By Shelly Harrison
The other day, I was out doing my morning exercise route when I saw a huge backup of cars on a busy road. I thought to myself, "Oh no, an accident!" As I got closer, I saw a lot of people getting out of their cars and heading to the first car.
It looked like the driver was having car trouble in the middle of the intersection. Some people pulled over, got out of their cars, and jumped in to help this lady in her minivan, by pushing it to a safe place. Then there were a few extra men who stayed with her to see what they could do to help get her van working.
|Photo from LDS.org. Used with permission|
Let me explain… Anxiety, uncertainty, lack of confidence, feeling threated. feeling unprotected. This is the definition of INSECURITY. Is this how you feel when it comes to ministering? Maybe not for all of you, but for some, like me, it is.
How can we overcome it? The answer is through prayer. I know… you have heard this before. But I know this from personal experience. With my current calling, I had a flood of insecurities hit me. Everything in the definition of INSECURITIES described how I felt. So this how I dealt with it: I had to be very specific in my prayers. I had to ask for confidence, I had to ask for help in dealing with this anxiety and uncertainty I was having. I also had to ask for help to know how to open up to people and know the right things to say.
I’m surrounded by many wonderful sisters who were so intimidating and seem to measure up so much more than me. Ministering was a BIG part of this new calling! Prayer has truly been the answer, and having the guidance of the Holy Ghost has been the key for me.
Now, with all that said, if there is one thing I have learned, it is that it is OK to feel uncomfortable and we need to get used to feeling uncomfortable. I hate feeling that way, but it seems to be my constant companion these last few months. If we feel the Spirit prompting us, we need to act. But not only act but be willing to fight through feeling uncomfortable while we act.
Let me tell you an experience I had a few years ago. I was living out of state at the time, and this cute new family moved in and they were from my home town. The husband even went to my high school, but I didn’t know him as he was much younger. It was always so nice to be around people that I could relate to. This cute young family had three beautiful girls. They were 11, 5, and 2. They were adorable, and I instantly loved this family.
I was assigned to be (back then) her visiting teacher, so I was excited to get know her even better. A few months went by and they were still trying to settle into a new place and a new life. The husband was having a hard time with depression and fighting his way through things. I knew a little bit about this, but I never knew the extent of his pain.
It was a September morning as I was driving my kids to elementary school and my phone rang. At that time I was serving in the young women presidency and I noticed the YW president was calling me. I thought, "This seems so early. Why is she calling me?" When I heard her voice I knew something was wrong. She proceeded to tell me that she had bad news. It was about this family I loved. She told me that the husband of this sweet family taken his life the night before.
My heart sank, and I will never forget the way I felt at that moment. As I was ending the phone call, she told me to give his wife some privacy, that she didn’t want visitors. But the Spirit prompted me to do differently and to go see her.
I remember having the struggle in my head and my heart that I couldn’t do this. Voices came in my head like, “You don’t really know her,” “You have nothing to say to comfort her,” “You would be intruding on her privacy.” These were all the thoughts I was struggling with. I remember taking my time at the school dropping each kid off in their classroom and hoping for any distraction along the way so I didn’t have to follow this prompting.
Finally, there was nothing stopping me, and the feeling was only getting stronger. I got back in my car and started driving to her home. My heart was beating so fast, and I had so many thoughts of why I shouldn’t go. When I pulled up, I said a silent prayer in my heart that I was doing the right thing, and then I proceeded to her front door.
I knocked on her door thinking she wouldn’t answer, but she did. There were no words spoken, but a huge embrace and many tears. I knew at that moment I was right where I was supposed to be and doing exactly what my Heavenly Father wanted me to do.
I have thought back to this experience and wondered what I was supposed to learn and it was this…. Sometimes we are going to feel uncomfortable doing what the Lord asks us to do. And we need to learn to fight through those feelings of discomfort and doubt and be willing to act on his promptings.
In my calling, I am a part of doing ministering interviews. And these same feelings of insecurities are common as I talk with women about the sisters they minister to. Bonnie H. Cordon, the current general YW president, said this in her October 2018 General Conference talk “Becoming a Shepherd”: "We need to make certain each person feels the love of the Savior, making certain that all of the Lord’s flock are accounted, for and no one is forgotten."
This is something I feel very strongly about. It isn’t only about us, but it is about us being there and ministering to others. We need to find ways to be a friend. It is not easy, but I know that praying for his guidance the Lord will open up the path. I know he will help us with the hard stuff.
I loved this idea that Bonnie H. Cordon gave in this same message. It started with a selfie, sending it through a text of her and her companion introducing themselves. I know… a selfie… I hate selfies but sometimes we have to have fun with ourselves and then--there it is again--be OK with being uncomfortable.
She also gave an example of talking with her ministering sisters, asking what we could include in our prayers on their behalf. Making them feel it is a privilege to be there and to be of any help (and MEANING IT--being genuine in what we are saying)! The sisters will know and feel when you are doing these things, that you are a safe person in whom they can confide in. Someone they can trust.
We also have to consider where they are at on the covenant path. We need to be willing to walk with them in that journey, giving them time and space and not judging them.
In closing, I hope and pray there are some things that you have learned and have felt the inspiration needed to be a good ministering sister and also to let others minister unto you. It is a two-way street. Remember Mosiah 2:17: "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God."
I loved the words by Elder Jeffery R. Holland in the talk “Be with and Strengthen Them,” General Conference, April 2018. "In spite of what we feel are our limitations and inadequacies—and we all have challenges—nevertheless, may we labor side by side with the Lord of the vineyard, giving the God and Father of us all a helping hand with his staggering task of answering prayers, providing comfort, drying tears, and strengthening feeble knees. If we will do that, we will be more like the true disciple of Christ that we are meant to be."