In his talks directed to single adults in the church, President Gordon B. Hinckley's most oft repeated advice was, simply, to serve others.
"The best medicine for despair is service," (To Single Adults, 1989.)
"Lose yourself in the service of others," (A Conversation with Single Adults, 1997.)
In the past, my eye-rolling response was always, "How can he possibly know what being single is like? He's married!"
I thought losing myself in the service of others meant becoming the next Mother Teresa. Then I had some amazing experiences last week proving how wrong I was. I don't have to move to Calcutta. As I started looking around this small, humble, microcosm in which I exist, I discovered there's plenty of nice things I can do, right here, in my own community.
As my week of (mostly) unplanned service progressed, I realized I was on a roll and I kept finding many opportunities, both big and small, to serve my fellow man.
Like Cher from Clueless, (who found joy in helping her friends by taking them shopping) I was feeling so satisfied, so filled with the sprit of service, I wanted to do more good deeds.
So, here is what serendipitously became "My Week of Service."
Monday: Volunteer at St. Vincent De Paul Soup Kitchen in downtown Salt Lake City with the Murray 11th Ward. (Because my Mom couldn't make it and sent me in her place, thanks Mom!)
Tuesday: Donate blood at ARUP Blood Services, Sandy UT (which isn't easy for me because of my pernicious anemia)
Wednesday: The ward I attend was throwing a going away party at the neighborhood park for a beloved family who was moving. Any willing volunteers to bring cookies would be very welcome. So, I stepped into the kitchen and whipped up a batch of my famous chocolate chip cookies and went. Because our ward has lots of kids, including my two favorite nephews, I had many opportunities to play aunt and help pick up the toddlers being loaded like torpedoes down the slide by their older siblings, (which we quickly put a stop to) wipe noses and kiss boo boos.
Thursday: My stepfather came down with the world's worst virus: coughing, laryngitis, fatigue, and was sent home from work where I sent him straight to bed and made sure he had plenty of chicken noodle soup (and chocolate chip cookies) to aid in his recovery.
Friday: Babysit my eight year nephew until his parents could get home from work. Then we all went to Fashion Place Mall for some shopping and dinner at the food court where I helped keep an eye on both my favorite nephews. I recommend the corn dogs, they're excellent!
Saturday: Attended a friend's party
(OK, going to a party isn't exactly an act of service or sacrifice, but spending time with your best girlfriends and catching up on each other's lives is important too, right?)
Sunday: Sang in church.
First time I've ever been asked to sing in public so I was both honored and flattered when I was asked over a month ago if I'd be willing to do a number in sacrament meeting. I found a great piece, printed the sheet music off the internet, practiced hard and was able to perform with poise and confidence; bringing the spirit and love of the Savior into the meeting.
The many compliments I received afterward didn't hurt either!
I challenge anyone who is feeling a little down, in the depths of despair, or having too much fun indulging in their own pity-party, to take President Hinckley's challenge and find some small way to serve.
You don't have to make a week out of it. It doesn't have to be big and grand. Don't feel bad if it doesn't go viral. The littlest, most insignificant act of service you stop and provide might just make somebody else's day.
And, who knows, you might just lose yourself (or find yourself) in the process!
October 25, 2015
I submitted this post to Deseret Connect. Six months later it was published online.
Read it Here
Thursday, April 9, 2015
We have just enjoyed another General Conference. Like many others, I was also a little shaken when five people stood during the sustaining of those we consider to be prophets, seers and revelators and shouted their dissent. I realize everyone has a right to their own opinions, but I think I speak for the majority of church members in my desire to stand up for our revered leaders declaring, “We Oppose your ‘Opposed!’”
Right back at-cha!
Noted and moving on.
The church is still true, our members are imperfect, but the gospel of Jesus Christ will always remain-steadfast and immovable.
It isn’t easy. Even for Old Maid Mormons like me who often feel like second-class citizens, listening to four separate and distinct talks delivered during the Saturday morning sessions, all focusing exclusively on the importance of heterosexual man-woman marriage, supporting our priesthood holders, the sacredness of human sexuality and family formation.
How can a forty-year old midsingle like me stand up and defend the Proclamation to the Family (given twenty years ago when I was just entering the young single adult scene) and follow the prophet’s call to increase our temple worship when I was never even asked to the temple, let alone my high school prom? Who would ever take me seriously? I’m a virgin who can’t drive.
How can I proclaim that marriage and family matters to me when I have no husband, home or family of my own?
How can I honor and sustain the priesthood when I have no worthy priesthood holder in my life?
I posted these very questions to my friends on a Facebook Group for LDS midsingles.
Their supportive and uplifting comments were wonderful. There are many singles who share my frustration, feeling like an “invisible saint” as we continue to wait patiently for our blessings. These faithful singles suggested a return to prayer, serving others and to not let myself feel inferior when the ideal is not my current reality.
Frankly, I was told I needed to start looking at my situation in a different way.
To begin with, there is hardly a shortage of worthy priesthood holders in my life: my bishop, brother-in-law, three younger brothers and my stepfather; all worthy and honorable priesthood holders that I can call, any time, for blessings of comfort and council.
Whatever humble structure you call home, even if you live by yourself, you can make it a place of safety, refuge and peace-like a temple.
Those people in your life you simply cannot live without: friends, nephews, siblings. They are your family and you are never alone.
Pray and study the scriptures. Find little ways to serve and make a difference.
I struggle often with the question of continuing to live the law of chastity when isolation and loneliness are the only blessings I see.
A life free of guilt and shame are the real blessings that come from living this law. I have no reason to feel inferior. Continue to strive for the ideal and next time you feel like a second-class citizen for choosing celibacy, when the quick and easy path of cohabitation beckons, stop and say, “Opposed!”
During his Sunday morning address, President Monson admonished us all to have a spirit of temple worship. My temple recommend expired years ago, due to my lack of motivation to attend, yet, as I listened to the voice of our beloved prophet, I discovered that spirit of temple worship continues to burn in my heart. The desire to believe and worship was there. Recalling the words of Alma, I would let this desire work in (me).
The best way to stand up and show our support for our beloved prophet is to encourage each other to study his latest words and follow his most recent council to seek the blessings of the temple.
Let’s keep our hearts open as to how we can be like that return missionary in President Monson’s talk who followed a quiet prompting and made a difference in someone’s life.
We can show our support for President Monson by increasing our spirit of temple worship and performing small acts of kindness.
For by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.