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Call Me If You Need Anything

By Hildie Westenhaver

I stared at the woman’s Facebook entry. It was several sentences long about how her family just gotten some bad news and when were they ever going to catch a break and didn’t life just completely suck a lot of the time? I read the update to my husband. He is the Home Teacher to this woman and her family. I know he cares about them and would want to help in any way he could.   I scrolled through the comments and most were variations of, “Oh my gosh, what happened? Call me if you need anything!” “Yeah,” my husband nodded, “tell her to call me if they need any help.”

If they need any help???

Of course they need help. Look at that Facebook post!

I’ll tell you what I told my husband: never say the words, “Call me if you need anything!” We need to strike this phrase from our collective vocabulary. Usually we say this to someone who we know needs help; whether it’s because they aren’t feeling well, or they’re have family issues or they just got called to be the Primary President; this is a phrase we blithely offer to someone who is in a more difficult situation than they normally are. This sentence, meant to be helpful, places the entire responsibility of help on the person who is already struggling.   And we all know how easy it is to ask for help! I don’t care how low I’ve been, I would never dream of calling up a friend to go to the post office for me or to fold my laundry, even when these are the very things I’ve needed. Even when a dozen people have invited me to “call them if I need anything.”

If you really want to be helpful, call a person and ask how you can help, not if you can help. Give them a couple of options so they know you’re serious. (“Could I pick up your kids from school and have them stay til bedtime?” “What day would be best to bring you dinner this week?” “Could I do your grocery shopping for you?” “Could I drive you to any of your appointments?”).  Some people are very stubborn about accepting help. I’ve had to say to sisters in my ward, “listen, I’m going to help you. Either you can tell me what you need or I’ll just pick something.” They always laugh at that point and say, “well, ok then!”   There is always something that can be done.

Listen, friends, good intentions are nice but we aren’t a church of good intentions. We are a church of action. That is what Christ has asked of us: to bear each other’s burdens. Not to pat a friend on the back and give her a frownsmile. As nice as it is to commiserate with somebody on Facebook, the true Christian actually shows up. The true disciple picks up the phone and says, “I can tell you’re having a hard time right now. How about I bring over some lunch and we can talk?” Or one of a thousand other things that a hurting person might need. The Holy Ghost can give you some great ideas.

My husband, ever the vigilant Home Teacher, ended up babysitting the kids of the woman who had been venting on Facebook. She and her husband got out of the house to regroup and spend some much-needed time together.

Don’t make a friend beg for help. Most of us would rather suffer in silence. Be the person that is an answer to someone’s prayers.


About Hildie Westenhaver

(Blog Team) was born and raised in Detroit, but is happy to call Austin, TX home now. She majored in Art History and Geography at BYU and graduated a week before having her first baby. There have been five more babies since then. Hildie is an avid baker and tries to fatten up the people she loves.

111 thoughts on “Call Me If You Need Anything”

  1. Yes! This! I've been thinking about this a lot in relation to the sisters I visit teach. What concrete thing can I offer them when I visit? I try to avoid the "let me know if you need anything" phrase like the plague. It feels so phony to me.

    Also, specifically regarding my visiting teachers, I've been trying to actually ask for help when I need it. I know I am more than happy to help when one of the sisters I visit actually takes me up on my offers. So I try to remember that when I'm the one asking for help, people generally want to serve, but don't know how, or what to offer.

  2. Thank you for an honest post that speaks to all of us. You have reminded us of other things that Quiet Women Warriors do! The hardest part is letting the Holy Ghost tell us the best ways to serve. But regardless, I'd rather do the wrong thing to help my sisters than do NOTHING….

    And for those being served, please know that when we do the wrong thing, we are doing our darnedest to SHOW we care.

    Great post, Hildie.


  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you. After my son died, one of the hardest things for me to figure out was what people could do for me. So many people said, "Let me know if there's anything I can do!" or "What can we do for you?" and I was so grief stricken, exhausted, and overwhelmed that I could not think of one thing. Just show up and do something. Or just sit and be there. Don't put the burden of assigning service to the person needing the service.

  4. Thank you, Andrea! You put it beautifully: "Don't put the burden of assigning service on the person needing the service."

  5. "Do you need any help?"
    "Call me if you need anything."
    "Let me know if you'd like to get together to do lunch or go to a movie or something."

    After my husband's sudden death, I knew every one of the people who spoke variations on these generic offers meant them, but I was too overwhelmed by shock and grief and pain to be able to respond. I knew, even as I dumbly nodded my head that: I had no idea what I needed; IF I figured out what that was, I was incapable of asking for help with it; and Even IF I should ever feel the need or desire to do something social again (and during those early months what I wanted and needed most was to hunker in the emotional safety and privacy of my home), I would not be capable of calling anyone to initiate it.

    The need for specific hands-on nurturing goes far beyond the initial loss of a loved one or the onslaught of other serious trials. Showing up with a casserole or a hug in the immediacy of crisis is good and necessary. Showing up with a kind word, a favorite snack, or a listening ear in the later silence (when it seems as if all the rest of the world has "moved on" past the trauma) is as essential.

  6. I don't see it as "the burden of assigning service to the one who needs the service." It's more like an invitation to share what is most needed. Even if you have to admit you as the receiver don't know/can't yet say what you need. Often I'm willing and want to help but honestly don't know how. For example, it often seems to be the default to take a meal when that might not be at the top of the list or even on the list of what's needed.

    I agree the "call me if you need anything" phrase doesn't work. I appreciate the suggestion to have several options for help to offer, but I hope no one is really forcing people to accept help when they really don't want to accept it. When I had visiting teachers, I never asked for help and would be very uncomfortable if they insisted on doing something. I'd rather ask a close friend or family member.

    Thanks for something to think about a bit more and from other perspectives.

  7. Without reading the other comments, another reason to avoid saying "Let me know what I can do to help" is because no one knows better than you what you can actually do. How awkward would it be if they DID ask you for something but it was not something you felt comfortable doing. If you are serious about helping, let them know what is on the table, thus taking the burden off of them. The one giving the service should be the one to set the boundaries on what is to be done, not the receiver.

  8. I agree that 'call me if you need anything' is a useless phrase.

    Recently I had an offer from my visiting teacher to watch my children. I was touched she would offer that service to me, completely unsolicited.
    I asked her (via text) 'what are the parameters of your babysitting offer?' That one question made all the difference. I was able to understand what she was willing to do and then make a good decision on if it would actually be helpful to me. It was great. In the end I didn't take her up on her offer, but I did feel genuinely cared for, and that was just as good for me as if the 'act' of service had taken place.

    If that type of back and forth communication is not possible, then I agree, just do something you think might be helpful.

    And there are times when I feel that all I can give is sincere love.

    When I am in a situation where people are asking me 'what can I do?', or 'how can I help' (which is very different from 'Call me if you need anything?') if I can, I try to help them help me.

  9. Anon,
    I can honestly say that it was a true burden when people asked me what they could do for me. I could not think of anything, and it only added to the burden of my grief. I needed help. I needed service. I needed someone to sit next to me and cry with me. But I was barely functional and so grief stricken that I truly couldn't articulate anything. I came to dread the well-meaning "Let me know if there's anything I can do" phrase.

  10. ' When I had visiting teachers, I never asked for help and would be very uncomfortable if they insisted on doing something. I’d rather ask a close friend or family member.'

    If visiting teaching is done the way the Lord intends it, your visiting teachers should be some of your best friends. Not because your friends were assigned to you, but because you know you are loved and cared for by these women and grow to love and care for them in return.

    And I think one of the ways this happens is by serving the way Hilde talks about here and not by just saying 'call me if you need anything.'

  11. Just a day after my 4th son, at 17 months old, was lifeflighted to Primary Children's because of fear of brain damage from a lengthy, atypical seizure, my dear visiting teacher called and asked what we needed. I remember the great effort of trying to pull a coherent answer out of the fog of my exhausted/scared/relieved/addled brain. What I came up with were actually "reasons" why we didn't need anything–I didn't want to be a burden.

    Then my VTer did the best thing ever. She told me, "So many people love you and WANT to help you. I'm bringing dinner tonight, I'll call so-and-so about taking the older kids after school, so-and-so will bring dinner tomorrow, etc." I broke down in sobs. I don't think that I realized how hard I'd been working just to "hold it together" and it was such a relief to 1) let go a little, and 2) feel the love she talked about.

    Then she went one small (but very touching to me) step further. When she brought dinner the next night, she also included her family's set of "Planet Earth" DVDs that she knew my older boys would really enjoy. After all, they'd been through a rough couple of days too. It was a very small thing, but meant a great deal.

