Remember that exciting ministry announcement I told you I was going to share this week?! A few technical difficulties came up, so I’m going to have to delay the announcement for just another week or two. (Not being able to tell you yet is killllling me!) Just know that you and I are going to get to be a part of something awesome together, many will be blessed, everyone in your family can be involved with this ministry, and, and…that’s all I can say. I suppose you can go ahead and start praying about it though. God knows what it is. :)
In the meantime, I have felt it on my heart to share my thoughts about serving with your family when the very idea of reaching out sounds overwhelming and exhausting. Maybe you have little bitty children, making it difficult to get enough sleep, find even one clean towel, and run a brush through your hair each day. You may be thinking, “Serving? With my family? How and when should I do that?”
Maybe you have a sick friend or family member. Or you just buried a loved one. Perhaps you just moved and have more boxes in your house than furniture. It could be that you or your spouse is out of work, and you don’t know where the next dollar is coming from. Maybe you are struggling to hold your marriage together. Or your children are making choices that are tearing your family apart.
I am here to tell you that there is a time to serve, and a time to be served. There is a time to reach out, and a time to let others reach out and hold you. There is a time to give, and a time to receive gifts. There is a time to go, and a time to stop. There is a time to work, and a time to rest.
If it is your time to be served, be held, receive gifts, stop, and rest – with no fear, regret, or hesitation, give yourself permission to be generously loved on.
When my mom died eight and a half years ago, there were many days I could barely put one foot in front of the other. I was pregnant with Malachi, and our other boys were ages 7, 4, and 2. I was exhausted. I was devastated. I was broken.
It was my time to be served. People came and vacuumed my house for me. They cleaned my toilets. Meals appeared in my freezer. Friends came and whisked my kids off so that they could have some fun and so that I could grieve and rest. Oh how much love I felt from so many people who care about me.
During much of that time, I couldn’t even think about doing something for someone outside of my immediate family. And that was okay. It was hard enough to get out a box of cereal and put it on the table for breakfast.
But then there were days when I simply needed to serve. I find it a bit hard to explain, but sometimes, I actually needed to look beyond myself and think about anything at all (anything!) besides being sad. I couldn’t do anything big (if in fact we can put a “big” and “small” value on acts of service). But the little boys and I could pack up for an hour or two to go visit a widow lady who needed comfort as much as I did. We could get out the art supplies and make cards for people. We could pray together.
If I didn’t feel like being with people (because often, I just didn’t have it in me), we could make cookies and have Matt drop them off in our church fellowship hall for the upcoming bake sale. Or we could gather up some clothes we no longer needed and let a friend deliver them to an excited recipient.
I am amazed that even at one of my lowest points, God still provided ways for me to serve. At the same time, I continued to let others in to serve me too. I do believe this should always be the case. Sometimes we are more able to serve, sometimes we have very little to give. Let God lead you on this. He knows just what you need.
Please share your thoughts and experiences on this subject. I’d love to hear ways people have blessed you in your time of need. Have you found ways to serve others during difficult seasons in life?
Sometimes it helps me to serve others so that I can get out of my hog-wallow, too. Doing for others helps me. But, as you say, there is a time when we just need to let others do the serving. Wise words from you, my wise friend.
“hog-wallow” – great term. :) Yes, sometimes when I’m just in a funk, all I need is to do something for someone else and God helps me find some joy. :)
Melissa Bell says
This is such a huge struggle for me. I am always hearing about needs at church, and I so want to help. Unfortunately, our circumstances have placed us in a “can’t serve, but need to be served” position for too long now. I have to rely on God, and He is trying to teach me through this. Our 3 yo daughter was diagnosed with cancer on her 1st bday (3.2.11). Since then, she has beat cancer but it took both of her kidneys. She has been on dialysis since 06/11 and needs a transplant. So, for over 2 years now we have had to focus on our own family and getting through. We can’t be around crowds because we can’t risk her getting sick. This makes it difficult to serve anyone else. I’ve tried to be creative. We “help” by doing Operation Christmas Child, donating food to church/shelter, donating to toys for tots, or giving away things we don’t need to someone who has a need. These things are small, but we pray God will multiply these blessings! It’s so hard to accept our current position, but I know He has a plan. What I’ve learned so far … Trust in Him, and if you can do nothing else … PRAY for others! I believe prayer is more powerful than a casserole any day!
Prayer is more powerful than a casserole – that is beautiful!! God bless you during this time. It sounds like you are serving in mighty ways. Praying your daughter will be fully healed soon!
Jane H says
Oh Melissa, God sees your heart of service. You have your plate full and you are certainly serving your family. There are times in life when we just have to lean. I have had a season of illness the past 6 years and have not been able to do any of the things that I used to do, and like you I have to contribute to the food pantry, or send cookies if I can bake them or spend my time in prayer. So many weeks I’m not able to go to church, but so thankful I can watch a service on tv and then watch our service later on the computer. Blessings and love to your precious family….what is your little girls’ first name? Praying.
I grew up in a household where, as far as I can remember, we were never taught (or did anything) to serve anyone else, and this was even a Christian household. I just find it so hard to know where to start, or what to do since I had no example of anything when I was younger. I feel really pathetic when I hear all the ways in which others serve and I cannot come up with anything to do myself. Maybe this is just my excuse and someday soon, with God’s grace, I will find my little ways to serve. Thank you for sharing this.
God WILL show you!! When you are open to learning about people’s needs, God will provide many opportunities for you to reach out and love on people. Don’t make it complicated – just love people. :)
I think satan would have us believe that the little day to day things we do don’t matter. I lost my daughter in a car accident in January. And those ‘little’ things people do to reach out and brighten my day…. I WISH I could let them know how GREAT those things are. A hug, a smile, buying me a cup of coffee, offering to play with my little ones who are grieving too. I’ve been showered by love in ‘little’ (and big ways too). But those little things, they add up. I have a feeling you do serve. Just not in a way that is big, for everyone else to see. But it’s the unseen that makes the biggest difference. At least in my life, at this given moment.
