Thursday, May 12, 2016

Week of service

Our week of service in Laila's honor has come and gone.  Over the last four years I've noticed that the weeks leading up to her birthday are generally more difficult for me than the actual week.  I think it's just the anticipation of it perhaps.  I withdraw from people (or at least try) and get weepy and cranky.  Once I get it all out I am fine.  I think it's just important for me to let myself feel what I need to and then I can gather myself together and get on with life.  Last year the week of service was such a peaceful one.  I felt so much love and happiness in my heart and really enjoyed the service.  This year was a little harder for me simply because it came so soon after an incredibly stressful couple of weeks.  It turned out that I had five doctors appointments to get people to, and I was trying to plan and prepare for Eli's baptism and birthday and family that was coming into town for that.  His baptism as wonderful and I remember when we all got in the van afterward turning around and looking at Eli and Piper and saying to Mike, "We don't have another baptism for five years."  It hit me at that moment that someone was missing.  Of course, I know that Laila doesn't need baptism and I am forever thankful for that doctrine.  I think it was just more of a reminder that she is gone and that we don't get to celebrate those special days with her.  So, I think coming off of that spiritual high and stressful week, made me crash emotionally the next week.  

I just didn't feel like I had the mental and emotional energy to plan a full week of service and activities.  The week of service is supposed to be about making people happy and I didn't actually want to be near people at all.  I had friends that needed my help that week and truthfully, I'm admitting that I didn't want to be available to them.  I selfishly thought, "I need space.  I don't want to be near people this week."  I had to take a step back and remind myself that that is what this week is all about.  It's about giving of myself and teaching my kids to serve.  I did help my friends and as is usually the case with service, I was grateful afterward to be able to help them.  I found that as I served and as we served as a family, that my heart softened and that the gloom I felt cleared.  That's the cool thing about service.  

We chose some simple things to do with the kids.  For one day we put popcorn on a Redbox rental for someone to enjoy while they watched their movie.  We took bubble wands to five parks near us with a note for whoever found them telling them to enjoy the bubbles.  We made blessing bags for Mike to take in his car when he goes to school (there are a lot of homeless near the school).  We ordered pizza for a friend who was having a rough time, and sent a package full of candy.  Each candy had a slip of paper on it with a scripture or spiritual thought and we included a note telling them to take one a day for best results.  We also went around the block and drew hearts and left dimes face side up on them for people to find.  The kids really enjoyed the service.

Even though my heart wasn't necessarily in it this year and I had a somewhat begrudging attitude about it at first, I was able to feel as though I was being Laila's hands for the week, bringing joy and happiness to people.  It was inspiring to me to hear stories from friends and strangers alike who were influenced by participating in our week of service.  I guess this year in particular was a good one for me to see that it really is about looking outside of ourselves and trying to see who is struggling and who needs our support and by doing that, our pain seems less important.  So, even though I can't promise that next year I'll feel any less selfish about serving when asked, I do have a testimony of it's importance and I am very thankful for the inspiration we had to do this tradition.

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