"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."
I heard my husband's aunt banging around in the stairwell as she lugged her bags upstairs. I thought about offering to help, even set down the measuring spoon I was holding and started toward the stairs, but something stopped me. What if she didn't want help? What if by offering to help, I made her feel weak or offended her? With those thoughts in mind, I waited for her to reach the top of the stairs, thinking that maybe I could give her a hand then.
As I hesitated, my twelve year old son walked into the kitchen and saw his aunt as she approached the gate at the top of the stairs. "Tricia, do you need help?" Even as he asked, he was already moving forward, opening the gate and helping her get her bulky bags through. He then opened the door of the house for her and followed her outside to make sure she was able to get everything in her car.
Why did I hesitate?
Elder M. Russel Ballard, in a general conference session in April of 2011 counseled, "we need to be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. The still, small voice will let us know who needs our help and what we can do to help them."
I felt the prompting to help, and I wanted to heed it, but I let my fear of man overcome my fear of the Lord. And this wasn't the first time.
Recently, after learning that a friends daughter was in the hospital in serious condition after a fall off a swing, I thought about the long drive they had from their house to get to the hospital and the rising price of gas and wondered if I could do anything to help.
I considered giving them a call and offering them some money, but I worried I might upset them by assuming they needed my help.
Most times, I don't have too much trouble heeding the Holy Ghost's promptings. But when they relate to other people, people I don't know very well or even at all, I struggle. How can I learn to set aside my doubts and worries about how someone will receive my service and just do it?
Elder Ballard offers this advice: "Brothers and sisters, may I reemphasize that the most important attribute of Heavenly Father and of His Beloved Son that we should desire and seek to possess within our lives is the gift of charity, 'the pure love of Christ.' From this gift springs our capacity to love and to serve others as the Savior did."
Charity doesn't come to us overnight. We have to pray for it, and we have to work to attain it. As with all things in the gospel of Jesus Christ, line upon line--a little at a time.
The next time the Holy Ghost urges me to do something for someone else, I'll do my best to respond without doubts and worry. If I succeed, I'll have taken an important step towards developing charity.