Thoughts and prayers.
They are what we give after tragic events. From victims of mass shootings and natural disasters to our neighbor with breast cancer, thoughts and prayers are shared constantly over social media, text messages and even the pulpit.
These thoughts and prayers are valuable, but there are times when they should be paired with action.
One of my grandmothers struggled with severe health challenges from a young age. As my mom was growing up, my grandmother’s body was slowly giving up. She lost both her legs and became extremely frail and weak. Life was a constant struggle. Although she was not a member of the Church, the ward that her husband and daughter attended embraced her.
The ward thought about her and prayed for her, but these thoughts and prayers were accompanied by action. My grandmother was the recipient of hundreds of acts of service. The acts of service ranged from sewing a quilt to a young girl writing a note. Perhaps the most meaningful gift was simply a listening ear and a friend. Although each act may have been small, these gifts all together made a significant impact.
In fact, my grandmother ended up deciding to join the Church.
It was the thoughts and prayers combined with action that had an impact.
My mom says she often feels overwhelmed. Sometimes all she can do is think and pray. My mom is one of the most service–oriented people I know. This might sound cheesy, but her thoughts and prayers have inspired some of the most remarkable acts of love I have ever seen. However, she can’t do it all, and that’s okay. No one needs to do it all, but everyone can do something.
There are times when we can act. When those times come, our social media posts should be followed up by acts of service. And sometimes we don’t even need to post about it at all.
Our prayers and thoughts should lead us to find what we can do. After posting on social media about a horrible disaster, consider donating the couple of dollars you would have spent on soda to a charity. If your heart hurts after traveling to a third world country, find ways to help after the photo op. If an older woman in relief society shares a story about struggling with loneliness, pay her a visit. After you pray for a struggling friend to know that they are loved, call and tell them you love them. Even if they’re small, our simple actions can have a big impact. We don’t have to do everything to do something.
There is nothing wrong with posting thoughts and prayers on Facebook or changing your profile picture to include the flag of a country that just experienced a terrorist attack. But there must come a time when we choose to act, whether in a big or small way. Use those thoughts and prayers to ponder what your mission is. Then act. There may be times this act is big, other times it might be small. Sometimes you may be the receiver of service.
In the end, it is when we allow our thoughts and prayers to inspire action that powerful change comes.