I try to live up to my mother’s expectations, I really do. But sometimes I wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew. There are times when I get so overwhelmed by all there is to do, and by the alarmingly short amount of time there is in which to get it all done, that I am almost despairing. It is at moments like these that one of my mother’s quotes come to mind, “There is no rest for the wicked, and the righteous don’t need any.” Groan. Where does that leave me? I swear she must make up these sayings just to frustrate me.
There was a time in my life when I was a single father of four children, struggling to make ends meet after a divorce. I was still a member of our Bishopric, and served as a Home Teacher and as the ward organist. I also taught the High Priests, worked full time, and served at the Bishop’s Storehouse to help work off the assistance I was receiving. Life was insane. There were times I just had to shut my bedroom door and have a good cry. I honestly did not know how I was going to make it from day to day.
The sisters of the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary would have nothing to do with me because I was no longer married. They each told me it was inappropriate for them to be involved in a household without an adult female in it. I had three girls ranging from four to 12 years of age, and I honestly did not know how I was supposed to care for all their feminine needs without some guidance or help. The brothers in the ward treated me like I was still married, and expected me to show up at all their functions and service projects. When I asked them who was supposed to feed my children if I was supposed to be at the Church house at 6:00 p.m., their response was, “Your wife.” Du h.
My point it this, sometimes we feel overwhelmed. Life just does that to us from time to time, but just because we feel unequal to the tasks at hand does not mean we have the liberty to throw in the towel and stop following Christ. To follow Christ means to serve others. Interestingly enough, my fondest memories of that time were the hours spent serving in the Bishop’s Storehouse. My work was menial, and certainly not difficult. What I discovered was that the service provided by those who worked at the Storehouse was the source of strength I needed to make it through another week. At a time when I felt inadequate at everything I did, they treated me with dignity and respect, and showed genuine appreciation for the time I spent there.
To this day, and it has been many years ago now, I weep with gratitude each time I reflect on what that service opportunity meant to me. It saved me. I don’t know if my service really meant much to anyone else, but because I was there where I was supposed to be, their service was able to bless my life with an abundance that was absent in all other aspects of my life at that time.
In the April 2007 General Conference, Henry B. Eyring spoke to those who felt inclined to procrastinate the day of their repentance, as well as to those who felt overwhelmed with life and wanted to throw in the towel and take a break from Church service.
“In the hardest trials, as long as you have the power to pray, you can ask a loving God: “Please let me serve, this day. It doesn’t matter to me how few things I may be able to do. Just let me know what I can do. I will obey this day. I know that I can, with Thy help.””
He went on to say,
“For those who are discouraged by their circumstances and are therefore tempted to feel they cannot serve the Lord this day, I make you two promises. Hard as things seem today, they will be better in the next day if you choose to serve the Lord this day with your whole heart. Your circumstances may not be improved in all the ways which you desire. But you will have been given new strength to carry your burdens and new confidence that when your burdens become too heavy, the Lord, whom you have served, will carry what you cannot. He knows how. He prepared long ago. He suffered your infirmities and your sorrows when He was in the flesh so that He would know how to succor you.” (Henry B. Eyring, This Day, General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, April 2007).
The secret of service, I discovered, is that when we move our focus away from ourselves, and place our care and concern on someone else’s welfare, we receive strength beyond our own to handle our own problems. There is a shift in attitude away from ourselves because we are now focusing on loving someone else. As President Eyring says, our “circumstances may not be improved in all the ways which you desire,” but I know that because of service to others I was able to shoulder my own burdens more effectively. My personal bitterness was healed in part by the soothing balm of kindness shown to me in the very place I was offering service to others.
My mother was right. There is no rest for the wicked, and the righteous don’t need any. What the righteous do is serve, and the Lord helps them shoulder their burdens so more of His work gets done, and those who have chosen to work in partnership with the Lord are blessed beyond measure. But I hope there is room in the Lord’s busy schedule for the occasional nap.
Kelly P. Merrill
Kelly Merrill is semi retired and writes for https://gospelstudy.us. He lives with his wife in Idaho. His strength is being able to take difficult to understand subjects and break them down into understandable parts. He delights in writing about the gospel of Christ. Writing about the gospel is his personal missionary work to the members of the Church and to those of other faiths who are wanting to know more about Christ's gospel and His Church.