Call it what you may, but saying yes, giving of my time and talents, taking on too many tasks, is not a weakness. I’ve had this argument more than once with family and friends, and each time, I leave the conversation thinking that I was not successful in getting across why I continue to say yes. No, I don’t have an irrational desire to please nor am I insecure and unable to stand up for myself. I have a deep-in-my-soul belief that I was meant to serve. There are those who, I know, think I’m crazy. Sometimes, even I think that. But then there are the times that reaffirm my calling in resonating tones.
This past Sunday, the Gospel reading ended with the line, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do.” Our priest told us that each of us is called to do service here on Earth. He said that we are not meant to spend our lives being waited on or watching others do work. We are meant to pitch in, do our share, and contribute to society whenever and however we are needed. Everything that I have ever believed about serving others was summed up so loudly and clearly that I wanted to turn to everyone around me and shout, “See, I’m only doing what I was meant to be doing.”
While others may benefit from my service, I know that, ultimately, I am the one who is achieving the greatest reward. Here are my reasons for believing this and what I have learned in the process:
- Discovering Strengths: I am a master at organization. Give me an event, and I can plan it down to the smallest details. I can find the right people, give the right directions, and orchestrate the affair without letting any complication, large or small, dictate its success. But there are things I am not good at, and that’s okay. I have discovered what I can do and what I cannot. I consider that a gift and a blessing.
- Admitting Weaknesses: I do know when to quit, when to say no. In fact, I said no last week. I was asked to be part of a capital campaign and solicit money for a good cause. For a very good cause. For a cause near and dear to my heart. But I’ve been there and done that. And I learned that I am not good in that role. I am not comfortable in that role, but I know that there are others who are. There are others who are called to do that, Just as there are others who are called to direct plays, do bookkeeping, and maintain gardens. All things that I’ve been asked to do at one time or another and either knew or learned the hard way that they are beyond my capabilities.
- Joy is a Beautiful Thing: Whether it is planning a week-long summer camp or an all-night after prom party, I delight in seeing everything come together in a way that brings happiness and joy to the participants. Seeing their faces, hearing their stories, and watching them have fun, makes all of the hard work and countless hours more than worth it.
- My soul is satisfied: Few things in life feel better than the success or accomplishment of great tasks. It’s not about self-aggrandizement. It’s about self-discovery, self-growth, and self-satisfaction. It wouldn’t matter to me if no other person in the world knew that I was behind an event. I know it, and it feels good to see something I’ve worked on go the way that I hoped and prayed it would.
- But it’s not about what I have to offer: It’s about what we can accomplish together. It’s about bringing together a group of individuals and helping each of them to find their strengths, encouraging them to use their talents, and inspiring in them and others the passion to serve. As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”
- My children are learning to lead: They are not learning to be pushovers but to plan, to accept their strengths and their shortcomings, and to serve others. I once had someone say to me that I was doing my children a disservice because they would grow up to be women who couldn’t say no, who took on too many tasks. At first, I worried about this, but then I watched my children come to their own realizations about what they can do and how much they can handle. They understand what it means to stay committed to something, what it takes to lead, and when it’s necessary to back down or say no.
- There is no obstacle too large to overcome: Often, we hear about mountains being in the way of success. We can climb over them, go around them, tunnel through them, or turn around and go back the way we came. I am a big believer in finding those ways to get to the other side of the mountain. If there’s a will, there’s a way, right? It’s often my mantra, and I’ve never found it to be untrue. The acclaimed surgeon, Ben Carson, wrote in his book, Gifted Hands, “Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.” How true that is.
- My yoke may be heavy, but my burden is light: This is the one thing that others never understand. Yes, committing to several large endeavors while maintaining a home and career is daunting, but it’s not tiring. I am busy, but I am not overwhelmed. I keep my eye on the finish line, jumping over hurdles, sometimes sloshing through puddles, but holding steady to my pace. Most of all, I don’t worry or stress or let fears or uncertainties overcome me. I know that I am not doing all of the things I take on for myself. I am doing them for the greater good. And that’s what matters because I know that God will not let me fail. He will not let me falter. He will hold me up, guide me on the trail, and lead me to victory, not mine, but His, for the glory is His. Because…
- I am the handmaid of the Lord: I am here to serve. I am here to do His will. I will continue to listen to that inner voice that says, “No, this is not the right time” or “This is not the right job,” or “Yes, you can handle this. I will be by your side.”
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.