the best I possibly could or I could think of myself ONLY and just do what I had to do to keep myself afloat. I knew from personal experience that to be self serving was NEVER in my best interest. I also knew from preparing for my mission that I didn't want to let any negative thoughts fester for even a little bit and I gave in willingly knowing I would have the Spirit to keep me on track. I would have a support team of my family, the Bishopric, the Priesthood holders and the Primary leadership and teachers who were in the same position as I was and all these people were only a conversation away from helping me out. I had a whole support team and because I was willing to give of myself, these same people would be willing to give to me as well. Volleyball season was smooth and successful and Primary is teaching me so many different lessons still.
How can you do good for someone today?
President Monson revealed in his talk,
"Just over a year ago, I was interviewed by the Church News prior to my birthday. At the conclusion of the interview, the reporter asked what I would consider the ideal gift that members worldwide could give to me. I replied, “Find someone who is having a hard time or is ill or lonely, and do something for him or her."
Volunteerism is the motor that keeps our church up and running. Our whole church system is run by layman that volunteer their services to keep millions of people active in drawing nearer to the Lord. Men and women who aren't perfect but give the best of themselves to keep the church organized. President Obama has asked that people volunteer their time and talents in their communities and to causes bigger than themselves. Stop waiting for things to change from others and make the changes you think would benefit your own communities by serving others. I am glad that our President recognizes that by giving willingly of yourself is the way YOU help shape the world you live in. If you give nothing, won't you reap what you sow?
I love the Relief Society and what good works they do to uplift the spirit of men and their Sisters alike. They give cards, meals and companionship to those in need. They let their gift of woman's intuition and stay in tune with the Spirit to guide their hearts to say kind and uplifting words and recognize who is in need. These sisters seek the power of prayer to best help their hearts find humility and do what the Lord expects them to do. In my ward alone, I am in awe of the many college educated Sisters that walk in faith and choose to stay home and raise their children first and then those Sisters who stay in the work field and though exhausted, use their last bit of energy to let their families know, her first priority is in the home. Although their schedules are full and tiresome, they find ways to serve their families, serve in church and serve their communities. These are the places doing good for someone enrich a faithful Sister's life just as much as the people they serve.
The thoughtful child that makes cards for soldiers that serve in our military or sings songs to entertain the elderly. The child who implements kind acts in their home because of a Primary lesson. They are raised up in ways to put the needs of others and for a short time, forget about themselves. These selfless acts are ways we can help our children learn respect and be thoughtful of others. I believe children are taught bad behaviors as well as good ones. Wouldn't teaching a child to perform any good deeds daily promote temperance?
Just because you do good deeds and serve others does not mean you are perfect. As humans, were flawed. The amazing thing about service is that you find out through doing good daily for others, your problems don't seem to be so major. Good deeds do not have to be grand gestures. Small acts of random kindness work just as well. The key is to be mindful daily of someone in more need than yourself.