I’ve made the comment a few times that, in my calling, I mostly get to work with the people at Church (or not at church, as it were) who are not the standard or stereotypical Mormon ladies— active in callings, married, things are going fine, little kids, whatever. The people who are getting by and doing well typically aren’t the ones that I get to talk to and meet with as much as those who need a little more assistance for whatever reason.
I like this in some ways. It allows me to meet and get to know people I wouldn’t otherwise—and they are great! I love them! But I also don’t get to see or know a lot of the “active” sisters as much, and that is kind of a bummer. It makes me wonder about the parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd. What about the other 99 sheep? What were they doing while the shepherd left to go find that lost one? His energy was focused on that one out of a 100 while the other 99 were just—I don’t know—hanging out, eating, chatting, doing what sheep do? Taking care of themselves?
I think a lot of our lives and our church lives are spent just taking care of ourselves (and others around us, ideally). There are extreme cases and extreme times when the one lost sheep needs to be found. You may be the one called to find it or care for it once it gets back to the herd. It’s all part of being in the flock.
Alma 5:59-60 states another interesting part of being in the flock. It says,
59 For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him.
60 And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed.
So here we are not just talking about a sheep who wanders off from the flock willingly (or out of lack of awareness). This refers to a wolf coming into the flock and actively trying to destroy or devour the sheep in that flock. We can apply this scripture figuratively in many ways. What “wolves” come into our church communities and strive to tear down individual testimonies? And what sort of wolves come into our own minds and try to devour our peace of conscience and rational thinking?
Obviously, there are many. You can think of them on your own time. I want to focus instead of what we do when these wolves come into our church flock or personal minds. What does the scriptures say? Well, it instructs us to drive out the wolf. Destroy the wolf. And, if possible, don’t let any wolves in these safe places in the first place.
Living a successful and spiritually productive life is not a passive experience. We can’t expect to just sit around and come out unscathed. Even if we aren’t wandering off as the lone lost sheep, wolves are ready and waiting to come in and get us in our comfort zones. We have to be active, alert, and ready to fight back.
These principles apply not just to spiritual dangers but also to mental health issues. Passively hoping that things will get better doesn’t usually yield successful results. If we want progress and safety, we have to work for it.