Serving others even when it’s hard

Spencer W. Kimball was the prophet of my church when I was growing up, and one of my all time favorite quotes is when he said, “God does notice us, and He watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.” I have always believed that, and always believed strongly in serving. I’ve tried to teach my children the importance of serving others in a variety of ways, and often told them that service is not always convenient. Am I willing to serve everyone who needs it, however, or am I only willing to serve “the easy ones”?

I have a dear friend whom I really admire when it comes to following God’s will for her life. I heard her speak a few months back on the topic of being the answer to others’ prayers. She challenged us in our daily prayers to ask God to “Let me be the answer to someone’s prayers today”, but warned us that following the promptings that will come may not always be easy.

I accepted her challenge and put the quote on my fridge, but only offered up that prayer half-heartedly. Sure, if a friend has a need, I will be there in a heartbeat. Agua Prieta kidsI love taking meals to friends, we all love serving our elderly neighbor with meals, yard work and friendship, and we have gladly given anytime we can to those who have less in the way of material goods. My family works with a charity taking many donations to destitute people in Mexico and I feel we have really grown spiritually from such service. However, those are activities that we enjoy doing.

Last week  in my prayers I was realizing how blessed I have been by the service of others the past few months. Blessings too numerous to count have surfaced in my life almost daily via the love and friendship of others, and I realized over the past week that I was feeling a bit like a “taker”. Sure I have a few kids that can be exhausting at times due to behaviors, and a variety of flu-like viruses have run through our house the past couple of weeks, but does that give me an excuse not to be serving others? I kind of felt like I’ve been subconsciously saying “Yeah, step right up folks and hand out blessings to me…I’ll be happy to take them. ”

So, one morning last week  as I was truly offering prayers of gratitude, I got the feeling, “Pray to be the answer to someone else’s prayer.” OK, no problem. Will do. After all, I really do enjoy serving…until the name of the person I needed to help repeatedly came to mind.

Oh no, Heavenly Father, I really don’t want to do that. Do I have to call her? How about if I just send her an email to tell her I’ve been thinking about her? It reminded me of the song we sing at church, “I’ll Go Where you Want me to Go, Dear Lord”, with an added verse of my own of “Just not there, please. Make sure it’s a place I would really want to go anyway!”

I really don’t think I can help her, Heavenly Father, because I have to go to the grocery store today because my cupboards are empty, I have a meeting tonight, Jeff has a meeting tonight, Alyssa needs help with some sewing, I’m way behind on laundry, Caleb has a headache and a low grade temp, I have to go to physical therapy, and I just plain and simple don’t have the time today.

A continuous nagging kept at me. If it was a good friend, wouldn’t I just make the time? I was reminded that if I only loved and served those who were easy, I’m really not doing much. So I did it. I called her. It was tough. Honestly…my hands were almost shaking as I dialed the phone because this woman is really different and she and I have not always had positive interactions in the past. Rather than sing my own praises, I’ll just say she really was in need of some service and my family and I were able to provide it. And in spite of the awkwardness of it all, it felt good.

Tomorrow when I offer up the prayer “Please let me be the answer to someone’s prayer today”, I will do it with a bit more enthusiasm; a bit less trepidation. The promptings that follow aren’t always easy, but they are always worth it.

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