There is a power that comes to me whenever I am in the service of others with no thought to my own self and whether or not I am “getting something” out of the experience. It is the purest kind of love. It is what lifts others as well as ourselves at the same time. Service unlocks in me the ability to let go of the darkness and pain of my own struggles for a brief period of time. Service helps us look outward instead of inward. Unfortunately, even trying to do something noble like serving others I can over do things — I get caught up in creating complexity where simplicity would suffice. I start out with no expectations but sometimes that changes and I lose the selflessness of the act. Or maybe I over do the amount of service I’m trying to provide and instead of lifting me and providing peace to my life, it creates anxiety and stress (I’m convinced my therapist thinks this is some sort of strange super power that I have!).
I have literally sat at my keyboard stumped with how to begin for the last 30 minutes. And I think that’s actually the biggest obstacle to serving others in a way that lifts them and you. If I think too much about it, I get frozen or I start thinking “oh, that’s not good enough, I need to do something bigger or better.” But when I just do it naturally throughout the day, then my day is completely different. See some dirty dishes in the sink at work? Wash them up and put them on the drying rack. Walk by my desk at home with its two foot pile of paperwork that drives my wife nuts? Well … in the spirit of honesty, I’ve been walking by that pile for the last 6 months and it’ll probably still be there tomorrow! I’m far from perfect in that department — but I like to fold and put away the laundry or make our bed each day, it’s the little things that seem to matter the most.
Here’s where I think I do pretty well and I hope that God and my fellow brothers and sisters enjoy my efforts to be helpful: Being available to talk to people, listen to their struggles, share my own stories of struggle and hope, and then do my best to lift their spirits by helping them see who they really are and how much God loves them!
How does this work for me? Usually it starts by being around those that I know and noticing something that makes me do a double take. I don’t know how to describe it exactly, but it’s like they just stand out to me. I start to think about them and I can’t get them off of my mind. Over the years I’ve learned that is God’s way of inviting me to help one of His children out. When I first started to approach people that I felt impressed to talk to it sounded something like this, “Hey, do you mind if I stop by the house this afternoon (or go to lunch/breakfast sometime)?” Followed by them saying, “Sure. What for?” Then I would panic — because I didn’t know “what for?!” and I’d say something stupid. The good news is that it never really mattered, we’d usually sit down to talk, wander around a bit in the conversation and then whatever was going on in their lives would bubble to the top and either I had experiences or knowledge I could share with them, God would impress me to say something specific to them, or just having someone there to say, “I care” was enough to make a difference. And every single time I would feel like a million bucks afterwards!
These days I don’t have any fear, I just invite people to lunch, breakfast, coffee, whatever, and we chat. And even more recently, with the formation of our support group at our 12 step meeting, I’ve found that phone calls to each other or even texts can help us feel lifted.
Here are the benefits I’ve found in serving others:
- Instead of looking inwards to ourselves, we look outwards to others — then our own struggles and challenges are no longer front and center and they seem to shrink or go away all together.
- We are all God’s children and by helping each other, we give Him the opportunity to bless us — both of us. His entire focus is on our eternal progression and when we serve each other He is right there to pour out His love upon us. I can feel it every time and it is amazing!
- The more we do it and the more we are “ready” to do it, the more God can direct our efforts to those that are in need. Ever pray and ask God to help you with something and within a day or so someone comes along that just knew what to do or helped you out in a way you never thought possible? That’s God using us to be His mighty angels! Yep, that’s right — when you serve someone else, you are a mighty angel to that person.
Keep it simple. Don’t put it off. When we do our 10th steps, the 4th and final part of that step is to serve others. We always encourage each other to find something right away. No matter how simple it may seem to you, it is the key to unlocking God’s power to help us and to transform us.
The more we serve, the better we become. Be someone’s angel today by being kind and willing to lift another up through an act of kindness, a thoughtful phrase, or a listening ear. It will make all of the difference — it has for me as both the recipient and the giver.
My name is Mike