    My take-aways from that encounter were 1) as Hilde mentioned, give specific ideas for how you can help and don't be afraid to push beyond that first "oh, no thanks. We're ok." 2) Act on the "small" promptings. It may not seem like much, and no one is going to ask for them, but the little gestures that show you care–that the person is "known" to you, often mean the very most.

    Best wishes to all of us as we seek to serve one another better!

  12. While I generally agree that we should be more proactive in serving others, I am an extremely private person. If anyone thrust help upon me, or if people call or Facebook me incessantly asking how they can help, it does more harm than good. Like anything else, you have to use judgment and listen to the Spirit. Get to know the people you HT/VT and whether they will welcome unsolicited help or not. I actually do call if I need help. Others may not. It's way more important to listen to promptings than to have a set of "rules" for this situation.

  13. I get the purpose of this article – we should look for ways to actually help, and I agree with that. I also really do appreciate it when someone tells me to call them if I need help. Having a mental "list" of kind souls that I know I can call anytime, that I know really will help me, means so much to me. I love adding to that "list."

  14. Perhaps this idea seems too basic, but the first thing I do when I learn of someone going through an unexpected experience is to close my eyes, imagine myself in their circumstances and what I would need. I've never been far off by doing that. Death – unexpected or expected? Everyone will need clothes for the funeral. Laundry? Shopping for stockings or ? Ironing? Unexpected trip to the hospital? Money for food; a blanket or travel pillow? Reading material; I pod with comforting music? Going and sitting with them? Making phone calls for them? WHAT WOULD YOU NEED OR APPRECIATE if it was you?
    1 service I do as I'm able is to take a hot breakfast to the immediate family on the morning of a funeral. There's usually gobs of dinner stuff, but in the press to get everyone ready and the grieving, it's 1 thing off their plate and everyone should eat before going through that long day.

  15. I think we also need to be actively praying for the people we want to help by name. Not just saying we will or saying "bless those in need". If you pray for people specifically it is easier to receive the revelation to know what those people need. You will know if they need child care help, cleaning, a meal, or a just a card saying they are loved. We can receive the revelation if we pray and listen.
    Then of course you have to act. Don't ignore it, act, act now.

  16. I must admit, this post makes me want to burst into tears. Some of us are trying as hard as we can to be of service, but we have our own chronic diseases, aging parents, small children, stressful work, time-intensive callings, etc. etc. "Let me know what you need" (and me responding according) is about all I am capable of. So. . . is it better to just do and say nothing?

    I also agree that you don't know what people need. My terminally ill mother received meal after meal, that she didn't eat. She was a chemo patient for heaven's sake – she didn't want any food. It was just another dirty dish for us to clean up and send back. She also received visitors that were too much for her. She would cry when they left from the pain and exhaustion. Somebody SHOULD have asked her want she needed before just jumping in.

  17. I love your post! It helps put a lot of things into perspective. I remeber the Leadership of the church asking all of us, this was awhile ago, still… works today as well as it did then, we should ask : "What can I do for you?" This way it gives the person we are asking a chance to reply with the what help they need or to say "nothing now, thank you". In our ward, the missionaries ask the members this all of the time. I am positive they ask anyone they come in contact with. As should we. So instead of the asking one six phrased sentenced we can trade it for another, " What can I do for you?" 🙂

  18. Thank you for this post….. I am guilty of this myself. A good reminder of how we can be better servants of the Lord.

  19. I get & agree with the premise of this post, but I think that what we need to stop doing is making sweeping statements about what we need to ban from our vocabulary. From 6 words Mormons shouldn't say, to 10 things this person should never say to that person. These posts crop up everywhere. How about we work on following the Spirit? Based on the comments I've read, there is clearly a need to expand the follow through with the statement of call me if you need help, but there are also clearly times when that is sufficient, & certainly better than nothing. Having served as a Relief Society President, I have witnessed dilligent sisters who take this type of advice to heart. They are the ones who are already maxed out in their own lives & are then sucked dry by someone who takes advantage of their compassion & desire to be Christ-like. In no way am I saying that the general message here is wrong. I think the simple concept of rephrasing to HOW can I help? Or giving suggestions of how you are able to help are brilliant ways to show more sincerity & to actually provide more meaningful service. My point in commenting is just to say that the possible scenarios are vast & cannot possibly all be covered in one post or comment. So rather than banning one form of support & compassion, let's focus on encouraging each other with the positive ways we can be more specific & charitable, with moderation rather than sweeping judgements, & with the guidance of the Spirit.

  20. I loathe that phrase. When our daughter was dying of cancer and we were drowning in sorrow in our home, we felt like complete lepers at church. Members of our ward went out of their way to avoid us in the halls because our situation made them uncomfortable. No home teachers or visiting teachers entered our home during the five months preceding her death and the bishop came by one time. But people would call and leave messages quite often, "call me if you need anything." Of course we needed something, but the list was far too long to share. True Christianity has nothing to do with talk. Our actions are the ONLY thing that counts.

  21. Thank you. This is exactly what I am talking about. Many of us are diligently trying to follow the Savior and doing the best we can. We don't need another post telling us we aren't doing it right.

  22. I have say love this, Yes I felt like I'm drowning , The ten minutes visits , with the throw line . Let as know if you we can do something.

  23. The point that is being missed is that everyone needs help. Always. To look to man to fix all your problems will most definitely lead to disappointment, because it can never stop mortality from being a hard experience. Man can't read your mind. And wouldn't it be wonderful if someone would just please saunter over to frequent your living room with free maid service. But everyone has their own stewardship and most likely your living room isn't in it. Service when prompted is wonderful, and an amazing way to think outside of yourself and all of the ways that everyone else is "supposed" to be helping you. But ultimately the only thing that can heal that missing bit of fullness is Jesus Christ, who knows your needs, and your heart, and will make the burden easier to bear. I'm not saying we aren't his angels, it's just simply impossible to judge the motives or ability of those around us to help or know how to help. We certainly can't hold them to a higher standard than we hold ourselves.

  24. Lily, I totally get where you're coming from. In a case where you're barely keeping things together yourself, how about calling the person and ask if you can fast for them? It's heartfelt and who would turn down that sort of service? Nobody wants you to have a nervous breakdown! Know your limits, but keep in mind that there's always SOMETHING that can be done. If you're going to the library ask if they have any books that need to be returned or ask if their kids want to come along. If you're running out for a late night trip to Target, call and ask if they need anything too. There are clever ways to be of service without killing yourself at the same time.
    There is always the option of writing a letter letting the person know something that you admire about them, or a scripture that you like or maybe a conference talk that you think might be helpful. Sometimes a letter can be less scary for the giver than a phone call.

  25. There was a time in my life when many folks both at church and the university that my wife and I served, many people seemed to look up to us as a family that seemed to have things going for them. After 15 years of struggling through graduate school (3 masters and two PhDs between the two of us) with up to three children, we were starting to establish ourselves on the faculty of a large state university in the Midwest. In short, we were living the dream.

    By that point, my wife and I felt like we could accomplish just about anything we committed to do. We were about as independent as they come. We gave freely of our time and talents to the church and community and rarely asked anyone to help us in return.

    Then we found ourselves in a doctors office with the news that she had an incurable form of cancer. Having faced more than my fair share of obstacles ranging from being questioned at gun point for spying while serving a mission in a conflict zone to carrying my children to safety from our carbon-monoxide filled home, I am used to facing life's difficult challenges head on. So we resolved to face this challenge with all of the grace and dignity we could muster.

    Weeks later, I was in a ward council meeting, when the topic of families that needed help was addressed. My family was at the top of the list. The bishop turned to me and asked if we needed food to be brought to the house.

    My initial response was, "No, we have adequate money to buy food and I routinely do half the cooking anyway, so I honestly say that we need food brought in."

    I then looked around the room and looked at my friends each of which I would help in a moment. I saw the concern and the hurt that was beginning to form in their faces. It suddenly struck me that I had completing missed they point; they needed to help me and I selfishly was not letting them do so.

    Fortunately, the right words quickly came to me. "However, we would view this as a wonderfully kind gesture, and would receive it gratefully.

    For about six months our kindnesses that we extended to both our church and community came back many fold sometimes from people we would least expect; for which I will be eternally grateful. I learned from this experience that sometimes we need to take the initiative to be doers and not just talkers, just like my friends did. I also learned that there are other times when we need to be gracious receivers of help and kindnesses.

