I’m still thinking about what it means to serve and be of service.
I decided a few more things about good works:
1. I want to do them because it is the right thing to do.
2. But sometimes I don’t want to do the right thing. It’s hard. Some people don’t appreciate it. Often there are no really obvious positive results to serving people.
3. What I’m saying is, I sometimes serve not because I want to or because I think I’m making a big difference. Sometimes my efforts are for me, because I only want to live with myself if I think I’m doing what God wants to do. I know that I am trying. He knows that I am trying. Good enough.
My friend Jana, who is serving a mission with her husband in rural Kenya, sent me an email which blew my mind and then reconstructed it in a much-improved way.
She said, “One lesson I have been learning is not to be too concerned with the outcome of things. All my life I have been able to put my energy to a task and see it come to fruition. The harder I work, the better the outcome. So I have begun to think I am pretty capable. But none of that is working here. No matter how hard I try , I cannot get on top of [things]. And no matter how great I think our in-service lessons are or how wonderful I think our sacrament meeting talks are, there is no feedback, little change in the teaching practices, no expressions of gratitude, appreciation, or even acknowledgement. It has made me stop back and evaluate why I do things. With no earthly reward, I must do it for God and God alone. That presupposes that I am doing what He wants me to do which has also made me look at the service I give. So I am now free to serve as He would have me serve. And I don’t have to worry about the outcome. That is in His hands also.”
Jana’s experience verbalized what I have long felt about Jack and now Charlie too. I can work and try, but I can change very little about my boys. They are who they are. They have the gifts and the limitations God sent them to Earth with.
The good part is that they are valiant. They don’t need me to change them. They need me to love them and shepherd them.
And then Dutch sent me this quote by the woman who wrote my favorite book in the whole wide world:
“Men judge us by the success of our efforts. God looks at the efforts themselves.” Charlotte Brontë
God is good.
How lucky for us that He sees everything and that we are his children.