There is something I often say to my children:
“Mommies do things you can’t do for yourself. You do everything else.”
I Love My Kids, but I’m Not Perfect
What I mean when I say that to my kids is that because I love my children, I want them to learn to be self-reliant. I want them to learn skills and gain confidence that they can succeed. So, I don’t do everything for them. Sometimes, I allow them to struggle as they learn something new.
At the same time, I also realize that there are simply some things they cannot do for themselves. They cannot do the grocery shopping. They cannot drive the car, etc. So, I do those those things for them…also I do those things because I love them.
I am nowhere near actually living this principle as well as I’d like to. Sometimes, I do something for them that they could do simply because it is easier for me. On the other hand, sometimes I forget that they are just children, and I demand too much of them…things they haven’t learned yet, things that I haven’t taught them yet.
God is Perfect AND He Loves Us
But I believe there is someone who understands and lives this principle perfectly. God does. I believe He is my Father and that He expects me to do all the things I can do while relying on Him to take care of the things I can’t do. He knows better than I do just what I can and cannot do.
A few years ago, I was asked to give a lesson about self-reliance to a group of young girls (ages 16-18) at church. We talked about temporal self-reliance for a bit, but I decided to focus the majority of our lesson on spiritual self-reliance.
We talked about what I mentioned above. There are many things (both temporally and spiritually) that I simply cannot do for myself. I need the help of a Higher Power. But that “Higher Power” is my Father, and because He loves me, He expects me to do everything that I can do. He wants me to learn skills and gain confidence that I can succeed. So, He doesn’t do everything for me. Sometimes, He allows me to struggle as I learn something new.
He also realizes that there are some things I cannot do for myself. So, He does those things for me; He also does them because He loves me. Only, unlike with me and my children, His capabilities, both temporally and spiritually are infinite. He can make up for everything that I lack.
This idea has been hugely instrumental in my ability to not fear the future. Yes, I prepare for emergencies and the unknown. I do so because God expects me to do what I can. If I just sit back and let Him do everything, I’d never learn or grow.
Ultimately, however, God knows what is best for me. Sometimes, he will “save” me from trouble or disaster because He CAN do that. He is all powerful. But He will only use that power to do so if He knows it is what is best for me.
On the flip side, sometimes He will allow me to struggle through a natural disaster, job loss, or some other “emergency” because He knows I can not only handle it, but that I need to face it in order to grow. He wants me to learn skills and gain confidence that I can succeed, so He doesn’t do everything for me. Sometimes He allows me to struggle, and through that struggle I learn and grow and become something better–something more like Him.
Choosing between Being Self-Reliant and Being Considerate of Others
If you were to get online and search for “emergency preparedness” or better yet, for “prepping,” you’d find a plethora of information. Much of it is helpful. But sadly, some of it is downright scary and fear-filled.
On those fear-filled websites, you will often find advice similar to this:
“Make sure you stock more than food–you need guns and training on how to use them. Cause people are going to try and take your food, and you need to be prepared to defend yourself and your family. People who didn’t take the time to prepare don’t deserve your help.” (This is not an exact quote from any one site.)
I just can’t sit comfortably with that advice. I just can’t.
You don’t have to choose between being self-reliant and being considerate of others!
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I have nothing against guns or protecting your family. In fact, I am a big supporter of the 2nd amendment to the US Constitution.
But the idea that just because someone didn’t work as hard as I did to prepare automatically means that they don’t deserve my help is absurd to me.
I am Limited, He is Not
As I’ve considered the idea of choosing between generosity and saving my own family over many years, I’ve realized that there may be times when the right thing to do is to defend my family. But other times–maybe most of the time–the right thing to do will be something else.
The problem is that I am limited. Just like I don’t always do (or not do) what is right for my children, I simply can’t always know what the best thing to do for others is in any given situation.
But there is someone who is un-limited: God.
Just like God knows what is best for me, He also knows what is best for all of His other children. He knows both when I should help others and how I can best help them.
Everyone is Different
Part of the reason that the idea that only those that prepare deserve help bothers me so much is the fact that we all have different talents. We have all been blessed with ways we can contribute in positive ways to society as a whole.
What I am able to do is so, so different from what you may be able to do. Just like my 7 year old can do more for herself than my 5 year old, you may be able to do more (or less) for yourself than I am able to do. Or, just like my two 9 year olds have different talents and strengths and need me in different ways, we all have different talents and abilities and need God’s help in different ways.
