Saturday, October 10, 2009

Service: Don't Let the "Small Things" Go Undone

As I re-focus on the Beatitudes this month, I was impressed to go back and re-visit various things that I have learned over the last two years - and especially experiences I have had as I have focused on the Sermon on the Mount. The following experience came while I was focusing on mourning with those who mourn:

Just over eighteen months ago, I spoke in a Sacrament Meeting. As I was standing in the hallway prior to Priesthood and Relief Society meetings starting, I noticed one of the sisters I know crying almost hysterically and being comforted by two other sisters. I found out that this sister had lost a grandson the previous week in a particularly difficult way to accept.

Seeing that she was being comforted by others, I started to walk away - but I was struck by my resolution that month. This was exactly the type of situation I had resolved to seek, so I walked over and gave her a hug - and ended up helping to escort her to an empty room, then finding the Relief Society president and helping to arrange for continued help throughout the rest of the meeting schedule.

I was struck by a few things:

1) We shouldn't limit our comforting and mourning to only those situations where no one else is around to provide it (or for only the short time after it initially is needed). Even if it appears that "everything is being taken care of" (or has been taken care of) we still should give whatever we can - even if it ends up being nothing more than a token of the fact that we really do care. People who are grieving or mourning or need comfort need to know that everyone around them cares about them; getting help from only the first few who happen to see the need simply isn't enough. In a very real way, mourning and comforting is ideally a community activity - not just one that is isolated to a few.

2) I really don't know if my actions had a lasting impact on this sister - or even if she remembers it, at all. I do believe, however, that they will have a lasting impact on me - and that is not an unimportant thing. Obviously, I still remember - fortified by my recording of the experience. It is not selfish to want to feel how I felt as I helped her; it is a good thing.

3) This sister called me the next day to thank me for being willing to step outside my official role at the time and help her simply in my role as a friend and brother. I hadn't looked at it that way as I hugged her, but I am moved by that statement. There is too much formality and structure sometimes to how we interact with each other. Sometimes we simply need a hug and a shoulder upon which to cry.

President Monson talked in General Conference last Sunday of providing simple service, and I think we too often forget that such service does not need to be even service we alone can provide. Sometimes it is service that is available to all - that anyone can do. Sometimes the "easiest" service is exactly the service that remains undone.


Patty said...

I thank God for simple services that are done every day. It not only makes a difference when you're the recipient, but also to those around you who see it being done. It's amazing how one person reaching out can suddenly inspire many others to do the same.

Christy said...

Two of the acts of service I have received that meant the most to me (and I still fondly remember) were these: being told by a sister that she would pray for me, and a and being called friend when being set apart for a calling. Neither of the givers knew, or know to this day, how much those very small acts of service meant to me, and how desperately I needed to hear them. Most times we never know how much we can affect someone with small kindnesses (or hurtful acts). Thanks for the reminder.