COVID-19 has been one of the most unique service opportunities we’ve see in our lifetimes. Small actions by individuals have large repercussions —negative or positive. Placing a cotton rectangle across your mouth and nose could save a life. A normal social gathering can lead to deaths. But for the most part, we don’t see the direct results of our actions. And I think that’s why we are struggling.
Our service usually has a beginning, a middle and an end. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints know how to put on those yellow vests and clear out natural-disaster debris — a recent viral TikTok showed how much work a gaggle of Saints can get done in a short amount of time. We are efficient. We are self-starters and problem solvers. We try very hard to act as the Savior, ministering to the one. We follow His example in doing for our neighbor what they can’t do for themselves.
In the case of downed trees, flooded homes or snowy sidewalks, it’s easy to see what we have done. And at the end, there’s usually a person, grateful for our service. But when our actions aren’t just helping the one but the many, it’s nearly impossible to see the fruits of our labor.
What happens when there isn’t that warm and fuzzy affirmation that we did the right thing? I don’t believe we are purely motivated by worldly praise. But we serve others to share the love of Christ. When we serve our communities, we put our candle of the Savior’s love, not under a bushel but on a candlestick (Luke 11:33). But we live in a world where some of the loudest voices tell us serving our neighbors by wearing a mask, physically distancing and limiting social gatherings is even in direct opposition of the Savior’s teachings.
It is time for us to recognize this as an opportunity to express the Savior’s love, even if we don’t know specifically who we are serving. Our Heavenly Father and Mother do.
Earlier I said this is a service opportunity unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes. But it’s not unprecedented. And it will most likely happen again. Like truths lost from scripture, the sacrifices our families made — just a few generations ago — to stop the spread of the Spanish flu or the flu in the 1950s are not part of our American story.
Before all of this, how many of us knew the Church canceled church services for more than a year during the 1918 Spanish flu? Or canceled general conference in 1957? Those domestic sacrifices, carried largely by women and families, overshadowed by wars and rumors of wars.
It’s time to truly endure to the end, not until we are tired, or bored, or unsure if it’s even something to endure any more. As followers of Christ, we must be bold in our declarations that we love those around us. In the letter cancelling the 1957 general conference, the First Presidency said, “Life is so precious the Lord expects us to do all within our power to conserve it.”
We will get creative when it comes to fellowshipping and ministering to our neighbors, family and friends. As the Prophet has asked, our prayers will include those that are sick, that are searching for a cure, and those that are struggling because of implications outside of the illness itself.
We will be grateful for the opportunity to worship at home, knowing it won’t always be this way. We will sacrifice the things we want right now, knowing that we will get to once again have weddings and baby showers and birthday parties. But if we carry on as normal, there will be people who will never get to have those experiences again.
To those who are trying their best, it may not be enough — but I see your sacrifice. I see you wearing a mask at the grocery store, even though you’re claustrophobic. I see you working from home while your kids do online school. I see you getting takeout and having Zoom gatherings, even though you really need a hug. I see you struggling to keep your family financially afloat after losing a job. I see you struggling with turning down yet another invitation to a family gathering.
Even when this is over, this won’t be over for a lot of people. I see you too. The long-term battle, physically and emotionally will be hard. But I see you. Thank you for your efforts.
— Shelby Hintze is a producer at KSL-TV. She is a member of a downtown Salt Lake City YSA Ward.