Thursday, October 1, 2009

Soh-vice is what *bwings* us TOgevAH TOday

So I, yes me, the recovering inactive woman, has been asked to speak to our church group about Service.

The person who asked me to speak said my name kept coming to her mind. I'm under no disillusionment that she felt impressed to ask me to speak based on my many experiences with both receiving and giving service, but rather I believe it is one way the Lord (who works in mysterious ways) is trying to bring me back into His fold. I only hope I can do the topic some justice and combine wit with interest and zero judgement.

But seriously, part of me wants to read the mission statement of Relief Society and then make an aside about how there is nothing in that whole statement that even begins to rhyme with the word ass-erole. Casserole (or hit and run dinners, as I refer to them) do the term "Service" a real disservice.

I know that we are all busy and casseroles can sometimes be a huge sacrifice in the preparing and delivering thereof, but and I mean a really BIG but, feeding bodies can only do so much when a person's spirit is a starving, malnourished thing.

Being in the middle of continual medical/financial/familial/whatever else you can possibly conjur up here crises takes a toll on a person. A heavy toll. It is easy to offer up trite statements such as: You're so strong, the Lord must really think you're capable, or the Lord must really love you to try you so much. (I will admit that on these occasions I may have had the passing unchristian thought: "Well I wish He'd spread the love a little more so you can realize just how great it is to be thought so capable and loved so well.") But I digress.

The main point I'd like to get across tomorrow evening is that we all have our trials, our difficulties in life (even those of us who strongly resemble Malibu Barbie, and maybe even especially then.)

We all have those fleeting moments where a thought, or an idea enters our mind of a small ( sometimes very small) thing we ought to do for someone else: a note, a phone call, a can I pick up anything at the store for you, would your kids like to join our family for an activity or even asking what is it that would help your family best right now?

So, we have these thoughts, but the real trick is to turn them into ACTION and by that I do not mean we put them on a "to-do" list where we can so handily check them off until next month. I mean that we follow through no matter if we can see the benefit in doing so or not, and especially if we think we might feel foolish in following through with a kind word, a phone call, or holding their baby. The key is to follow through. It is like practicing scales on the piano and working your way up to your recital piece. Each practice leads to a better outcome for the next performance. WE are in effect, tuning ourselves to be more appreciative listeners and it's my hope that in our Visiting Teaching assignments we can, over time, learn what it is that is most important to the women in our charge. At the very least, we ought to know that a vegan family is not going to appreciate a Meat-Lover's pizza or Sloppy Joes for dinner (and vice versa).

To be continued....I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this subject, I'm obviously quite biased.

22 comments:

GRAMEE said...

I have a poor attitude about R.S. and service. I have been burned too many times. Starting with the time I was having day surgery my sister was at my home with my 3 kids. Someone was supposed to bring dinner so when I came home the children were fed and my husband and I had something to eat. There was no dinner.
I had that happen a couple more times before I just started telling them no we will take care of ourselves..

So if someone asks can I pick up your kids..I make darn sure I know it is someone who will follow through.

Kristina P. said...

I admit that this is an area I could be much, much better in. I sometimes fall back on the fact that my job often feels like service, 40 hours a week.

But that's crap, and I could do so much more. I feel very disconnected from my branch.

I haven't been attending church regularly this summer, since I've had all these stomach issues. And the only person who has even contacted me has been my VT. She's great. But I feel like we could never return to church and no one would even know.

I know that I could be more proactive too and perhaps if I served more, I would start feeling more connected.

Heffalump said...

Some people like casserole...
I usually try to find out if a family has special dietary needs or preferences before I take a meal to them.
We personally eat a lot of casseroles, and we like it. Now I am a little nervous about taking a meal to someone in case they are going to be judgemental about what I am bringing them.

Mrs. Organic said...

Gramee - I'm so sorry you've had this happen. People are people and they forget things like food, but when it happens to you it feels as if they've forgotten you. I think that hurts more than the empty bellies.

andrea said...

Oh my.....I felt a bit of anxiety for you right at the start for being asked to speak about it....I hate, hate, hate, and did I mention, hate, talking about gospel related topics. I feel so darn beyond inadequate, because I am so darn inadequate! Is this what you were asking for the talk for?! Oh ugh, I am so sorry I can't be of help in getting it for you! Hey, see, you can use me of an example of how NOT to be of service! ;)

Mrs. Organic said...

Kristina - Stomach/health issues can be very draining, a VT who cares and checks on you is worth their weight in gold.

I don't think people knew I was gone (except for those who've asked if I'm a new move-in) and I've been gone for the better part of three-ish years. About a year ago I finally asked for no contact. I suppose it was rather sour grapes of me - but I did not want to be on someone's to-do list anymore. It was making me have hard feelings (which I did not want) so I took a break. I know this means I'm selfish, but I'm in a little better place now, I'm more able to give and receive without taking things so personally.

Mrs. Organic said...

Heff - I was referring to food in general. And this is wehre I need your help. For some families - food is just the needed thing. For our family, we've been through the medical wringer so often that I try to prepare by having freezer meals on hand. The thing is we need to know the families in our charge well enough to know whether food/casserole is the answer or whether something else (support, friendship, etc) is more appropriate.

No one wants to be an item checked off a list. Food? Done! Monthly message? Done! At least that's how I see it.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Why is it that those things which don't take much time - like calling someone, sending a little note - are the hardest ones to do? Maybe we think we have to spend hours doing (cooking, babysitting, etc.) for it to be considered service.

Good luck with your talk. Stick it to 'em! ☺

Mrs. Organic said...

Andrea - you are a gem! Thanks for trying, I am going to relate different types of service that people have found the most helpful in a variety of crises. Sometimes I think people don't know what to do or say and so they err on the side of caution and and do nothing.

