Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Five Years Went Too Fast

This week I was released from a calling in my church I held for over 5 years. I served as a liason for LDS Family Services supporting the AddictionRecovery Program as well as serving as a birth parent volunteer working with unwed and pregnant mothers.

I remember I was eight months pregnant with my eighth child when I was called. I was sure it was a mistake and they called the wrong person. I felt so completely overwhelmed. It took several months before I felt comfortable with my calling and from then on, it only deepened my testimony of how  much the Lord loves each of his children individually and personally.

I'd like to share three things I learned that will hopefully help others understand the purpose of LDS Family Services and its programs.

1 - Our Father in Heaven loves us no matter what. The Lord in his wisdom has created programs and resources to promote the emotional, physical and spiritual aspect of each of our lives. The Addiction Recovery Program is one way he does that. Support group meetings are held weekly and it is a place where those who struggle can come together and gain strength from each other. They use a workbook based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and is basically a step by step approach to using the atonement. It is scripture based and allows places to reflect on what the individual has learned and how they felt during each step of the process.

While working with my young birth mother friends, I also realized how much love I felt for each of them as they made decisions that would have far reaching consequences not only for them but for their child. I can only imagine that the amount of love I felt for them was a fraction of what our Heavenly Father feels for each of us. As we cried, laughed and loved each other, my testimony was strengthened that not one of us is forgotten by our loving Father in Heaven.

2 - None of us are perfect. We need the atonement to become perfect. I attended several meetings both with the ARP and birth mother support group often bringing someone with me so they could feel the spirit of hope and peace that attended each meeting. I often remarked that these meetings were atonement meetings. I left feeling wrapped in the arms of my Savior's love as well as understanding that there are ways for all of us to overcome our weaknesses. We are given weaknesses to become stronger. I celebrate the obstacles I have overcome because it has led me to becoming the person I am today. 

When I go to the gym and do a difficult workout, generally the next day I am sore. But I keep plugging along and working hard. Soon I notice how strong I am becoming. It's like that with our struggles; sometimes they cause us pain but as we learn to overcome them we become strong spiritually.

3 - We need to judge less and love more. As I worked with members through my calling I realized that there are enough people who judge and make assumptions based on little or no actual knowledge of the situation. I also recognized that the individual is sometimes harder on themselves than anyone else could be. It is our sacred responsibility to love others regardless of their imperfections. In the New Testament Luke chapter six verse 37 Jesus says, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall beforgiven: and on into verse 41 he adds, "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" But my favorite scripture comes in chapter 8 of Luke when a woman is brought to Jesus after being caught committing adultery. The scribes and pharisees brought her to be stoned for her sin. Jesus answered in verse seven, "he who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

What if instead of judgements we just loved? What if instead of being critical of your neighbor you served them and got to know them? What if instead of gossiping about someone's struggles you pray for them and maybe put your arm around them in love? What if? Can you imagine the potential you could inspire in someone just by loving them?

That's what I learned and that's why I'm so sad that my "official" service in this capacity has ended. Fortunately, the "unofficial" opportunities to serve never end for any of us. I'm eternally grateful for the lessons I learned and pray that my life will continue in service, remembering how much our Savior loves us, that none of us are perfect and that I need to love more and serve often.

If I served with you in this capacity in the last five years, I dedicate this song to you. I love you all.