Chapter 10--Service and Sharing

          We should be prayerful as we consider ways to serve, seeking always to be led by the Holy Ghost. If we are willing, there are many opportunities to share the spiritual principles we have learned.  Give freely, not expecting a particular result. Respect the agency of others. Remember that most addicts had to “hit bottom” before they were ready to study and apply the principles of recovery. The same will be true for most of those who desire to help.
          We support our loved ones in righteousness by reinforcing their efforts to come unto Christ and recover from their addiction. When they make poor choices that result in severe consequences, it is natural to want to protect them from those consequences. We discussed consequences previously, but are reviewing it again because of the importance. We may try to repair the damage ourselves and make restitution in their behalf. In some instances our help can be very beneficial and even lifesaving. However,  be careful not to support them in their addiction or enable them to commit sin. If we fall into a trap of consistently rescuing them, we may hinder their recovery and delay them from turning to the Lord for help.
           Experiencing the negative consequences of their actions can help our loved ones determine to change.  We are all accountable for our own words, deeds, and thoughts.   We cannot remove their accountability for their actions. Only by repentance and obedience to the commandments can they be healed, receive forgiveness for their mistakes, and stand uprightly before the Lord.

How can you determine if you are really supporting your loved one in recovery, rather than enabling misbehavior? ​

          Again, we speak of the importance of support and encouragement. Our loved ones face many trials in their efforts to recover. They may feel broken, defective, and unworthy of God’s love and our love. They can lose hope that they will ever be clean again or recover from their addiction. In order to change, they need hope for the future and reassurance that they are worth the required effort needed to change. Our role isn’t to recover for them but to encourage and love them as they work toward recovery. Expressing our faith in the Savior and supporting their honest efforts can help them progress toward recovery.

          The Savior is the perfect example of support and encouragement. He was “filled with compassion” toward those around him.  Compassion means to feel love and mercy toward another person. It means to have sympathy and desire to relieve the suffering of others. It means to show kindness and tenderness toward another.  When we are compassionate, we strive to understand the shame or despair our loved ones may feel and consider all the efforts they are making.   Compassion doesn’t mean we support their poor choices or excuse their behavior.  

How can we express our compassion?

          Our loved ones are the ones responsible for their recovery, and they may not yet be ready for our support. In some cases, they might even reject or resent our efforts to help. We may feel discouraged and powerless when we watch them continue in addiction. But we can still love them and pray for them. We can support them in appropriate ways. The Lord uses our prayers and faith to bless them.  
Art by Robert Nelson

How can we respond to a loved one who does not seem ready or willing to accept our support?

          When our challenges seem overwhelming or our situation seems hopeless, we can find spiritual renewal in giving service to others. Service provides an opportunity to look beyond our personal difficulties or challenges. Of course, we can’t serve everyone, and we should be careful not to run faster than we have strength   However, even the simplest acts can bless and encourage others—and lift our own spirits. Helping others is also one way we show our love and appreciation to our Heavenly Father and the Savior. Often, a way of simple service is to let someone else do service for us.  It may be more challenging to allow someone the gift of letting them give service. 
Can you think of any examples of simple service in letting someone assist us?

          Jesus established a whole new way of relating to God. He often reclined at meals with people; He stopped along the road to chat; He touched them, embraced them. He called
them by name, and they him. Jesus is always closing the distance. The encounters in the Gospels are intimate. Healing people…doing service, all intimate.  There is often an element of surprise, and yet, however He acts turns out to be exactly what was needed in the moment. Oh, His brilliance shines through, but never blinding, never overbearing. He is not glistening white marble. He is the playfulness of creation and utter goodness, the generosity of the ocean and the ferocity of a thunderstorm; the gladness of sunshine and the humility of a thirty-mile walk by foot on a dirt road.  Why do we feel we must  push him off a bit with reverent language and lofty tones? Of course, much of it is done with good intention, by men and women who want to honor Christ. Just like Peter. But the irony is, that isn’t how God chose to relate to us.
           In all these stories, every encounter, we have watched love in action. Love as strong as death; a blood, sweat, and tears love, not a get-well card. You learn a great a deal about the true nature of a person in the way they love, why they love, and, in what they love.
           Doing things for God is not the same thing as loving God. Jesus loves the poor—so, movements have arisen that make service to the poor the main thing. Even though Jesus never said that being poor was more noble or even spiritual. The latest craze is justice—so we rush off to the corners of the globe to fight for justice and leave Jesus behind. We actually come to think that service for Jesus is friendship with him. That’s like a friend who washes your car and cleans your house but never goes anywhere with you—never comes to dinner, never wants to take a walk, never talks.  Wouldn't we love a friend more who would clean our house, but with us there, too, sharing and laughing? Then we would want to help them clean their house.  
           We are not meant to merely love the Savior's teaching, or his morals, or His kindness or His social reforms. We are meant to love the man himself, know Him intimately; keep this as the first and foremost practice of our lives. It is a fact that people many people devoted to the work of the Lord actually spend the least amount of time with Him.  The more time we can spend with Him, the more receptive we will be to know how we can serve.

Personal Learning and Application

Keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, insights, and plans to implement what you learn. As the needs and circumstances in your life change, repeating these answers will provide you with new insights.  Go back to the questions in the chapter.  Write your answers.  Each time you go through a chapter, your answers might change.

1. How has serving others helped you bear your own challenges and struggles?

2.  What opportunities do you have to serve?

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