  26. One of the RS presidents who preceded me was a firm believer in providing help whether or not the person admitted they needed it, and it alienated several families. One family in particular was in tears and considering leaving the church because of all the "help" that was being forced into their home when mom had cancer. They felt bad throwing out all the food that had been brought, always delivered at an inconvenient time, and felt invaded and violated. They really did want to handle it themselves as a family.

    So when someone told me that they had it sorted, I believed them and did not push the help despite their protests. And was roundly criticized for being insensitive and not understanding the unwritten social rules that require one to turn down help the first time it is offered. Sigh.

  27. What a wonderful idea. It would be so great not to have to worry about breakfast on the morning of a funeral–or any morning for that matter. 🙂

  28. Very nice article- Many years ago, I NEEDED help. After serving faithfully for my whole life, and serving the needs of others I NEEDED HELP. Let me just preface this by saying, I have been in the RS Presidency, YW presidency, homemaker leader, camp leader, primary presidency..etc.. and my husband did scouting his whole life for the ward and supported me in all my callings. He fell, he shattered his arms- both of them…I got 3 jobs- I couldn't pay the bills, get husband to and from therapy and doctors appointments….and guess what NO ONE CAME…I begged the bishop to help me with a house payment he refused..offered me the Bishop's warehouse. I explained that one of my jobs was catering and I brought home the extra food so we were OK there (although my 3 kids did get sick and tired of leftover deli meat). Reluctantly he made one house payment for me (which I paid back 1 and 1/2 years later) and told me that would be it "We don't make house payments." We all know someone who's house payment is being made by the church don't we. I NEEDED HELP…We were in the middle of a remodel at the time of his accident- the roof needed to be closed in….NO ELDERS…NO ONE CAME- I quit going to church- I am still so sad and miss it…and when asked why I explain NO ONE CAME..and they said "you didn't ask." I just couldn't

  29. Thank you for putting this into words everyone needed to hear. I remember when my beloved "Daddy" died, and my mother was alone in her house the next town away. I had four little children under five, and was totally overwhelmed with grief, concern for my mother and her needs in taking care of the funeral arrangements, etc. and etc., Me having to take the children shopping for clothes for the funeral, and so much more. I was not a popular person in the ward because I had had the four children one after the other before the oldest was five, and the house was sometimes not the tidiest, so when the need was there with the funeral, I got the same thing, "Call me if you need anything." and then they left. Nothing else. The emotional/physical burden was so great, I could barely even fix breakfast, let alone take care of everything else. I remember so well needing sandwiches for lunch – the children (and I ) were all hungry, and confused with my tears and exhaustion, And I remember thinking so many times during that period that I would love to actually call someone who had said that and say, "Could you bring over a plate of sandwiches?" Or "Can you fix dinner for us tonight?" "I really need someone to do a load of laundry – I am out of diapers and have to go to Provo in a couple of hours, and just don't have time to do them, I still have to get the children bathed and ready to leave," Stressed to the limit, and with no help in any way. No one called or came over. I have never forgotten the lesson I learned from the experience of hearing that question, and not being offered any real help, then or later. I knew that if I had asked, I would have been looked down on for not being able to take care of everything myself. Please, if someone has a difficult event in their family or with someone close, just ask that specific question that others on the site have done so well, and hopefully the needy one will answer with their need. If not ask if they can use a plate of sandwiches or laundry done, etc. Be specific, and you will probably then get an affirmative answer. And express love, that is one of the greatest needs at a time like that.

  30. Yes, yes, yes! My family recently went through a hard time when my son was diagnosed with a brain tumor and brain cancer. My wife and I were in the hospital for 2 weeks for surgery and recovery. During this time it was very difficult to keep things organized in our heads, so when people asked us to call if we needed anything, do you think we called? Of course not! Other people just started acting, they came and mowed our lawn, neighbors came and picked up dirty laundry, brought it back cleaned and folded. Meal after meal after meal and then frozen meals. Was it a bit uncomfortable (especially our dirty laundry)? Of course it was. Was I reluctant at first? Sure, but I realized quickly that the Lord was teaching me a valuable lesson in pride, humility, and service. It is our pride that holds us back from receiving service and just as we need to serve, we need to allow people to serve us. It breaks down barriers and allows us to learn to love and appreciate people in a whole new way. I can now accept service humbly and with great appreciation and now I try to serve by doing, not just saying I will. Remember that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I liked this post and I agree that we need to act and if you really aren't going to act then you are better off not saying anything at all.

  31. Years ago, as a young husband, I had spent quite a few days and nights at the hospital with my wife who was just six weeks pregnant with our fourth child. The doctors had discovered multiple blood clots in each of her lungs, one the size of a golf ball. I could not begin to process the fact that her life and our baby's life were at risk. I was utterly drained emotionally and spiritually.

    Our other three children were staying at a friend's so I returned to a dark and quiet home. Without turning on any lights, I paused for a moment and hit the flashing red button discovering there were a dozen or so messages . After listening to many heartfelt wishes of concern and requests to "call back if there is anything we can do" I came to the voice mail I would not soon forget. This ward member's angelic voice simply said, " I knew your laundry would need to be done so I took it to my house and did it. I'll return it tomorrow. We are praying for you and your wife."

    Exhausted, I sat there in the quiet darkness of my living room and just wept. It wasn't only the timeliness of her service but it was as if the Savior had reached out His hand and lifted me onto higher ground. I felt relief and the deepest of gratitude all at once.

    She did not have to ask what she could do for me and my family. She knew because God knew. And she knew God.

    (Happy ending: my wife delivered a healthy baby girl 6 weeks early. Both have a clean bill of health today.)

  32. When my back went out years ago, my visiting teachers came over every week without asking and changed the sheets on my bed! I thought this was an amazing service and one l woudn't have thought of. So when our RS president's back went out, l told her l was coming over to change her sheets for her. She was appalled! Never would she allow someone else into her bedroom to change her sheets!
    As much as l hate the term Call me if you need anything, l learned my lesson about forcing someone to accept my help. All we can do sometimes is offer!

  33. I think the hardest thing to do is ask for help. Many years ago we had just moved into a new town, new ward. We had been to Church once. While I was cooking dinner my 4 year old and I were seriously burned. My husband called his cousin who lived a few miles away in a different ward to come and give us blessings. Then they called the Bishop and the RS Pres. For two weeks while I recovered someone took my 18 month old during the day and someone else brought in meals. I never knew who those sweet people were, except for one dear friend. Since then I have always wanted to "pay back" that kindness when I could. BUT–I have trouble asking for help. I agree with another comment, that is only our pride. I guess the best thing is to follow the Spirit, and try to help as much as possible without getting in the way. Sometimes, the best help is the hug and the "I love you'.

  34. A true disciple of Christ will not call but go to the home and see what needs to be done. Christ knew what to do by having a great love for us all. In so we must have love and compassion for each other to know what must be done. Grieve with those who are grieving. Listen to the Holy Ghost. Send a knee mail on what you should do. ????

  35. Great reminders. My critically ill mother who lived with me, passed away last summer. I have to say I live in a perfectly balanced ward off offerers and do-ers. I also accepted offers and services graciously and asked when I needed. Sometimes my needs were met and sometimes the Lord let me learn to manage on my own. All were guided by prayer and spirit. I've always felt loved. I've been truly blessed.

    Another phase I'd like to see eliminated is, "I love him/her to death." And even worse when they add the conditional, "but . . . ," after. We should stand for eternal and unconditional love.

  36. I TOTALLY understand what you are saying as it has happened to me, multiple times. This last time I fell and broke my shoulder and as a single mom, with the only income coming in, it was VERY difficult. I had some older kids at home and they helped all they could but no one from the church came to visit or check on us in spite of knowing all about it (Several witnesses to the accident). I struggled with that for a while when I realized that i could have died and not one person would have shown up to help my family.
    But here is the thing – my Heavenly Father does know what happened. He knows that sometimes we need more than what we receive and it will be all right in the end. People are human, they make mistakes, they ignore promptings (I have heard that over and over and over) and they let you down. Don't ever give up on the gospel because of PEOPLE.
    I too went through a horrendous time when I was working three jobs to try and keep the electricity on and gas in the car. My bishop was totally unsympathetic, cold and cruel. I know that he didn't listen to the spirit. But it was during that time of pouring my heart and soul out to my Heavenly Father that I gained the assurance that I am loved, that HE cares, and that no matter how cruel or callous others are, there is an eternal plan of happiness that will make up the difference.
    Had I not had a testimony then I would have quit going to church as every single week I would come home from church sobbing. Even then, I knew the church was true, but the people were human and very fallible. I was led to read the book of Job many, many times. And in time, I gained both peace and understanding. I also learned to listen very closely to the spirit and when I get a prompting I ACT ON IT IMMEDIATELY… NEVER put off inspiration you receive, NEVER.
    It is too important.
    Come back to church and give your ward another change. Give yourself another chance to feel God's love for you because I know without a shadow of a doubt that God loves you and wants you back.

