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LDS Relief Society: Adventures in Compassionate Service

By guest author, P.D. Wiles.

From Visiting Teaching to providing food for a funeral, Relief Society sisters always seem to arrive when help is needed. But sometimes our help, however well intentioned, crumbles into one big chaotic mess.

And when that happens, all we can do is stand back and say… “Did I do that?”

From knocking the muffler off my car while visiting teaching, to sinking it so deep in a muddy yard that I had to crawl out the passenger side, I’ve experienced my share of Mission of Mercy Mishaps. (The latter happened as I was delivering a gingerbread house to a senior citizen’s center. It happened at night, in a pouring rain, and being a time before cell phones, I had to walk to the local police station and call my husband. Yikes!)

I’ve tried to figure out what causes these situations to even occur. Of course, the simple, easy thing would be to blame it on the adversary. Doesn’t Satan want to thwart all attempts at goodness? At other times, I’ve thought the Lord has helped me to stumble in order to keep me humble. Like the time I gave a talk in sacrament meeting—I was just a few short sentences away from the most flawless talk of my life. I had been so prepared, had spoken so eloquently, and was so certain the congregation was captivated with my speaking skills that I’d already started patting myself on the back. Then, just when I thought all was well—even better than well—my tongue knotted up tighter than the lashing on a Boy Scout rope bridge. I said “Pardon me” so many times you’d have thought I was a prison inmate.

However, the Lord has told us, through the words of His servants, that (thank goodness) we are not the sum of our little goof-ups and errors—not even of our big whopper mistakes.

“Sadness, disappointment, and severe challenge are events in life, not life itself. I do not minimize how hard some of these events are. They can extend over a long period of time, but they should not be allowed to become the confining center of everything you do.” (“Finding Joy in Life,” Richard G. Scott, Ensign, May 1996.)

While we can often be more than sensitive to our own screw-ups, we mustn’t let them tear us down. Often, the best thing is to find the humor in them, pass them off as a funny memory, and move on to our next opportunity.

I found this to be true not long ago as my visiting teaching companion and I went to perform a compassionate service assignment. We were to set up a post-funeral meal for a member who had experienced a death in the family. We collected all the food that had been prepared or bought, and drove to the home that was at least 30 minutes away from any type of store, out in the country. About 15 minutes before the family was supposed to return, I had just finished arranging the dessert table and was sweeping the floor. Suddenly, in slow motion, the top of the table tipped over, spilling every single dessert onto the floor.

All I could do was scream.

My companion ran into the room. She looked at the mess, and then back at me.

I said, “Did I do that?” Then we both laughed—it was better than crying!

Fortunately, not all the desserts were ruined. And by a miracle, a neighbor came in shortly after we’d cleaned up the mess—bearing desserts.

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Content copyright © 2013 by P.D. Wiles. All rights reserved.
This content was written by P.D. Wiles. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact C.S. Bezas for details.

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