Aside from these committees, I have had numerous opportunities to serve my neighbors and fellow citizens through my church, but again, I haven't been here much so aside from a donated cake to a funeral or a casserole to a sick neighbor here and there, I have felt like I have not had the opportunity to serve as I would like.
As I watch each passenger board my planes each day, I work hard to smile and make each one feel special from the moment they step onto my plane. I don't know their reasons for flying. Yes, many are flying for fun reasons...off to an exotic vacation or to visit family members or dear friends. But others are traveling for sad reasons...to attend a funeral for a loved one or to sit with a dying parent, child, grandchild...whatever the reason, it's my job to provide them with a pleasant experience on the plane. I have actually been thanked for smiling at them!! This shows me how simple it is to serve. Sometimes all we need to do is express our gratitude or extend a sincere compliment to ease somebody's burden...it's simple!
My daughter lives just 4 houses away from me. She has 3 beautiful young children and is a single mom who is completely devoted to those children. She also has her own set of health issues and just the other day (I was away on a 4 day trip) she had to go to the ER for chest pains (She has heart issues). Without hesitation, my neighbor not only drove her to the hospital, but stayed with her until after 4:00 AM! She was gracious and unselfish as she made my daughter feel loved and cared for. Her selfless service was far reaching...she doesn't even realize how much she served me! I was able to complete my trip and be rest assured that Aja was with someone who loved her and cared for her in my absense.
I truly believe that we all came to this earth to be tested, tried, strengthened and to grow. I believe that we came here to become the very best person that we can be and yes, we will have failures and road blocks along the way. I also believe that we are all children of God and one of our missions in life is to gather together our "brothers and sisters" and to take care of each other. If we don't serve our fellow man and try to take care of each other, then we have been cheated out of blessings and opportunities for us to grow.
When we strive to help someone else we often take upon ourselves the burdens and even chaos in their lives. It's just part of it! I have shed tears with mothers who have had to bury their children. I've watched as a loving wife has fought for the freedom of her imprisioned husband whom she believes has been wrongly accused of a crime. I've watched children who are scared and confused because they are too young to understand why mommy isn't able to take care of them. I think you get the point...
Many years ago, 30 to be exact, I was pregnant with my second child. During this pregnancy, I miscarried a twin and was able to carry the other precious baby to a healthy delivery. But the pregnancy was very endangered and I was put to bed. Now, this would have been fine if I didn't have a precocious 2 year old running around. I struggled with any help offered to me. For some silly reason, I had a very difficult time allowing anyone to help me outside of my familly but the ladies from my church really stepped up. They were "lovingly" insistent and for days on end, these sweet young mothers would come and take my sweet little child to their home for the day. She loved it! She would come home bathed, fed and happy! This was a HUGE burden lifted from my shoulders. They also ensured that I had hot meals brought in every night for my little family.
There was one incident that has stood out in my mind for all of these years and it taught me a great lesson...one that I have never forgotten. I was told that a meal would be brought in this particular night and that several ladies would be bringing different parts of the meal to my home. Sure enough, the doorbell rang. A lovely, piping hot main dish was delivered. Next a beautiful dessert was dropped off. Then, my doorbell rang one more time. As I opened the door, I saw a woman whom I had never before seen. She lived in a trailer park adjacent to our little subdivision. She looked disheveled, exhausted and totally beat down. She handed me a brown paper bag and with a sweet smile said, "Here's your salad, I hope you feel better." Somewhat confused, I thanked her and shut the door. I opened the bag and found a brand new head of iceberg lettuce still in the wrapper and an unopened bottle of Ranch Dressing along with a receipt showing that it had been purchased just moments before delivery to my house. I couldn't believe it and was actually offended that such a lack of care went into this "salad"...I sent thank you notes to the first two ladies, but, I'm ashamed to say, I did not send one to the "salad lady".
As the years went on and as I matured and grew, I often reflected back on that story. And then one day, it hit me...I felt like someone took a hammer and hit me over the head with a strong reprimand spoke to my heart saying, "It was the best that she could do. You didn't know her circumstances and shame on you for not being more grateful. You need to learn to be a gracious receiver!"
How selfish could I possibly have been?? This woman was a single mother and lived in poverty. I didn't know her and she didn't know me. She'd been given the opportunity to participate in a charitable act and she accepted the opportunity. She was down on her luck, BUT, she still found a way to serve me! She took a few moments out of her life to purchase a head of lettuce and a bottle of dressing with her very limited funds for my family which enabled us to put together a delicious salad. She did the best she could. By me not being a gracious receiver, I lost out.
I had judged this woman! Her service was not up to my standards! How dare she?...How dare I???
Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to go back and thank this sweet woman. I never had the opportunity to look her in the eye and thank her for her charitable contribution. But know this, I now see the true act of charity and she taught me a great lesson that has followed me for 30 years.
Charity is unselfish, kind, loving and perfect! My "standards" of charity go out the window when somebody serves with a pure heart and pure love. It then becomes my responsibility to accept their kindness and generosity with the same pure heart and pure love with which it was offered. I learned to become a gracious receiver. I learned that it was more for this woman than for me! I learned that life is about sharing and loving and taking care of others. God bless this sweet woman...