I believe there is power in service. Service to our fellow man has the power to unite individuals, families, communities, and nations. I think of the police officers, firefighters, and our military who risk their lives to help others. They do this for people they do not know and may never meet. They serve because they care. This service is an outward expression of love for their fellow man. I see strong bonds form between those that give and those that receive.
My dad is a great example of how service brings people together. Like the time he invited a coworker to join us for family dinner. This coworker was mentally challenged, never attended school, and was what many would consider socially awkward. Dad simply saw a man that could use a friend. He became part of the family; joining us for dinners, events, and even vacations. He was exposed to new people, ideas, and experiences. It was a joy to watch him learn and grow as he gained confidence in himself and the world around him. He was not the only one to benefit. Our world was made richer for having him in our lives.
Recently, the experience of my friends Susan and Tom taught me about the power of both giving and receiving service. Susan and Tom had four children and were awaiting the birth of twins. In the final weeks of pregnancy, their world was rocked. They lost Baby A. This meant they had to deliver Baby B much earlier than was ideal. She was at risk of underdeveloped lungs and other complications of being premature. This meant she would be in the NICU for a while.
I was watching the kids for them one day while they were at the hospital. There was a service project to help a family in our area that my husband and son were to attend. Tom asked that their older kids join the service project. I was completely shocked. These kids had just lost a sister, their mom was recovering in the hospital, and they had a sister in the NICU. No one expected them to show up to this service project. With a smile on his face, Tom explained to me that the kids would benefit from getting away from their sorrow by helping someone else. I felt the wisdom in his words. I know as I serve others, my own problems do not feel quite so heavy.
During their time in the hospital, Susan and Tom had to ask family and friends to serve them. They were still fairly new to our community. Allowing others into their lives was a bit uncomfortable at first, but by allowing others in, new friendships were formed. Bonds were strengthened. There were shared tears and heartfelt expressions of love and support that helped the family get through each day. We celebrated together when their baby girl was strong enough to be released from the hospital. The lives of both the givers and receivers were enriched through big and small acts of service.
These experiences showed me that we all need service in our lives. Sometimes we will be the giver, sometimes the recipient. I see how service strengthens individuals and fosters love and unity in families, friends, and communities. It allows us to put down our own problems for a time. Our spirits are lifted as we lighten the burdens of others. Then, when we return to pick up our problems, they do not feel as heavy as they did before. This is the power in service.