  37. Thanks for your article. I've read several articles that have the same idea and I agree that we need to do more than toss off some flippant phrase. But I also think that there are more words we need to eliminate, namely the phrase "No thanks, I'm fine." It's hard accepting help, to admit that we are not superhuman beings capable of living completely independent of other helpful and willing souls. Can I share one personal experience that taught me the power of stifling my pride and actually reaching out to someone who had told me to "just call…"? One week after the birth of my 3rd child, we moved into a new home. Taking care of three very young children, while trying to unpack and still provide meals and clean clothes for my family completely overwhelmed me. However, as desperate as I was, I was never going to be one of "those people" who called the Relief Society president for free meals when I had never attended church. After a couple of days of sleep deprived nights, my husband finally laid down the ultimatum- either call the Relief Society president or he was going to call her. And I knew he would. The ward completely jumped to our aid, but only after I swallowed that bitter pride. A couple of meals and a couple of hours of babysitting was the jumpstart I needed. An amazing thing happened as a result of my request for help. A couple of months later, a sister that babysat for me called to ask if I could babysit for her. And the other amazing thing was that as we served each other- as we lowered our prideful defenses- a beautiful friendship blossomed. So, yes, we should look for concrete ways to help, but we also need to be humble enough to accept help and to allow others to receive the blessings of service.

  38. I will never again say, "Call me if you need anything." From now on it will be "Email me if you need anything." or maybe the more hip, "Text me if you need anything."

    And I'm not going to say "How are you?" anymore because I really don't want to know. It's just a greeting.

    "Have a nice day," is out of my vocabulary too.

    All these phrases are just buffers between people to keep things nice. They're not wrong to say. It's something nice to say when you can't thing of any thing else to say.

    Yes, it is better to serve than to speak words, but sometimes, words are all you have to offer. I liked the post about giving a hug and saying, "I love you."

    "I'll keep you all in my prayers" 🙂

  39. Some people have said this to me because they did want to help, but didn't know how. Others didn't want to help, but wanted to sound concerned. When people make a specific suggestion of some way they can help me, I feel that they really do care, and I am much more likely to ask them for help.

  40. My go-to offer to people in times of stress is: "I'll be over once a week to clean your bathrooms." I've learned that some people would die before they let another person clean their bathrooms, and others welcome it as the best thing I could have done. I can't guess which category they fall under, so I offer, and let them decide. No one has ever been offended by my offer, even those who wouldn't take me up on it.

  41. If we listen with "pure intent" to the total situation in front of a person's/family's need we will see areas that we can be of help.

    An elderly sister that I was a VT to broke her leg and it was in a cast for a long time. I asked her, "Would it be helpful if I cut your toenails for you, since you can't reach them?" She was so delighted with the offer and for years commented that that simple act helped her so much. The point is: 1)I was observant of her need; 2) Asked if it would be "helpful", so she could decide; 3) Was specific in what I could offer; 4) Acknowledged why I was offering the specific service for her.

  42. My other favorite statement is "I pray for you every day". Yes, they may pray. Then they get up from their knees and think no more about it. I realize that many times praying is all we can do, but those times are far outweighed by the times even some little assistance, gesture, etc could be just what is really needed. There are times it seems these unfulfilling statements are memorized rather like learning foreign language statements before traveling to that country.

  43. After I divorced my older children, slowly became less active. Our home teacher faithfully came every month. He always asked how he could help. He remembered each child's birthday by making a quick visit to bring them their favorite full size candy bar. He remembered to ask about their school activities and it showed by following up to ask about those activities after the events were completed. (I think he kept notes..)

    This helped me open up to ask him to help my sons complete small projects. The screen door needed to be repaired – he came over to show them how to do it. A bedroom was too hot – he helped them install a ceiling fan. His actions enabled my sons to see the priesthood in action which made all the difference in our household.

    As much as the adults in a family may need help, the children do also. Pick up kids for scouts or other activities. Have a family over to share Sunday dinner or to grill burgers on a pretty day. Getting out of the house can be such a stress relief for everyone.

  44. We had a fire in Feb. of 2014, we are a small branch, our branch president is elderly and offered to help clean up, but no one else. We were with out insurance, not one person offered help of any kind! I was crushed! I have always read and heard of Utah and Idaho LDS members helping and rebuilding for others, so this really hurt! I have dropped everything for just about anyone it almost killed my love of going to church,

  45. Sister Lovell, I am sorry that you had such a horrible experience. Though I can say that a similar experience would not have happened in any of the wards that we have lived in from Maine, through New Jersey, to Arizona, so we have not found that to be true for us. However, I think that I can imagine how we might feel if it had. I can only remember that when we were first baptized about 30 years ago, our Stake President, President Hammond warned us that the church is perfect, the members are not–yet. Please keep the faith and remain the shining light that I am sure that you are.

  46. My favorite quote by Pres. Monson is "The sweetest experience I know in life is to feel a prompting, and act upon it, and later find out that it was the fulfillment of someone's prayer, or someone's need; and I always want the Lord to know that if he needs an errand run, I (Tom Monson) will run that errand for Him."

  47. So sorry you went and are going through that awful experience. Sometimes people just don't know what or how to handle a tragedy like that. I am one of those Idaho members….and if that happened near me and it was someone I knew in my ward, I would hope that I would be there ready to help or ask what I could do. Hope you have found the Lord's tender mercies through this and that He loves you. Wish I could have helped you… keep faithful! 🙂

  48. Remember that a lot of times people who need help might not even know what they need. Instead of saying, "Call me if you need anything" how about "Would it help you if I …" or "I'm going to call you tomorrow. Would you be thinking of an errand I could run for you?" My dearest friend was going through something absolutely horrible but she needed hair conditioner. Hair still needs being cared for even when we are in crisis, and I was able to pick up hair conditioner. Another friend took me up on a offer to come and dress her small children the day of her dad's funeral. My aunt accepted an offer for my cousin and me to make a photo arrangement at my uncle's viewing/funeral. She simply lacked the energy to do it herself, and put it out of her mind until the offer came for help. Not boasting about good works … just trying to put out there that if we are creative and listen to the Spirit we'll know when and how to help. The greatest thing anyone ever did for me was very simple. After hearing the news of my miscarriage, a friend threw her arms around me and simply said, "You need a hug." It was sincere and very comforting.

  49. Now 93! I know the problems. Went to college, became a confirmed atheist, then started going with a Mormon girl. Took her two years to convert me. But I got even with her-I married her! This year makes 71 years! We have had a wonderful life, traveled to 98 countries/exotic places, such as Antartica, Easter island, Galápagos Islands, etc. Was in the army, WW II. Just hang in there!! It's fun!

  50. Thank you for a wonderful post. I was recently called to the Stake Relief Society and all of our ward conferences this year will have a lesson taught about visiting teaching, both through reading the post and the comments I have some ideas and thoughts I would like to address in the wards. There is no perfect answer that everyone will feel comfortable with but we can all learn to help others more by listening to the spirit and looking for their needs.

  51. Thank you so much for providing the vocabulary I have been unable to find myself. What a beautiful, wonderful article.

  52. Peggy and Becky, Your comments sound like my experiences verbatim, even to reading the Book of Job over and over. I'm thankful for the love of my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They continue to bare witness to me of their Love. To repeat what others here have said. . . The Gospel is true, God's love for us is great, and All of us mortals are still imperfect. We are on a road traveling toward perfection. Each of us are at different points of progress, and can become a stumbling block for others. Yet each of us has free agency and we can choose to stumble or we can pray for our faith to be strong – then continue on – not letting other's weaknesses cause us to falter. I'm thankful for my strong testimony in spite of the ways I may sometimes be treated or ignored. I pray that church members will choose to always be faithful and strong and know that our Heavenly Father's never fails.

  53. I completely agree with this. The last thing I want after having a new baby is ward members (not even really my friends) bringing in meals that my kids won't even eat, which just makes more problems. It's embarrassing to not have a shower, be exhausted and have an acquaintance come over. I asked the RS not to bring in meals after my last child and they were quite upset. "It's standard. We want to help." I only want people I truly know in the ward coming over and seeing my family/house at its worse. My standard offer is having older siblings come over and play at my house so mom and baby can be alone and get a nap. That's what I always need most with a new baby, but middle age empty nesters can't do that. The other thing I so is ask the husband what they would need. They'll be more honest. Also, we always ask family and closer friends before asking ward members. It's the family's job to help first, if possible.