Thank you so much for this post today, it really hits home in a time of need!
God bless you as you serve, and as you allow others to serve you. :)
I don’t think most women have any trouble serving! It’s so ingrained in us to nurture others and be helpful that it’s actually hard for most women to say “No” without feeling guilty.
On the flip side, I find it’s hard to sit back and be served. I don’t want to look lazy or look like I can’t handle a bit of stress or look like I’m mopey. Right now I’m nine months pregant and it’s STILL hard to sit back and let myself be taken care of because, even now, I don’t want to look like one of those pregnant women that expects to be waited on hand and foot. There’s definately pressure on us women to be able to do it all, all the time!
I do think that we women need to remember just what you said – there is a time for everything, including a time to let others take care of us!
Corrina Bria says
I’m so glad you clarified, there is a time to serve and a time to be served. 2 1/2 yrs ago I was pregnant with my second child, living in a new place 1200 miles away from any family. During that whole pregnancy the relationship with my mother was damaged, with no communication. I was tired, lonely, hurting, and feeling very unloved by my family. Our church reached out and loved on us by bringing meals for a whole week after our baby was born. Not only was I able to rest and be nourished by these meals, I was able to get to know people outside of church, and I’ve never felt so loved. God really can use that cassarole or cake and to show someone that they are cared for! Thank you for your wise and encouraging words!
Devon McVey says
Thanks so much for this post…I can’t wait to hear what your ministry opportunity is. I too wondered how to serve as a family when my kids are young. Now that they are school aged and in the public school system, we have a great opportunity. Last year we were faced with the challenge of evolution being taught to my oldest child in 7th grade. I asked if creationism or Intelligent design could be presented, but it could not (Kitzmiller v. Dover SD, 2005). So my family and I rented out the high school auditorium (which anyone can do and not be discriminated against) and showed Lee Stobel’s “Case for a Creator” DVD. We called it “Creation Night”. It was a huge success. Over 250 people attended including many skeptics. We decided to do it every year. This year we had a live speaker, Keith Kendrex, of the radio program Evidence 4 Faith. Our vision is to see this become a movement among other public schools in this country. If you are interested in hosting a Creation Night, please visit http://creationnight.com. Or email me at [email protected]
Charlotte Moore says
It is hard for me to sit back and let someone do for me. I have always taken food to the sick and to funeral homes. When I knew I was going to have knee surgery I cooked ahead and put in the freezer so no one would have to do anything. My sister came up and said what can you do for someone that will not let you do? Hahaha!!! She did some ironing and stayed with me so my husband could bush hog. I just have a hard time letting someone wait on me.
We were going through a financial battle a few years ago and needed a new garage door. My daughter in laws mother talked to them and said they should all buy us the door because we had always done for others. It was a humbling experience to have them pay for the door.
GOD does provide our needs, not necessarily our wants. Big difference!!!
Susan F. says
This is a beautiful message. I will be praying about your announcement, those who will serve and be served by it when the time comes.
When my father died my mother spent the holiday season making goodies for people and we girls hand delivered them for her. We were all in agony after enduring a rather gruesome October cancer death and terrible medical care. It helped to push ourselves to serve others rather than be bitter and vengeful. We also had to accept from others so I know exactly what you are talking about.
This is beautiful, Laura!
In my broken seasons, I’ve found it so helpful to think of them as just that–seasons. I couldn’t serve in the ways I wanted to all the time, but I still found small ways to serve. I knew that eventually the season would end, and I would be able to do serve in a new way! Great perspective, and thanks so much for the encouragement in my email today!
Very true Laura. Thank you for making it so simple :) I am praying for you today and for your ministry through this page. I hope you have a blessed weekend! :)
Wow, this post really hits home with me. Our home and family has suffered heartache and tragedy over the course of the past year, bringing me to the point where there are days that I can barely put one foot in front of the other. Being one who typically serves people, it was hard for me to accept that I needed to be on the receiving end for a time. It took counsel from good friends and pastors who helped me to see that it’s ok to step back and let people love on me and care for me in this season. There have been times during this season when I have taken meals to people in need, and it felt so good to be able to reach out to them while I’m hurting. I think when we’re walking through hard seasons, we need to know our limitations and allow ourselves to say no when we need to. God knows our heart and that’s what matters most. Thank you for this post….
I just want to thank you for this post. I just now found time to read it, and it spoke directly to my heart tonight. We just moved several states away from family and friends. I am feeling (lonely? I guess?) as we look for a church home and have no real friends yet. I’ve felt pulled to serve others, which can include my very small children. I was given good advice- to continue praying of course, but to also sit back and be still. To just let God work in his way. I know committing to serving outside my home will probably be too much, and that God has put me where I need to be right now. But it’s hard to imagine letting others serve me; I ask myself “how are they supposed serve us to if we dont know anyone?!”
After all that rambling, my point is to say God will put it all in place. This post has reinforced that for me; maybe I dont need to do anything, He really will take care of it like he has everything else thus far. You have also offered some good ideas for easy, but fulfilling ways to serve. And just maybe your ministry will be just what we are needing. :)
We will continue praying about it, and also pray for your ministry. Sorry for the long comment, but thank you for sharing this post. It was a blessing.
I found your post about serving so encouraging. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that God’s in control and we need to rely on him and not ourselves when we’re in a pit of despair. And when we’re in our lowest points that God can use that to still serve others and/or show us how to serve. Proverbs 3:5-6.