When you hear the words “Compassionate Service” what comes to mind? This is like one of those word association games- just go with your gut feeling. Macaroni and cheese? Sign up sheets? Relief Society Board Meeting? A calling you hated (or loved)?
I’ve always loved the theme “Charity Never Faileth.” I like scriptures about charity. I like the warm fuzzies of taking dinner to someone with a new baby. I value the opportunities I’ve been given to hold the hands of the sick and dying, whether I knew them well or not. Being there at the crossroads of life and death- that is powerful.
Of course compassionate services isn’t all heavy stuff- sometimes it’s just giving someone a ride to the storehouse or watching their kids or picking up a pack of diapers or scrubbing someone’s toilet when they are moving out of their apartment. Once members of our ward literally rebuilt the decrepit home of a woman in our ward. That part was somehow not Compassionate Service though, but an Elder’s Quorum Service Project. And men who like to cook are generally out of luck, since the sign up sheets for meals get passed around in Relief Society.
Is the errand of angels really (only) given to women? Is food preparation somehow a female skill in God’s eyes? Can men be gentle and human? Should young women who like power tools be pointed towards sewing machines instead of circular saws? I wonder if the delineation is purely cultural or a matter of personal preference (how many women in my ward would have wanted to mud drywall with the guys?) or if it’s a chicken and the egg situation.
How could our wards and stakes be more inclusive and equitable when it comes to opportunities to serve?