Self-reliance is not independence, but interdependence, according to Anne Carroll Darger and Karen Heber, who gave a session on self-reliance at Women’s Conference on May 4, 2018.
According to Darger, the LDS Church emphasizes the importance of being independent. The church even offers members a 12-week workshop to help them become both spiritually and temporally self-reliant.
One of the first things the workshop focuses on is faith.
“The more dependent I become on Jesus Christ, the more spiritually self reliant I become. And the stronger I become my faith in Jesus Christ that he will do what he has promised and that he loves me, also increases,” Darger said. “This will increase my temporal self reliance as well.”
Darger said scriptural figures like Adam, Noah, Nephi and the brother of Jared are good examples of individuals whose complete dedication to the Lord resulted in spiritual self-reliance.
“I believe self reliance is critical to our growth in mortality because practicing self reliance is a requirement of freedom,” Darger said. “Going from independence to dependence is the goal of self-reliance.”
Darger was quiet for a moment and then asked, “But does that mean we are supposed to find some land in the back country and take our food and ammunition and barricade ourselves in a fortress in the name of self-reliance?”
According to Darger, independent isolation is not the goal of self-reliance, nor does the church want members to subscribe to this ideology.
“Imagine you learn a neighbor is sick and you make a casserole for their family to ease the load. It is refused at the door. ‘Oh, no thank you. We are self-reliant. We don’t need your food’,” Darger said. “I can imagine Heavenly Father shaking his head at this. Independence is not the goal.”
The goal is interdependency: becoming independent and choosing to reach out and connect with others, according to Darger.
If she had been asked to name the church’s self-reliant workshop, Darger said she would have called it the “Zion Initiative” because ultimately the program’s purpose is becoming one.
“Charity is the pure love of Christ. It leads to confidence and increases our capacity to love purely, share generously and life powerfully so we can bring another from dependence to independence to give them the freedom to choose and love likewise,” Darger said.
The second speaker, Karen Heber, comes from a large family and said her life has been blessed by temporal and self-reliance.
Heber said she is a mother to nine children, and due to circumstances, she raised the children alone. As a family they learned there are many things you can live without.
“You don’t actually die if there is something fun you don’t do,” she said. “Study your options and decide on what you are ready to work for.”
Heber used the safety presentation given on planes as an analogy for self-reliance.
“From this, we learn several important points for dealing with an unexpected emergency. Number one: place your mask on first before helping others,” Heber said. “We need to be spiritually strong and financially stable before we help others.”
According to Heber, this doesn’t mean being in a position where family trips to Europe are the norm, but rather that helping others when life is stable.
Being able to bear powerful testimony to others may be a way to do this, Heber said.
Heber also encouraged listeners to set aside unimportant things like unneeded items or even relationship baggage with family or friends.
“Choose priorities in your life. There are good items, events and priories in your life, but some things might need to be set aside,” she said. “Priorities help us to make good decisions in our current situations.”
According to Heber, another important element of self-reliance is for an individual to consider what ‘life rafts’ are available, such as financial reserves and resources, educational opportunities, new job offers or new skills or talents to develop.
Heber finished by urging listeners to take advantage of the church’s self-reliance program.
“I have a great testimony that the self-reliance program is truly inspired to help us,” Heber said. “I recommend that everyone take a moment to explore this. I have a great testimony that the Lord always knows your name and what we are dealing with. He is ready with great spiritual power to bless our lives.”