I confess that I sometimes wallow. Whether I am annoyed by a headache or dealing with an emotional volcano, my first instinct is it think about all the ways my issue is not fair. Can you relate? Thankfully, in between “poor pitiful me” sessions, the Lord opens my heart and shows me glimpses of different perspectives. When we turn our attention away from ourselves, and focus on making someone else’s situation better, we are happier.
When I was eleven, I was able to help deliver a pile of presents to a family in need. The house was almost bare on the inside and the mom kept saying, “Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus!” My eleven-year-old heart melted and, to this day, I am not sure I have ever felt as good as I did in that ten minutes. When we were newlyweds, Eric and I went with our church to a local soup kitchen and I can still see the image of those children eating: children who had no control over their circumstances.
A few years ago, Eric and I received a letter from our Compassion child saying that his family spent the money we sent on a bed. A bed. A little bit of money we never missed bought this child a bed. That letter deeply struck my heart.
When I think about these moments, it is as if God is gently asking, “So, remind me what you find so unfair about your circumstances?”
When I tally up everything I have and subtract 90% of it, I still have no reason to complain. I have every reason to act upon thankfulness and serve others with what God has given me – with both tangible and intangible blessings.
I wish I could say this is always my attitude.
I wish I could say I wake up in the morning thinking of ways to help neighbors and friends.
I wish it didn’t take hours of wallowing to remember that I am still living, and I can still make this life count.
Can you think of an instance when you gave your time or energy to someone who truly needed it, and later regretted it? I cannot. I can think of times I was manipulated into doing something and wished I could get back my time and dignity. I can remember instances when I gave because I wanted something in return – even if just recognition or appreciation – and left feeling unfulfilled. However, I cannot think of a time when I gave because someone needed a helping hand or listening ear when I felt anything but humility and gratitude.
You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. – John Bunyan
‘Tis the Season to Pull Out Your Creed Notebook
Here are questions to think through about serving others to consider for your Couple’s Creed and personal creed:
- How much time do I spend serving others each week? month? year?
- Am I comfortable with this frequency?
- Under ideal circumstances, how much time would I choose to spend on volunteering?
- Where do my passions lie when it comes to serving? (e.g., cooking, building, medical, missions, etc.)
- How often do I serve with my significant other?
- Who typically initiates the volunteer endeavors?
- How would I describe both of our attitudes during these times of service?
- Does my significant other have a history of service?
- Am I easily guilted into participating in volunteer missions?
- How, if at all, do my religious beliefs affect my attitudes regarding serving others?
- How do I hope to help others in the world with my future spouse?
- Does he or she hope to help others in the same way?
- Are our beliefs and desires compatible regarding serving our church, community, and the world?
- Have my partner and I discussed how we plan to influence our children to serve?
- What are some age-appropriate service options at various ages?
- Which volunteer projects will we do as a family during the holidays or other times of the year?
What Does the Bible Say?
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13, ESV)
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45, ESV)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1, ESV)
The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12, ESV)
You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:11, ESV)
Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. (I Samuel 12:24, ESV)
For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. (Hebrews 6:10, ESV)
Are You Ready to Start Serving?
For those of us bearing the name of Christ, our lives should be one long show of service to our King. As the verses above reveal to us, the Christian life is a servant’s life. First, Christ frees us from being slaves to sin and we become willing servants to Him (cf. Romans 6:20-23). Then, we live a life of gratitude to Christ for His gift of salvation, realizing that we are not our own. Our lives belong to our Father, God.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (I Corinthians 6:19-20, ESV)
Are you ready to start (or continue) serving with your sweetheart? It is one of the greatest dates because you get time together, you get to work together, you get to observe each other in some uncomfortable or unusual situations, and you have the joy of doing something selfless.
Are you already serving, but know you have more to give? Are you serving frequently and know you cannot fit anything else on your plate? Think about where your personal time is going and how you spend your together time. Are you satisfied or do you need something more?
The Antidote for Self-Pity
This post is titled “The Antidote for Self-Pity” because the best way to overcome self-pity is by serving others.
Though it may feel cliché to reach out to a soup kitchen or the Salvation Army at Christmastime, don’t let that stop you. If you and your partner want to get out there and be a blessing, then don’t worry about when you start – just start. And, once you start, don’t stop. You might end up meeting some of the most amazing people and having some of the most incredible experiences of your life.
The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
No one has ever become poor by giving. – Anne Frank
No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. – Charles Dickens
Are you a couple who serves together?