There seems to be no end to letters about people moving. The topic will close next week, with letters that were written before the July 18 plea to send no more letters on the topic. I’m sorry to leave so many letters unread, but a topic can only go on for so long. This particular subject seems to be worth a whole book.
Speaking of books, we start our column today with a plea for people to read about moving in the church handbook of instructions. Here’s what the reader (who is a noted historian, which means he looks these things up!) has to say:
Last November’s leadership training session discussed the new Church handbooks. In the broadcast, it was noted that, “The roles of elders quorum presidents and high priest group leaders are significantly enhanced in the new handbooks. In order to accomplish vital ecclesiastical responsibilities the priesthood leaders will have to reduce some temporal service demands, such as helping members move.” — LDS Church Nsws, week ending November 20, 2010, pages 3, 13.
If people (especially local leaders) would follow the directions given by general church leaders, there wouldn’t be questions like this.
John A. Tvedtnes
Thanks for reminding us to read the book, John. For those readers who haven’t had that opportunity, a link to the book will appear near the end of this column.
We moved every three years for the first 12 years of our marriage and never, ever asked for any assistance from the Church. When we move from our current home next year to our retirement home in another state, we will hire a moving company to do the honors.
Does no one read the manuals? Does no one take notes at those special leadership meetings? Church members do not have the right or even the expectation of help just because they ask for it. Our time, talents, and strength are resources under covenant, and should be delegated by assignment of the bishop. It is his job to approve and coordinate the use of the time, talents and resources of his ward members.
Your writer’s husband needs to refer his family to the bishop, who will then, with the input of the ward council, look at the Lord’s resources in his ward and either agree to allocate resources to assist this family (yet again, apparently) and assign the quorum or auxiliary to coordinate the extent of the assistance.
We forget that our abilities, our gifts and our talents are under covenant and that, in many respects, we are not free to accept or guarantee our time and resources in church service without referring the request to the bishop. That’s my understanding, having served over the years in a number of different leadership positions. We could not assign compassionate service without clearing both the givers and recipients with the bishop. He always took care to make sure those receiving service from his membership were truly in need and without their own resources.
Your writer’s husband and ward are being taken advantage of inappropriately, but until her husband says, “You need to call the bishop and make your request of him. I do not have the authority to organize this service project within the quorum.”
Read the new welfare manual. The Church priesthood quorums are not moving companies and the Relief Society is not a catering business. We must learn to say, “No,” to those who continually assume they can use the consecrated resources of the Church to assist when they have other options available to help.
Yes, this letter has an attitude, only because I’ve seen so many people take advantage of our desire to be “Christian” and “giving” and our inability to say, “no,” to those who abuse our good natures and desires to please Heavenly Father by being good to His children.
Mount Airy, MD
What a fascinating letter, Yo! Although I’ve known for decades about our time and strength being under covenant, it never occurred to me that the bishop might have the last word concerning how that time and strength are to be spent. Thanks.
I have contemplated this topic often. I have helped countless women pack and move. Sometimes I did it as compassionate service leader, sometimes as a member of the Relief Society, and sometimes as a friend. I have learned a thing or three. I have drawn up a “Mover’s Pledge Agreement” that we pass out to families that are planning on moving. Simply it states:
- You will have everything in boxes prior to the day the truck arrives.
- As members of the Relief Society, we will be there to assist you, not do it all for you.
- We are not in the business of making money for people. If you live in an apartment or rental and you would like your cleaning deposit back, it is your responsibility to clean in advance or after the move. If you will not be available, if you have friends that want to assist you, ask them. It is not something the Relief Society is even supposed to be doing. However, if you are disabled or have another specific problem that prevents you from cleaning your own mess, call and we will talk. (We have found that the majority of landlords do not plan on giving any of your deposit back anyway, so check to see if this is true before you break your back.)
- Make arrangements for your young children to be out of the house. If you do not have family or friends that you can ask to watch them, call and we can work something out.
- You are responsible for dollies, for making sure all boxes are packed and taped securely, and for procuring trucks for the move.
