Friday, May 6, 2011

Superpowers 101:Taking Action

My childen have assigned jobs that rotate every few weeks. Sometimes I ask one child to do anothers job. I know that the one who is supposed to set the table is doing something else like difficult homework and the child hanging around the kitchen has nothing to do at the moment. So I say "Will you set the table, please?" I often get a shocked look and hear "But it's not my job! My job is done! Why are you giving me more work?!" The job isn't hard. They aren't busy. They would be helping the entire family by doing this job. Why do they protest? Better yet, why didn't they see that it needed to be done and do it without being asked?

Superheros don't usually wait around for someone to tell them there is crime or danger. They see a problem and they do their best to fix it. Oh, sure, there are signals and leagues that are used in special situations but most of the time the hero just does what needs to be done. In fact, they often go out looking for trouble. And they ALWAYS find it!

Now, I have no intentions of fighting crime or joining the ranks of real heros (firefighters, police officers, paramedics, soldiers, nurses, etc.) But that doesn't mean I have nothing to do. There are people in need all around us. We can easily find something to do if we are willing to simply look and then act.

I read a recent article called "Who Is The Chruch?". I have thought about this subject a lot. The problem with an orderly organization like the church is that a destructive attitude can creep into the minds and hearts of the members. I call it Not-My-Job-Syndrome. The thought process goes something like this:
"Sister So-n-so just had a baby. I would visit her but I am not her visiting teacher."
Or "Brother What's-his-name needs help but I am not the Elder's Quorum President."
Or how about "The youth need chaperones for their activity but I don't have any kids that age."
The list could go on and on.

I do it myself. I admit it. I make excuses to avoid reaching out. Sometimes they are really lame and I know it. Other times I know that I would be stepping on someones toes and causing trouble. Sometimes I think "I will help if someone asks me." This is the attitude described in the article. And it is wrong. It is motivated by selfishness and pride.

I have a friend who is not hampered by these excuses. On more than one occasion she showed up at my door to offer exactly what I needed or simply asked me how I was doing and asked if I needed anything. I remember thinking "Why is she being nice to me? She isn't my Visiting Teacher or the Relief Society President or anything. Why would she be thinking of me?" The answers are simple. She is my sister in the gospel. She reached out because she is a loving, caring person. She has a testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel and stives to live as He lived. She is worthy of the guidance of the Holy Ghost and follows that guidance when it comes.

I think of the parralel with my children. Sometimes the person "assigned" to a job has other things going on. (I mean, we are all human. We can't do everything!) So Heavenly Father says
"Hey, you. Can you go see this person who needs help?"
Or maybe he says "I keep asking your brother to do this and he just isn't listening. I need someone reliable. Will you do it?"
Sometimes he might say "Your sister doesn't have as much experience as you do and is struggling. Will you show her how it's done?" 

I know I have been on both sides of this. I have been inspired to act many times in many ways. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I made a mess of things. Most of the time things turned out better than I could have expected.

So why do we hesitate? Why make excuses, especailly when we know there will be blessings? I love this quote by Marianne Williamson
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
I don't think it is really our fear but Satan's fear. He wants us to doubt ourselves. He wants us to shrink  from the influence of the Spirit. He doesn't want us to help one another. He doesn't want us to learn and grow. He is working against us, to cause fear and doubt and insecurity.

A big question, then, is how do we know who is inspiring us? How do we know if the thoughts and ideas we are having come from God? Moroni explains it well.
Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God. ~Moroni 7:12-13 (the whole chapter is awesome!)
This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. I have to remind myself that Satan will not suggest that I do anything good. I still make excuses. I still have doubts. I also have regrets. I can easily look back and see how I might have been guided differently if I had relied more on the Spirit for guidance. Sometimes I felt like I should do something for someone but I didn't act. Then I learned that they had a need I might have been able to meet. Often it would have been simply a few words of encouragement or companionship.

Such simple things! Why don't we act more often? I think the real answer is ignorance. We don't recognize our own talents and abilities. We forget who we really are and what we are capable of. We forget why we are here. It's like Superman being afraid of being shot or Spiderman taking the stairs. When we really understand who we are...When I understand who I am and what I can do...that is when I can live up to the expectations my Heaenly Father has for me.

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