I pointed out to my mother once how much of a waste it is that she never got far enough to build her own career as an accountant. She retired early in order to be a full-time mother and to take care of three young children. Curious, I asked her,
“Mom, don’t you have any dreams at all?”
Her simple answer left me pondering about life’s real purpose. She said, referring to my siblings and me:
“I gave up on my dream in exchange for fulfilling three people’s dreams.”
I will never forget that. As a strong and independent woman (or so I thought), I was ready to tell my mother how much she missed out in life by failing to have a career. However, I realized that I was wrong all along. I had a narrow perspective. My mother never lost anything, but she gained a lot by enriching other people’s lives through her sacrifice and service. This conversation led me to a famous scriptural paradox about finding through losing.
The Paradox of Finding through Losing
Jesus said, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39). I remember reading this verse and being confused, “What was that suppose to even mean? How can I lose myself then find it? The two are contradicting concepts. Fortunately, the late President Thomas S. Monson gave a clear explanation regarding this matter:
“I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish—and in effect save their lives.” 1
Now that I think about it, the model life I want to follow – that of Jesus Christ – is a life full of service. For thirty odd years, [He] went about doing good” (Acts10:38). Jesus Christ suffered, bled, and died for others’ sake – for ours. In doing so, He gained eternal life and was able to extend the same opportunity for us all. I would not call Jesus Christ’s life as a life in vain! He lived the most purposeful life on Earth because He offered His whole life to others. Just like my mother. This is the blessing of service.
So, if you ever want to find your life or to have a purpose, lose yourselves in the service to others. You don’t know how? Well, here are a few suggestions:
Ways to Lose Yourselves in Service to Others
I think to listen as a service is not very well thought of. Based on my own experience, sometimes, what people just want is for someone to truly listen to them. And when I say listen, it means being all ears for that person. It means not thinking about what to say next while someone is talking, not interrupting them in the middle of a sentence, or misinterpreting their words. To listen is to truly understand another.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Perhaps even more important than speaking is listening. … If we listen with love, we won’t need to wonder what to say. It will be given to us—by the Spirit.”
Spend Quality Time
One of my favorite quotes from General Conference addresses is from Elder Uchtdorf. He said that “love is really spelled time.” 3 I want to modify this quote a bit and add quality before time:
Love is really spelled quality time.
It is possible for us to spend time with our family, friends, and fellow men without really giving them our time at all. I have seen a lot of family dinner out with young teens glued to their mobile phone the whole night or a catch-up with friends where none of them is talking because they are busy updating their social media statuses. When we say spend time with another, we should really give them our full attention. I think it beats the purpose of spending time together when you are distracted the whole time.
Send Messages and Give a Call
There are times when we cannot render our services to others “in person” because of geographical boundaries and other constraints. With modern technology though, we can still serve others even from miles away. Now, serving can be done with just a few mouse clicks. When feel prompted by the Spirit, send someone a personal message on Facebook or call someone to ask about their day. Such simple gestures can go a long way.
With the recent instructions from the prophet regarding ministering, there are more ways you can do to serve others. Kneel and ask God to help you find opportunities to serve then get on your feet and go to work.