- If you move on a weekday, during the daytime, be aware that it will be more difficult to find men that can help.
- We will provide a quick meal for your family on the day of moving if needed, but only if asked to do so. Please let us know if you think you will need this.
My husband and I have always moved ourselves as well — mostly because I don’t want anyone messing with my piano. We usually hire a company to move all the furniture the day before. The rest are just boxes and with the furniture out of the way, we can be packed and on our way in an hour with the help of a few friends. Nevertheless, I understand the need for some who have no family or friends close and especially single mothers, to have some additional help.
If someone has health issues or a bad back, it is their responsibility to simply state, “I have back issues and cannot lift.” They could even offer to make a call for the family to help find someone else who can, but should feel under no obligation to do so.
You’re so right, Cold-Hearted. If someone who has a bad back helps people move without letting that little factoid be known in advance, he has nobody but himself to blame if he throws his back out. Your “Mover’s Pledge Agreement” is an excellent document, too.
I used to work for a well known moving company, and since then, with all the knowledge I gained, I have been able to help friends move, and organize all the other helpers to work in an organized manner.
What a professional moving company will do is put a person in charge of certain rooms, pack everything in the room and label the boxes from there with “1st. bedroom,” “2nd. bedroom, “living room,” and so on.
Just one funny story for you: Once, when I was a driving instructor and out driving with a student, I came upon a small pickup and guys who were picking up remnants of a piano. I recognized the guys from our ward. They had just come down a steep hill, having to make a sharp left turn to cross the bridge, the piano went flying over the side of the truck. My husband said that he was following the truck, and it was just like slow motion.
The poor husband had to confront his wife, who was a piano teacher, and had had the piano, I believe, since very young. When they got to the new home, the husband went inside, and the look on his face got the wife all worried. She asked if anything happened to the piano, did they “scratch it up”? It was all the men could do not to laugh out loud when she asked that question, and of course she cried when the husband said that it got more than just “scratched.” Eventually they got money from their home insurance, which in this case actually covered items damaged during a move. She took it in stride, being very thankful to the members who helped with the move.
Jenny from Salt Spring Island (Paradise, with the most wonderful branch members you could ever find)
Thanks for a great story, Jenny. I’m glad there was a happy ending to the “scratched” piano story, and that the ward member was wise enough to realize that the accident hadn’t happened on purpose, and that many people had worked hard in order to help her family in the move.
It seems to me that I remember a time in the not-too-distant past that there was an unwritten rule that specified that any perspective elders quorum president had to be the owner of a pickup truck. Either one or both of his counselors had to also own pickups. Now, with that said, I don’t think the attitudes today of a lot of people have changed about the Priesthood Moving Company, except it’s sometimes called the Elders Quorum Moving Company in a ward with only a few high priests.
I believe it is still a viable and necessary organization when it comes to single moms with young children still at home. Notice I said single moms instead of single parents. Single dads can fend for themselves, in my opinion. Other than that, the bishop should stand tall and explain to the family requesting the moving service that moving companies are available in the local area ready and willing to serve them for a nominal fee.
Supportive Member of Fed Up in Fresno
I remember that unwritten rule, Supportive. I also remember the unwritten rule that a Young Women president should have a minivan. Amazing, isn’t it, that elders quorum presidents and Young Women leaders in countries where people don’t routinely own trucks or minivans manage to succeed, but somehow they have been able to muddle through. We Latter-day Saints are so resilient!
Read on for an incident where every single volunteer was glad he’d stepped up to help:
I’ve served in many priesthood presidencies and I’m sure that my moving stories aren’t unique — except one.
A friend of mine was returning to Utah after completing his education in Boston. He contacted the elders quorum in his soon-to-be hometown, indicating what day and time he would arrive. He didn’t ask for assistance, but kind of expected some from the ward to show up to help.
At the appointed time, several of the elders were there to help. But professional movers had been contracted. So, as a reward for the faithful willingness to help, my friend had purchased watermelon and soda, and he put up chairs so that he and the helpers could watch the movers and get to know each other better. It was a fun experience. Needless to say, he was welcome in his new ward.
