I stumbled across this photo the other day and was taken back to the time when all our children were little. On this day we were at grandma’s home for a family dinner. Little Mitch sat patiently in his chair as his mommy filled his plate with a healthy balance of vegetables and other things. “Sank you, mommy”, little Mitch said with a soft voice. Like all young children, he loved his mom and wanted to make her happy. If only our children knew how much their mother’s loved them. It is only when children become parents they begin to understand the depth of such love. Then, and only then, can such a splendor be known.
I remember this era of our life so well. It was a time of late nights and exhausting days … sticky fingers, dirty shirts, runny noses and little messes around the house that seemed to spring up out of nowhere. Sometimes it felt like the days were too long and the nights, too short. But in all of that struggle, or better said, in all of that service, deep love began to grow.
How exactly love grows is something the world often forgets. There is so much anger and vitriol in society today, it's a wonder we haven't burned the world in a mindless rage.
One thing my little ones taught me is service begets love and healing. I can’t think of a time in my life where I served someone (even a stranger) that I didn’t grow to love them. Even if it was as simple as helping someone with their bag at an airport, or letting someone in a hurry go first in line … when I find ways to serve others, I grow to love them. Service changes us from the inside out; it turns hate into happiness, jealousy into joy, and grief into gratitude. If there is a single antidote for much of what ails family and society, it is simply service. When we serve, we heal.
Do you want to turn a foe into a friend? Find a way to serve them. Are you mad at a family member? Do something for them that shows, despite unsettled feelings, you still care. In times of trouble the best way out, I’ve learned, is to lay down my weapons of war and serve the person I’m at odds with. Certainly, it takes two to resolve a conflict … and it doesn’t work all the time … but it works more than it doesn’t. I can live with those odds.
What’s the one thing our children teach us? They teach us service is the foundation to love. Service gives meaning to our lives and renews our souls. Service can be inconvenient at times – as it should be: for nothing of value comes easily.
The night Mitchell passed away, I sat at the foot of his bed and wept as I contemplated our [nearly] 11 years together. I remembered the times I served him: when I gave him piggybacks up the stairs because his legs were too weak to climb, or the times I read to him before bedtime or helped him with school projects. I wanted to keep serving him and my heart was broken that I could not. My last act of service was to tuck my son in for the last time and whispered in his ear how proud I was of the life he lived. I told him I would spend the rest of my life trying to live up to his example … that his daddy wanted to be just like him. I gave him permission to go to the other side and assured him he would be okay. He heard me, then passed away 30 minutes later.
If ever I needed peace and healing, it was then … in the aftermath of that profound loss. For the wilderness of grief was dark and deep – a pain so great, I wanted to close my eyes drift away into eternal sleep.
I have healed a great deal over the last 4 years, and much of that healing (in addition to Heaven’s help) has come from setting aside my own sorrows and finding ways to serve others.
I am grateful for this photo because it reminded me of a simpler time in my life … a time when I was picking up on the supernal lesson children teach us … when we serve, we love. And when we love, we heal.