  54. This is great! I thought when people said it or when I used it, it was always well intended, I never felt it sounded phony or insincere, I really believe whoever said it meant it, but they weren't sure how they could help. But as you said it puts all the responsibility on the person who is overly stressed at the moment. They are so busy struggling or grieving, or whatever the case may be, that they don't know what they need! But when you say, "Can I bring you a meal or watch your children" or some other ideas, it gives the person in stress a moment to think yes I do need that or no those things are fine but I really need . . . what ever it is. Thank you for your suggestions

  55. My visiting teacher asked me if there was anything she could do for me while she was visiting one day. I never say yes, but she was insistent on helping me. On this particular day I was clearing out old clothes for donation and unable to find something for her to do, I asked if she would mind dropping the bag of clothes off at the donation center on her way through town. She said "No, I'm sorry I can't do that today" If we're going to ask our Sisters if there is anything we can do to help them, we should be prepared to help however we can. I agree, let's give a few options of help. Don't make our Sisters find something for us to do.

  56. Wonderful instructions. You have given me a lot of ideas and inspiration. However, let me share my recent events on learning to ask for help. The 1st surgery events: I had to ask for help with transportation to & from the hospital and was not be left alone to return home. Had to ask my brother & wife if I could stay with them for 10 days. Had never stayed with them in my life. I'm a widow now so things are drastically changed for me.
    Not the end of the story. Surgery became infected and a 2nd surgery followed to clean up the mess. I asked other family members for transportation. But now I am back at my brother's for 8 weeks on home health! So I was forced to ask for help. It is very hard to ask, but sometimes things become impossible to handle. All I can say is be a helpful family member and be a good friend and then maybe it won't be so hard to ask them.

  57. I agree with it putting the responsibility on the person needing help. A month after my husband deployed, our third child was born. Six weeks later we were unexpectedly forced to move. I was way too exhausted and overwhelmed to ask for help, let alone figure out what we needed. I was just too far underwater. This post and Teresa Bruce's comments are spot on.

  58. I have always been reminded,when people say call me if i can help, of what a Sister in Southern Arizona said back in the early 1950's when my little brother was extremely ill. We had no money to take him the 30 miles to a doctor let alone pay the doctor and get medicine. Sister Lilywhite showed up at the door and told my mother "here I am whether you want me or not". Bless her heart! It was just what my mother needed and my brother too. Sister Lilywhite was rather elderly and through her home remedies and prayers my brother was made well.

  59. I have lived in this ward for 3&12 years and have never had one visiting teacher come visit or call. We have had our home teacher visit two time's. I have ask our Bishop about this and he writes a note I'm he book but that's it, nonething change's. I have talked to my relief society President about this and still no change. For about three months my husband was in the hospital and nursing home. No one called me to ask how he was, or came over. No one even asked if there was any thing they could do. Not one time!!!!. I have been a member of this church my whole life, I known this Church is true, I will never leave it. But it sure makes you feel like not attended church in this ward any longer. Why should I???? No one even cares who you are. I couldn't tell you the name of two Sister in this ward. They all look at you like who are you and why are you here. I've tried to talk to them and join in with th . Discussion in relief society lesson's, but it dose not change any thing. So no I don't attended any longer.

  60. We are all still learning how to serve. I like this definition of Christ-like love: Doing what is eternally best for a person. The Holy Ghost, and life experiences, can help us decide how to move forward in service.

  61. President Hammond in NJ? He's a great man! What ward were you in, or branch? I was born into the Atlantic Branch which eventually became the Linwood Ward.

  62. I can relate to so many of these things. I have heard these stories told in my own ward and stake. I have also lived some of these things shared too. I lost twin boys at 3 months old and the impact on my life was so devastating I truly though my experience of everlasting torment and hell had began. I was not then a member and I was definitely living contrary to the standards of the church. From that time forth my life took dramatic changes, some harsh, some cruel, some humbling and some bringing me to the point of bleak desperation and so low that I desired to be not in the world any longer. Well my life changed as I said and those were a few of my experiences but my heart softenend.. I wasn't yet aware that it had but on reflection I recall being treated really poorly and actually getting ripped of from employers (who was my sister) but I never cared too much. Something in me had happened that I no longer worried for those things. Pay being short never upset, yet another time in my life would have seen me collect it with interest. I did one thing that changed my whole perspective on life. I asked a question, I wasn't yet sure if there was a God. I said out loud to Him, If you are able to, can you please tell me how to help myself!.. I contined, cos I'm so sick of this. Nobody even has asked if I'm okay, I have buried my sons and people can do is ask me for things. I have no one I can trust and people are asking me to trust them??? Please send help!He did. I met my best friend and together we learned about changing ourselves to change our outcomes. Changing out view of life instead of what we want others to see. We investigated in the church and as a result my son of 16 joined first, he lead the way. The Lord sent his message pretty clearly that day. The following year my husband joined, the Lord answered many many prayers on that day too. I was baptised a year on from my husband and we are now sealed for time & all eternity.I would say some of the important lessons I learned about my situations always pointed me to 3 things. STOP. OBSERVE then SERVE. I apply it actually with all things I do and I can say that the principal is universal, applies in all things AND works every time. T*I*M*E = HELP. Observing = HELP but serving requires us to know it then do it. Asking is apart of knowing then doing. It may take swallowing a mouthful of pride to make way for the necessary help we need. Fear can be overcome and conquered. The church is TRUE. Love the things shared here. Thank you for the encouraging stories and experiences shared.

  63. When a man's home burned down, he was talking with Joseph Smith and some other men. Everyone said "I'm sorry." Joseph took out $5 and said "I'm sorry too. $5 sorry." He then asked the other men to show they were sorry too. I've taken this to mean, SHOW it through actions. I try to befriend everyone, but especially my Home Teaching families, and friends so when they have problems my wife or I can tell them what we are going to do to help. i.e. my friend needed to pick his wife up from the airport. The plan was for him to stay home with four sleeping children and have his 8 month pregnant sister-in-law pick his wife up at 10:00 pm, who would have to drive 40 min home after dropping her off. I told him I would sit with his kids, while he went. His face lit up as he acknowledged that would suit everyone better. Frequently when he's out of town we will tell his wife and kids to come over for dinner. It's nothing special, but we know she's overwhelmed with four boys and no help. If the people you home teach need work, or a better job, ask around yourself. I have and it has been a lifesaver for them. If they get offended that you responded to their needs they told you about, that's on them. I find most people appreciate when you know what they need, and respond.

  64. Dear No Body, I named myself Invisible a long time ago because of a very similar experience as yours. In my 20's I was quiet and sat on the back row. I did my best to not get noticed but also I was kind to those sitting around me and to everyone. I did not have a clue how to successfully have a quick visit with people and to introduce myself to people. In my 30's being in a social environment at church just sent me into a panic. Especially if I had to say a prayer or speak in front of people. And so on… but, during all of this I know the gospel is true and I love my savior and I am teaching my children the gospel. In August 2001, without burdening you with details I had the worst anxiety attacks ever and now 14 years later I have been to church very few times. I went to my son's missionary farewell at church and I went to his welcome home church meeting. Stuff like that. I love the gospel/church with all my heart. I love the people and I am more comfortable having conversations with people but how will I do with church members in the church setting. Even though I am still not well with the anxiety thing I do want to go back to church. I want to be obedient and live the way my Savior wants me to. But then I throw myself back into the social scene at church and there is a high price to be paid if my body can't handle the anxiety. Anxiety is painful and debilitating and beyond miserable. I fault no church members for anything. I know we are all not perfect and we all are struggling to be righteous people. How can I get myself to church without throwing my body into panic? By the way, I totally got off the subject of giving service to those in need. The missionarys have been working with me for years now. Thank you to them. My mama died recently and no one from my ward noticed. That's totally ok with me. But now that I know what real grief is with my mom's passing and how completely hard it would be to even formulate the thought of excepting ones help by saying what I need help with maybe there is a better way. Why can't there be a paper that all women fill out while there is no crisis that would address the important concerns for each family in the ward. It can't be to involved getting into families business but just enough information to let the relief society know just what to do to help the family. LIke watching kids, washing dishes, laundry, etc. Knowing how to help a family in need or being friendly at church is very do able. We just need to be aware and have a plan.