The “difference” that God makes up is not the same for each of us, but what He asks us to do is. He simply asks we do everything we can for ourselves. I love that idea. I don’t have to have as much food storage or water or even faith or charity as my neighbor. I simply have to do all I can with what I have. We all lack something. None of us is perfect. We all need God to make up the difference–temporally and spiritually.
And interestingly, God often chooses to make up that difference through the talents and resources He has blessed another person with. If we refuse to share our talent and resources, we lose out on the opportunity to be used by God to bless another’s life.
To me, the idea of using our talents, skills, and resources to bless others is “paying it forward.” We can’t always pay it back because we all have different talents, but we can pay it forward. We can contribute what we have when we have it.
Yet, when it comes to helping others in an emergency, there is the undeniable truth that helping someone else may make things more difficult for our family. Again, I am limited, and I must rely on God to know both when and how to help.
Ultimately, I believe my job is not to decide what others do or don’t deserve. My job is to be able to hear God’s will for me helping them and then trust Him enough to act on it. This is spiritual self-reliance.
Practice Makes Perfect
Just like with anything, practice makes perfect. If I haven’t practiced listening to God, it is unlikely I will be able to hear, understand, and trust His will when I need to.
In my opinion, developing spiritual self-reliance–or the ability to hear and act on God’s will–is just as important, if not more important than temporal self reliance/emergency preparedness.
For this reason, I would like to suggest a way you can practice listening to God and following His will this Christmas season.
LIGHT THE WORLD
The LDS Church’s Christmas campaign is titled “Light the World” this year. They contacted me back in mid-October about this campaign, and from the minute I heard about it, I knew I wanted to participate. It is a fantastic way to practice listening to and following God’s will. And what better time to do so than during Christmas?
The idea behind this campaign is that service to others will LIGHT THE WORLD. They are encouraging all people to serve anyone, anytime, anywhere.
The campaign will kick off with a world-wide day of service based on the idea that “Jesus Lifted Others’ Burdens and So Can You” on December 1st, and then each day in December will have another “theme” and suggested service opportunities.
*Note: While this campaign is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints anyone non-religious or from any other religion who wants to LIGHT THE WORLD is invited to participate–the idea is simply to spread goodness and light.
My LIGHT THE WORLD Plans
I am planning to participate in this service campaign in two ways:
1 – Through an Advent.
I want to use the daily service ideas as an advent calendar of sorts. Each morning, before our family prayer, I plan to talk with my kids about that day’s focus and ideas. Then, we will ask God in prayer what He would have us do that day. We will decide what we will do and act on it.
Obviously, these service activities will likely be smaller and simpler as we aren’t putting an enormous amount of planning into them. But sometimes, those are the best kind.
Now, I am a pretty simple gal, so we will just be using the basic calendar you can see below. Click HERE (or on the image below) to download it.
But if you want to do a little more/spruce things up a bit, you can find adorable advent calendar cards and tags to go along with the calendar from BrightlyStreet.com
2 – Day #7 – Giving away a free food storage supply
The focus for Day #7 is “Jesus Fed the Hungry and So Can You.”
I thought, “I can do that!” That is a resource that I have that I can use to “pay it forward” and bless the life of someone else–someone who is “hungry”–someone who would work on emergency preparedness if they could, but can’t because they lack the means.
I earn free food storage every time someone purchases Thrive Food through one of my links. Because of the Thrive Life Black Friday sale, I will earn more than usual in November. That is a resource that God has blessed me with.
As I prayed about what I could do and which day I could really focus on with a “bigger” project I knew this was it. I felt excited–no, euphoric when the idea came to mind, and I know it is what God would have me do.
I have reached out to the leaders of the various church congregations in my area asking them to suggest a family that I could help. Then, on December 7th, my husband and my kids and I will be delivering around $2000 (or more if I earn more this month) of food storage to a family who can use it. I can’t wait!
If the family is comfortable with it, I’ll come back here and share pictures.
What Will You Do to LIGHT THE WORLD?
Now, I know that not everyone has an extra $2000 in food storage laying around! But that isn’t the point.
The point is that God has provided you with unique talents and resources. One way I am unique is in the amount of food storage I can earn for free in November.
What unique talents and resources do you have, and how can you use those to participate in this campaign and bless someone’s life?
- Will you participate in the world-wide day of service on December 1st? If so, what will you do?
- Will you participate one of the other ideas for the other days? Which one? Why?
- Maybe you will choose multiple ways or participate advent style.
I encourage you to take a minute in prayer to ask God–your Father–what He would have you do.
I can’t wait to see what you all come up with! Please come back and let me know what you’ve decided to do or what you have done by leaving me a note in the comments!
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