There’s something to be said, Bob, for watching other people work. What a great idea for getting to know the new people in a ward! That’s something that I hope a lot of us can remember in case we ever get the opportunity to go and do likewise.
It is nice if some feel compelled to help others move, but no one should feel obligated or guilty for not doing so.
Moving parties are the Mormon “feel good” equivalent of the Amish barn-raising, but it really pales in comparison.
My wife of 27 years and I have only moved twice. The first time our brothers and brothers-in-law helped. The second time, with two small children and more property, we managed on our own. My wife still likes to brag about helping me unload the piano.
I fear that the whole “rely on the priesthood” thing and the home teaching program encourages otherwise able-bodied people to become “needy.” The Church may well be true, but we members have to do our part to make sure the administrative part functions as it should.
Accepting help really can get addictive, Self-Reliant. There’s a line in the accepting of help that’s so fine it’s almost invisible. On the one hand, we need to accept service as well as to give it, in order to give people the opportunity to serve. (It also helps tear down our pride to accept service from others.) But if we’re not careful, we can start thinking of service as something we’re entitled to receive, and that poisons the soul.
This topic is one that hits close to my heart because of many years of moving in the name of priesthood service. During the first six years of my marriage, my wife and I moved six times. With the first three moves, I didn’t ask for help from the elders quorum because I had plenty of family around, my wife’s family was only one hour away if we needed their help, and we didn’t have a bunch of stuff. We could fill a two bedroom apartment with what we had. Packing up and moving was no big deal.
The third move took us 1500 miles away from all of those family members. I knew that I would need help getting some of the stuff out of the moving truck when I arrived, especially because I wouldn’t have my wife to help. I tried to find out who the elders quorum president was so that I could call and ask for some assistance. He was non-committal during the conversation.
I was, however, blessed with an attentive office manager in our apartment complex. She knew we were coming from Utah and the people in the apartment next door to us were also from Utah. She knew that the other family were Mormons and figured we were too. She let them know we were coming, and even called from the office to their apartment when she saw the moving truck pulling in. They were the only ones that helped.
Eighteen months later we were moving back to Utah. I asked in quorum meeting for some help to get the heavy things loaded into the truck. I had three people come and help. I let them know what I needed help with and was ready for them to take it. They even loaded boxes that were ready to go, even after I told them that I could get them loaded if time was short. They still helped.
Back in Utah, the next two moves were done with the help of family again. It was simple. It was also weird. Members of our new ward thought that we weren’t very social because we hadn’t asked for help. Aren’t we taught to be self-sufficient, then go to family as a first line of help, then go the Church for help? I know it is a welfare guideline, but can’t it be a guideline for moving too?
Two years later I was called into the elders quorum presidency and four months into the calling I was laid off from my job. The elders quorum president decided that I would have plenty of time on my hands, so he asked me to be in charge of all moves — organizing, assigning, working, and so on. It is the experience from that period of life that makes me sympathize with the sister with the complaint.
There were countless times that the families that were moving out were not ready for us to load stuff. Once we even showed up at the time they asked us to come and there was no moving truck. They told me that they thought I would have everyone bring their pick-up trucks and that we would just make multiple runs. They never mentioned it when they asked for help.
There were times that the family moving out had their family members there at the house, but they “couldn’t” help. But hey, they did try to stay out of our way while we moved stuff. I made sure that the kitchen table and chairs, along with the living room furniture, were the first thing taken out of the house. I wasn’t going to provide them a place to sit while I did the work.
There have also been times where all the family that was available to help did show up. But as the home teacher, I felt the obligation to a) talk to the family to find out if they needed any help, and b) still help because I was the home teacher. Through all of these experiences I have learned some lessons that I discuss with the ward leadership when we in the bishopric learn that a family will be moving.
First of all, the first people that the moving family should contact regarding their move is their home teachers. It should be the home teachers that finds out if help is needed, and if so, how much. In the case of a single mom with young kids, the visiting teachers can likewise ask if help is needed in packing stuff up. It isn’t required, but the help really may be needed. I also talk with the family about what help they will be getting from their own family and friends.
