You see, in my young and immature mind, to serve meant you were a nurse or a teacher or something like that. But, that is not at all what my dad meant. He meant, when you wake up in the morning, before you ever put your feet on the ground, you should pray for God to show you how to serve others that day. Serving others doesn't necessarily have to do with your career choice. It is an attitude you bring to your daily life. When you start serving others and expect nothing in return from them, not even a thank you, you truly start experiencing what God created you for...and that brings ultimate joy.
Now the real challenge and test of this comes when you become a parent. You see, being a parent of little ones is definitely the most thankless job. Have you ever tried to please a toddler? You can plan the most perfect day that is all about them and they still will complain about something. If you plan these days and expect to only hear "Oh thank you mommy. This is so much fun!! You are the best mommy in the world!" prepare to feel disappointed a lot of the time. By nature, these little creatures are greedy and self centered. Being a mother is definitely the ultimate challenge of serving with a happy heart and expecting nothing in return from it.
I think finding joy and happiness in being a stay at home mom is an extremely difficult challenge. I am not sure I experienced this as much when I had just Ella, but now that I have 3 very small children and my life is much more isolated from society, I find myself working even harder to have a happy serving heart. I have very little time for any one but my children right now. It is the season of life I am in. Simply going to the library is a huge production no matter how carefully I have planned it into our day. Sometimes the loneliness of motherhood can creep in (I will blog about this another day). It would be very easy to feel mad and under appreciated right now...because my kids could care less that I cleaned their clothes and cooked them a healthy meal. But, I am to serve them. I think so many moms get into this attitude of "my kids have to fit into MY life." Where is the sacrifice in that attitude? I think modern day society feels like there should not be any sacrifice "just because you have children." Good luck if this is your attitude. You will have a life time of feeling frustrated and feeling like your child is a burden.
It's not all sunshine and roses. I'm not pretending I am Pollyanna. No matter what your faith is, we are all seeking happiness here on this Earth. We live in a society that is all about "I deserve". If you live expecting others to bow down to you and give back for all your hard work, prepare to be unhappy.
I feel like that small tidbit of advice that my father gave me 10 years ago was probably the best advice any young person can learn. Isn't it nice to think that you could look at a pile of laundry and say "I am going to fold all this laundry, no one is going to thank me for it, but it is going to make me happy to do it. It helps my family and my job is to give to others and serve others."? You can roll your eyes. It's ok...I probably would not have believed it before I had three little ones who challenged me to change my attitude. If you are a SAHM with many small children, you are probably nodding your head in agreement. It's actually biblical.
"Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High..."
(No, I am not calling children the enemy. You completely misread my heart if you think that). Everyday, wake up and insert different peoples name where it says enemy. Try it. God promises you that your reward will be VERY great!!! Believe it and know that the only way to truly be happy is to serve and expect nothing in return. It is a challenge every day for me. The days where I feel most miserable are when I have expected a thank you or an act of payment of some sort.
It is totally against society. Society says serve yourself. You know what? Society is pretty miserable, aren't they?
Serve others and see the joy that seeps into your heart.