As a young girl I had a bright yellow apron with tiny strawberry buttons. Like most little girls, when my mom was baking and wearing her apron, I wanted to put on that yellow apron and bake, too.
The thing I remember most about this yellow apron is how it came to be mine.
I can't remember her face. And I can't remember a name. (And my mom's memory is poor, she probably can't even remember this happening.) But it was impressed upon my memory so much that it has influenced choices I make with my own children. But there was a lady who lived nearby our family. My mom used to visit this woman and she brought me along. On one of her visits, the lady told me she wanted to help make me an apron. I got to pick out the strawberry buttons. I must have been four years old.
At the time, I was too young to understand this woman and her circumstances. As an adult, I still don't know, but I have a very good feeling that this was a woman who was in need. She probably wasn't my mom's first choice of a friend; I remember my parents having a lot of other friends. I have little doubt that my mom was trying to make a difference in this person's life. I don't ever remember her coming to my house. I only remember visiting hers.
There are countless memories of tagging along while my mom went from house to house offering a helping hand, bringing meals, attending Tupperware parties to show support, and sharing her faith and talents with those who needed it. She didn't do this because she had extra time on her hands. She did this because she is a disciple of Jesus Christ and has made a promise to Him that she would bear another's burdens, mourn with those who mourn, and serve.
These types of memories don't fade. There is a lot I can't remember about my childhood, but these times seem to be stuck there. Maybe because I needed to know how impressionable service opportunities would be for my own kids. Because now as a parent, when an opportunity is there, I want my kids to be with me. I want them to see that happiness in this life doesn't come from "things" but from service.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there are countless opportunities to serve. We are admonished to look for these opportunities and pray for them daily. Often times, when I pray for an opportunity to serve, I'm guided to one of my own children or even my husband and a need they have that day. Sometimes I have a feeling to call someone. And sometimes, it is to give a compliment or a smile. I have been given assignments at church that have taken as much of my time as a full-time job! There has never been a penny received in compensation! My husband worked a 14 hour day yesterday. Very normal for him. But after that long day, I got a phone call from him letting me know he was going to be late because he needed to go help someone move some furniture. There was no complaint, though I could hear in his voice it had been a long day. He came home with a smile on his face and was grateful he got off work just in time to help. My husband is also a disciple of Jesus Christ and has made a promise to bear another's burdens, mourn with those who mourn and serve.
Are members of my Church more kind than others? No. But members of my church have been taught, trained and admonished to serve their fellow men. From an early age, we participate in service projects, watch our parents care for the needs of others, we learn from scriptures how Christ served and we do our best to emulate Him. There is also the challenge from the Savior himself who admonished us to serve those who persecute us.
Just as little girls want to wear aprons and look just like their moms while baking, little children are learning from their parents example in how they live their lives. My mom didn't teach me to serve with words. That would have been very ineffective. She has taught me to serve by the way she lives her life. I hope to do the same for my kids. They live in a selfish, self-centered world. No wonder there is so much unhappiness. If I can teach them this one thing, their lives will have more meaning and they will find happiness.
Because I am a Mormon, I have dedicated my life to a life of service. For I believe that when I serve others, I am really serving my God.