Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blessings of Service

This is exciting to me. Check out my goals:
  1. Monthly Creation
  2. More Baking/Cooking
  3. Learn Hairstyles
  4. Practice More/Find More Harp Students
  5. Monthly Anonymous Service
  6. Read More
  7. Marathon Training
Check, check, check, check, erm...checkish, check, check. :) 

My anonymous service hasn't been anonymous. But I can tell you I have a lot of desire to serve in my heart! :D There was one Sunday forever ago when I overheard a family discussing the difficulties of having the father-in-law move into their home, and I decided I would bring them dinner. And to make it "anonymous," I had an exciting plan for pretending that someone else had asked me to deliver the dinner so that they would remain anonymous--you get it? I deliver the dinner and pretend someone else made it. Isn't that silly? It sounded like fun to me, and I really wanted to do that for them. But the next day, Michael came down with pneumonia, and the day after that, we all followed suit. 
That's only one instance. There have been so many times (so many!) that I have decided on a service to do for someone, and then rather frustratingly, my plans have been thwarted. It's not just a matter of finding the time to make it happen-- I would honestly become unable to do whatever it was I had planned. Every time, I've prayed to Heavenly Father and just expressed my desire to serve. I would pray for the person or family I'd intended to help, and I hoped that someday I would be able to offer my service. 

Somehow this month, a month that is financially harder than any previous months, I have been blessed to be able to serve. Michael home teaches a family whose baby died on Sunday morning. Hearing that news broke my heart. I grieved for them, I cried during Sacrament Meeting and almost during primary. I ached to do something for them. 
I know that when a family member or friend dies, there are few things that comfort. But the things that do are things I can always offer-- testimony, the promise of eternal life and eternal families, and a reminder of the empathy and love of the Savior. So after church, feeling heavy in my heart with grief for the death of their tiny baby boy, only 7 months old, I walked prayerfully to their home. When I hugged Debbie, we cried together a little bit. She worried that sometimes she didn't seem to have any faith, and I assured her that I can see her faith. With little other comfort to offer, I bore my testimony that she will be with Christopher again. It wasn't as though she didn't know that, but understandably, hearing it from others and hearing it often helps to strengthen what faith is there. 
Life has a way of pressing heavily on us when we are struggling to cope with death. Suddenly all of the requirements that used to be nothing more than the daily grind feel impossible, because we wonder why it matters and has to keep going while our minds want to stop. Grief is all-encompassing. So, as "little" a service as it might have been, I brought dinner on Monday night. It was simple, and possibly not enough for their large family. But it helped at least a little bit. I also brought cinnamon bread, which could help with breakfast. On Tuesday, I came to pick up the dinner dish (with a request that she not worry about washing it) and brought two loaves of homemade sandwich bread that could help with lunch. Each time I visited with Debbie, we talked about the difficulties of accepting Christopher's absence. She keeps wanting to carry him in his carseat, forgetting out of habit that it's not in the car anymore. The children went to school crying, and with wide eyes they tell everyone they see that their baby died. But Debbie also smiles. She jokes a little. She is maintaining a gospel perspective. And for all other judgment anyone could pass on her, she is a faithful woman. 
Tonight I am bringing rolls for the funeral dinner (the reason I "practiced" on Tuesday). Our neighbor Lindsay will babysit the kids. Michael will play the prelude and other songs on the piano, and I will accompany Debbie's girls on the harp with "I Am a Child of God." 

It is so healing and lifting to serve. As much as grief is successful in grasping the heart with a tight grip, charity has a way of gently peeling those fingers away, swelling until the hearts of both the giver and receiver are soothed. Walking back from their house, I actually felt like my heart had grown. I feel so grateful to finally be able to serve others in addition to my family. It has brought such a blessing of love and compassion for me, and I know that Debbie's family feels our love. 

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