Most importantly, I have counseled the families that are moving regarding two things. First, they need to plan for the transportation and don’t assume that helpers will bring trucks. If they can’t afford to rent a moving truck, or just don’t want to, I tell them it is their responsibility to talk with people in the ward who own trucks and trailers to see if they can be used. Second, I have told them that the helpers are there to load and transport, not clean and pack. The packing needs to be done before the moving help shows up.
I have even told the elders quorum president on occasion that if things weren’t packed and ready, he should ask the family how soon they could be ready and that they would return at that time. I also told him that they should load what was ready and leave the rest for the family to load when it was packed. It may not sound very Christ-like, but it is the moving family’s responsibility to be ready or otherwise contact the one in charge of getting help and ask that people arrive at a later time.
Moving members need to be sensitive to the sacrifice of those that are coming. Home teachers and visiting teachers need to be sensitive to the needs for help that the moving family may have. Members of the Relief Society and priesthood should be willing to help — not out of feelings of obligation because of church membership, but out of love and concern for a neighbor in need.
Lastly, we are taught that “when [we] are in the service of [our] fellow man, [we] are only in the service of [our] God.” We are also taught that charity is the pure love of Christ. Would he not willingly lend a hand to those in need? We should too.
Gee, Semi. It was my understanding that a person who had lost his job was supposed to be spending his time looking for another one. I had no idea there were people who would decide that you were supposed to spend that time moving instead. How nice of them! And how really nice of you to take it all in stride and do it even though you were in a stressful place in your own life!
I got a kick out of your idea of moving tables and chairs out of a house first so the relatives who were doing nothing wouldn’t have anywhere to sit. But I especially liked your last paragraph, which shows your sense of compassion triumphed over all the bad experiences. Good for you!
Here’s something for “Fed up in Fresno” to think about. For all you know, someone may have said to the family, “When you need to move, we’ll be here to help with loving hearts and a song of joy.” Sadly, said person may have moved out of the ward long before the need arose!
People should use good sense and organization when helping neighbors move. It’s perfectly acceptable to set some parameters for helping, such as:
- “We can bring five guys to help from 8-10 on Saturday morning. Can you be ready for us then?”
- “Oh, I see you’re not quite ready for us. We’ll re-group when you’re boxes are packed up.”
- “Let us know when your adult children are coming, and we’ll be over to assist your family with this move.”
- “Maybe the Relief Society can help you get packed up. Then you can call us men when you’re ready.” (That’s how our ward does it. But we’re a pretty organized bunch.)
- “I’m getting a lumbago attack, Brother Moving-down-the-block. Can you lift the other end of this table instead of just watching me struggle?”
Some people need to be taught the correct role of the priesthood and auxiliaries. There’s nothing written against using the teachable moment while rendering service. That can be a tender service in and of itself.
Your bishop (sorry, Bishop) is the ideal person to teach this lesson (or to assign the lesson to the Relief Society president).
Sometimes there is sudden illness or a real emergency, such as getting evicted without time to plan ahead. These would obvious exceptions. But in such cases, the helpers can call around to ask for more helpers and spread the blessings.
In any case,Fresno, chill out. Some kvetching about helping people move is allowed, even encouraged, as a way to let off steam and have a laugh or two while you work. But I seem to remember some ancient wise man quipping about bearing one another’s burdens as a condition of membership. So you have to strike a happy balance between charity and resentment.
I think you should use your best judgment. If a person is just mooching off the ward, you can kill ’em with kindness, as Sister Mary Jean used to say. Or you can just say no. It’s still a free country. At least over here in Utah.
A Convert in Constant Need of Further Instruction
I love the way your sense of humor shines through, Convert. Thanks for giving some of this who are spineless some wonderful quotes we can use at appropriate moments.
By the way, we are all in constant need of further instruction. Especially when we think we aren’t.
Recently, when our son was an elders quorum president, he had the opportunity to address this question to a general authority who was visiting the area. (Our son is married to the granddaughter of the stake patriarch, so he was a guest at the dinner.)
