I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Most everything I'm currently reading or listening to brings this up. The idea that as Christians, we are called to serve. We serve those less fortunate. We serve our loved ones. We even serve the ones we don't feel much love for.
I think I used to be better at this than I currently am. I volunteered. I sent thank you notes. I held dinner parties. I crafted gifts. I baked and shared. I organized fundraisers. I coached. I taught. I said yes to everything. I did all those things for so long that, inevitably, I got burnt out. So I stopped serving almost anyone outside my immediate family. I said no. I said no to almost everything. At first I felt the tiniest amount of guilt and then after a while of saying no, I just didn't feel any. No more guilt. Clean conscious.
Saying yes to everything stretched me so thin that I was a mess. The stress of it caused me to be a short tempered parent and an inconsiderate wife. But in turn, saying no to everything means that I removed myself from the community and the distance makes my heart ache for friendships. Because when you start saying no to invitations, requests, dinner dates...and you do it long enough, people stop asking you.
Since this call to serve has been coming up all around me, I've been wondering where I can strike a balance. How can I serve the community with my God given gifts and still be present and refreshed for my family? And in pondering that I've had to attempt to identify my gifts so I don't squander them in a service that would be better suited to someone else.
What am I good at? Instruction, organization, cooking, public speaking, some artistic endeavors (photography, writing, design/layout) and speed reading (seriously).
What should I leave well enough alone? Interacting with people (because let's face it, I'm just awkward), consistency, counseling or listening (I'm not the person to have around if you need a shoulder to cry on), and I'm also a very bad dancer. Like really bad. Furthermore I can't sing or play an instrument so don't ask me to join the choir.
I am also good at ideas. Like maybe a bit too good at ideas. I have so many. And I want to implement them all at the same time and probably not follow through with 90% of them to completion. But I am an idea machine! So I have that to offer, as long as I can share those ideas with people who actually will do something with them instead of leaving them half finished all over their house.
It's an ongoing thing, this learning to serve. While part of me balks at the thought of giving myself- my time, my energy, my precious little brain space to anyone other than my kids and husband, another part of me realizes the good that comes from community and sharing. So I'll just keep on working on it until its no longer a big deal. Fake it till you make it, right?