Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Scratch Paper...


Over the past months as we have dealt with Tim's cancer diagnosis my mind has been taken again and again to thoughts of service. It has been astounding to me that so many people have done so much to help us limp through this very traumatic time. We have never been on the receiving end of service before -- not really. We've had some meals brought into our home when I've had a baby and maybe a few minor other things along the way but never anything like we have experienced since cancer turned our lives upside down 5 months ago. This whole experience has given me a truly different perspective on service.

My mind has worked and worked on thoughts of service ~ what it truly is, what it surely isn't, the blessings of giving and receiving service, the differences in the attitudes that I had of service and how they have changed through the acts of service extended to us, etc. And there is a lot of etcetera...a lot more.

So my mind and heart have been at work reflecting on my new found observations, lessons and attitudes. Then I got a phone call asking me to speak at a Single Adult Fireside in May. For those that don't know me well, the thought terrifies me! Me speak? To adults? For how long? To add to my terror, they are letting me pick the topic! They must not know, KNOW me or they would have assigned the topic and asked me to share a scripture and sit down!

As I have mulled over this talk assignment I have wondered if it is a coincidence that service has been so much in my thoughts. As I've prayed to know what to speak on, service comes to mind over and over again. Okay, I can live with the topic but if I can't verbalize all the mulling over my mind and heart have done, how can I speak on service?

So my blog is my sounding board, my pad and pen, my scratch paper.

My first thought was that talking on service would solicit eye rolling from my audience. Haven't we heard it all before? Is there a more exciting topic I could talk on? Perhaps the answer is yes to each of those questions but they did ask me to speak..they just don't know what they've done yet! (rolling my eyes!)

So I began to think. I thought about attitudes in which we approach service. Do we feel it our obligation? Do we do it begrudgingly? Do we do it because we "have to" or feel guilty if we don't? Or do we do it because we desire to truly be as the Savior and offer help where we can, to lift where we stand, to show love and compassion to our fellow brothers and sisters? If I am honest, I can admit that my attitudes about service have fallen into each of those categories at least a time or two. Sometimes it's obligation, sometimes it's the "have to" syndrome, sometimes it is truly for what I consider "the right reasons".

Okay...if I have done service with a wrong attitude does that make me a bad person? Am I flawed because I have failed to extend a hand to those in need with the wrong attitude? At first I thought yes but then into my mind came a thought that helps me frequently. It is a quote by Maya Angelo that simple says, "When you know better, you do better." I can tell you that after this diagnosis of cancer and seeing the Christ-like love and service that has been offered, I now KNOW better. I have seen the blessings at the hands of those who KNOW BETTER and they DO BETTER -- better than I've ever known to do....until now. In many ways I feel like cancer has been a gentle taking of our hands and showing us the way -- the way to better serve, to better love, to be better people. That is the irony in cancer -- a terrible thing has brought such sweet and rewarding life lessons.

A thought that has been rolling around in my head is there is a huge difference between "service" and "compassionate service". When compassion is added to service it is like a multi-faceted prism. It radiates concern, sympathy, kindness, understanding and love. It is the offering of comfort in its many different forms. THAT is what we have felt as the hand of fellowship, care and concern has been extended to us. It is so far removed from obligation.

What Tim and I both know is that we cannot have experienced the Christ-like example of compassionate service and NOT be changed by it. It has changed our attitudes, our view, our lives, our hearts.

Isaiah 66: 14
"And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice...and the hand of the Lord shall be known..."

10 comments:

Patty said...

Well said, Loretta, I think you have your talk!

amaree said...

Seems like you're well on your way! There was a sister who spoke at stake conference here last Saturday night. She didn't feel like she had much to offer, but her talk moved me deeply. I'm sure yours will do the same. Share the spirit you have here on this blog, your thoughts, etc., and the Holy Ghost will lead you all the way!

John and Erin said...

Here is a little quote for you..."Service is like wetting your pants, everyone can see what you have done, but only you can feel the warm feeling inside." I don't know who said it first, but I like it...Good luck!!!

Patty said...

OK, I am laughing hysterically at the last comment!!!

Loretta Valenta said...

BWHAHAHA! I could use that and quote YOU, Erin! :)

Coopers said...

I love Maya Angelou's quote...but Erin's is pretty good too! I wish I could be strong like you every day dealing with "stuff". Your strength helps so many of us "weaklings". Wise leaders to ask you to speak! You have a lot to say and a lot to offer.

Debbi said...

I agree with the others, here is talk. Print it out and use it. You are such an elegant writer, such a way with words...YOU are a natural. You know when Cretta came down to visit a thought came to my mind. Through this "journey" maybe it is meant so that you can "learn (for a lack of a better word) how to accept the giving or others. I have always felt that everything happens for a reason. I don't know, maybe???
Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers.

Debbi said...

dang, I am on the phone with your brother, listening to him and trying to think as I type.....not an easy task for me. I meant to say......"I agree with the others, here is YOUR talk.."

Loretta Valenta said...

I agree, Debbi, that the lesson has also very much been about learning how to accept the giving of others. I didn't know how difficult the accepting part would be...that is Scatch Paper 2! :)

Loretta Valenta said...

That would be Scratch Paper 2! :P