For a long time, service meant drudgery, something grim and tiresome to me. Having to say yes all the time, even when I wanted to say no. Doing a lot of things I didn’t want to do because someone asked me to. Doing an act of service even if I wasn’t asked. Solving any problem, filling any need I saw any time, anywhere.
But much of the time, what I did didn’t help others or me. Usually I felt angry, resentful, tired, and unappreciated. After years of living this way, I started avoiding people so I could avoid the responsibility of having to solve their problems. I shied away from people. I shied away from service.
Before I was able to return to service, I needed to change my definition of it. Service isn’t something we do; it’s a way of life. Service is what our lives are when we’re loving ourselves.
Now, to me service means that we take our place in the universe naturally and easily. We listen to our hearts, trusting the guidance about what we want to do, what feels right for us. We listen when our hearts say no, too.
We love ourselves. We do what we’re led to do. We do what we enjoy and have a passion for doing. That’s service. We enjoy life. We open our hearts to the people around us. We laugh openly, we cry openly, we let ourselves be who we are. That’s service. When a task or job arises that it’s our job to do, one that feels right and appropriate for us, we do it—in joy and love. That’s service. We allow ourselves to be in the present moment, realizing the value of work and of giving. Then we take it one step further. We allow ourselves to have fun and enjoy what we’re doing while we’re doing it. That’s service.
If a task seems too grim to bear, if we can’t find the reserves or resolve to accomplish it, if no way to do it opens up, we quietly say no. We have not failed. We have succeeded at listening to our hearts. We have succeeded at true service.
We give of ourselves, our resources, our love. We give of our time and our smiles and our joy in those places and with those people that feel right to us. We don’t worry about what we’re going to get back while we’re giving. We focus on the giving, because we’re doing something we want to do.
If service has become drudgery, redefine it until
it becomes joy. True service won’t make you back
away from people and life. It will bring you closer
to God, to yourself. True service helps you become
a part of the magical dance of universal love.
From the desk of Melody Beattie
Originally posted December 24, 2014
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