I’ve had this question running through my head all week long. Am I my brother’s keeper? What does that even mean? While looking into this topic I found some really great talks. One of which is by Elder Dallin H. Oaks Brother's Keeper. I thought a lot about this topic as I watched Elder Richard G. Scott’s funeral. Whenever I go to a funeral, I always stop to ponder what people will say about me at my funeral. I’m always inspired by the kind words said about others, and hope to emulate those good qualities in myself.
I’ve had a lot of opportunities in the last few months to indeed be my brother’s keeper. How did I handle it? I wanted nothing to do with it in the beginning. It was getting awkward and everyone kept asking me about my friend. Every time someone would ask me about her I’d say, “Why don’t you call her and ask her yourself.” I didn’t want to be bothered by this person. I’m ashamed to say that I wanted nothing to do with it. I knew my friend was struggling, and I watched it happen. Then one day, a close friend asked me about our mutual friend and I actually said out loud, “How should I know? I’m not my brother’s keeper.” What an awful response.
When I look back at my life I have walked through many hard trials and deep valleys. I felt I was alone in many of those hard hikes. However I always had my family to help me through the deep ravines. I know now that I never was alone, but when hard things happened, I didn’t have my friends there. People didn’t know how to help, so they did nothing at all. I guess that’s what I learned. That’s how I was taught to deal with hard circumstances. That is not how it should be.
In the last few years I have seen countless acts of service with no recognition. I’ve been astounded and amazed as I’ve seen struggling college students give of their substance to anyone in need. They give people rides to the airport free of charge; they pay for someone else’s groceries when their friend (or a complete stranger) doesn’t have the money. They stay over for hours to offer a kind word, or a listening ear. They drop by gifts or notes to make people feel loved and appreciated. They are always willing to serve.
I think I like the motto “Charity Never Faileth” because it really never does fail! Either the giver feels blessings from helping out the needy, or the one in need of help feels love from the giver. I don’t think I’ve ever fully understood that expression until tonight.
So, are we our brother’s keeper? Do we look out for those around us? The Lord recognized “the one.” He would take time out of his day to help one person. There are many accounts of this including the woman at the well, Peter walking on the water, healing Lazarus, and so many more. What can we learn from this incredible one? As Elder Holland stated, “I may not be my brother’s keeper, but I am my brother’s brother.” Here is a link to that talk: Are We All Not Beggars?
In my case, I was my sister’s sister! I decided that I didn’t care how awkward it might be for me to offer my assistance to my struggling friend. I felt like I should give her a call, and I think that one decision changed both of our lives. I was able to take her to an activity with me where we both were able to learn and grow. After the activity we walked around and she told me about all the hard things that were happening in her life. I was caught off guard. Every trial that she was going through, I’d gone through as well, however I was ten years younger, and wondering why that hardship had befallen me.
Suddenly I knew! I knew that God had given me those trials so that I could learn and grow. He gave me those trials because he knew I could handle it. He gave me those trials to give me patience and understanding. He gave me that trial for my friend. My sister. He gave me that very particular trial so that in 10 years’ time, I would be able to sit on a bench outside by his daughter, and tell her exactly how I had dealt with that experience. All of the sudden I realized a lot of this life isn’t about us or for us. It’s for us to work together with our experiences and talents to help those who are struggling around us.
Let us try to think a little less about ourselves, and a little more about our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, our teachers, our co-workers, and the people that surround us.