Merriam Webster defines self reliance as "reliance on one's own efforts and abilities." This definition is preached from the pulpit, used to guilt people into shame for not being perfect, spoken in derision to those who have less that others and are considered "lazy". This is NOT the side of self reliance that I want to talk about. I think we all get that.
The side of self reliance that I would like to discuss is the side that involves covenants. When you are baptized, you are making a covenant with God that you will do what Jesus would do. We covenant that we "are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:9). Basically, this means that part of being self reliant, aka keeping covenants, is to help others as they struggle to do the same. We cannot just sit and look down on those who are having a hard time and do nothing. We cannot expect for them to just lift themselves up with absolutely no help.
WE are the Savior's hands on the Earth. We COVENANTED to be so. If we won't help, nobody will help. This means that the Atonement is not able to be fully utilized in the lives of those who are struggling. That will be counted against us, especially if we have ignored promptings from the Spirit.
Now, some may say that people should tell us when they need help, and tell us specifics. I reject that assumption. If we are keeping our covenants, aka being self reliant, then we have the Spirit to guide us. Following the Spirit's promptings is part of being self reliant. When we expect others to tell us what to do, then we are NOT being self reliant. Doctrine & Covenants 58:26 states, "For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward." When we do nothing, we gain nothing.
Again, some may say that their service is not wanted or appreciated. I say, so what? Neither was the Savior's service. Even His greatest gift, the Atonement, goes unwanted and unappreciated on a daily basis. Are we any better than He? Absolutely not. ANYTIME we do good, it is counted for our good with God. Anytime we do nothing, especially after we are prompted, it will be counted against us.
One last excuse I have heard is the time thing. You know, the "I don't have time to do my own thing, let alone help others do theirs!" thing. I reject this, as well. There is plenty of time to do what God expects of us. He makes it possible. If we don't ever seem to have time, it is a priorities issue, not a time issue.
I'm not saying that any of us will be 100% perfect about acting on promptings, especially when it's towards someone we know will take it the wrong way, I'm just saying that's not really an excuse to do nothing. Same with the time excuse. When we trust God, there will be time and there will be good will. I hold myself responsible for this, as well. It's my motivation to ACT when prompted, even when it's hard. I'm not perfect at this, but I am trying.
Well, those are my thoughts for today. I leave you with a question--how self reliant are you really? I know that I will be thinking about this and changing my life accordingly. It will be specific for each of us, but I invite you to join me!