I am blessed enough to be married to someone who never shirks an opportunity for service. My 6 siblings and I were raised by parents who tirelessly served us. For years I worked alongside teachers who literally lost themselves in the service of their students. I’ve had my own life touched by selfless service and witnessed countless other examples of service through my life. Do you know what one thing I have noticed every person who serves has in common? They’re happy.
Oh, their lives aren’t perfect. They’re not free from trials or momentary unhappiness. But, when they’re engaged in service, they are so filled with joy, that they exude happiness. Their minds become clearer, their burdens lighter; for all of us, our problems miraculously diminish.
One of the keys to obtaining personal happiness is serving others.
“One of the great lessons of life and keys to personal success is forgetting ourselves in the service of others.”Kevin Pearson
Maybe there isn’t such thing as selfless service. For how can we call something that blesses our own lives so immensely “selfless”?
“One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.”Gordon B. Hinckley
Yes, we might perform a physical act of service for someone, momentarily shoulder their burden, or ease their heartache. But at the same time, don’t our own hearts swell with gratitude, love, and joy? Who is happier, the giver or the receiver?
Service can be anything from the simplest few words of encouragement, a thoughtful compliment, a sincere and heartfelt thank you; to a greater dedication of our time.
Summer in Florida is always an adventure. Every year we get to play the Hurricane Waiting Game. Social Media can make this game much more…lively.
This past year, as we watched to see if one hurricane would make landfall in our area, I read on Facebook, someone’s simple plea that God would bless those in the path of the storm. Someone else replied that if God existed, there wouldn’t be any hurricanes.
I shared this exchange with my husband who gently gave the best response. “What happens”, he asked, “when tragedies like a hurricane strike”? I remembered our own experience and that of countless others who left their own homes and helped rebuild and repair the homes of strangers. “People begin to serve others”, I responded. And that is where God lives.
We go through each and every day focused on ourselves, our own needs and agendas, barely pausing to think of what we could do for another. When tragedies arise, it can bring out the very best in us. It helps us see opportunities for service, which are ultimately, just opportunities to love.
“As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.”Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Service, whether it be grand or simple, reminds us that we are anything but alone in this life. We are blessed to have the comfort of others, and we are also responsible to help them.
From a Christian Perspective
“A story is told that during the bombing of a city in World War II, a large statue of Jesus Christ was severely damaged. When the townspeople found the statue among the rubble, they mourned because it had been a beloved symbol of their faith and of God’s presence in their lives.
“Experts were able to repair most of the statue, but its hands had been damaged so severely that they could not be restored. Some suggested that they hire a sculptor to make new hands, but others wanted to leave it as it was—a permanent reminder of the tragedy of war. Ultimately, the statue remained without hands. However, the people of the city added on the base of the statue of Jesus Christ a sign with these words: ‘You are my hands.’” Dieter F. Uchtdorf (“You Are My Hands”)
“We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us.”Thomas S. Monson
Does God have the ability to be anywhere and do anything He chooses? Of course. But, why would He? A loving Father would never deprive His children of the blessings and the responsibility to serve one another. Through service we learn:
…I could go on and on. If I could teach my children all those things at once, I would. And, I do, through service.
The Service Cure
In addition to being the greatest teacher, service is also the best cure for whatever it is that ails us. Feeling lost? Depressed? Lonely? Anxious? All these things can be cured through service.
When my daughter was just 5 years old, she started speaking badly of herself. She ran a continuous stream of negative thought through her mind. I didn’t know how to make her stop, and I reached out to my mother for help. My mother’s answer was simple: teach her to serve.
When our spirits are filled with compassion for the less fortunate, when our minds are focused on how we can brighten another’s day, there isn’t space for negativity. It’s as if the light cast from the love, compassion, and joy we feel eliminates the feelings of doubt, sorrow, or despondency that live in the shadowy places of our hearts and minds.
Service replaces doubt with determination, anxiety with humility, and sorrow with joy.
What Can I Do?
Simple acts of service never fail to brighten the lives of the recipient, of the giver, and therefore, the world.
“When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”The Book of Mormon, Mosiah 2:17
I have learned over the years that we have to be seekers of service. When we sincerely open our eyes to find ways to serve, they will present themselves to us in abundance. We will find that there is always someone in need of a helping hand or a kind word that walks through our daily path.
We have to earnestly seek to replace our thoughts that revolve around our own needs, wants, and expectations with how we can help to lift another today.
I promise our reward is in the service we give others. As stated above, the irony of service is that as we stop worrying about our own needs to care for another, our burdens will be lifted. When we stop thinking about our stresses and try to put a smile on another’s face, our spirits are lifted.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.”Charles Dickens
Light the World
The world is in desperate need of those willing to serve. No matter how big or small, everyone needs help.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”(The Holy Bible, KJV, Matt. 5:16.)
This Christmas season, spread joy and love through service. It will, in turn, make your own holiday brighter.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds their annual “Light the World” campaign every year. It is a tradition my family and I love to celebrate. It helps replace the greed and selfish mindsets that can sometimes invade our homes with inspiration and encouragement to live as Christ—whose birth we are celebrating—would have us live.
My favorite part this year of the “Light the World” campaign is the daily service prompts we have signed up to receive through text. Not only do they put a smile on my face every day, but they make me think, “I never thought of that as service before”!
To sign up, or to simply read more about how you can serve more this Christmas, visit: ComeUntoChrist.org.
Find Your Joy
Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year, or just any other regular day of the week, finding an opportunity to serve will help you find your joy.
Whatever your particular struggle: feeling worthless, overwhelmed, or just plain tired, service will restore your mental health, invigorate your body, and brighten your spirit. It will help you find joy.