  65. I named myself Invisible a long time ago because of a very similar experience as yours. In my 20's I was quiet and sat on the back row. I did my best to not get noticed but also I was kind to those sitting around me and to everyone. I did not have a clue how to successfully have a quick visit with people and to introduce myself to people. In my 30's being in a social environment at church just sent me into a panic. Especially if I had to say a prayer or speak in front of people. And so on… but, during all of this I know the gospel is true and I love my savior and I am teaching my children the gospel. In August 2001, without burdening you with details I had the worst anxiety attacks ever and now 14 years later I have been to church very few times. I went to my son's missionary farewell at church and I went to his welcome home church meeting. Stuff like that. I love the gospel/church with all my heart. I love the people and I am more comfortable having conversations with people but how will I do with church members in the church setting. Even though I am still not well with the anxiety thing I do want to go back to church. I want to be obedient and live the way my Savior wants me to. But then I throw myself back into the social scene at church and there is a high price to be paid if my body can't handle the anxiety. Anxiety is painful and debilitating and beyond miserable. I fault no church members for anything. I know we are all not perfect and we all are struggling to be righteous people. How can I get myself to church without throwing my body into panic? By the way, I totally got off the subject of giving service to those in need. The missionarys have been working with me for years now. Thank you to them. My mama died recently and no one from my ward noticed. That's totally ok with me. But now that I know what real grief is with my mom's passing and how completely hard it would be to even formulate the thought of excepting ones help by saying what I need help with maybe there is a better way. Why can't there be a paper that all women fill out while there is no crisis that would address the important concerns for each family in the ward. It can't be to involved getting into families business but just enough information to let the relief society know just what to do to help the family. LIke watching kids, washing dishes, laundry, etc. Knowing how to help a family in need or being friendly at church is very do able. We just need to be aware and have a plan.

  66. This is so sad, why do we treat each other this way? Please understand the human part of our Church, is so very flawed! We joke at school how great we could be without the kids! Our Church would be perfect without the humans! Please never give up on us silly humans, our Heavenly Father loves you, hopefully you feel it! Prayers to you and your family

  67. When I was pregnant with my triplets, I had to learn to LET people help me. My husband said I " was denying the blessing of service" of those who wanted to help me! I thought about it…I always am there to help others and feel FANTISTIC after, how could a deny that blessing to others?

  68. My mother died on Christmas Day 2014, we had a big snow storm and only the baptist preachers wife brought food, her words were great" Mormons are too practical so they won't drive 17miles to the town we are in(we're the only LDS in town)through a snowy storm, so I brought you dinner" this was a great lesson for me!

  69. It is a true word thanks a lot and it has help me to know that even when other don't love to do I will always have render help by acting not asking if they need help.

  70. Really had to read this article quickly as I'm at work, but I thought I should let you know how amazing it is! I couldn't agree with your more! Let us embark in the service of God!

  71. it is burdensome to ask the person needing help what they need. When my mom died I couldn't tell you what I needed, I was in shock. One person dropped off a deli meat and cheese tray with some rolls. It was so nice to be able to just go make a small sandwich when you needed one.

    I have discovered that asking what you need isn't as good as telling you what I can/will do. Let me pick your kids up from school. I'm going to bring over a frozen lasagna for your freezer. I've even picked up dog doo and taken trash out to the curb.

    But I think the best thing you can do is to check on the person to see how they are doing and really mean it. Because after the dinners stop, grief goes on. And it can be lonely. Even texting to say "I was thinking about you today, hang in there." helps.

  72. We have a family in our ward who has struggled with cancer. We decided as a ward council to just 'go and do' instead of waiting for instructions. As a result, we made some mistakes and ended up causing more trouble for them. I've learned it really depends on the situation and the people involved how things should be approached. It worked really well when the mom made us a to-do list and then we made assignments to get it done however we saw fit. As a new RS president I learned a lot from this wonderful family and am thankful for the patience they showed me as I stumbled through helping them.

    It may also help to remember that we as human beings assume that others have the same needs and desires we do. That's not true at all. Personally, I might feel intruded upon by people just taking over my laundry (or whatever)—so I assume others feel the same way. My friend is very open about everything and welcomes others to share her burdens any way they can. We're just different, and it's important to figure out what the person in need desires and to respect those differences.

  73. Another idea for funerals is to take a supply of a paper goods to the family since they'll likely have a house full of guests and everyone may be too exhausted for extensive clean up efforts. Toilet paper, Kleenex, paper plates, cups, spoons/forks/knives.

  74. I was fully expecting the 6 word phrase Mormons should stop saying to be "I know the church is true", since any rational person would know it is not possible to KNOW it… Believe all you want, but saying you know is just dishonest. It's especially troubling to hear kids say it in sacrament meeting.

  75. I hear you. I've been in your shoes, criticized for not doing what others (who didn't have my calling) thought I should be doing. It made it INCREDIBLY hard to feel confident about anything after that and really took the wind out of my sails. I just had to remind myself that others didn't have all the info I had, and also that I didn't have all the info either. I was just doing the best I could and helping as many as I could while still trying to hold my own family together. I love the saying "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" — and that includes those trying to help. 🙂

  76. The fact that so many called and left messages offering help, yet none talked to you at church—makes me wonder if people were wary of intruding. Several of the other posters on this thread have mentioned that they didn't actually welcome some of the service they were given. It's very hard, often, to know what to do.

  77. I understand the sentiment and sincerely think this is a great topic for us all to consider. we are often very flippant about offering help. Still, I'd like to give an alternate view, if you don't mind.

    This sentence, meant to be helpful, places the entire responsibility of help on the person who is already struggling.

    Yes, it does. But who else really knows what is needed? In your post you note that the person who apparently can't ask for help DID post on social media about her problems. Why then couldn't she actually TELL someone who was in a position to help or who offered in real life? Uncomfortable? Sure. But does that relieve responsibility of communicating with others?

    After 12+ years of blogging and nearly three decades in internet discussions, I've found people are REALLY willing to talk specifically about what they need, as long as the people they are talking to either (1) don't know who they are or (2) aren't geographically in a place to help. And often the discussions include excoriating the "insensitive" people who live around them and can't divine what they need (no hyperbole).

    I've had women pour their guts out to masses of people on my sites/message boards. They have NO ONE to help them and often claim NO ONE cares about them. When I see the outpouring of virtual love, the difference is stark. When I ask if anyone in their WARD knows the problem, they almost always say they do not. They are too embarrassed, etc.

    But how can they help if they don't know there is a problem? Often the answer is that the person in need wants the help to come rather magically, even stating that if the people were just "inspired" they would know. (!!!)

    I'm bothered by what I see as passing the buck to the potential service provider for a couple of reasons:

    (1) I have sincerely tried to do what you said DOZENS of times (I'm old, I've had lots of practice). Offered general help, given specific options, just found something I thought would be useful and done it, etc. And I can tell you, the result has almost always NOT been good. It has ranged from awkward to a useless waste of time.

    (2) Multiple times I have heard specific needs from someone (generally online) who—just incidentally—lived close enough that I could actually fill the need (or I could locate someone nearby the person or the need could be met without my physical presence). I have done those things and/or taken my whole family to help in these situations.

    Those experiences have been great but they lack a continuity that COULD have been better achieved by ward members almost every time. In other words, when I gather my kids and drive somewhere to clean the home of someone who lives a half hour away, whom I've never met in real life and will likely never meet again, I can't follow up, check back in, or even use it as a catalyst to build an ongoing personal relationship like I could if I was doing the SAME thing for someone in my ward.

    So I'm driving my family to Syracuse to help someone and a woman in West Valley is driving to help people in my ward in Lindon. It's not BAD, but it's not very efficient and probably not as truly helpful in the long run.

    Having been a RS president in my distant past, I will say that being reserved and considerate about asking for help is a good trait. But so is giving people honest answers with practical ideas to those who want to be helpful but don't know how.

    Thanks again for the post.

  78. Thanks for an important example of "learning to better serve the specific needs of the one". Life is one big learning opportunity and it is so wonderful when those we are trying to serve in love, hang in there with us.

  79. Carla,
    I am saddened to learn about the many really hard situations you've been through. And that you have felt so ignored and excluded. I want to acknowledge your feelings, and I hope you find yourself in an environment where you feel cared for and can also care for others.

    I, too, have had times when I felt like I was not valued or cared for or part of the group; times when my expectations were totally NOT met. At different times, having prayed about a situation, when I bottomed out and was pretty thoroughly humbled by circumstances, I found that my thoughts were led in a very different direction than the ones I had been wallowing in.
    I found myself examining my own thinking and expectations and attitudes about other people. Ultimately I found that my own habitual thinking needed repair–a LOT of repairs. That may not be true for you, but when my thinking, my interactions with others, my expectations of others, and my own attention to and care for others changed, so did my life.

