Seasons of Service

By Hildie Westenhaver

It’s a funny thing, service for others. On one hand it’s completely invigorating and makes me feel all warm and happy afterwards. But on the other hand it can be draining and a burden and make me a bit of a grump. In my case the burdensome, grumpy part comes before the service, and the happy part comes after.

My years as a Relief Society President were some of my favorite. The best thing was getting to know the sisters in my ward and I loved helping people who really, truly needed help. But sometimes the need for help would come fast and furious and I would race along trying to keep up. I tried to fill all the gaps in the ward and help out in every way I could.

Ultimately when I was released I felt like a worn-out rag. I was utterly spent. The mantle of the calling had borne me along and filled me with light and energy. Once I was released I emotionally hit the ground with a giant thud.

Since that time I have felt like I don’t have to help out as much. “I’ve done my time!” I sing to myself as I pass along the meal sign-ups during Relief Society. There is a time and a season for everything, correct? We hear messages of service over and over. We are the Lord’s hands! But we also hear messages of moderation and not running faster than we have strength. Nobody wants a church full of burned-out martyrs.

This is what I’ve noticed about service: it’s never convenient. It seems to come up when our day is already jam-packed and things are unraveling. When, exactly, is the season I’ve been waiting for when doing things for others will be wonderful and I’ll have plenty of time to help everyone with all their needs? When my kids were tiny I thought, “Oh, as soon as all my kids are in school I’ll be able to sign up for everything!” Somehow things became even crazier once the kids were gone all day.

Here I am, no longer duty-bound to help anyone except the people living in my house. And I now realize that it’s always the season for service. It’s fine to take a break from providing meals or babysitting or giving someone a ride somewhere. Life can throw curveballs that make you feel like you’re one step away from utterly losing it. I totally get it.

Service isn’t just giving someone a ride to the doctor, though. There are so many flavors of service that you can’t sign up for at church. Friendliness is perhaps the most appreciated form of service: sitting next to someone that you don’t know and introducing yourself (I don’t care who you are, that is intimidating!), texting a sister to tell her something that you admire about her, writing a sincere thank you note to someone in your past.

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