I’ve learned a lot about myself the last couple of months. I’ve learned how an entire ward (LDS local congregation) can come together and serve. I’ve learned (again) the meaning of charity. Sometimes our prayers are answered in ways we don’t expect and can’t comprehend. One such prayer was answered for me recently. I thought I was praying for something very simple, but it turned out Heavenly Father had a much greater plan. He had work for me to do. He wanted me to serve. I’m still in the process of letting it all play out, but the last couple of months have been a real growth experience for me.
Growing sometimes takes hard work. The kind of growth Heavenly Father thought I needed has taken more work than I ever could have imagined. I’ve learned that old people with back backs, bad ankles, arthritis, frozen shoulders, and insomnia can do hard things. I also learned that Heavenly Father isn’t ready to write me off yet. He still expects things from me. There is still work for me to do. I’m not getting off with a free ride in my “golden years.”
This is a very peaceful time in our lives. Our children are raised, we are both retired, we are in relatively good health aside from the general aches and pains that go hand in hand with aging, and we are enjoying spending time together. In such times it is easy to become complacent in our service to others. While I never consciously thought that my time of service was done, I wasn’t actively looking for opportunities either.
So I was a bit overwhelmed when Heavenly Father dumped an opportunity in my lap and the Spirit strongly prompted me to do something about it. I have often said that the Holy Ghost doesn’t whisper to me as we hear so often; he yells at me. By that I mean that He puts things so plain in front of my eyes that there is no denying what I am supposed to do. This time was no different. I knew that my service was needed, and there was no denying what was expected of me.
When this happens to me, it is never convenient and certainly not desired. Because of my stubborn nature, the Holy Ghost doesn’t give me any wiggle room. I don’t have the option of thinking, “Is this what I’m really supposed to do, or is this just a passing thought?” There is no doubt. I have agency, but to deny the truth of the assignment would be like denying the Holy Ghost.
I have never been disappointed or let down for following promptings to serve. As hard as it can sometimes be, the blessings far outweigh the effort. The last couple of months my heart has been expanded to love one of God’s little ones—even if for a brief moment in time. In addition, I’ve formed a lasting friendship with a woman I previously knew only casually. While I will never know the long-term effects of my service, I can see the short-term effects. Heavenly Father has allowed me to help shape the life of one of His precious children.
Great things are wrought through simple and small things. Like the small flecks of gold that accumulate over time into a large treasure, our small and simple acts of kindness and service will accumulate into a life filled with love for Heavenly Father, devotion to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a sense of peace and joy each time we reach out to one another (Elder M. Russell Ballard, “Finding Joy through Loving Service,” Apr. 2011 General Conference).
Notice that Elder Ballard said, “a life filled with love . . . [and] devotion.” He didn’t qualify that to say a life until you reach retirement, or a life until you reach your golden years. God needs and expects us to be anxiously engaged in good works every day of our lives. We are to endure to the end.
As we look for opportunities to serve others, we must remember there are two types of service; selfish and selfless. We don’t serve for recognition from the world, nor do we serve so we can pat ourselves on the back. We serve because we love God, and we love our neighbors. Love is always the key.
Selfless service projects are people-to-people projects. They are face-to-face, eye-to-eye, voice-to-ear, heart-to-heart, spirit-to-spirit, and hand-in-hand, people-to-people projects.
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Selflessness is righteousness. It embraces the true spirit of companionship. It is the very essence of friendship. It is the portrayer of true love and oneness in humanity. Its reward is the freeing of the soul, a nearness to divinity, a worthiness for the companionship of the Spirit. Every requirement that God’s plan for our salvation places upon us is based on the giving of one’s self.
The only way under the heavens whereby a person can be sanctified is in selfless service (Elder William R. Bradford, “Selfless Service,” Oct. 1987 General Conference).
So there you have it. Selfless service that is rooted in love is how we grow and are sanctified. We must give selflessly of ourselves in order to grow and become Christ-like. Isn’t that the Zion we are attempting to create? Love. Serve. Do good in the world. Grow. Be sanctified.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.