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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Commitment to Service...It's not always pretty

Pretty much everyone I know likes to do nice things for other people. It's easy and sometimes fun to do nice things, helpful things, for others.

What about when doing the nice thing, doing the helpful thing, do the right thing is just plain inconvenient, or hard, or messy or distasteful?

When my grandfather was alive and going through the last stages of Alzheimer's, my mother (Gpa's daughter-in-law) went to visit him most, if not every, day. She did his laundry, she talked to him, she made over him, she made sure he had everything he needed and did so with a smile on her face...she was totally committed and there for him. Some of the things my mother had to do for him were pretty distasteful, but she didn't flinch. Gpa wasn't always coherent and didn't speak most of the time so he didn't say "thank you" very much, but my mother wasn't doing it for the praise. She was doing it because she was cheerfully committed to him.

My mother learned this servant attitude well. Both her parents had it and my grandmother (my mother's mother) modeled it regularly with her own family as well as other people around her.

I can't say I learned it as well as my mother did. One time, when my mother couldn't visit Gpa, she had my sister, brother, and me go over to the nursing home. One of the things that needed to be done was to put some kind of cream on Gpa's legs because they were so chapped and dry. I was the one to put the cream on. I was getting it done in my normally thorough way when my brother looked down at me and said, "'re face." I said "what about my face?" He said, "you need to wipe that look off your face."

Evidently, I had a really disgusted look on my face that must have made it appear like I was sticking my hand in a dirty toilet. Hopefully, my Gpa didn't see my expression or perhaps it didn't register with him. I hope not.

So, commitment got me through the distaste. And I was doing my duty so that was a good start, but I was lacking a spirit of empathy and compassion. Those things can take you the rest of the way to cheerful service.

Let's all look at how we provide service to those around us and do our best to provide it in a positive, empathetic and uplifting way...even when it's not pretty.

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