    Here are some of the kinds of thoughts the Lord was kind enough to send my way. They are much clearer in hindsight and after doing a lot of personal work to change my tendancy to negative thinking. They arrived as questions I was asking myself:
    • Have I been the kind of friend/caring person/kind and generous person I am expecting others to automatically be for me?
    • This hurts! What do I expect"them" to do for me? Am I expecting too much, or being unreasonable? [sometimes the actual need was met but I didn't recognize it until later; sometimes I really was expecting too much.]
    • Would I be willing or able to provide the kind of help I want/expect right now, for someone else, even if I didn't know them well?
    • Would anyone else have a way to know what I was expecting or hoping for? [Note that I was not inclined to ASK for help with ANYthing, and was pretty stuck in the false notion that I was supposed to be self-sufficient, or else people should just know what I needed if they really cared about me/my family. That has been corrected: I strive to be self-reliant; seek help from family first; and then communicate needs clearly and to the right person(s).]
    • Have I communicated my need to someone who is actually in a position to respond? Usually this was a big, fat, "No!" But I didn't want to admit that.
    • What could I have done differently to make it easier for others to provide the help I expected or needed and felt I didn't get?
    • Is there any chance that the help I expected, or felt I didn't get, wasn't what I really needed?
    None of the questions were easy or comfortable for me to answer, even to myself. Especially to myself. Until I answered them honestly, though, I was just stuck. I even talked with a shrink about being stuck, but until the questions had been answered, nothing could change.
    I hope that something I've said here might be of use to you. I can tell you that I know the Lord responds to our open, honest prayers, and that He does answer—sometimes not the way we had hoped/imagined/expected/prayed for. And I know that He loves you–just as He does me, even with all my flaws, faulty expcetations, and yes, sins. He still loves us! No matter what. Maybe even more when we come to Him with our difficulties, and pour them out in a mess. He sifts them. He blows the chaff away; and he helps us start making the changes we need in our lives.
    Sometimes, the first place we need to look is not to others, but inside oursleves.

  80. I have noticed this too but, unlike you, I have never heard that members in Utah and Idaho are overly helpful. In fact, it has been my experience that those members are the most selfish with their time. I don't know why this is. But outside of the "hub" of the church I have found that the members stick together and support each other better. Give me out of Utah Mormons any day!

  81. This article makes me sad. Writing an entire article judging the effort put forth by others to serve as lip service and then watching this blow up the LDS blogging world is terribly unfortunate to me. I have been in situations where help was needed. While I appreciated the people who jumped right in and helped I also appreciated a sincere offer from others to call when I needed something. I've also been in situations where no one offered to help but as hard as it was I asked for help and grew so much from that too. Then there were times where I've only had the Lord to turn to and what a blessing that was too.
    I'm so grateful for the effort from people who have told me to call if I need anything. People are trying their best out there. Just like we don't respond perfectly to our trials neither do our friends and neighbors.

  82. I have thought about and have asked my self two question, #1 did I do all I could do for my self to take care of the many different problems that were taking place in my life at this time? Was I self suffenent enough to take responsible for all the trials that were happenings to both my Husband and my self at this time? #2: Did I call on my family to help me also as much as possible at this time? #3 or did I count on members of my ward more than I should of? Did I expect. My ward member to help more than I should of. And after much thought and praying about these questions the answer I came to is "NO " I don't honestly think that I required more than I should of from the members of my ward. My family was there for me a lot more than any of my ward member were, as they should of been. The things that up set me more than anything else is, for the ward members to show a small amount of compassion or maybe care toward my husband's condition. But even to this day, not our Home Teacher's or my Visiting Teacher have not made any attempt to do so. My question is the same as it was when my husband first went into the hospital on the middle of October 2014, "WHY" is the members of one ward so different than members of another ward???? The ward I lived in before the one I now live in, was always so wonderful to care for "ALL" ward member the same, it didn't matter how active they were. To me this is how every ward should be. I always felt welcome by every one, I had so many good friends in this ward. I would like to believed this is the way ALL wards should be. I would like to believe this is the way the "Lord" intended for "HIS" church to be. What do you believe????? But then I have always heard it said " The true Church is Perfect" but the members of the church isn't. And sorry to say that is so true . The sad part of this statement that I have also heard to be true, is the fact that the members of the church who don't live in Utah show a lot more compassion to each other than those who live in Utah…..I hope and pray that this statement isn't true. It is we all have a lot of changes to make in our lives and we need to start NOW!!!!

  83. Thank you for this post! It along with some of the comments helped me better serve a friend in need today. I try to offer specific help, usually asking "when can I bring dinner over," but this friend was preparing for a funeral and comments here helped me realize I could offer other things in this situation. I asked if any of her kids needed a ride to get a haircut or if I could drop off or pick up dry cleaning and my friend took me up oh both offers. Other friends were already bringing her dinner and my offer for dinner would probably have been refused and I may have reverted to " call if you need anything, " but I was grateful for the suggestions here that taught me how I could better serve in this situation.

  84. I am so sorry, your family went through that and even more so that no one offered to help. I understand how that would turn people off and very glad your comment said 'almost' because you and your family would be the ones who would hurt even more by that decision. Too bad that no one offered or noticed that there was a great need – truly their loss. That being said – I find it quite frustrating that people don't ask for help when they need it. And just because a majority won't doesn't make it any ok than someone who is phrasing their offer generally. It is pride/ego. Just like we just need to act, 'self reliant' need to work on letting go of the ego that keeps us from calling up their home teacher, vt, neighbor, stranger at the whatever. I have noticed that this mentality and behavior is what's widening the gap. We are ALL a working progress. While I am on the judging horse – enough with the "mormons need to stop doing this and that" We have enough non believers or former members who do that – doesn't mean we are not aware of things we need to work on. Maybe phrase it in a supportive way instead of the 'salt lake county mormons' vs 'utah county mormons' kind of way. Together we stand, divided we fall. Something about loyalty and as a people we believe in God's amazing grace and Christ's atoning sacrifice being all encompassing in it's healing all kinds of earthly wrongs. Talking about practicing what we preach. Much love, am a working progress and I need my sisters on my side praying on my behalf:-)

  85. I can relate to some of the trials you have had to live through. I lived in a ward in Idaho some years ago. The relief society presidency came by to "welcome" me to the ward. Unfortunately, they looked around with their noses in the air and told me I did not know how to keep a home.
    Later, I moved to another ward. I fell and fractured my skull and was to be confined to my bed for a week. With 4 children, being a single mom, that just wasn't possible. My visiting teacher called and said, "I heard you fell. Call me if you need anything" and hung up before I could say anything. I had a friend who lived across town whose mother came with food and took my 3 younger boys and cared for them for a couple of days. They were not members of the church, but they knew how to "go and do"!
    Many years later, I had remarried and my husband had a surgery that "went wrong". He woke up unable to move from the neck down. At that time we were living in Nevada. Our home was about a 5 hour drive from the hospital. Our Relief Society president called me every day. The stake RS president from the stake we were close to came to visit 2 or 3 times a week, brought food for me, brought me some copies of the Book of Mormon that I was able to place with several people. Our ward held a fast for us. It was amazing the support we received. There was a ramp built at our apartment, our apt. was re-arranged to accommodate a wheelchair, and "welcome home" signs were hanging up when we got there.
    It is true that the church is perfect, but the saints are not. Some people are just closer to the spirit and know what needs to be done and don't just stand by hoping their lack of caring or "call me if you need me" response is sufficient.
    I have found through the years that I can reach out and try to serve others in different ways, and it helps me feel the Spirit of our Savior. No matter what others may or may not do, it is what we do that is important. It is what we do that will bring us closer to our Heavenly Father.

  86. 🙂 I think that is awesome Kim. I love that attitude and action. I try to do that and if it isn't what they would have wanted then I pray they know it came from a place of love and concern. I live among some really amazing women – though I see both and I probably go back and forth in these two behaviors. I am so grateful that my Heavenly Father has given me this way of seeing things: The beauty, the love of God and desire to be more or better than we were yesterday. Seriously though, it's amazing how we are so much more alike than we realize. When I take myself out of a pity party of 1 and let the spirit show me through God's eyes the sisterhood, ward family are there their own way. I absolutely love my ward and am even more grateful for the person I have become because of those difference, I love this gospel.