The response he received is that the elders quorum is responsible for moving families. They do not pack up boxes; they only load the truck with boxes that are ready to be loaded. Families are to be instructed that if the belongings are not packed when the elders quorum gets there, the elders are to leave and return when everything is packed. The high priests are not responsible for the moving of anyone, for the reasons stated in your article: Too many have physical limitations and they are too vulnerable to getting injured.
He said it is appropriate that the ward members be made aware of this instruction ahead of time. Too many times the priesthood moves a household and the Relief Society comes in afterwards and cleans up the mess the family should be taking care of themselves. To do otherwise is to enable people to abuse the service of others. In the gospel, we are to teach self reliance — not support enabling people in their lack of living skills.
Lakewood Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Thanks for sharing that, Sonja. A lot of high priests are going to enjoy reading your letter.
My family and I are recent grateful recipients of moving help from ward members from both our previous ward and the current ward we just moved into. I can honestly say that we couldn’t have done it without their assistance.
We moved from Pennsylvania to Texas on a tight budget. We did not have the luxury of hiring professional movers, like the writer who voiced the complaint did. However, we did not take advantage of the wonderful people who came to our aid either.
My suggestion to anyone who moves and needs help is to do as much as possible on their end first, namely to make sure most items are boxed before people arrive. Be sure to have water and Gatorade on hand. We also provided lunch for those who helped us during the day.
For most members, helping people move is a way of giving cheerful service. It is unfortunate that some recipients are less than grateful or less inclined to put their shoulders to the wheel, so to speak. I know that my family and I will be more than happy to help anyone who needs to move, especially since we’ve been so recently blessed in that regard.
You’re right, Trish — gratitude is the key. Thanks for the reminder. It’s a whole lot more gratifying to perform a service for someone who acknowledges your sacrifice than it is to serve people who believe their needs are more important than yours.
Reading about the moving made me recall a very funny conversation I had with our home teacher several years ago.
We were a completely inactive family but welcomed the home teacher into our home as we would any other guest. He called one day to tell me that he and his wife were moving, and he wanted to borrow our pickup truck. I told him that I didn’t have a pickup truck. He told me that I did. I assured him that there were many things in life that I was uncertain of, but that I did indeed know what vehicles I owned. He again insisted that I had a truck that he could borrow.
Finally, exasperated with my lack of cooperation and willingness to lend him the truck I didn’t have, he said, “I saw it, a red pickup, in your driveway.” I then realized what had happened. My son, who lived four states away, had visited over the holidays and the red pickup this guy had seen belonged to my son.
I just couldn’t believe that I had just had that conversation! He probably doesn’t believe me to this day. I guess what really bothered me was that while he thought I owned a pickup, he had some kind of right to demand its use.
Moving is a job for professionals. I would feel terrible if someone got hurt and was unable to work because of an injury sustained moving my possessions. I also want to be able to make a claim if somebody drops the Waterford (it was a gift).
I have moved several times but have always hired people who were insured (for themselves and for me) and had the proper equipment to move household goods. It is very expensive. Budget it into your move and if you can’t afford to pay to have your stuff moved, sell it and replace it, do it yourself, or stay put.
I feel strongly about it. If it’s worth moving, it’s worth having it done professionally. Your stuff isn’t more important than somebody else’s health and safety. And people will say “yes” when they shouldn’t; their spirit may be willing but their vertebrae may be weak. Don’t put them in that position. You may be asking to borrow a pickup truck that they don’t have, so to speak.
What a kick of a story, Grandma! And I love the analogy that asking others to help you when you don’t know their circumstances may be the equivalent of “asking to borrow a pickup truck they don’t have.”
We, too, had people in our town who weren’t prepared when the priesthood members got there. Nothing was boxed or sorted.
Our bishop finally had had enough, because people were literally “using” the priesthood. (After a while it’s not service, but expected.) So the priesthood was given the order that if the people weren’t boxed up, they were to go home and let the family know they would be back when they were ready. The people moving were told this when they asked for help and what would happen.
