Monday, August 23, 2010
This past week as I prepared a lesson for the YW in our ward, I came across some inspiring words about service. We all know that we feel better about things when we reach out to help others. The following quotes help explain why that is:
"When we are engaged in the service of our fellowmen, not only do our deeds assist them, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective. When we concern ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves! In the midst of of the miracle of serving, there is the promise of Jesus, that by losing ourselves, we find ourselves.
"Not only do we find ourselves in terms of acknowledging guidance in our lives but the more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our soul. We become more significant individuals as we serve others. We become more substantive as we serve others--indeed, it is easier to find ourselves because there is more of us to find." (President Spencer W. Kimball)
Supposing today were your last day on earth,
The last mile of the journey you've trod;
After all of your struggles, how much are you worth,
How much can you take home to God?
Don't count as possessions your silver and gold,
Tomorrow you leave these behind,
And all that is yours to have and to hold
Is the service you've given mankind.
I fully believe in the miracle of service. When I'm hurting, or when life bogs me down, if I do something for someone else, the pain fades, and life seems brighter. It truly does bring joy into our lives when we serve others. That is part of how I survived my father's suicide death 27 years ago next month.
My adventure with the healing power of service began when I was asked to take dinner to an ill woman in our ward. Long story short, I didn't begin this task with the best attitude. Because of the nature of my father's death, I had been feeling like a non-person. Back then there was such a stigma attached to suicide, most people didn't know what to do or say. An example: one day as I walked down the aisle of the local grocery store, I spotted a friend of my parents. I offered a small smile, and saw the panicked look on her face as she whirled her cart around to head in the opposite direction. I would like to say that was a one time occurrence, but I can't. It was a difficult time, and while I tried to understand my sudden plunge into non-personhood, I struggled all the same.
Guilt kept me from declining when I was asked to take dinner into the sick woman's home two months after my father's death. As I angrily chopped up the vegetables for homemade clam chowder, I silently fumed over the unfairness of the situation. That all changed when I entered this woman's home later that day and saw for myself how ill she really was. She was so weak, she needed help to eat. Her home had been neglected because of her illness and while I was there I tidied things up a bit. As I drove home, a piece of the ice-burg developing inside my heart melted. The pain I was feeling lessened, and I realized I was onto something.
After that experience, I began looking for ways to serve others. The more I did for other people, the better I felt inside. It was one of the tools I used to heal from that deep loss. That lifeline saved me from becoming embittered. I will be forever grateful for the lesson learned.
Service does indeed soothe when hearts are shattered. It is a wonderful way to heal and to help those around us who are struggling---proof yet again that a wise and loving Father in heaven is at the helm, and that He knows best how to help us find joy in this troubled world.