  87. Nancy, I'm sorry that happened to you. Someone, somewhere in your branch dropped the ball big time….


    It can be difficult for members to know what to do in those situations. Often, if we just show up at someone's crisis, we end up being more in the way than helpful, so we hang back, ready to answer a call, but trying to stay out of the way…. does that make sense? I remember when my dad died, there was SO MUCH member support (members showing up unannounced throughout the day, bringing food, just coming in to sit and "be there", one sister actually started offering her opinions on the funeral arrangements – that one was kind of irritating, as she didn't really know our family at all – and casseroles! TONS of casseroles!) that it got overwhelming for my mom to have to deal with them all. We finally had to go to the bishop and RS president and ask them to please reign the members in!

    I know that sounds ungrateful, and I don't mean it to be…. as a family, we did recognize the love and spirit that the service was given in…. people absolutely adored my dad and they love my family and that was their way of showing their love…. but sometimes, as members of the church, we do tend to get a bit overzealous in our desires to love and serve…. I imagine that most of us who say, "Let me know what I can do to help," are those who have been in a similar situation as my family, completely overwhelmed by overzealous member support.

    Something else to keep in mind is that sometimes we just have NO IDEA what we can do that would help someone else in a time of crisis. Maybe it's a lack of confidence in our own abilities or maybe we are being overwhelmed by our own personal crisis' that you aren't aware of because we are good at hiding the negative…. or perhaps it's just a matter of we thought Brother or Sister So-N-So had things handled and that we weren't needed.

    If you turned down your elderly branch president when he offered to help (I know I would have), it's possible he misinterpreted that as you didn't want any help and maybe he passed the word along.

    That is where as members who are in a time of crisis, we have to remember that our fellow ward members aren't mind readers and they certainly are not perfect. When we have a crisis, we need to be willing to reach out and ASK for help.

    Did you or any of your family members call your RS president or Elders Quorum president or any other leaders to ask for help?

    NO. I am NOT saying it's your fault nobody in your branch offered to help. Your branch really did fail you in not even OFFERING help. Even if the branch president misinterpreted, your RS president should have been on the phone with you at the very least, to find out what help you needed and to offer support in whatever way she could have done….

    Last thing…. the reason you, "have always read and heard of Utah and Idaho LDS members helping and rebuilding for others," is because those stories are rare. If they happened all the time, for every crisis, they wouldn't be the inspiring and uplifting stories that they are.

    It would be nice if our members were always so motivated to serve, but we live in a very entitled and self-serving society that has, unfortunately, spilled over to taint our members. We DESIRE to serve, but we are so caught up in our own drama, that we don't know how to juggle our own drama AND figure out how to help someone else through their trials…. but we WANT to serve and WILL serve if we are given a specific task…. does that make any sense at all?

    Anyway…. I am truly sorry that happened to you. I hope in all my ramblings, you might have found some plausible explanation that might help you find some peace with the situation. Sending love and hugs and all kinds of happy stuff…. 🙂

  88. I'm a little slow…. at first, I thought "knee mail" was an error! Once my brain kicked in, I recognized it for the very clever phrasing it was (hopefully) intended to be! That will stick with me forever now…. 🙂

  89. Fantastic questions, TW. I think a lot of times, when we get offended by people at church, a lot of the problem lies within our own selves (not always, but a lot of times).

    How we feel about ourselves speaks volumes. If we sit in judgment about the members of our ward, then of course we will feel like they sit in judgement about us. And by sitting in judgment, I'm talking about how we look at them and assume they look down on us. I'm talking about how we look at them and we just KNOW they think they are better than us. I'm talking about how we look at them and we are sure their trials, if they have any, are NOTHING compared to our own…

    When we go into a group with the expectation that the group will not love or accept us, then of course, the group will have a hard time getting to know us well enough to know how to love and serve us when we need it.

    Let go of the negative and start focusing on the positive. The church truly is perfect, but I think we all know by now that we, the members, need a LOT of improvement! 🙂

  90. Invisible, there are actually many wards that do have a paper on each family like you described. It's generally been the work of the RS presidencies (in the wards I've been in that have such papers). In one of my wards, our compassionate service leader passed along a binder that had "plan ahead" papers the sisters could fill out if they knew their husbands would be out of town, or if they were moving, or were having a baby, or having surgery…. whatever life event was happening that they might need help for. There were also "How I Can Serve," papers that sisters could fill out indicating different ways that sisters could give service (meals, babysitting, driving, house cleaning, etc….). And there were papers the sisters could fill out indicating the various "special needs," of the sisters (like overwhelming anxiety, those who would be more stressed at an unannounced home visit, allergies, single mom, money problems, etc…). These papers were copied and given to the bishopbric and the RS presidency and made it SO much easier for service to be given!

    Knowing what you know about your own issues with attending church, perhaps you could write a letter to your own RS president and ask her if you could help her organize a service binder for your ward? If you only corresponded by email or texting until you were able to trust her and yourself enough to be around her in the beginning, that should still be sufficient enough to get things rolling. Perhaps your experience is exactly what your ward needs in order to be able to serve more efficiently? Just a thought…. 🙂

    I have a good friend who also suffers tremendous anxiety around people. She would try so hard to attend church. She sat in the foyer during Sacrament meeting, hid in her car during Sunday School (unless the class was extremely small, and then sometimes she would go in), and during RS, if she came back inside, she sat in a chair in the corner of the room, away from the other sisters. There were many weeks out of each month that she didn't show up at all. Some sisters thought she was faking it at first, and they were pretty catty and judgmental (quietly, in groups, usually when my friend wasn't around) about my friend. After bothering to get to know her, those sisters actually apologized to my friend for misjudging her.

    It took my friend almost 5 years of sporadic church attendance before she really started to feel like she could attend Sacrament meeting regularly (always in the foyer though). It was another few years before she could bring herself to attend all three meetings almost 3 times a month, and it has only been recently that she moved her chair over to the end of the back row in RS (on that day, the sister she sat next to her offered to move over one chair if it would make my friend feel more comfortable…. my friend was touched by the gesture, and actually hugged the sister and asked her to stay…. they have sat by each other each week since then and I'm not sure who benefits more from it!)….

    Anyway, my friend is a good and kind person who truly wants to follow the Lord. It has taken her almost a decade, but she is baby stepping her way into regular church attendance. The extremely uncompassionate side of me used to say (and still occasionally says it), "Oh good grief, suck it up and go to church! How hard do you have to make it?" I try hard to shut that side up fast, because through my friend, I have learned that for some people anxiety really IS debilitating at times, and it really CAN make it hard to go to church. I have also learned that with God, nothing is impossible.

    Take baby steps. If you can only make yourself get dressed and ready for church, but don't actually make it out the door, that's okay. If you do make it out the door, but can't make it past the parking lot, that's okay. If you can't make it into sacrament meeting, or if you can't make it all the way through sacrament meeting, that's okay. The Lord knows what you can handle and he knows where your heart is. Keep a journal and write down your thoughts and feelings of each event. Consider choosing one sister in the RS to share your thoughts and feelings with, so that SOMEONE in your ward can have an idea of what your are going through…. this insight might play a crucial role in knowing how to help and serve and support you during this time in your life. If you are brave enough, consider writing a blog about your journey. You might be surprised at how many members have the same problems.

    Anyway, I admire you for having a desire to follow the Lord. I know it is hard to hold onto that desire in the midst of such a debilitating illness (for I truly do believe anxiety is an illness). Don't let set backs hold you back. Even if your anxiety shoves you backward several steps, always keep moving forward as much as you are able. Even the tiniest movement forward is still a movement in the right direction. 🙂

  91. Um, Joe? You sound like you are projecting. Your testimony might be based on just believing, but there are some of us who actually DO know.

    Wow. That sounded horribly snobbish, didn't it? It wasn't meant to. I just felt like you were questioning my integrity and I get kind of feisty when people question my integrity. But I don't knock anyone's testimony. Whether a person barely has a hope that the gospel is true, or if they really strongly believe it's true, or if they really KNOW that it's true, they have faith and that's the first step on the path to eternal life. I commend you for your faith and hope that someday you too can KNOW for yourself that the gospel is true. 🙂

  92. Mari, what a kind response to my concerns. Thank you for caring. I want to know how you worked through your issues with church in your 20 ' s and how are you now, if you don't mind me asking? Invisible.

  93. Our 17-year-old got life flighted and we asked and people asked. They cleaned old food from our frige. They put up a Christmas tree. Our non-member neighbor delivered an Elks box of food. Someone filled our truck cab with new pillows. We asked our friend to scan and send a picture. The R. S. tied a quilt for her. They fasted. All helped immensely. I still tear up thinking about it all.


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