November 2017 Visiting Teaching Printable – Guerilla Service
For the November 2017 Visiting Teaching Printable, I got to choose a favorite General Conference address to share for the visiting teaching message. I loved Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson’s talk, “The Needs Before Us,” and decided to pull my message from there.
To go with the quotes, I found these cute little globe stress balls on Amazon for about a $1 a piece. I love them so much that I told my husband I was thinking of hanging some of them from our Christmas tree this year. Then when I get stressed, I can just go squeeze on the tree a little!
As a mother, my seconds, minutes, hours, and days are filled with service. But it can be hard to find time to serve others outside my home. Our family has some additional challenges and special needs that make it essential for us to simplify. We struggle with things like anxiety, ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, chronic illness, and other things. Doing things on a schedule isn’t always possible, and I often have to drop everything to deal with a crisis.
For a while, I tried to do it all. I signed up for volunteer time slots, projects, and potlucks. But I found it hard to be reliable when I had no idea how any particular day was going to go. And I wasn’t able to respond to problems patiently when I was stressing out about getting somewhere on time. It was taking a toll on my health and my whole family.
One day, I realized that I was going to have to accept the reality of my situation. My most important calling was to be a mother and I needed to cut away all the nonessentials. But I knew service wasn’t a nonessential. We cannot become like our Savior unless we serve like Him.
When Christ was asked by the Pharisees what was the greatest commandment, Christ told them it was to first love the Lord, and second, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” It is so important that Christ told them, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:35-40)
I also knew that there were people who needed me outside my immediate family sphere. I had to find ways to serve that fit my circumstances.
Luckily, I have a wonderful example of this in my own life. My grandma has lived a life full of service, but as she got older, it became harder and harder to serve in the ways she was used to. Then my grandpa developed Alzheimer’s, and she spent most of her time taking care of him. She could not leave him because he would become frantic. She was also confined to a wheelchair.
But she didn’t use this as an excuse not to serve. She loves to knit, so she started to knit tiny, little outfits for stillborn babies. It was something the family could dress their beloved baby in and then keep as a remembrance. My grandma adores babies and knew it would be a comfort to have something that had been hand-stitched with so much love.
One day while visiting, she gave me a tiny pair of the booties she had made. I treasure them. They are now sitting on my dresser as a reminder that there are always ways to serve, no matter our situation. We just have to find them.
So I started to look for on-the-spot opportunities to serve. Things that didn’t require a commitment ahead of time, but that could be done in the moment. Things that I could fit into the little moments in my life. Over time, I started to call it guerrilla service.
Guerrilla warfare is when an army with insufficient numbers or resources uses unconventional methods to wage war on a much larger army. They resort to hit-and-run tactics, raids, ambushes, and traps. They take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves and adapt quickly to the environment.
I found myself getting creative and leveraging what resources I did have to make the biggest impact. I dropped anything nonessential – or “the fluff” – and focused only on what the person I was serving needed. I tried to involve my kids as much as I could so that they would feel the benefits of service. I leveraged things like texts, social media, and even had Amazon Prime deliver cookies to the front office for my kid’s classroom party. They weren’t homemade or Pinterest cute, but I don’t think anybody cared.
My service isn’t what I would conventionally think of as “mom service,” but I am serving others and it is blessing my life. And as I serve, I have noticed the Lord fixing the things in my life that I have no idea how to fix. So we have a kind of deal. I will take time to do the things I can do, and I let Him do the hard stuff I don’t know how to do. Not a bad deal.
“Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” Doctrine and Covenants 123:17
I love the use of the word “cheerfully.” It doesn’t say frantically or miserably. Instead, the Lord reminds us that we can find happiness in our service when we do our part and leave the rest up to Him.
Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson said, “I believe that most members consider service to be at the heart of their covenants and discipleship. But I also think that sometimes it’s easy to miss some of the greatest opportunities to serve others because we are distracted or because we are looking for ambitious ways to change the world and we don’t see that some of the most significant needs we can meet are within our own families, among our friends, in our wards, and in our communities. We are touched when we see the suffering and great needs of those halfway around the world, but we may fail to see there is a person who needs our friendship sitting right next to us in class.”
She then added, “What good does it do to save the world if we neglect the needs of those closest to us and those whom we love the most? How much value is there in fixing the world if the people around us are falling apart and we don’t notice? Heavenly Father may have placed those who need us closest to us, knowing that we are best suited to meet their needs.”
It can be easy to feel bad when we hear all the wonderful stories about what others are doing. But when we go before Christ, we will not be handing Him a resume with a list of our accomplishments. He will be looking at our hearts. And like the parable of the talents, He does not care how many talents we have, but what we have done with the talents He has given us.
Just because we may not be able to serve in all the grand ways that we would like to, doesn’t mean we can’t serve. Sometimes our very own brand of guerrilla service is exactly what somebody else may need.