I did something I rarely do. I woke up when our dog woke up Anthony to go outside. (In this household, I’m the “parent” that typically sleeps through everything.) Then I couldn’t go back to sleep because I started thinking about the book I was reading before going to bed—The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines. They’re stars of a HGTV show called “Fixer Upper” from Waco, Texas.
I love the show. My friend loaned me the book a few days ago and said she loved it. The book is basically the autobiographical story of their lives and how their marriage and business came to be. It’s an easy and fun read. I only had about 60 pages left when we went to bed.
After I woke up, I thought about my two main takeaways from the book. One was was of their living example of one of my favorite scriptures “Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.”
The other was how Chip Gaines really epitomized one of motivational genius Zig Ziglar’s maxims “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” I don’t know that I’ve noticed a life story depicting that so clearly. And I easily saw the impact that Chip’s lifetime of freely giving had on his life and the life of his family.
I couldn’t stop thinking about their story and long enough to go back to sleep. So I got up and finished the book. I found their story extraordinary, the miracles and hand of God in their lives profound. And I loved that they called their experiences miracles and acknowledged the hand of God.
Needing a Helping Attitude Adjustment
And at 3:00am, I started reflecting on my life.
I like helping others, but at the deepest level, I’m a pretty selfish person. I idolize my time—even if I’m not doing anything with it. I crave the solitude of no demands and no one needing me. I love “non-committal” service which slingshots me out to others and back again.
I’m not proud of the fact that I began to look at some service opportunities as annoyances—like the daily request for other church member’s phone numbers. I mean, we all have easy access to the same directory via an app on our phones or even the church website online. But yet, people ask me for other people’s numbers pretty much every day.
It’s amazing how quickly little requests like these add up to time consuming disturbances in my work day as I try to accommodate needs that I think could be easily solved by the person asking for help. And realizing that they were easily solving their need by asking me to do the work for them felt pretty frustrating.
So I prayed for a helping attitude adjustment. What could I do? The first thought that came involved being a better steward of my time. If I worked in an office, I wouldn’t be so available/responding to my phone so often. I don’t have to be immediately accessible during my workday at home. I felt like the Lord gave me permission to not be constantly accessible.
The second thought that came reminded me that just taking care of requests would take much less time than stewing about how much time it took me. Sometimes I’d listen to voice mails or read texts during a work project time crunch and that triggered me. I’d find myself growing more and more agitated. When I helped the person, it wasn’t actually a big deal at all, but for some reason I’d made it an emotional mountain.
The next few days after praying for help and receiving these and other thoughts, my life was INUNDATED by requests—I need phone numbers, please help me post something on Facebook, I’m experiencing these crises and life events and need help and/or a listening ear, and I need someone who has [fill-in-the-blank] or can do [fill-in-the-blank] or where can I get [fill-in-the-blank].
Being A Good Steward
The first day, I implemented the “I’m not checking my phone during this time frame so I can get some work done” policy. It was just a couple of hours, but I’d gotten so much accomplished!! I felt so happy and productive. I get paid by the job and loved seeing my pay bucket filling so quickly. It also testified to how distracted I really was during my typical work day by being constantly on-call for helping.
When I went to check my phone during check-the-phone time, my phone had totally blown up. Someone had called me every 15 minutes for an hour and a half. So many people needed so many things. Some had texted and messaged and emailed the same thing because I hadn’t responded as quickly as they felt I should. I felt suffocated and claustrophobic.
I kind of laughed because I knew I’d been seeking help and an attitude change for this exact situation. So I took a breath and said a prayer. I felt empowerment. I really do like fixing things. I think I just expect that other people would find some measure of joy in self-reliant fixing of their own problems/discovering those easy solutions, like looking on the directory for a phone number.
With the Holy Ghost’s prompting, instead of seeing just the request, I focused on the person. Oh, I really love her. I love her laugh or [fill-in-the-blank]. I’m so glad she trusted me enough to come to me with this need. Wow, it only took 30 seconds to send her that number. Glad I knew where to find it and could send it to her. I hope I can help her again sometime.
I went through the list and an hour and a half later, turned off my phone again and went back to work.
We’re Here to Help Each Other Learn and Grow
As I followed this routine—make time for work, make time to serve–I’ve noticed the incoming requests have subsided. There are still some phone blow up days, which usually coincide with my busiest work project days, but I’m better equipped to approach those needs and now instead of feeling frustrated, have learned to embrace the very frequent days when I work until after midnight because I served others during my work day.
I’m so grateful to everyone who helped me learn what I needed to learn. Without each and every friend who “participated” during this lesson phase, I wouldn’t have learned my personal, specific, lesson. I’m also grateful for answers to prayer that help me be a better, happier, more productive me. I’m still not perfect in this regard, but I’m better than I was and I know where I want to be.
Incidentally, I still get daily requests for phone numbers. Now I try to think, sweet! I love getting blessings for serving someone when it only takes me 30 seconds to do it! Thank you, friend!
Because “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” And, if they just want a phone number, how easy is that?
The last paragraph in The Magnolia Story is:
“Don’t quit, and don’t give up. The reward is just around the corner. And in times of doubt or times of joy, listen for that still, small voice. Know that God has been there from the beginning—and he will be there until … The End.”
I’m so grateful for “the Lord thy God [who will] lead [me] by the hand, and give [me] answers to [my] prayers.” He’s so invested in our lives, my life, that He sends guidance when I seek direction and counsel on the most obvious and simplest things—things that to Him probably seem like asking for a phone number in a directory I already have.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.