I wasn’t always in a place where I felt like serving others was a priority or a need. In fact, I never thought about whether or not I should do good or be good… just whether or not I felt good. And that’s the honest truth. I think – in life – we all go through waves of highs and lows.
We sometimes get to enjoy the calm of the shore and soak in the glory of the sun. Other days, we drown in the depths of the ocean frantically searching for someone to reach out and help. Oh, how the disappointment stings when no one comes.
This post wasn’t easy to write. So, please forgive me as I struggle through my thoughts and words. How can I talk about serving others in a way that doesn’t sound self-serving or self-righteous? I don’t want to talk about me or my experiences. I just want to talk about doing good, but I need to personalize this message and so here we are. An awkward divide in the middle of the road.
I’ve spoken about my relationship with the church – to some degree – on this blog several times over the years. I try not to make a “thing” out of it because it’s a relationship that I like to hold onto for myself. It’s mine. It’s not for a click or an ad or a read, but this story is an important one to share and so I guess I am breaking my own rule today.
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Why Serving Others Matters
Serving others is humbling and I had the chance to do just that last month with 20+ children from the youth group of my church and it was a trip I will never forget. There were lots of laughs and memories made between the adult leaders, but there were also moments of pure clarity that I will hold onto forever.
When I first started going back to church, I did it for myself – selfishly. I did it because it made me feel good. I did it because it emptied my brain and my soul and my heart.
It relieved me of my burden. It reminded me that I was forgiven. It cleansed me of my dirt. It showed me that I am loved. It lifted me and held me warmly and made me feel pure joy and I loved that sense of euphoria.
I did all of these things because of how the Word of God made ME FEEL. And then after a while… I realized that I wanted my children to understand all the beautiful things that settled in my heart.
So, I started going to church for them and not for me. Each week, I focused on my three – ensuring that they took in all that they could, watching to see that they were paying attention, reiterating the message as soon as we left. I encouraged them to understand the wonders of what was found within those walls.
And then… I realized that I was no longer attending just for me or just for them. It just was. It was because that is where we belonged.
It was because church was as much a part of our lives as any other thing that we did. And I wasn’t so worried about what they were getting out of it or what I would feel because all of those things would happen anyway. That’s when I found myself wondering how I could give back to a church that gave so much to me.
Volunteering For A Mission Trip
A mission trip was offered up – a chance to do good, serving others in need. A chance to do this with my children.
I jumped at the opportunity because to do good wasn’t about how it made me feel or what lesson it taught my children. Serving others was what was supposed to happen – it should be a part of our lives. Just like church. We should all just do good when we can and an opportunity arose for my family to do good. So, we took it.
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What Does Volunteering Look Like?
Serving others isn’t hard. It is small. It’s sweeping the streets in front of a center. It’s peeling potatoes. It’s moving furniture from a school so they don’t have to hire extra help. It’s playing with kids who don’t have babysitters. It’s lending a helping hand at a refugee center. It’s visiting a retirement home. Doing good is easy when you break it down into small steps. When was the last time you thought about serving others and doing good?
You don’t need a mission trip. You don’t need a church. You don’t need a calling. You don’t need to drive 5 hours to another state. We can all do good right in our own neighborhoods.
We can all look to our neighbor who is too old to shovel and do his driveway for him. We can all volunteer some time at our local shelter and help out at the soup kitchen once a month if that’s all we have to spare.
Serving others can become part of your family’s lives if you weave it in. Writing cards to a nursing home, soldiers abroad, food drives, sock drives, carpooling for working moms, visiting someone who just lost a loved one. The options are endless.
My church makes it easy and I love that about them. I am someone who needs things to be easy and I take every opportunity that I can. If you are like me, maybe your church does all the things that mine does, too. Go this Sunday and find out! You never know.
It will never end. The world will never heal. It is a harsh truth that we don’t want to accept. We need people to do good and I am not on a high horse telling you that I am better than anyone because as soon as I came home… it was back to reality with three fighting kids and a pile of laundry. That’s real life.
But the point of all of this is be willing to try and if you can’t physically take time off because of work, then consider donating. And if you can’t donate, then spread kindness because that is free. The world could use a lot of that too these days.
Imagine what the world would look like if we all frantically searched online for “serving others ideas” instead of Apple product launch dates? Imagine if our focus was to do good instead of divide and conquer. I don’t do what I do because it makes me feel good. I do what I do because it has to be done.
I didn’t realize that until I was there. It must be done because it is the right thing to do. We are all just people and our neighbors need help. Help them.