Service comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be planned and coordinated or a simple phone call to say “Hi. How are you?” Sometimes we get stuck thinking of service as an all-consuming activity, one that no one has the time or money to do. But I bet if you really think about it, you are already serving in your daily life and you just didn’t realize it.
I love service. In high school I dedicated myself to over 400 hours (when you want to go to college you calculate that business) doing a number of different things. But I will tell you, I never once thought about what I was going to get out of it in the end. My only thought was that I had the ability to help someone. I was a volunteer swim coach, I did Habitat for Humanity, Christmas in October. And those are just the biggest ones I can think of almost 10 years later. And though I have less “free time” to dedicate to such large service ventures, I still try to serve someone I care about and especially someone I don’t even know whenever I recognize an opportunity.
Some of the easiest things I find I’m able to do to serve people outside my immediate family are cooking for them or offering to watch their kids if they need some time alone. Personally, I have found the little things we fit in day to day are the ones that can make the greatest impact overall.
When we find ourselves left to our own devices we often think we have to do it all. And the longer we live with that way of thinking, the more we come to believe those around us should be completely self-sufficient as well. I, myself, have recently been reminded of my own need to do everything on my own. This pregnancy has not been easy for me, and I’ve spent much of the last 8 weeks laid up. Cleaning and making meals have almost entirely fallen to the side in the interest of my own self-preservation; and BJ is just doing everything he can to take care of me and Sweet Girl, while attempting to meet our very basic needs. But thanks to wonderful family (I am so grateful they live nearby) and a fabulous ward family we have been the recipients of some life-changing service.
For as long as I can remember my life has followed a similar pattern. Offer service to those I meet, in whatever capacity they may need at the time. But don’t ever ask for help because I should be able to take care of my own needs. I don’t know why I’ve always struggled with this mindset. This was even true immediately after giving birth to Sweet Girl. With all my hormones still being wonky I felt great. I would get tired pretty quickly but I would still get bursts of energy and would feel the need to do the dishes and laundry and cleaning and cooking. Good grief. I can recognize now, though, that I hindered my own healing by not letting many people provide the service I so desperately needed.
I’ve finally (as in just last weekend) realized just how important service is to the recipient. It’s one thing to understand intellectually what service can provide, but to feel it yourself, to understand the emotional and spiritual significance is something that cannot be created by anything else. The simple act of two wonderful ladies coming to our home to clean the bathrooms and kitchen while BJ got some much deserved quality time with our Sweet Girl and I got to rest easy knowing the cleaning was taken care of was more uplifting that I can even put into words.
When I think of the word service I immediately think of the word humility. It takes a humble man to serve his neighbor. Serving your neighbor will also help to build a humble man. It is wonderful how thoughtful our Heavenly Father was in creating this world. And we can show him just how much we love him for it by being humble and becoming humble in serving those we love, care about, and see in need.
Service is easy. Share a meal. Watch your friends children for an hour. Help them clean. Water their plants. Walk their dog. Offer a kind word. The list is absolutely endless. Don’t overthink it. Just do it.