When my eldest was born, I experienced a level of service rendered towards me that I was not familiar with previously. It was the blessing of a home cooked meal brought by friends three times a week for nearly a month. I was not accustomed to such a service. Now, years later, we have been the recipients of countless meals in our family’s time of need.
This came to the forefront of my mind as we were, again, blessed with dinners brought in by friends. I had an unexpected hospital stay last week due to pneumonia. As word spread that I was in the hospital, the well wishes, prayers, offered meals, and requested visits rolled in. I felt so much love. I even had one friend visit me in the hospital and insist on massaging my hands with lotion while she chatted with me. I would have been perfectly content with her company, but her tender service warmed my heart that much more.
It got me thinking about how when I bring a dinner or share one of my husband’s baked goods (yes, my husband bakes), it feels like such an insignificant thing. But when I’m on the receiving end, I am immensely overwhelmed by the love and blessing that comes with that service. The same goes for any service, really.
Years ago, my husband and I were struggling financially and we were sitting at the table one night trying to figure out how to make our food go further for the week before pay day hit. At that same moment, my neighbor texted me to tell me she had a coupon for $20 of groceries that was going to expire that night. She was not going to use it and offered it to me. I’ve often reflected on this event as a testimony that our Heavenly Father knows our every need and the blessings that come from service. A simple service where one person hands over a coupon that they will not use to the person that stands in need of that very thing.
How many times, I wonder, do we think of such services and then get wrapped up in our daily lives and forget where our hands and heart are needed?
Before you spiral downward thinking that you are not being as service-minded as you’d like, think of those small acts of service that go a long way. Giving a smile provides aid to the lonely and giving a call lends hope to the downtrodden. I had a door opened for me once that still has an impact on me. A teenage boy was visiting outside with his friends and saw me through the window about to come out of the restaurant. He had no need to come in to the restaurant I was at. He merely saw my need, as I struggled with my son’s stroller, opened the door and returned to his conversation with his friends. A simple service where this boy looked beyond himself.
I hope to raise my children in such a way that they too will recognize the world around them and how they can help. As I was giving thought to how to go about doing this, I came across two ideas that seemed to be the key to rearing service-minded children. First, expose them to service opportunities in the community.
When I was in high school, I was one of the officers in the Interact Club; an extra-curricular club based on serving the community. We had a couple activities that made an impact on my view of the world, but there is one in particular that stands out. We were assigned to hand out food to those in need at a local church parking lot. It was a drive-thru process and each station had a food group where volunteers would place food in to the cars of those less-fortunate. Naively, I was unaware that so many in the community were dependent on that free food. That act of service taught me about what I truly have in life and what I have to give. We can give of our time, certainly, but we can also give of our sustenance, our joy, and our love. Serving in the community helps us to better understand all that we have and where we are needed.
Another way for our children to learn about the blessing of service is the same as it is for any virtue: lead by example. I learned the great value of a meal being brought in by those who served me. I learned that receiving a cooler filled with snacks, drinks, and toys for your young child when your Mom is dying is surprisingly perfect. I learned that a surprise treat of any size or kind at your door brings uncontrollable joy in the hearts of all those in the home, particularly the children. I learned that special mail deliveries can cheer up even the saddest of hearts. I learned that an unexpected “kidnapping” of your kids so they can have a playdate with friends while you’re stuck home on bed rest will move you to tears of gratitude. And I learned that dollar store care packages are worth much more than the money spent to put them together. I learned these things because others set the example for me.
I am still learning and feel humbled by the myriad of services that have been rendered on my family’s behalf. It may not seem like much when you’re on the giving end. It may seem like just a meal, or just a note, or just a smile, or just a bag of hand-me-downs, but I can assure you, from the recipient’s stand point, you are saving the world one kind deed at a time.