Day 5: Accepting Service

John 13:

4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

My thoughts on this topic really dovetail into our topic of service from yesterday. There have been situations in my life where I have needed others and would not have gotten through those trials without allowing others to serve me. It is not easy. In fact, I think it’s actually much harder to accept service than to serve. In this example from the life of our Savior, how eager and willing was Peter to serve the Savior always, but when the Savior tried to do this act of service for him it took Peter back and he struggled to allow it.

I believe it is hard for us to accept service because it requires a certain amount of vulnerability to admit we need someone else’s help. It makes us feel weak. And our human nature tends to be that when we look at others we compare their successes to our failures. We don’t recognize that we all struggle with similar things. Life would be so much easier if we leaned a little more on each other.

Over the last year I have felt a heavenly challenge to be more open with others about the things I am struggling with and to be quicker to ask for help rather than trying to bear all my perceived responsibilities myself. It has been eye opening to realize how difficult this is for me and how far from my natural way of doing things. I love this quote from Spencer W. Kimball: “God 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 in the kingdom.” I have always loved that quote and it has always encouraged me to look for ways to help others. However, when it popped into my head this morning the thought that came with it was this… How often do we tie God’s hands when we are asking for our burdens to be lifted and our trials to be lightened, but don’t allow anyone else to know that we are struggling and need help?

Song:

When Life Gets Broken

The Servant Song

Talk/Article:

Our Call to Serve and Be Served

https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/2018/03/our-call-to-serve-and-be-served?lang=eng

Soul Searching Question:

How can you be vulnerable enough to accept service from someone in your life?

Day 4: One by One

Mark 5:

1 And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.
2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
3 Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
4 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,
7 And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
8 For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
9 And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.
10 And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
11 Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.
12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.
13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.
14 And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.
15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
16 And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.
17 And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.
18 And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.
19 Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.
20 And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.
21 And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea.
22 And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,
23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.
24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.
25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
35 While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?
36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.
37 And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.
38 And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.
39 And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.
40 And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.

41 And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.
42 And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.
43 And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.

There are three amazing stories here, but rather than focus on the details of each of them today I just want to share a recent insight that I had using this chapter as a perfect example. For so long when I thought about serving I felt guilty because I have not been involved in very many big service projects. I’ve never flown to another country to serve the poor and the hungry. I’ve never spent weeks on end helping in a community that’s been wiped out by a natural disaster. This has always weighed on me as a feeling of not doing enough to love and serve others. Then about a year ago, I was reading this chapter (or one like it) and suddenly it dawned on me that as wonderful as being involved in projects like this are, especially if you have felt a prompting to be involved, serving like the Savior does not require me to do these huge acts. At once I saw very clearly that the Savior served (and serves) one by one. He spent His days ministering to individuals He found along His way. He saw their hurting and He helped them. Most often His miracles were preformed on His way to somewhere else. He served as He went. He saw a need and He filled it. Instantly serving well, serving as the Savior does no longer felt daunting or unattainable. I wondered how many opportunities I have had to give meaningful service that I have swept aside because I was too focused on the next place I was going or the projects I was trying to complete. But with new understanding changes for the better can be made.

Truly understanding that the little things we do to make another’s life easier are the essence of Christ-like service has really been a game changer for me. It has created a desire in me to be more aware of those opportunities throughout the day. It has made me want to slow down a little and pay more attention to the whispers that come showing me the needs around me. It has helped me feel validated in the little things I do to show love to those around me. Now I feel great when I take an hour to listen to a friend vent, or go out of my way to write a note and create a special treat for one of my kids who is having a hard week, or take the afternoon and spend some quality time with my husband. I have begun to see the time I invest in facilitating my scripture study or writing for my blog as opportunities to serve as I share God’s word and love with those who read my testimony. I never really saw these as service before, and as good as it is to be part of big organized service projects, better understanding Christ’s way of ministering helps me to recognize that maybe service in the little things along our daily path are just as important, if not more so.

Serving in the Savior’s way means keeping our eyes and our hearts open to see a need and fill it, just like He did.

Song:

Dream Small

Talk:

Ministering as the Savior Does

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/04/ministering-as-the-savior-does?lang=eng

Soul Searching Question: How can you become more mindful to be a better minister to those around you one by one?

Courage to Be Vulnerable

I have thought a lot about ministering in the Savior’s way over the last year and one of the things that struck me as very relevant is that being vulnerable enough to allow others to serve us is just as important as reaching out to serve those around us.

I think that in a general sense, we are all great at serving, especially when we are specifically asked to. However, I know that many of us struggle with being vulnerable enough to actually accept service from others, even when we need it.

There is a quote by Rick Warren, in his book The Purpose Driven Life, that says, “Vulnerability is an endearing quality. We are drawn to humble people. Pretentiousness repels but authenticity attracts.”

Our brokenness is part of our perfect journey and God will ask us to share our vulnerabilities to bless the lives of others! How will you consecrate your suffering to God’s purposes?

I Was Not Fully Healed, But I Was Made Whole

Up until about 6 years ago I would read the story of the 10 lepers and wonder how the leper who went back to show gratitude was any more blessed than the 9 who didn’t go back. I knew it was a story demonstrating the importance of gratitude, but they were all healed. Yet, somewhere at the back of my mind there was a wriggling feeling that there was something more, something bigger to be learned from this story.

