I was asked to speak on my favorite conference talk. My favorite was Elder Holland's, but it didn't feel like the right one. Every day I read a different talk, and each one was wonderful. I couldn't choose! It wasn't until Friday that it all came together. I picked two that went together perfectly. In fact, they were given one right after the other in conference. The first one I'd like to share is "To the Rescue: We Can Do It" by Elder Mervyn B. Arnold. He began,
The Savior clearly understood His mission to rescue our Heavenly Father’s children, for He declared:
“The Son of man is come to save that which was lost. …
“[For] it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” . . .
Let me share four principles that will help in our rescue efforts.
Principle 1: We Must Not Delay Going to the Rescue
Elder Arnold shared a sad story from a former Area Seventy, Elder Patanía, whose brother went fishing with his crew when a storm came. On their way back to port, they saw another fishing boat with a broken engine. They hooked the boat to theirs and called in for help. Local authorities from different organizations met to figure out the best plan of action. While they discussed, more calls for help came. By the time a rescue team was organized, it was too late, and both boats and their crew members perished in the storm.
Elder Patanía explained that, while we must be organized in our councils, quorums, auxiliaries, and even as individuals, we must not delay going to the rescue. Sometimes many weeks pass as we talk about how to help families or individuals who are in special need. We deliberate about who will visit them and the approach to take. Meanwhile, our lost brothers and sisters continue needing and sometimes even calling and pleading for help. We must not delay.
Of course, having a plan is ideal. The Lord's church is a house of order. But we don't need to wait until a plan is set before taking any action. For example, last year or so, I was asked to be a letter writer for visiting teaching. I talked to another sister to get information about the people on the list. I waited for the Relief Society presidency to give me stamps. I wanted to wait until a birthday or holiday came to send out a card. I thought I needed cuter stationery. I found excuse after excuse, so the total number of letters I ended up writing was zero. This is a perfect example of delaying going to the rescue. Only God knows what difference a letter could have made in one of those sisters' life.
It's important to remember to stick to the basics in rescue efforts. They don't have to be big or fancy. We can offer simple service. An article I read from a non-LDS source explained beautifully what service really is.
In recent years the question how can I help? has become meaningful to many people. But perhaps there is a deeper question we might consider. Perhaps the real question is not how can I help? but how can I serve? Serving is different from helping. Helping is based on inequality; it is not a relationship between equals. When you help you use your own strength to help those of lesser strength. If I'm attentive to what's going on inside of me when I'm helping, I find that I'm always helping someone who's not as strong as I am, who is needier than I am. People feel this inequality. When we help we may inadvertently take away from people more than we could ever give them; we may diminish their self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity and wholeness. When I help I am very aware of my own strength. But we don't serve with our strength, we serve with ourselves. . . . Service is a relationship between equals.
Helping incurs debt. When you help someone they owe you one. But serving, like healing, is mutual. There is no debt. . . .
Serving is also different from fixing. When I fix a person I perceive them as broken, and their brokenness requires me to act. When I fix I do not see the wholeness in the other person or trust the integrity of the life in them. . . .
There is distance between ourselves and whatever or whomever we are fixing. Fixing is a form of judgment. All judgment creates distance, a disconnection, an experience of difference. . . . We cannot serve at a distance. We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected . . . . We serve life not because it is broken but because it is holy. . . .
[W]e can fix without serving. And we can help without serving. And we can serve without fixing or helping. I think I would go so far as to say that fixing and helping may often be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul. They may look similar if you're watching from the outside, but the inner experience is different. The outcome is often different, too.
Our service serves us as well as others. That which uses us strengthens us. Over time, fixing and helping are draining, depleting. Over time we burn out. Service is renewing. When we serve, our work itself will sustain us.
Service rests on the basic premise that the nature of life is sacred . . . . Fundamentally, helping, fixing and service are ways of seeing life. When you help you see life as weak; when you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. From the perspective of service, we are all connected: All suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy. The impulse to serve emerges naturally and inevitably from this way of seeing.
Lastly, fixing and helping are the basis of curing, but not of healing. . . . Only service heals. ("In the Service of Life," Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen).
Challenge: Don't delay. Think of something you can do right now to reach out to someone who needs rescuing, and go do it.