Things got better until we got another bishop, who wouldn’t stand up to those requesting help. It really has to be enforced by our unit leaders. Leaders often think it’s a good missionary tool, but the people using it catch on very fast that it’s something they can ask for and get — always — and it’s the same people who help every time. I’ve never seen anyone come to church who asked for help moving. It’s not that I don’t want to give service, but there has to be some “realistic” terms agreed to as well.
It’s a real bummer, Realistic, that it all comes back to the bishop. Alas, the buck really does stop with him. This is yet another reason why nobody in his right mind would aspire to the calling. Every problem in the ward, from the big, honking calamities all the way down to the way people administer service or even respond to calls to do temple work, comes back to the example he sets.
Well, this is an interesting situation. I believe in service for real needs and not just moving whims. I think members should do all they can for themselves, then ask and be thankful for the additional help required. That seems to be a correct principle — ”Do all you can do, then my grace is sufficient.” I’m paraphrasing, but you can get the point.
If someone needs help moving, should they not clean, pack up themselves? I think it’s rude to ask busy men in the Church to pack, provide boxes, and do other things the homeowner should already have done. Again, the age of entitlement has penetrated the adult members’ thoughts.
When the men of my California ward came, I was all packed, boxed and had everything ready for them, even McDonald’s hot breakfasts as a thank you, with lots of ice water. We need to be a more thankful people, grateful for services rendered and offer to serve other as we have been served.
We are on the Lord’s errand daily. Service is love in action, but the people receiving the service need to show effort and appreciation.
The man who did not want to bother his sons, taught them to be lazy and non-caring in the process. I would say shame on him as a parent. As parents, we are to train our children. The work ethic has eroded to a point that it will take great effort to bring it back.
I would be seething also.
Stephanie, I’m sure if movers were treated the way you treated your movers, there would be a lot less complaining for those who perform those tasks. Thanks for setting an example of consideration for all of us.
I am a convert to this Church, and have been a member of other churches. I do not feel that this is a problem that is unique to the LDS Church.
I have learned to be selective in my reaction to these requests, as to do otherwise would put me in the hospital. In my 39 years of membership in this Church I have seen those in true need of help and those too lazy to do for themselves. I try to help the ones in need; to the lazy ones I say good luck.
I have arrived at homes to help and been told that they are unable to help because of bad backs. I have injured my back so I tell them I will help when they help. I am known in my ward as a crusty individual. Well I’m still here; it works!
We should never stop helping those in need, but we should educate our members that the priesthood helps those that help themselves.
Thanks for your words of wisdom, Crusty. I’m glad that after 39 years of church membership you are still ready to lend your bad back to help those who are in need.
I certainly understand your concerns and complaint. My father is 81 and he continues to get calls to cut trees, move families, change flats, and do other manual labor.
The purpose of a home teacher is to oversee and assist a family. Our priesthood holders desire to serve but do not know how to turn down a request.
I believe ward members should not ever expect the ward to help with anything without exhausting their family first. Although the Church has taught us to serve others with a willing heart, that doesn’t mean we are obligated to do things they and their families are capable of.
Often our priesthood spends weekend after weekend moving a family. And those family members continue to watch television or stand around and watch. These are the very people who are offended by the ward when they do not receive that expected assistance. This may be the root to our elderly priesthood feeling as though they are obligated to assist in any capacity possible.
Our gospel is based on family strength and self reliance, but too many members don’t practice that belief. I believe the Relief Society and priesthood have the right to offer assistance with guidelines, such as, “A few men will be at your home to move the large furniture like sofa, washer, dryers, and mattresses.” These people will not like the response because they didn’t get the answer they expected. On the other hand, the help is offered with limits and more than likely they will accept any help.
The Relief Society falls under the same expectations by members wanting to get married and wanting a free wedding with decorations, baby showers, and food for several days due to a death in the family. We all have these ward members and there is no end to the list of needs or requests made on our willing members ready to serve.
People will be accountable for their lifestyle, actions and needs. We cannot judge these people for their differences and requests. Only Heavenly Father will judge those situations; however, as priesthood and Relief Society members we can offer our services with physical limits, available time frame and guidelines toward personal self-reliance.
