I've had a strong feeling lately that I need to focus my time on serving the Lord. I feel very strongly the Spirit calling me to service in a larger capacity than I've ever done before. This feeling, while heavy on my heart, has sent an electric charge to every fiber of my being so that I feel like all of the molecules in my body are shaking in anticipation, as if they are at a starting line of a race waiting for the gun shot to take off and release that current of energy to go and actively serve. It's exciting, and humbling. I can't help but think that I should have this desire, and should be exerting all of my energy to serve the Lord every day, and at all times. Isn't that what we're asked to do? Romans 12:1 says "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service". It seems like a giant request to me. I'm one little woman, in a big world, with loads of other obligations that have much more immediate consequences if I neglect them. On a daily basis I can think of about 10 things that require action and work on my part that literally take up my entire day, how am I supposed to commit all of my time to serving when I don't have any time to spare? These are the thoughts, concerns, and doubts that I have all of the time, but as strongly as I feel this need to serve and as often as I doubt my abilities, I also know three things to be true: 1. I have been called to serve the Lord with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength (D&C 4:2). 2. The Lord will not ask me to do anything that is not possible with His help. 3. Even at my best effort, if I can give as much as my little-one woman-body can handle, it will still not even begin to repay Him for what He has done for me.
So I've started to think and pray and learn more about serving the Lord. What I've found has made me realize that while I still feel like I'm being called to something bigger (and hopefully that will become clear to me one day), I'm realizing how many opportunities on any given day I have to be in service, and not have to change my schedule, or exhaust myself any more than I already do. I started studying what the Lord has taught us about service, and in the index (or guide) of my scriptures the very first thing under the word "Service" says "See also: love". Well, that is something I can do. I can love. I can show love for my husband, my daughter, my family, and friends. That is something I can do easily. What the Lord asks of us, however, is to love more, and to love everyone as He loves us. When we love one another we are in the service of our God. I've learned that when we love when it is hard, when it takes work, when it isn't our initial instinct or when it we are faced with someone who appears not to deserve it...that is when the Spirit is strong, that is when God's work is being done and when we are truly giving what has been asked. The Savior said, "inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:35-45). This week alone I've learned a few lessons in this. For example, this Sunday for whatever reason (I suspect molars) my daughter was a different person. She was horrible. She screamed like she was possessed, she was disobedient, she was for lack of a better word... a nightmare. This continued into Monday when I picked her up from the sitter and she refused to come to me. She screamed when I pried her off of the woman who keeps her, and continued screaming the whole way home. I wanted to punish her for acting this way, I felt like she needed to learn a lesson and know that I would not tolerate that kind of behavior. I felt hurt by her. It is amazing how much a 14 month-old hurt my feelings, she brought me to tears. At home I felt like ignoring her and giving her the cold shoulder, and reasoned with myself that doing so was a technique the experts have said works during tantrums. I was not loving her. As we got home the thought entered my mind that I needed to be patient with her, like the Lord is patient with me. I needed to take a deep breath and be calm and show her that I loved her, and that I would wait until whatever it was that was making her so upset stopped. I could wait, and not ignore her or take my love away from her. I grabbed her flailing, sweaty, red and screaming body hugged her tight, and kissed her and let her know that her mommy was here, and it would be alright. I envisioned how my God probably gets frustrated with me when I disobey and hurt him, and how He is merciful and waits for me to act like the child he knows I can be. I'd love to say that she miraculously stopped be ornery, but she didn't. Eventually, however, she turned back into the little girl I'm used to. Until then, though, my house was filled with love and patience instead of bad feelings, and I know that I was serving in the role of a mother.
Early in the week at work I had another experience of active love. Most of you don't know what I do for a living, but I'm in a profession where I deal with many people everyday who are "customers". It is very normal for me to be faced with mean, angry, and complaining people, and some of these people are like this all of the time. Quite often I'm forced to face them and deal with them over and over again. It's easy to dislike them. It's easy to want to run and hide when I see them, or not give them attention, or put effort towards appeasing them. What I've found is that the majority of the time when I talk to them begrudgingly, or meet with them already resentful of the way that I know they're going to speak and act toward me our interaction ends with both of us feeling negative and being unhappy. But when I love them as God does, when I treat them like a beloved child of God, not only do I tend to get better results, I am in the service of the Lord. "By love serve one another" and "love thy neighbor as thyself" (Galatians 5:13-14) and even though they are acting unattractively, and may say hurtful things or chew my ear off with negativity if I show them kindness and have love in my heart, even if our meeting ends without resolution, I am not left in a bad mood the rest of the day, and hopefully they feel...even the tiniest bit...some peace in their heart.
I'm constantly learning, and I hope growing, too. I feel like I learn a new lesson or skill, and find out something different about myself every day. I still feel like the charge we've been given to serve is a huge one, it's not easy. Some days, I'll probably fail. My Heavenly Father deserves the best. He has asked for all of me, and His grace allows me to give it my best shot. This is just a little of what has been in my heart lately. Thanks for letting me share. Peace and Love, Layne