I’ve been watching the terrible and almost non-stop disasters in our world. They just keep growing. As I’ve watched the news with growing heartache, I have noticed something: amidst all the terror, destruction, and chaos, I have seen people reaching out in love and giving service to others.
I vicariously witnessed hurricane Harvey as my friend survived it and wrote about it on her blog. I was shocked by the images on TV. So much flooding! But as time passed, people came out of the woodwork to help each other. I saw people taking their own boats out into the flooded areas to rescue those stranded by rushing waters.
Children were carried to safety on makeshift boats, and even pets were rescued by kind-hearted strangers. The stories are numerous. I admire those who have helped clean up the homes of neighbors and strangers. Their Christlike example humbles me.
Right after Harvey, several of my friends and family endured Hurricane Irma in Florida. It hit with a ferocity that scared me and brought me to my knees. I remember praying strongly for my family and friends living there, and I am so grateful that all of them reported that things were not as bad as they had expected. There was a lot of destruction, but few lives were lost.
After the storm passed, I saw a similar response of overwhelming service as people helped clean out destroyed homes and clear broken trees. Then, of course, we’ve had the horrible fires across the West Coast that left many, many homes destroyed. I pray those affected have been blessed with support and love from their neighbors.
Service is Important
As these disasters continue one after another, I am reminded of the words of President Spencer W. Kimball as he spoke about the importance of service. He said:
“Service to others deepens and sweetens this life while we are preparing to live in a better world. It is by serving that we learn to serve. When we are engaged in the service of our fellowmen, not only do our deeds assist them, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective. When we concern ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves! In the midst of the miracle of serving, there is the promise of Jesus that by losing ourselves, we find ourselves!
The Lord does notice us, and He watches over us. But it is usually through another person that He meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other. The righteous life is achieved as we magnify our view of life, and expand our view of others and of our own possibilities. Thus, the more we follow the teachings of the Master, the more enlarged our perspective becomes. We see many more possibilities for service than we would have seen without this magnification. There is great security in spirituality, and we cannot have spirituality without service!” (Emphasis added)
Service Blessed Me
Service has held a special place in my life. When I was in college, I went through a terrible time of loneliness. I was depressed and being two thousand miles from home, I felt lost—so I visited with my Bishop (the leader of our congregation). He suggested that I find someone to serve.
My best friend and I decided to visit the local nursing home and visit. We were so blessed to meet a wonderful woman named Agnes. She was in her 90s and had terrible osteoporosis. Her back was so bent that we sat on the floor so that she could see us from her chair. She had an amazing sense of humor. We loved hearing stories from her childhood—her family had a farm, and she had a lot of adventures. She didn’t have any family nearby either, so we became her foster granddaughters.
We made it a regular thing to go see Agnes. We sang with her, talked with her, and mostly just laughed. Then one Sunday when we went to see Agnes, her room was empty. The staff hadn’t had a way to contact us, and we had no warning that Agnes had passed away until that moment. It was a terrible shock! As we drove home, we realized something: our friendship with Agnes had cured our homesickness. We no longer felt sad and lost. Instead, we felt purpose in our lives again.
Services Blesses the Giver and Receiver
Though we mourned Agnes, we were so grateful for the gift she had given us. We had gone to the nursing home to serve her, but in reality, she had served us—and we had all been lifted by the experience. Now every time I feel like my life needs more direction, I remember the council of my bishop. I remember Agnes. Then I look for opportunities to serve.
If you are experiencing tragedy or heartache in your life, I pray you will feel the love our Savior and Heavenly Father have for you. I fear these disasters are not going to slow down as the time of the Savior’s coming draws nearer. President Kimball gave the talk I quoted on service back in 1981, and his council is needed now more than ever. So let’s step forward and be an example of the believers. Let’s make sure this world has as much good in it as possible—through our examples and faithfulness.
Article was previously published on Abby’s page at Patheos.com
Abby is capable and caring. She is learning more about Autism and parenthood every day. And even though she is the first to admit she makes a lot of mistakes, she is so grateful to be on this journey. She comes from a family with many autistic members. She invites us to join her, as she shares her adventures. She wishes to emphasize that Autism is a difference not a defect. If you or a family member have autism, Abby wants you to know that this isn't a bad thing. And you or your loved one are not sick or broken. Together we will teach the world this new language.