We live in a society that is relying more on others. Today’s motto could be, “Expect more and offer less.” Those with true conviction to the gospel understand the purpose of being on earth. We must always be prepared to teach, set good examples and not disable others by doing jobs they can handle on their own.
Wow, Concerned. It blows me away that people are expecting your 81-year-old father to perform manual labor. Of course, if the people asking for help are 99-year-old widows, they may think of him as a young whippersnapper who still has the muscles of Superman. I guess this could be a major compliment.
I’m so happy someone took the time to bring the subject up. A list of qualifiers for moving days should be in the handbook. Here are possible items to put on the list:
- The family needs to be ready. That means packed and ready to load, with available family members on hand to help load (all ages, as health permits).
- The family needs to plan ahead (weeks ahead, if at all possible), being thoughtful of helpers’ availability.
- Those who have health problems that preclude them from lifting (such as bad backs, hearts, knees, and so on) should not participate, by direction from the bishop.
- The family needs to participate as much as possible.
- Larger-than-life items like pianos should be moved by a hired professional. The liability and the weight should be considered. If it’s valuable, it should be insured.
With time, the list might grow longer. With forethought, the list would encompass all that Heavenly Father would see as prudent and caring for all concerned.
About that Handbook, let’s get on it, and get this included. Every family should download the new handbook, including moving day guidelines, soon!
Paradise First Ward
Thanks for reminding us to download the handbook, Lynn. For those who have not done so, here’s the link
Here’s our final letter today on the subject:
If someone asks you for service and you say yes, yet you do nothing but complain, you have forfeited valuable blessings that might have been yours if you were truly willing to give Christ-like service. As a single parent of special needs children, I rarely ask for help because I know the Church is full of such murmurers that are toxic to the loving environment I am trying to create at home. My older teenager, witnessing my struggles, has become more helpful and loving and vows to be more helpful to those unseen members in the ward that seem like they have it together, yet they do not.
I would rather be told no, than for someone to help me and then turn around and write such letters of complaint to this forum, or worse to gossip about their inconvenience or my and my children’s faults to the clucking hens and roosters of the ward. It is easy for people to judge in their own familiar “armchairs” about what someone else should be doing, but hard to try so hard selflessly serving someone that you come to truly love and understand another child of God.
When I finally break down and ask for help, often at the last minute and with great shame, I run into similar responses such as from the sister from Fresno. I am disappointed that I visited this website today, looking for something to lift me up. I am disappointed that the voices of complaint seem to be taking over the voices of Christ-like charity. I understand the need to say no and all of us should feel okay with saying no, because we are not always able to do everything. but the older I get, the more I realize that complaints like these do nothing to further love and good feeling and strength among the brothers and sisters in our church and community.
It is toxic complaining like this, that no matter how well-justified, can cause more harm to building the kingdom than decisive hot or cold action would do. I pray that everyone reading this article and the responses will come to understand that the blessings of service are greatest when the opportunity comes at the last minute and challenges our deeply ingrained beliefs. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, and yet we complain about spending a few hours in someone’s home?
When we let go of complaints and do what we can, with all our hearts, we begin to more closely come to understand the face of God. Unfortunately, most people are missing out because they gave service with “strings” attached.
Thanks for a great letter, DisFUNctional. I can well attest how easy it is for people to sit back and judge the motives of others, because I used to be the queen bee of judgment. Fortunately, God has a way of tripping people up when they need it, so I’ve learned a lot of much-needed lessons in the past couple of decades.
As Alma said on the subject of providing charity, our job is to serve without worrying about whether the recipients are worthy of our service. Thanks for reminding us all that ungrudging service is one of the hallmarks of our church.
Okay, people, that’s it for next week. Next week wraps up the topic, and I already have all the letters for it in hand. Don’t waste your time by writing any more letters on this subject, because I won’t have time to read them. I’m sure there will be lots of opportunities for you to weigh in on our next topic.
Until next time — Kathy
“Time is a circus, always packing up and moving away.”