Service and Self . . .

Dear Friends,

As we fall out of 2016, my thoughts run to self and my self-evolution. Sound a bit too ethereal or self-absorbed? Ha! You are right!

How about down to a basic question: do we serve self or others. And, if we serve others, how do we determine whether it is a chosen service, a gift of love to someone or thing? Or do we live being imposed upon by circumstances or choices made out of guilt, manipulation or imposition?

Whether we enter into our choices forever or just for a season, what is the reason? Are we altruistic, giving time and service to something/someone out of love? Or is it guilt, a burden of duty, being forced and/or manipulated into said service by persons or circumstances—caring more about what others desire than what is best for us?

First, let’s discard manipulation, forced participation and guilt. These things have to be identified before they can be discarded as an influence. And, when you are in the middle of a whirlpool, it is hard to see the details of the detritus in the whirling waters. So, my best advice to others and myself is to find a trusted confidant or counsel to check out your options and motivations. Sometimes, we can self-counsel and work it out within ourselves. However, bouncing these things off another is usually critical to gaining perspective when we are deeply involved in complicated decisions, especially emotionally charged decisions.

Once the air is cleared and our decision or course is set, what will motivate the completion of our task and seeing it to the finish with grace? Now comes the hard part—at least for some of us! Are we doing what we do because of love? If so, what does that mean?

Pure love is selfless, recognizing the needs of others and contributing and helping meet those needs. But, pure love is also imbued with wisdom. And wisdom would set boundaries for the sake of the one being helped as well as for the good of those serving.

When assisting someone you love to recover from physical or emotional trauma, lots of processes will occur in the one helping. Speaking from a personal perspective, sometimes, if the one you are assisting is in great pain (again emotionally or physically or both!), that pain may cause the suffering one to be focused entirely on self—for survival and for conquering their pain and fear. They are very vulnerable and sometimes, though not always, not aware of the needs of the one helping. The helper must seek Wisdom by setting boundaries. The one helping must be constantly aware of the need to forgive, let go and get back on track with helping. The ‘helper’ should be aware of boundaries like proper diet, rest and putting the healing process jointly on the one in need as well as the one helping.

Then comes the gloriously difficult process of letting go of helping as the one in need heals. There is a crossroads time when help is still needed, but the one in need should be required to pick up the responsibilities formerly carried by the helper. And the helper needs the wisdom to know what to let go of and what to retain until the one helped becomes independent and whole once again . . . as least to the point of being responsible for themselves at last! It’s a little like the empty nest syndrome for parents. The child becomes the teenager who then becomes the adult and needs to be in charge of themself at last.

Caring for the needs of others is “interesting.” I am also very aware of the helpers who do not have the relief of the one being helped healing. Sometimes, the need to provide continues until the one loved leaves for the arms of God. They are my true heroes.

But, if we ask, we find we are not alone in our service. He will send other helpers to walk with you through your time of serving . . . friends who will pray for you, listen to you, and help you in your hours of need.

It will “make a man out of you,” as my dad used to say! Well, I say it will either make you or break you. Leaning on the wisdom and strength that comes from the heart of God which fills us in our hours of need (naturally and supernaturally) will provide all we need, if we will just ask for it! The choice, my friends, is ours.

Leaning with you.
Keep looking up,

©December 31, 2016