I have decided that I have a very messed up attitude toward service.
Because I am a Christian who believes in trying to emulate Jesus’s example, I believe in serving people. Like, whenever possible. This is not the problem.
My problem is that I tend to think of serving and good works as taking place in the community and beyond the hand-printed walls of my house. I’ve had this nagging sensation for some time that because I can’t venture out to serve in seismic ways in my neighborhood, I’m not contributing. That because I am mostly consumed with the (really quite demanding) demands of my children, I’m not doing my part.
Am I not perpetually caring for small people who need nurturing? Am I doing this from a place of selfless love?
Doesn’t raising special-needs children provide even more opportunities to serve those with greater needs?
Full-time parenting doesn’t offer much in the way of a paycheck, obvs. It does have a pretty great benefits package though.
The benefits are accruing in tiny amounts daily, and over many years.
They are the results of repetitive tasks, like sweeping the kitchen floor 700 times a week and cleaning up poop smears around the house. All. The. Time.
The fruits of my daily routine are real, but they are buried in the always-full laundry hamper. Or maybe in the nasty rabbit warren known as the basement family-room.
I can’t always see them, because they are hiding. Forming. Emerging.
I suppose that here service looks like the peanut butter sandwich I give my overstimulated six-year-old as I help him into superman pj’s.
Serving is deciphering the nonverbal cues Jack uses to communicate what he wants.
It’s seeing what the tween needs and casually making it happen, but not in an obvious way, because let’s not go crazy mom.
Good works and reading the toddler ten bedtime stories? Kind of indistinguishable, I guess.
Here’s my crystallizing perspective on what I do in my house:
I’m making this environment which nurtures children and nudges them positively toward adulthood.
It’s consuming, but not thankless.
It’s real work, though it is not paid.
And as service, it counts.