House Editorial: Community Service

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Life during college years is always in a state of flux. Every few months, classes, roommates, apartments and even wards can change. With all the changes, life can sometimes feel like an Etch-a-Sketch that’s shaken just when the picture is finished. Our world is experiencing constant turnover making it, at times, hard to find a sense of belonging.

During Tuesday’s Devotional, Sister Julie B. Beck encouraged students to take advantage of their local wards, specifically in their priesthood quorums and relief societies, to form part of that sense of belonging. Sister Beck reminded students that these organizations are not just a place to sit during the third hour of church, but instead are to be a community in which we call and rely on one anther.

While many may have felt such inclusion in home wards and communities, the ephemeral nature of college life can be less inclined to form well-knit communities.  We simply don’t stay in the same place as long. With less time, it takes more effort on the part of individuals to reach out to each other.

Service and reaching out to others has always been an aspect of BYU culture. One of the BYU Aims encourages students to seek after “lifelong learning and service.” Monday, hundreds of students and community members gathered to serve for Community Outreach Day.

Yet, sometimes we can struggle as a community to differentiate between serving, helping and simply checking off a to-do list.

At the Devotional, Sister Beck warned,  “Home teaching becomes the Lord’s work when we focus on people not percentages. The perfection of statistics is often not a good measure of our watch care. We can never say, ‘My home teaching or visiting teaching is done.’”

To truly make a difference, we must love and care for the people around us, not fix them. Sometimes, helping can imply that something is wrong with them, or that we, as their helper, are above them. People are not projects, but individuals with emotions and trials as complex as our own. Just as we need to interact as equals, we need to serve as equals.

We are sent to earth as imperfect mortals. Part of the test of mortality is practicing on each other. We practice learning how to serve and lift one another, when we ourselves are flawed.

Often, we can feel as if we are not qualified to serve others, that we have too many shortcomings ourselves. In “My Grandfather’s Blessings,” Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen writes about the importance of using our whole selves to serve: “Many times my limitations have become the source of my compassion, my wounds have made me gentle with the wounds of other people, and able to trust the mysterious process by which we can heal. My loneliness has made me able to recognize the loneliness in others, to respect that place where everyone is alone and meet others in the dark.”

Many times in service, our limitations become our strengths. Our heartbreaks become the source of our compassion for others; our mistakes and repentance, a source of hope to others still on their journeys. It allows us to empathize and support one another.

Serving as equals is a two-way street.  Not only must we reach out to serve, but we also must reach out to be served.  Too often, we attempt to do everything on our own when we don’t have to. Let others share that load with us.

To succeed in mortality we must rely on one another. Sister Beck quoted President Henry B. Eyring saying, “The only system which could provide succor and comfort across a church so large in a world so varied would be through individual servants near the people in need.” We need to be those individuals for each other.

So, reach out. Ask for help. In return, meet those reaching hands. Answer those phone calls. Write the letter we all have wished to receive.

Be the person we all want to not only meet, but to be.

This viewpoint represents that of The Daily Universe staff and does not neccesarily represent the opinions of BYU, its administration or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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