What are we here to do? What’s this life for?1
Well, it all boils down to just one thing for me: being kind. That is what you are here to do! Scripturally, that equates to charity being the pure love of Christ, and as I have been taught, charity is the only thing that will not fail2. Every single kind thing you have done in your entire life can never be erased both here and hereafter. Though many may not believe in God or the Scriptures or in Christ, it is really hard to argue this point. Being kind to others (and ourselves) is fundamental to our existence and essential to our happiness.
In one of my first posts3, I introduce a happiness formula that has worked for me. One of the key components of this formula is unselfishness (service). Life is always going to be hard, but unselfishly serving others (and allowing them to serve you) will make it better nearing 100% of the time.
Begrudging service will not make you happy
When I was in seventh grade, I was in a play called “It Happened at the Snack Bar4,” which was a middle school version of Grease. My part was really small, and I probably had a total of maybe six lines. One of my lines had me fake sneezing because of some pepper that was spilled. However, there was a girl who was in the play that could basically sneeze on command. Since that was her claim to fame, she asked if she could have my line. I complied, and I let her have my line, but I always felt cheated about it! Even to this day, it bothers me that she had more lines than me and took one of mine. In the grand scheme of things, how much does this matter? Zero. I could have taken the win, being happy that I helped someone out, but I didn’t. It still feels like she took something away from me. Service given begrudgingly will always make you feel like this. It will make you feel like something is being taken away from you instead of something that you gain. (For the record, I never told the girl that I had these feelings, and I never made her feel bad about it.) So, don’t be like Kim in seventh grade.
Also, I don’t know if you have ever been on the receiving end of service given begrudgingly, but it is literally the worst. Since I require so much extra help, sometimes those who serve me are not exactly happy about doing it 100% of the time. I judge them for this zero amounts. I understand that it’s hard to have someone like me in your life where a degree of your freedom is seemingly taken from you because I need something so much of the time. However, I can say truthfully, that even if it is something that I NEED (like food or water), I would much rather go without than be on the receiving end of begrudging service.
Service given freely will lift yourself and others
Over the years, I have tutored or helped many people with school. It is nice that I am able to be helpful to others in this capacity. However, it is not always fun or convenient to do. Despite this, I NEVER complain about it. Because I know that the second I do, I will never be asked to help again. There are not many ways that I can be serviceable in my current physical state. I know that this is basically the one thing that I can do, so I freely serve. It has brought me so much joy to feel needed and helpful. I’m sure that the dozens of people that I’ve helped feel lifted as well.
Anyone who knows me can vouch that I love going to Disneyland. There are many reasons why I like going so much and so often, but one of the main reasons is that I enjoy going to a place where the culture is to actively make sure everyone is happy. I have a caregiver pass, which is basically an annual pass with nobody’s picture on it so that I can bring in someone who maybe doesn’t have the luxury of going. There are many things that I can do at Disneyland (rides I can go on and shows that I can see), but my favorite thing is making sure that my guest(s) get to do everything that they want to do.
Part of service is graciously allowing others to serve you
I know some people who love serving others. They are huge examples to me in this regard! However, when it comes to accepting service, they hesitate. This is the thing with accepting service: others want to show that they love you through action. If you deny them this, it’s akin to saying that you don’t care that they love you. When I was pretty newly paralyzed, I had a really hard time accepting service from strangers – i.e. people who wanted to hold the door open for me. I had to get over this quickly, because I realized that their kind of act of service wasn’t about me. It was about graciously allowing them to do it so that they could feel like a good person who did a good deed for someone who really needed it! Sometimes, I would park my chair against the wall next to a vending machine (because it’s shady there), and people would ask if I needed help using the vending machine. I actually didn’t, but I made sure to thank them for thinking of me. Making sure that other people have a good experience for putting themselves out there is important, because that way they will do it again! It is so important to accept service from others. (Almost as important as giving service!)
In no way is this more adequately demonstrated than in season one episode four of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Here is how Twilight Sparkle explains it: “My friend Applejack is the best friend a pony could ever have, and she’s always there to help anypony. The only trouble is, when she needs help, she finds it hard to accept it. So while friendship is about giving of ourselves to friends, it’s also about accepting what our friends have to offer.5”
Ultimately, this means accepting what our friend, Jesus Christ, has done for us through His atonement. I never realized how dependent I should be on His love and mercy until my physical independence was taken from me. I consider it a mercy that I was able to learn this, even in the extreme way that I was taught, so I can help others through my testimony.
However, even if you do not believe in Christ or God (or you believe in a different religious tradition), it is still so important to graciously accept service from others, even when you feel you don’t need it. Let them serve you because they love you. It shows that you care about your relationship with them.
I know that giving service is sometimes very difficult to do. When we are having a hard time in our lives, it seems counterintuitive to serve others. I know through personal experience, however, that giving service freely and un-begrudgingly will make you happy. And, even more difficult for some of us is accepting service graciously. This is the truth: we all need one another. By graciously accepting service from others (even strangers), you will be helping them, and you will also be lifted!
2 Moroni 7:46-47 https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/moro/7?lang=eng#