Sunday, July 8, 2018

Ministry and Suffering Alone

There is a rising trend of people talking about reaching out to those who are struggling. I'm not sure how I feel about that. While I don't think that reaching out is wrong, there's something about this effort that doesn't sit well with me.

It started with the new ministering program. I absolutely love the idea of ministering. I've struggled with the visiting teaching program for years. At the time of ministering, I had asked to not be visit taught any more. Unfortunately, it was misinterpreted to mean that I didn't want to visit teach any more, and I'd been entirely cut off from the whole program, but that is another issue. When they announced ministering, my heart sang. This is what I'd wanted to do and be, and never really knew how.

But then reality struck. Up until very recently, I've been pretty overwhelmed with my life. I've just barely gotten to the point where I'm strong enough again to try to reach outside of my own little circle. And I have found that by simplifying my life in order to manage it, I've created a habit of only dealing with my life.

Ministering requires not only serving, but also being able to be served. And I can't do that very well. I am fiercely independent, and the few times I've managed to admit to needing help, it has only been by compartmentalizing how I feel about being helped away from my mind. One of my greatest fears is being a burden. To the point where I'd rather suffer than risk being a burden to someone.

Because I feel this way, I also have an unrighteous habit of looking the other way when people are hurting. I don't want someone to take advantage of my weakness, so I don't serve unless expressly asked. Ministering to God's children doesn't work that way, though, as evidenced by my own life, where I've needed help desperately and not been able to ask for it.

So I guess that's why I have a hard time with this concept of reaching out to those who are struggling. I don't want anyone and everyone seeing my pain and weakness and trying to fix me. If I'm struggling, I don't want it to be visible enough for people to notice and help. But at the same time, I know I need it. Desperately.

I don't know what the answer is. But I know I don't want to be a project. I really would rather suffer than that. Even though I know that, technically, not being open enough to be helped is antithetical to Zion and God's Kingdom.

1 comment :

  1. We actually discussed this today in my Relief Society meeting. I feel like the conclusion we reached was that often, what people need is not so much physical help with the very real problems in their life, but rather a listening and sympathetic ear - and then possibly resources and options to deal with whatever their struggle is, rather than a service project (or becoming the project).
    I live in a very transient neighborhood, so visiting/home teaching and ministering was and is difficult simply because people move out within a few months of moving in, so it's hard to build any kind of trust or rapport. It can feel like an assignment to be a forced friend. But when you're in a new place and know no one, that can be a blessing in its own right, even if it's initially supremely awkward.
    Also, we talked about how ministering should be done even when the one you're called to minister to is doing well. Consistency builds trust for the times when things are rough.


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