Everyone goes through hard times. In fact, last week was a very rough week for my family.
Our dog's arthritis reached the point where he could no longer stand up on his own and after 9 years of being blessed with his love, we had to say goodbye to him. The crazy thing is that it was a very busy week for us.
We took a new mother and her family a meal, made food and created games for an activity at church, and watched three kids while their parents went out of town for a birthday/running marathon weekend.
Was it too much? Should we have said no to some of these things? The answer is absolutely not; it was exactly what we needed.
This is what we learned through this crazy process- actually, more like remembered:
First, sometimes our lives get busy at exactly the right moment. Second, when we focus on serving where and when we can, we are blessed.
There is no way we could have known ahead of time that our dog's health condition would decrease so rapidly on this extremely busy week. We scheduled most of these things weeks ago. We can honestly say that if our family did not have these things going on that week, we would have been sitting around worrying about our dog and dwelling on the sadness of his loss.
There have been many times I have witnessed someone who is very busy given more responsibilities at church, work, or in the community. While some may think that a woman whose husband is deployed needs less responsibility, I have seen many women blessed by being given more responsibility.
I have a friend who found herself in this position; her husband was deployed and she was given a demanding calling at church in addition to some volunteer work she did in the community. She didn't realize that these service opportunities and her volunteer work would help her during a very challenging time.
People sometimes say that they are going to focus on themselves for a while. They say it as if living simply for themselves will make everything in their life better. It does not. When we lose ourselves in service to those around us, our lives become better and we feel comfort even during the hard times.
The secret to finding joy and peace when things get hard is to forget yourself and find ways to lift and help others.
If the holidays are hard and lonely for you, then stop moping and find someone you can bless. Since we are in the military, quite often we can't be with family during the holidays. Instead we find friends to enjoy the holidays with or look for someone else's life we can bless. Our life has also been blessed by others inviting us to their homes during these difficult times.
There are so many things that can be done to help others during the holidays. You can volunteer at the hospital, a nursing home, a soup kitchen, or find another person or family that feels lonely during the holidays and get together. The worst thing you can do is sit around and dwell on all the hard and horrible things about life.
There is a meme going around the internet that shows Fred Rogers and it says, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."
We live in a scary world sometimes, but there are always helpers, and I can guarantee that those helpers feel good about what they are doing.
Are you a helper? Whose life are you blessing today?
Don't get wrapped up in your own life and problems because that is a very small package with little rewards. Go out and bless yourself by blessing others.