Friday, September 2, 2011

Finding Joy through Loving Service

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Finding Joy through Loving Service, by M. Russell Ballard
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

There is something deeply cleansing in yard work. I wrote about the joy of mowing the lawn previously (click here), and how that task is great because it lets you see how much you've accomplished, where you are in the overall task, and what yet remains to be done.

Since moving to Florida, my lawn duties have expanded beyond simply mowing a lawn. Now we have hedges to keep under control, weeds to keep at bay, and many trees to manage. To assist in my new chore/hobby, I purchased an electric hedge trimmer. Last night I opened the trimmer's package and set out to work, but I didn't want to go alone. My seven-yr-old boy was kind enough to accompany me, but he quickly realized that he didn't have anything to do (I was hesitant to let him use the trimmer alone), and he didn't fancy raking leaves behind me. After a short conversation where we discussed what needed to be done and how to do it, he chose to use the pruning shears to trim the scraggly limbs between the hedge and the house—a task I couldn't do (I'm too big), and something he had great fun doing (it's always fun to feel the snip of a limb as its cut).

As we attacked the lawn—and it was an attack—I couldn't help but think of the currant bush story from Hugh B. Brown (link here), especially when my son said he thought he heard the bush softly yell in pain as he cut it.

As I read Elder Ballard's talk today, I was reminded of the great fun we had as a family in the yard last night. Elder Ballard spoke of how seasons can remind of Christ (especially Spring). Although it's no longer Spring, the transformation we're working toward in the yard is comparable:

Spring brings a renewal of light and life—reminding us, through the cycle of seasons, of the life, sacrifice, and Resurrection of our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, for "all things bear record of [Him]" (Moses 6:63).
This is a picture from our back yard!

This was just what appeared to be a brief aside at the start of his talk, but the reference to change and seasons reminding of Christ was on my mind as I reviewed the rest of the talk as well. The title is "Finding Joy through Loving Service," and I couldn't help thinking of how family members were lovingly serving each other by working in the yard together last night (there weren't even any complaints!).

As much fun as it was to work together as a family, I think I need to look outside sometimes, too. I spend so much of my free time with my family, that I rarely interact with others. (In all fairness, I do have a pretty amazing family! My three-yr-old would say we're AWESOME!).

Perhaps I can take the example of family service that I see and practice in my family and try to extend it to others. We show our love for each other through little things (like small flecks of gold, a reference to a mining analogy from the talk). Even the most mundane chores become elaborate valentines when performed with love. Elder Ballard shared a quote from President Kimball that really stood out to me:

It is vital that we serve each other in the kingdom. … So often, our acts of service consist of simple encouragement or of giving … help with mundane tasks, but what glorious consequences can flow … from small but deliberate deeds!

I want to remember to give service to my family through small but deliberate deeds, and I want to look for ways to help others outside of my family, too. As President Monson said:

The needs of others are ever present, and each of us can do something to help someone.

...Unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives.


Here's a bonus video of part of this talk (part I didn't really discuss...):

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