In a previous article, I mentioned that my husband and I are doing the twelve months of Christmas. Over the last 18 months, we have done a minimum of one act of service as a birthday present for the Savior. Usually, it is much more than the minimum. Each month has been different. Some months we give service that requires a lot of time and effort, and other months we purchase and donate things on the “wish list” for certain charitable organizations. We might make some sandwiches and go feed some homeless people, or we might make a cash contribution to a charitable organization. We have decorated graves and picked up trash in a cemetery. We have taken elderly people to doctor appointments. Some of our service has been within our own family. We have done quite a variety of things, and some projects take more planning, time, and physical effort than others. I wasn’t sure how long we would be able to keep this up, but being a helper has become something to look forward to doing every month.
I was not expecting to gain anything from this, but it has had a significant impact on our lives. My husband has always been my example of Christlike service. His whole life has been dedicated to quiet service to others. I have given service, but to be completely honest, it has never been a priority in my life. I don’t want to say that I’ve only served when it is convenient, because that’s not the case, but I haven’t always gone out of my way to find ways to serve.
Many people have said that we are the Savior’s hands. While I understand the sentiment, it’s not my favorite. In light of the torturous things that happened to the Savior, His hands are sacred to me. I prefer to think of myself as His helper rather than His hands. When I was a little girl, I played a game that I called “fairy.” I pretended to be a good fairy who cleaned someone’s room, dusted the living room, or washed the dishes without being asked. My mother sometimes referred to me as her little helper. As an adult, admittedly with a huge imagination, I get a kick out of being Christ’s “little helper.”
My faith grows stronger as I serve. I don’t know how or why this happens and I’m not even sure it matters. I just know that it does. I connect more with the Savior when I serve. My mind is more in tune. I listen more for promptings from the Holy Ghost. My actions are more in line with Christ’s teachings. My thoughts are centered on the gospel and on others. I feel closer to my Heavenly Father and His Son.
Another incredible change through this process is my level of happiness. I am a happier person when I serve. Again, I don’t know why this happens, and I guess it really doesn’t matter. I’m not going to overanalyze it. I’m merely choosing to make the observation.
Last month, the organization we chose to purchase items for was not located in our city. It wasn’t that far away, but we made a pleasant day trip out of it. It was a nice way to serve and get out of town at the same time. There’s nothing that says that giving service has to be drudgery.
My dad used to say that you can make a game out of anything. He tried to make work fun. When foam window cleaner came on the market, he drew funny pictures or messages on the windows with the cleaner before wiping it off. He mowed the lawn in circles or patterns for fun. He made radish roses when making a salad. My nephew tells the story of being ten years old and having fun cleaning the leach lines to the septic tank at our old family cabin with his grandpa (my dad). If there was a way to make work fun, Dad found it.
My husband and I have had lots of fun over the last year and a half with our service projects. Even the planning process has been fun. There are more ways to serve that we have time, energy, and funds. The process of deciding where to place our energy can be a game.
I’m glad we made giving service as a birthday gift to Christ a priority in our lives. Our gift isn’t wrapped in pretty paper, but we are giving from our hearts. As with all gifts, the giver is often the real receiver.
“We are often more concerned with how many followers and likes we have than with putting an arm around a friend and showing love, concern, and tangible interest” (Bonnie L. Oscarson, “The Needs before Us,” Oct. 2017 General Conference).
Service builds character. It makes us stronger. It builds faith. It helps the Savior accomplish His work. It helps our neighbors. It is an act of love. It makes us happy. Being a helper is the Lord’s way.
Make being Christ’s little helper a priority in your life. You won’t regret the decision.
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.