Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind. — Joseph Smith 

It begins with my mother.  She was a social worker turned homeless person who passed on her wisdom and insights and many gifts to my sister and myself. 

Twenty years of dealing with mental illness and homelessness does something to you.  You vow never to let that happen on your watch again.

It’s not about making people weaker through enabling them to continue in destructive lifestyles.  It’s about making them stronger through tough love and learning to help them where they are, balancing seeing them as they could be with not expecting them to be there quite yet.

Take them by the hand, and watch over them in tenderness

This stuff isn’t easy.  I made mistakes and offended people and got discouraged many times.  When I was released from being Relief Society President, I darned near left the church!  I have a whole series of articles that could go under the header, ‘Rescuing a Relief Society President’… and by the way, two years later, it’s clear that the cause was not heavy service but my own pride and personal failings, and I’m doing much better, now, thank you!

Anyway, I hope this blog will help many, many ward members and Relief Society Presidents and welfare workers of many different faiths and persuasions help those they serve.

God bless you!

Teresa

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