It's such a sensitive subject,and I don't want to hurt anyone but I think this is a great opportunity.

Mrs. Organic said...

ComC - good point. Those little things often seem like they couldn't possibly make a difference to someone, but often they make more of an impact than we realize.

Karen C. said...

It was great to visit with you last week when I came with Kim - I personally think anyone who doesn't take the time to come and see you and Ty are missing out. It's so great to see how your house is coming together with all your decorating ideas...not to mention what they could learn by watching you in the kitchen,or quilting, or knitting (I could go on and on) Anyway, I will be interested to know how all of this goes - it seems like the time Sue H. and I spent with your ward a couple of years ago talking about how to help families who have kids with disabilities fell on "deaf ears" (for want of a better way to say it) You have a wealth of knowledge and perspective to share, I hope it goes well.

On a personal note, anytime anyone brings me food I don't have to cook, I jump for joy! I HATE to cook. So if someone brings you food you don't want, call me and I will come take it off your hands...

Heffalump said...

Sorry I misunderstood. It IS good to know what people's needs are. You can't do that very well if you don't take the time to actually know them.
One thing I would say is, pay attention when you get prompted to do something. At the General R.S. Broadcast this last weekend Sister Beck said to never suppress a generous thought. I think that following through with generous thoughts can be service too. Just telling someone they are loved or appreciated. Life is lonely sometimes, and even when you are around other people you can still feel very alone. It helps if we reach out to others. We never know if they may be feeling lonely too.

Queen Scarlett said...

I love that "generous thought" from Sis. Beck that Heffalump wrote. (ps. My kids love that Heffalump from the Pooh movies)

As for service... I get impresions now and then to write a note to thank someone for a talk or testimony they shared... lately I've been more apt to act on them... because I figure... who couldn't use a nice note?

I have found that even those of us who do a lot of service, and are looked as "got it together" appreciate a little care and concern too. Along that note - I tend to go out of my way to share of myself and my kitchen... because it's how I share my love when I bake - to give to those who are out busy helping others. I feel like I'm doing my part filling their wells.

As for knowing the families and knowing their needs - I think communication goes both ways. We have yet to achieve the mind-reading ability... I can't tell you how grateful I am this adorable girl I VT told me specifically how I could help her. I watched her kids so her hubby and her could go to the temple - she is an example to me... who hates asking for help - to be specific, to courageously ask for help. Chances are... the help is there, wanting to be service... we need to be specific... we do that with the Lord... we should do it with each other.

Emma J said...

Having been on both sides of good and bad service: nothing is more discouraging than scrambling around trying to get a meal done two hours earlier than our usual dinner hour and then have a house of able-bodied looking non-sickies turn up their noses because it's so vegetized. I usually offer to come clean the bathroom rather than bringing meals unless it's someone I've cooked for before who likes my meals. Other nightmares: being asked to babysit but not informed that the children have been battling lice for weeks.

When my last baby was born I specifically asked that no one bring in meals or call - the best service was just to be left alone.

On the other hand, I have received wonderful service. Someone who saw my light on (the evening after the bbsitting above) and showed up at the front door to comb hair with me. A woman who stopped by with McDonald's for my toddler when I was morning sick on day. An older woman who would stop by and take me for a drive in her car and just talk about my day. A friend who showed up in my kitchen to cook chicken soup and visit with me.

I think the thing that scares me from serving sometimes is the feeling that I have to carry the whole load for someone. I need to remember that what I've appreciated most is just someone taking the time to be with me or to really think of me.

Emma J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shawn said...

I always feel guilty about not volunteering for this and that in our church---because sometimes, it is just that I want to do nothing if I have any time off---guess I am sometimes selfish....

But with church jobs, I am so swamped----and I sometimes figure that I am doing enough.

Mrs. Organic said...

Karen C!- So good to hear from you. I think it went well tonight, but then I thought that when you came and presented. We'll see. All I know is I need to do a much better job of following through on the promptings and inspirations I receive (no matter how unimportant they may seem). I don't think things will change with the disabled in our ward, but maybe they will start with everyone else and move to include everyone.

Mrs. Organic said...

Heff - Yes! That's it. Exactly what I'm trying to say. Follow through, no matter hwo inconsequential you may think a thing is.

Mrs. Organic said...

Queen Scarlett - I hear you on the mind reading. People cannot be afraid or too proud to ask for what they genuinely need. I wish I would have mentioned that it isn't just we who need to pray for those in our charge. I think we need to pray also that we will have the courage or ability to know what service we may need. It is a two-way street.

I am not anti-food. I am just anti-signup sheets for meals (it's a personal thing). I mean I am happy to cook for anyone, I just do not want to have signup sheets circulating for our family. I love to bake extra of whatever I'm making and then ponder about who might benefit most from receiving it. (hope that soudned right)

Mrs. Organic said...

One of the best services I've received was from a cousin who stopped by to help me cook up a month's worth of freezer meals that I knew my family would enjoy. It was a lot of work and I dearly love her for it.

The lice thing? Happened to us as kids 3 times(!) because my mother was trying to serve a family in dire straits. But wow, not exactly the blessing from rendering service that one might expect.

Anything personal, no matter how small, goes a long way towards lifting a person's spirits. As I've mentioned we all want to matter to someone, to know that we are valuable and would be missed.

angela michelle said...

Okay, I know your talk is over but...
I've had a lot of experiences where I offer to pick something up from the store or come over to help with housecleaning or watch kids--for people who I know need exactly that type of help--but they won't let me do it. Signing up for a casserole is sometimes the only help someone will accept.

Mrs. Organic said...

Angela - please keep up with the offers, you never know when someone will say yes. And also, it's the thought that counts - as long as you express it. :)