I have had several experiences lately which seem to be teaching me about service. I can not say I have learned all the lessons I am supposed to from them, but as part of my pondering I am writing about them.
A short time prior to Christmas I was at the grocery store with my middle child. A man from East India came up to me as I was looking over the chip aisle and asked me if he could see my shoe. He proceeded to sit on the floor and take my shoe off then take my foot in his hands and massage it. Truth be told I felt rather uncomfortable and tried to stop him. He explained he was graduating from school and had studied the technique he was using. He could tell by my feet they were very sore and this would go a long way to helping them to feel better and for me to get a good nights sleep. Being eight months pregnant and having been on my feet most of the day I could not deny that my feet were indeed very sore, and I let him continue. He worked on one foot and then the other, and then he went back to the first again. For twenty minutes he held my sweaty socked feet in his hand, expertly massaging them in the chip aisle in the grocery store. I asked him if I could do anything for him, and he said no, it was his way of thanking me, and then he went on with his shopping. Why would a stranger perform such a service? He had talents in the area of service he gave, did he simply want to share those talents with those he thought they might help? What did he mean that it was “his way of thanking me”? I’m sure I had never helped him before.
As I was leaving the store a woman with one bag on her arm came over and insisted on pushing one of my carts-yes I had two. Again I accepted this service and she went out of her way to take the cart to my car, gladly doing so.
These people were helping me and they weren’t getting anything in return! Almost in desperation I racked my brain for someone I could serve. Sure I had dropped off a few cans of food and put money in donation buckets in front of stores, but… And then guilt swept over me. I had a neighbor who was lonely and poor. She came over often, in the morning, afternoon and evenings. She needed someone to talk to and occasionally she asked for food or money and to use the phone as she had none. While I let her use the phone, and gave her bus fare and food occasionally, I often explained I did not have time to talk as I was so busy with working from home and teaching the kids, blah, blah, blah. And … I had never given her anything beyond what she had asked for. I unloaded the car and immediately took over a tub of cookies I had bought. She was packing and explained they were being evicted and had to be out on the 22nd of December. Her sister, whom she lived with would be staying in a homeless shelter, and she would be staying in the dining room of a friend. She smiled when she said this as she knew two of my children had slept in our dining room until we finally had set up the garage for them. She then gave me a pair of booties for the baby, and I wished I had some money to give her to help her out and vowed next time I went anywhere I would get some from the bank. Then she moved. She has stopped by once to ask if I had money for bus fair, and I gave her all I had, but surely I could have done more.
And I have to wonder, why do I wait until I am specifically asked to help anyone? I do tend to help when asked and I enjoy doing so. I remembered the lady at the gas station, recently, who was out of gas and money and I filled her gas can, but she asked. The babysitting for others I had done, but they asked. The answers to questions for people I write, who ask, and those who I visit monthly for church, because I was asked to. Must I always be asked to help? No, now that I see this weakness, perhaps I can open my eyes to serving others-even without being asked.