Then in March or 2011 I was in a car accident. It wasn’t a terrible accident, but I did hit my head and shortly thereafter I started seeing stars and shimmering lights around my right eye. I had everything checked out and they couldn’t find anything wrong, but advised me to keep an eye on it. About 3 months later I noticed (as a teacher’s aid after summer break) that the writing on the whiteboard was no longer clear. I went to my eye doctor to have the power of my contact prescription increased. It was then that I found out I was losing the central vision in my right eye. A little in my left eye as well, but drastically in my right. I started searching out specialists. I was told by two different specialists in Ogden it was probably as a result of my car accident and that it was most likely permanent and I’d need to just get used to it. A very good friend of mine was appalled by that answer and demanded that I go to the Moran Institute at the University of Utah and get a second opinion. I am so grateful for her and her response to my disappointment!

Very quickly I was seen by 3 different specialists who took my problem very seriously. I spent days completing tests, having photos taken of my eyes, inside and out, and lots of medical tests too. I had a CT Scan, an MRI, a chest Xray, an ultrasound of my heart through my stomach and about 12 vials of blood drawb abd tested for anything and everything they could think of that might be causing my loss of vision. They didn’t know what it was, but they were determined to find out. They thought it might be autoimmune. They guaranteed me that it was not a result of the accident and that if was just coincidental that the symptoms started at the same time. In the end they could not pin it to any particular thing, but they did find that the blood vessels in my eye were leaking and it was causing major damage to my retinas. They decided to treat my symptoms since they couldn’t find a cause to treat instead. By that time most of the vision in my right eye had been affected (I was seeing 20/300 at that point, with my contacts in) and I was at about half vision in my left eye. Thanks to those doctors and the God inspired technology and medications that they have they were able to stabilize my vision and by some miracle the vision in my left eye has come back almost completely.

That first year and a half was probably my hardest year of life up to that point. I was scared. Really I was terrified! I didn’t know if what I had was life threatening or if I was just going to lose my vision completely. In either case, it was life altering for me. I am an artist, a baker, a reader, and an outdoor adventurist (ghost towning to be specific). Everything I love to do requires my vision. I’m sure no one is happy to lose their vision, but I was feeling especially devastated. Not only was I an emotional wreck with the worry of what might happen to me, but my every day routine was exhausting! I had no idea how much losing some of your vision would affect you. I had to exert so much energy straining to read with the kids I was helping in school, I found myself forgetting things my past peripheral vision would have picked up, therefore much of my day was spent retracing my steps. I lost my depth perception and would find myself tripping over things I didn’t realize were poking up a little or falling off little ledges I didn’t see were there. I was tired. I was sad. I was scared. Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally too. It was so hard!

Phew… that was a long story to prove my point. In my religion we believe in the power of healing blessings through the Priesthood. I had A LOT of blessings during that year. After about a year of working through things including going to a specialist in Oregon to get another opinion on the permanence of my condition I had gotten another blessing. After that blessing I had the strangest calm come over me. And in that calm I distinctly felt a lesson being taught to me. The anguish and uncertainty that had been so prevalent in my life for almost two years was gone. I felt peace. I could look back and see times of comfort, tender mercies of love, and so much I had gained… empathy for others, gratitude for the blessings in my life, an increased closeness to my family, and a better relationship with my God. I had received the miracle of one eye being healed and the other eye was being left with me the way it was, maybe as a reminder of those lessons. Maybe to keep me humble. Maybe so I would remember to testify of God’s mercy in the other things I had learned. But at that point, it didn’t matter. Even though I had not been physically healed in that eye, I had through God’s power, my faith, my positive attitude, my searching for lessons in the trial, and my patience over that year been made whole.

I now know for myself that the leper who came back was blessed far more, beyond what words can express, for having come back. He was made whole. The others were, like him, healed physically. But unlike the others, the anguish and grief of the previous years or pain, sickness, and banishment, the emotional aching and mental stress were wiped away when he was made whole.

He Hasn’t Moved

How can the Lord have an individual relationship with each of us? How do we form this relationship with Him?

I’ve been thinking about these questions all week. I don’t know how it is possible for the Lord to have a personal relationship with each of us. It is too difficult for my mind to comprehend how this can be when there are so many of us in the world, but I do know of assurity that it is possible because I have had so many experiences where His tender mercies have proven to me that He is perfectly aware of my circumstances and wants to make my burdens lighter. He is there. He is our Father. He know us. He loves us. He wants to help us. He yearns to have a relationship with each of us.

The second question is much easier to answer. How do we form a relationship with Him? Simply put, with time and effort. There have been times in my life when I have felt great distance growing between myself and my God. When I recognize this gap I can trace the reason back to MY lack of time and effort in praying, studying His good word, and pondering on His love and mercy.

I once heard a joke that I love to relate to this exact concept. There was an elderly couple riding in their truck one day when they came to a stoplight. They looked over and noticed a younger couple in the cab of the truck next to them. The couple was snuggled up on the seat looking very in love. The elderly woman looked at her husband and commented how sweet they looked and then asked, “Why don’t we ever do that anymore? Her husband looked at the couple and then back at his wife and said, “Well, I haven’t moved.” This is exactly the case with our relationship with God. If there is distance between us it is because we have moved, not because He has. He stands at the door and knocks. He seeks His lost sheep. He waits to be found. And what do we need to do? Seek. Diligently seek. This is not a casual, once a week seeking, but an intentional whole hearted effort. And when we invest the time and effort the reward is far more than we could ever dare to hope for!