Saturday, October 12, 2013

Healers of Souls

My husband and I have been reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People together and supplementing with 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families (I recommend reading them in conjunction, since the habits are the same. Together, you get a rich perspective on how to assist yourselves on both an individual and a family level). The books encourage writing a personal, couple, and family mission statement.

Yesterday I was thinking about what I could include in a personal mission statement. Something was obvious immediately (based on the subject of my recent "---M.St, Mom" post). I knew I wanted to "give my time and energy to my children and home and love it."

There was another, perhaps similar, thing I wanted to include too. I want each day to focus on who I want to BE, not on what I want to DO. It seems to me that my days will look and feel different if I pattern them after the kind of person I want to be and the kind of home I want my house to be. It's when I worry about whether or not I'm doing what I want to do that I start feeling bored and discontented.

Then there was something I wanted to add about my relationship with other people. I am a quiet soul. Remember that "23 Surprising Signs You're an Introvert" that's been going around? Only number 12 didn't apply to me. Some of them really, really apply to me (rather give a talk in front of 500 people than mingle after? Uh huh. I have spoken in front of 500(+) people without my heartbeat accelerating but my poor husband has to do major pep-talking and literally push me out the door if I'm going alone to a small, private dinner party for a select group of people I've never met).

Unfortunately, my natural fears don't fit very well with my strong belief that people are here to help each other, to brighten each other's days, to be mindful enough of another person to see when she might need a friend. It's been a challenge for me to push aside my introvert fears and cheerfully bless lives. Sometimes - maybe more often than not - my fears win. An elderly woman lives next to my in-laws. She loves to see Madelyn, so one day when I was out walking with Madelyn past her house, I thought, "I should go knock on the door and say hello!" But then the inevitable next thought came: "What on earth would I say?"

That is always my thought. I sit down next to a woman I don't know too well in the woman's class at church and I rack my brain: "What should I say, what should I say?"

So I didn't knock on my neighbor's door. I've regretted it ever since, but mostly in a panicky, I-still-can't-go-do-it sort of way. Ah, it sounds so pathetic writing it down.

What do I write in my personal mission statement that encompasses this need to fight my fears and bless lives? How do I put into words the goal to become like the sweet friend who showed up at my house the evening before we pulled out of Arizona with a bucket of cleaning supplies and started attacking my microwave and fridge without even waiting for me to give directions? I want to similarly be able to come prepared to work, to see a need and do it, without having to be told what to do and how (let's be honest, if she'd waited for my directions, I probably would have been too embarrassed to let her clean my dirty appliances and would have had her polish doorknobs or something ultimately unhelpful).

How do I say that I want to make blessing lives my ultimate priority? The phrase came into my mind: "Healer of Souls." I want to be a healer of souls.

President Uchtdorf, one of the presiding Apostles of my church, gave an amazing talk in the men's session of the church-wide General Conference last April. In it, he discussed the imperative of men (and I'll add women, which he would have done if he'd been addressing the general church at the time) who truly follow Jesus Christ to be healers of souls. I loved this:
It is our job to build up, repair, strengthen, uplift, and make whole. Our assignment is to follow the Savior’s example and reach out to those who suffer. We “mourn with those that mourn … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” We bind up the wounds of the afflicted. We “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”
Of course, this doesn't just apply to those who mourn or suffer in big or obvious ways. Don't we all suffer in some way sometimes, whether it's from loneliness or self-doubt or whether we're troubled about the increasingly troubling world we live in?

Doesn't that phrase just mean so much? I decided that if there was a one phrase motto I could create for my whole family it would be, "We are healers of souls." Wouldn't that teach my children to be more aware of the needs of their friends and classmates? Wouldn't that teach my husband and me to look outward at our neighbors, our church congregation, and our community before getting too caught up in the bustling daily affairs of family life? Wouldn't that teach siblings to help each other? Wouldn't that teach parents to be more aware of the children's emotional and spiritual needs than just to worry about their physical activities?

I hope that if "Healer of Souls" is a phrase I can include in my personal mission statement and keep in my heart and mind, I will be better able to push aside my introvert nature and "go about doing good."