Saturday, October 11, 2014

Secret Service (not the spy kind, though)

So I finished my first Personal Progress activity a week or so ago! (I'm doing the required value experiences as one of my "9 Goals While 29" this year.) I did one for Good Works, and it was actually just a little bit harder than I thought it would be. Here's what I did:

Learn why service is a fundamental principle of the gospel. Read Matthew 5:13–16; 25:34–40; Galatians 6:9–10; James 1:22–27; Mosiah 2:17; 4:26; and 3 Nephi 13:1–4. Others often give service you may not notice, such as preparing meals, reading to or listening to younger children, repairing clothing, or helping a brother or sister. For two weeks record in your journal the quiet acts of service your family members and others perform. Acknowledge their service in some meaningful way.

Here's why it was difficult. Number one, my current family is me and my husband. I don't have siblings or parents at home to observe. Number two, as the scriptures above talk about, one fundamental part of service seems to be discretion. So it's hard to observe others doing service when most people are trying to keep their service on the DL.

(This also makes it difficult to "acknowledge their service in some meaningful way." I can either publicly "out" people for doing nice things, or I can creepily be like, "Hey, I saw you do that nice thing. I've been watching you. Good job." So this is my way of acknowledging the service of others.)

When we think of service, I think we most often think of "tasks"--doing the dishes, making a meal. And I did observe this kind of service in others. There were times when people helped clean up the theatre before or during rehearsal, or when Jacob did the dishes, or a friend sent an encouraging text message. But I was also reminded that good works and service can mean anything that shows kindness. The kind of service that was really meaningful and inspiring was mostly very small. It was a compliment given briefly in passing, or someone asking how someone's day was and sincerely listening to the answer. I think that simple, sincere friendliness might be the most powerful kind of good works out there.

It's also contagious. Watching others around me be friendly inspired me to be more of a "giver" in my relationships.

To be vulnerable for a moment, I, like every artist (okay, like every human being), go through phases when I feel insecure and don't have any confidence and just feel certain that no one actually likes me. The thing is that these thoughts and feelings have nothing to do with my interactions with others--it's just me freaking out. And those times make me a "taker" in my relationships--I start to feel this desperate need for others to validate me as a human being. And that kind of need doesn't make me a very good friend.

It's kind of counter-intuitive, but the reality is that the antidote for a lack of confidence around others is to SERVE others. Low self-esteem makes you feel like you don't have much to give, but the reality is that giving fills you up. It turns friendships into something you desperately NEED (even though it's never enough) to something that uplifts and inspires and strengthens everyone involved. I feel a little bit guilty for forgetting this as often as I do. (To my friends and acquaintances, I'm sorry for that. I'll keep working on it.)

Thank you for your wonderful examples! You make me want to be better and to lift others up. Keep being kind, people. It's rocking my world.

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