I don't think its any secret that our extended family has had a long 6 or so months. The frustrations of this last year have weighed heavily on my because I have a hard time feeling helpless. After all, I can't cure cancer, I don't have the money pay anyone else's bills, I can't magically renew an aging body, I can't change the character of those who ignore their moral obligations, I can't take newborn twins in the middle of the night. But there is much that I can do, I just wasn't doing it.
I've offered my help to a lot of people in the last several months, but it was always offered in a really general sort of way, and then I'd wait to be asked. Several weeks ago I finally thought, "What on earth am I waiting for?" If I simply pay attention and give it a little thought, I know what many of those around me could use the most. So I stopped offering and I started acting. Cook an extra dinner, make that phone call you keep thinking about but then not making, go steal a few munchkins whose mommas could use a break.
For my RS lesson a couple of weeks ago, I used President Monson's talk, "What Have I Done For Someone Today?" I remembered what it means to "be of good cheer" and that part of the reason I was giving into negative emotions more often was because I was not stepping outside myself to serve enough. There was a point in my life where I want to be wanted but hated being needed. Never before or since I have been so miserable. I made a promise a long time ago--I promised to take care of those around me, whatever that may mean. I took upon me the holiest of all names and promised to always remember Him whose name I bear, to act in His stead. "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." There is truly no better cure for self-pity, for a cranky disposition, for a stressed-out psyche or a broken heart than reaching out to lift or steady another who has stumbled or is struggling, because in the moments where we forget ourselves and act in the best interest of another, out of love, that's when we fulfill that promise. When we lose ourselves in service, that is when we are choosing to act as He would act and so we are ourselves steadied and lifted.
The acts of service I have given in the last few weeks have been no great sacrifice to me, they have merely been a proper use of my blessings. The Lord teaches us patience, faith and humility through our trials. But often the most effective test of our character is in what we do with our blessings. Its easy to point to someone who has a lot of material wealth and say, "They should be helping others more", but its not always as easy to ask ourselves, "What have I done with my blessings?" I have been blessed with a nice home, a love for children, an innate emotional calm, a love for writing, the opportunity to stay home with my kids, a sharp intellect, a stable and good income, among many other things. How have I used these things to bless others? Where have I failed? Where can I honestly do more than I have been doing?
What are your blessings? What have you done with them today?