The women's organization in our church is known as the Relief Society. It is an international organization of more than six million women in 170 countries, and was founded 182 years ago. For most of my life, I've only really associated it with the class at church I attend on Sundays, an hour long meeting where we learn how to strengthen our homes and families, increase our personal spirituality, and help those in need.
The "helping those in need" was the part that I most wanted to do, and yet never felt like I was being effective. There are so many people who could use an extra helping hand, but my shy, introverted nature stalled my desires before they developed into efforts. "Please let me know how I can help" and "Let me know if there's anything I can do" are phrases I've offered hundreds of times, but nothing ever came of it.
Then I heard this quote at General Conference this year:
"If you come upon a person who is drowning, would you ask if they need help—or would it be better to just jump in and save them from the deepening waters? The offer, while well meaning and often given, “Let me know if I can help” is really no help at all." (Ronald A. Rasband)
That hit me hard. The harsh realization that my offer of help is really no help at all. But it made sense, because I had never had any takers on my offers.
Now, as I look back over the last 7 months of this pregnancy, and forward at the next 6 weeks or so, I have come to realize exactly what it means to be a part of the Relief Society, in regards to helping those in need.
I have had a food angel bringing 3-4 meals a week, every week for the past two months.
I have had a childcare angel who watches Benjamin every morning, since I can't.
I have had a sanity angel who drops in once a week just to chat and keep me from being lonely.
I have had parents and in-laws who cook and clean and watch the boys when James is late at work.
Last week James and I were just discussing how hard May is going to be, since the business is picking up and my IV medication is no longer viable. I wasn't sure how I was going to get through. And then, out of the blue, another angel called, said she and her family had been thinking about us and how to help, and could they come Friday nights in May to help cook/clean/watch the kids.
I am humbled by the great lesson about service I have learned during this illness. I have truly seen the many ways service can be rendered. More than that, I have seen such devotion, service rendered not just once but day after day, week after week. I can understand much more clearly what it meant for Jesus to spend every waking hour of his ministry in serving those around him.
These lyrics of Laura Story's song "Blessings" have never rung truer to me than they do now:
What if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
This is not a life where trials are meant to toughen us up. This is a life where we can learn invaluable lessons of strength and understanding. While there is no doubt these nine months have been the longest and hardest of my life, I could never have learned what service truly means without it.