Friday, February 6, 2015

To Serve or To Be Served....that is the question

In the forty-five years I've been alive I have had multiple (as in hundreds if not thousands) of opportunities to serve others. When I was younger it was often on a stage with a choir, a microphone or a dance partner singing our hearts out and giving our audience a respite from their current state of affairs. I would look out and see the wrinkles of aged faces dissolve away as their eyes would take on that misty, far-away look of a bygone era living only in the recesses of their memory. I would see couples reach for their partner's hand as we struck our single pose and sang a love-song. They would smile at each other and it didn't take a brain surgeon to see the memories flitting between them.

As I got older and began to mature i had the opportunity to expand my horizons. It would be in helping my mom with meals on wheels and listening to the fascinating stories of the people we were serving. It woud come in the shape of a note handwritten and delivered to someone needing encouragement to get through a rough patch. Another opportunity morphed into the hearts and voices of a choir or a congregation raised in praise and adoration to our God and Savior. Yet another would come in the decision to spare a new mom the frustration of having to make a meal while delivering love and nourishment to her family. (caveat: I am not the world's greatest cook. In fact, when it comes to meals I am the three basics kind of gal - protein, veggie and side. So, my delivered meals were often store bought lasagna with garlic bread and a salad. No one ever complained about getting a free meal....no matter where it came from! :D )

So, I've had lots of experience in blessing others. It's easy - I bless, I help, I encourage, and I feel good. Really good. I like blessing others.

I've begun to realize something, though, and it's the darkside of being a blessing.

To Bless or to Be Blessed....

The darkside is that "or be blessed" part. It's hard to allow others to bless me. 

I don't like to be needy. (got over that thanks to a self help book or two - or a broken relationship or two - in college thankyaverymuch!)

I don't like to have to rely on other people to get by. 

I don't like to be at the mercy of someone else doing things I know I can and should be able to do myself. 

And therein lies the problem. 

*I* Want To Be the Blessing!

*I* Want To Be The One On The Pedestal

*I* Want To Be the One People LAUD as "Such a Helper!"

Am I the only one? 

I think not. 

IN fact, I know not. 

We all do that. How hard it is to accept the help of a stranger when they see us struggling with a door and hands full. How hard it is to accept the help of a friend who knows we just can't get to _____________ right now and they step in to do that for us so we can mark it off our list. How hard it is to ASK someone to give an encouraging word because we're just so down we can't see up. 

I figured something out tonight regarding this phenomena....

In digging down to the heart of serving, I am beginning to realize the blessing that comes from letting others bless me. That sounds crazy and selfish, but in fact it is the opposite. 

If I'm always rushing to bless others and never allowing them to bless me (ie: help me) I'm really saying that I don't need  people, but people need me. I'm putting myself on the pedestal in the name of serving others. 

Living this way perpetuates a spirit of unworthiness in others instead of instilling in them a knowledge that they matter - they have worth - they are a necessary part of this equation called life. If we always step up to prove we don't need help with such-and-such ("Oh! Thank You, but I can get that!) we are robbing someone of the blessing to be a blessing. 

Think about the last person you witnessed helping someone. Think of the person serving, and then think of the person being served. BOTH of them were given a gift, right? The server was filling a need - realizing they were doing something good - and it made them feel good about themselves, right? The servee was made to feel worthy of service and being seen. 

Now think about that same scene a hundred times over. If the person serving only serves and the person being served only receives what happens? 

Anger. 

On both parts. 

The Server gets tired of always having to serve and they begin to see the people they are serving as greedy curmudgeons only grabbing and nabbing what others will give. 

The Served begins to feel like they can't do anything on their own and they figure they might as well just give up. 


So where am I going with this? What does it mean for those of us, like me, who are in a place of serving a lot and authentically enjoy the occasion to serve others? How do we give that back?

Well, here's what I learned today. 

My son is attending a workshop in a town about 40 minutes from our home. I was there serving in the kitchen when I ran out to my car to get my purse and retrieve some money for his lunch and dinner. The only problem was that my purse was not in my car. It was at home, forty minutes away, sitting in the kitchen where I forgot to grab it on my way out the door. 

The food I had been preparing was for the staff members. My son is a teenaged boy who thinks every food item on earth is not enough to satisfy his hunger. I was facing quite the conundrum. 

I had a choice. 1) I could run home and get my purse and make that trip 6 times in one day because I had to return home to teach and then go back to get him. OR 2) I could share my dilemma with the staff and ask for help. 

I asked for help. 

And I got way more than I deserved. 

And the gal who helped me kept saying over and over, "thank you so much for asking for help! I'm so glad I could help you out this way!" In the midst of the helping I was able to hear a really cool God story about her recent vacation, and we reveled together in the goodness of our Savior. 

If I hadn't asked I wouldn't have received. 

If I hadn't asked, she wouldn't have been given the blessing of being a blessing. 

Asking isn't easy for me. 

NOT.

AT. 

ALL!

My independent streak is strong. My mom, in fact, shares the story of when I was a very young girl and we were standing with a friend of hers. Mom looked at me and said to her friend, "UGH! She is SO independen it drives me crazy!" Her friend laughed and said, "Gee, I wonder where she gets that from?" We all know very well that the apple did not fall very far from the tree!

I'm learning, though. I'm learning to ask for help. 

It's not easy. 

I reallllllllly don't like it. 

But I'm learning to be strong enough to be weak enough to let someone else be strengthened through my neediness. (think that was hard to read? Try to get it to type coherently! LOL!)

In all seriousness, though, read it again...

I'm learning to be strong enough to be weak enough to let someone else be strengthened through my neediness.


Who are you strengthening by letting them serve you? Who needs to know they have what is necessary to help others in this world? Who in your realm of influence needs to have someone say to them, "I honestly can't do this, and I see in you the knowledge and wisdom to get it done.  Could you help me, please?" 

Yes, yes, yes....I know. Some of you are thinking of that person who really is a master at being served. They are willing to ask for EVERYTHING! I'm not talking about that person....I'm talking about those of us who do such a good job of serving we would rather waste an hour and a half of our time and a quarter tank of gas to take care of our needs than ask someone for help. I'm talking about those of us who are really good at jumping in to help out with a need when we're able, but refuse to ask for the same help we gave when the tables are turned. 

There's a word for that. 

Pride. 

EEEK! Are you willing to humble yourself and allow someone to serve you? Wtih no expectation of you serving them back? 

I'm not totally there yet, but I'd love to know there are people willing to walk that trail with me. 

I'd like to bless others....and revel in that joy. 
I'd also like to see the faces of those blessing me light up when they realize how very much their service is appreciated. 

How are you going to start? I'd like to hear your thoughts.....

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