"What can I do to help you?” It was a question I asked in my prayers to Heavenly Father almost a year ago. I didn’t realize that the answer to my prayer would come in the way, nor as quickly, as it did. With the answer came some very big and necessary changes to my life.
Just a few weeks after that prayer, my husband, Scott, and I were talking. Our 2 children, our brand new baby boy, and our then 2-year-old daughter, were taking a nap. Of course, we used up that small span of time while they were asleep to talk about them the whole. entire. time. The conversation got deep rather quickly, and we talked about how our kids would grow up and eventually be “big people” with “big people problems.” (Cue emotional mama here.) We talked about how as much as we want to protect our children from the dangers of the world, we knew they would eventually grow up, make their own choices, and face challenges—many beyond our control. However, we realized we did have control over a few things. We had control over how we would live, which would be their example. We also had control over what we taught them now, which would hopefully help them when trials came.
We then faced the big question, what do we want them to remember when the hard times come? At the core we realized we want them to learn of their loving Savior, Jesus Christ. We wanted them to remember that no matter the trial, they always have that potential within them to make a difference, to be kind to others, and to serve—just like Jesus Christ did in His life here on earth. The potential for each of us to be truly charitable is never lost.
That conversation about our children was the turning point. Though I didn’t fully realize it at that time, Heavenly Father was answering my prayer through the conversation with my husband. Out of that conversation, my husband and I then felt prompted, inspired, and led to spread this message, not just to our children, but to others. We decided we wanted to spread this message to as many people as we could, and especially to those going through some of the harshest realities of life and finding themselves in the darkest of places. The message of charity and serving others seems so simple, but is so needed in this world, because so many of us have forgotten about the light we have to do good. Through trials, it can be so easy for our light to get buried. We have all experienced it, including me. We must remember our light.
Eventually, my husband and I began talking about starting a nonprofit. Had we ever thought about starting a nonprofit before? No. Did we have any clue as to how to start a nonprofit? No. Was it scary and intimidating and seemed impossible? YES. But we did know two things:
1) We felt strongly that we needed to do this, even if it was difficult, and
2) We would strive to let Heavenly Father guide us through prayer, with Jesus Christ as our example to know how to make decisions and move forward.
This quote by Ezra Taft Benson about the Savior seemed to lead our way,
“Choose to follow Him. Change for Him. Be captained by Him.”
We decided that with these two points we had enough to move forward, and were committed to letting God lead us in our desires.
In September of 2014, just a few months after having that initial prayer, we established Project Lead Kindly as an official nonprofit in Southern California. Our mission is to assist mothers and children who have been affected by domestic violence and homelessness. We do this by raising funds to allow them to achieve educational or professional goals, as well as safer/permanent housing that will help them leave a life of abuse and homelessness. In addition, we spread that message that all can “lead kindly,” no matter what. This one message, inspired by a simple conversation about our kids and our desire to follow the Savior’s footsteps, is spread as my husband and I go around to support groups, domestic violence centers, homeless shelters, conferences, workshops, and other events, and we strive to remind any and all people that they can still do great things, no matter what life has thrown at them.
Since starting in September, with God’s grace we have raised thousands of dollars to help mothers & children in need and to bring our message to as many people as possible. We have connected with numerous shelters throughout southern California to bring our services to them and are still growing. We have seen how the “lead kindly” message has touched the lives of people going through difficulties, big and small. Our message has been spread to hundreds of people through our presentations and through social media. The past few months have been a whirlwind, but I can only say that it is truly by the hand of God that things are growing the way they are. It certainly could not be where it is today without Him. Heavenly Father is answering my prayer, “What can I do to help you?” in every aspect of this journey.
I know that prayer works and God is real. I know He is ready to help us at any time to become better people. So often, I find myself asking in my prayers, “Heavenly Father, can I have this to help me? Can you please bless me with this?” (Which is, for the most part, okay as Heavenly Father truly is gracious and answers prayers!) However, it is when I remember that there are ways I could help Heavenly Father and ask instead, “What can I do to help you?” my life changes for the better. Whenever I have prayed to know His will, and then acted on those answers—no matter how crazy or impossible they may seem—I am the happiest I have ever been.
Charity, in the greatest sense of the word, is striving to follow God’s will.
The Savior, Jesus Christ, is my biggest example of this. I am in awe when I think of Him on the night before He died and He prayed to His father saying, “Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” It was not an easy thing for Him to die on the cross for us, to atone for our sins, to take upon Him every heart ache, sorrow, pain, hardship, difficulty, and challenge everyone would ever face. But He did it. When He said “thy will be done” to His Father, He set the example for us. I know I will never come close to being perfect as the Savior was, but I just know I want to try to be like Him.
If you are seeking God’s help in how you can be more charitable, or wondering how you can fulfill your role here on earth, or what you can do more to participate in good works, I can truly testify that prayer works, and Heavenly Father will help you find the answers to those questions. He will help you know how to use talents you have, and talents you don’t even realize you have, to be more charitable, to serve others, and to help in His work. I know firsthand that asking God with a sincere heart will help you find the answers you are seeking.
“We do not need to achieve some minimum level or capacity of goodness before God will help—divine aid can be ours every hour of every day.”
— D. Todd Christofferson
I now understand a little more about why having charity is a commandment, and why “loving one another” was Jesus’ greatest commandment. I believe it’s because it uplifts each of us. It’s because it draws us closer to being more like the Savior himself. It’s because it’s how people, who may not even know anything about God or Jesus Christ, can actually catch a glimpse of the love God and the Savior have for them. We may fall short of being just like Christ, but I believe true charity gives all of us—both those who give and those who receive—the opportunity to move closer to the Savior. Charity helps each of us to feel the presence of God, even for a just a moment. Charity helps Heavenly Father in His work and in His plan. There are things He wants all His children to know, and we can all be direct instruments to help Him.
What purpose we have in doing the Lord’s work. How much good we can do! We may feel we don’t have many talents or cannot contribute much, but I have seen personally, and I know without a doubt, that God provides a way. He will help you to accomplish things that seem far beyond your capacity. He will show you talents and skills you never even realized you had! You become a better person through charity, and in turn, you also help others to become better. He will place you in the lives of people who are seeking light and need you to shine yours for them. No matter what challenges you face in your day to day lives, remember this light within you and find ways to share it with all you come in contact with.
Therefore, let YOUR LIGHT so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.”
— 3 Nephi 12:16
Pamela Macdonald and her husband are the founders of Project Lead Kindly (on instagram @projectleadkindly)which provides service and grants to mothers and children affected by homelessness and domestic violence. You can connect with Pamela on her blog over at That Mormon Couple(www.thatmormoncouple.com), and on instagram at @thatmormoncouple,where she shares her testimony of Christ, understanding on what it's like being Mormon, as well as stories of how her faith drives her family and the decisions they make.