Sunday, 17 April 2016

Helping others to help ourselves.

One day last week I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I was driving home from the school run contemplating yet another day lay on the couch until it was time to go and pick my boys up again. 

I had sat in the car watching all the other school parents chatting away, feeling lonely and sad that I kept having to cancel or postpone their offers of meeting up. I knew those offers wouldn't always come and that each time I said no I was closing the door to my chance of a social life. Some doors had already closed. 

I was having a good old pity party (which I think we just have to allow ourselves to do sometimes before we can move on). Then a thought occurred to me. I was being selfish, thinking of all the things I couldn't do and feeling robbed. 

President Thomas S Monson said "unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and … lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish--and in effect save their lives.”

I was waiting for people to contact me, to offer me their friendship. But in this day of technology and social media I can offer my friendship. I can send a message to ask how someone is doing, ask them how things are in their life etc. I can show interest and my support in the things they post. Instead of thinking about what they can do for me, I can think about what I can do for them within my capabilities. 

Service doesn't have to be physical.
"We live in a contentious world. We give service when we don’t criticize, when we refuse to gossip, when we don’t judge, when we smile, when we say thank you, and when we are patient and kind." Cheryl A Esplin

Before I became ill I was always serving some one in one way or another. In my job, in my church, in my family. Developing ME changed all that. 

Living with a chronic illness made me selfish. Actually, selfish is the wrong word, it is self-preservation. Nobody else knew what I needed and when so I had to think inwardly to take care of myself so as not to precipitate more deterioration. Although self-preservation is still absolutely necessary for me, in order for me to remain upbeat I need to think of others too. 

Before I became ill a lot of my service to others was based on doing something for someone else. Now when I'm helping others most of the time it is based on being something - a friend, a listener, a shoulder to cry on, an empathiser, a smile, someone who shows love, someone without judgment, a supporter. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson said 
"The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."

Regardless of our abilities we can all find a way to be useful, honourable and compassionate. However, it is my belief that by doing this we will be happy. I believe we will find happiness when we lose ourselves in helping others.