One of the greatest joys of this whole host family process has been the chance to serve someone else daily, perhaps multiple times a day. For example, while Elisa is perfectly capable of packing her own lunch, and some days does, I enjoy serving her in this small way.
It also is a way I actually can help toward the process of getting a teenager out the door halfway on time in the morning. I can’t control the rest of her rushed morning routine, but I can make her lunch. This is just one of many ways being “mom” has taught me about serving others: I can’t do everything but I can figure out what my role is and serve wholeheartedly there, doing my small part.
Also, parent to a teenager provides an everconstant reminder that servants are often overlooked and undervalued. While we all experience this ourselves in different ways, it’s a great reminder to be more grateful for the people who serve ME and to keep my eyes open for what others do that may often go unnoticed.
It’s also a great mirror for my motive behind serving and an attitude check in the midst of it. I have a few choices when serving someone doesn’t go as I planned. I may go out of my way to make sure dinner is waiting for her when she home from a volleyball game on a day I won’t be there to make something. Then, instead of eating what I make she invites friends over, makes pancakes (along with a big mess in the kitchen). I have some choices to make… I can either let myself get worked up or frustrated that my efforts were in vain and seemingly unnoticed. OR I can be grateful that she seems to understand the value of having people over… that she IS self-sufficient enough to make dinner… that she did promise before I even got home that she’d clean everything up… that she feels comfortable enough here to invite people into our home. (…and that’s she’s okay with leftovers and I don’t have to think about what to cook for tomorrow night 🙂 ). I can get frustrated or I can get grateful.
As I mentioned before, it shines a light on my motives and expectations… why was I making her dinner in the first place… was I doing it simply out of love and care for her or was I doing it to gain some kind of approval or affirmation. (Most likely in this case I was doing it because providing food for my kid is kind of important haha). But in the bigger picture of serving anyone, when I’m left frustrated often I can trace it back more to my own unrealistic expectations or motivations, more so than anything someone else did or didn’t do.
I’m sure Jesus felt unnoticed and undervalued all the time as He served people all around Him. He would do great things for them… even miraculous things, and they’d forget a few days later. If nothing else, there’s the whole fact we often forget that, well, He DIED for us. How quickly we forget that huge, ultimate act of service. Not being noticed is part of the deal in serving, I think. But Jesus kept focused on His purpose. God’s Word even tells us that serving people WAS his whole purpose in coming… that He didn’t come to be served but to serve and give His life. When we can keep our purpose in view as we serve, we are able to leave the frustration and bitterness out of the picture.
Serving someone in the role of mom has also taught me so much about developing others in servanthood. While Elisa’s parents already did all the hard work on this part, I get to continue to help build on what they’ve done to grow her into someone with a heart to serve others. I pray that if I have more children of my own in the future what I’m learning now will help me in the early stages as well.
Above all, serving Elisa has reminded me of the sacrificial and unconditional love of Jesus for me. In the end, I love and care for Elisa. No matter what happened yesterday, I can joyfully get up and serve her today because of that love. Even greater is the love of Jesus and even more perfect. As humans it’s easy for us to carry around a list of past offenses, to let things build up overtime and become more and more bitter and frustrated. But Jesus, His mercies never come to an end, they new every morning. His faithfulness is great and His love is steadfast (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Jesus as we serve others, in whatever role we may serve them, may our mercy and compassion be new this day. Free us from any frustration of past days and set our hearts on love. May you give us opportunities to serve out of that love with no other motives. May we be faithful to the places you’ve called us to serve even on the days it gets hard. May we seek to glorify you and not worry about being noticed or appreciated by anyone else. Show us the purpose you have for our lives and use that to joyfully prompt acts of service in our lives out of your grace. Above all, thank you for serving us, each and every day, and ultimately in the giving of your life. What great love! Help us rest in and live out of that love today. In Jesus’ name, Amen!