The Value of Work in the Church
When I was younger, my first thought when I came to a new ward was, “Ok, where are the Mormons who are like me?,” meaning, where are the people who are liberal, feminist, intelligent? (sigh, I can be so modest…)
But, the longer I’m in the Church and the more callings I have, the more I’ve realized that I don’t care as much to find the people who are like me in my ward (and I’m not nearly as smart as I once thought I was). It’s always a lovely perk to find those kindred spirits, but I don’t expect it. Thanks to the Internet, I can use Exponent II and the Bloggernacle to fill that void.
I belong to the Church to become a better person and to help other people. So, when I go to Church, when I participate in and plan activities, I’m ready to get to work.
These days, I look, instead, for the other members who are there to work: the people who give the talks assigned on Saturday night because no one else would, the people who have the high needs Visiting and Home Teaching assignments and do them with grace, the people who never complain about a presidency meeting. I learn from their positive examples and from the very different ways they go about their callings because um, I’m not as good about those things I just mentioned.
I’ve yet to meet a member of the Church who works hard at his or her calling that I can’t get along with (I’ve been lucky), and more often than not, I become friends with these members who I wouldn’t become friends with if we didn’t have the Church in common.
Tonight, I went visiting teaching with my newly converted companion. I sat in one teachee’s house and looked at the three of us. We all belong to different generations, we’ve led such different lives, and yet, I thought, “These women’s lives are so different from mine. But, I love them; they are my friends.”
My friends outside the Church are like me—we share spiritual, political, cultural values. We’re often about the same age, work in similar fields. We even drive similar cars.
But, my friends in the Church are all ages, socio-economic backgrounds, even races. Our commonalities are a love for the Church and a commitment to work to build the Kingdom of God. And, although we may have different ideas about how to build that kingdom, I think more often than not we can see the value in the other’s ways of contributing.
I think sometimes how nice it would be to go to an X2 Relief Society—can you imagine getting a lesson from Eve, Lynette, Deborah, Jana, etc. every week? I’ve seen other churches organize by interests instead of geographical boundaries. It doesn’t seem like a bad idea.
But, I know I’ve grown going to my own ward. These people are my neighbors, my community. As we work together, I love them, and they love me.
This is one of my favorite aspects of being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
*artwork: Visitation by Mariotto Albertinelli, 1503