“Man’s greatest happiness comes from losing himself for the good of others.” (David O. McKay, from this talk)
Service is an answer for unhappiness. (Please understand that I am not saying that service is the answer for clinical depression or other mental illnesses, that is a hugely different issue.)
Many years ago I became acquainted with a wealthy woman (wealthy by my standards). One day we got onto the topic of paying tithing. She said, “Getting paid more doesn’t mean that paying tithing is any easier. It gets harder because that check is so large. You look at it and think, ‘Wow, that could almost buy a car!'” I realized that she was right, it hadn’t occurred to me before. Her statement stuck with me and recently I realized that I had that attitude, but in relation to service.
Recently I’ve been frustrated by the responsibilities my husband and I have at church. It seemed overwhelming that so much is asked of both of us. How could we take care of everything in our lives and perform the duties necessary at church? When I asked it of myself, of my husband, and of God, I thought it was a rhetorical question. Turns out God gave me an answer. The answer is that I have too many useless cares. I have too much good and better but not enough best.
This morning the lines to the hymn ‘Come Come Ye Saints’ [“saints” in our church simply means “members”] came into my mind:
“Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
’Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell—
All is well! All is well!”
– William Clayton (LDS Hymns #30)
Specifically I thought of the line, “our useless cares from us to drive….” The service I perform is important, to some in desperate need it could even be called essential. My children and husband would say that my service in our home is essential. That is something worth caring about. What isn’t so obvious is what isn’t worth caring about, the useless cares. It is a waste of my precious energies to worry and care for useless things. Useless cares may be different for each individual; right now TV is on my list of useless cares, but it might not be one of yours.
A care that I thought was less important, but not exactly useless, was housework and maintaining a reasonably nice home. I am realizing that this is important and effects my family. After I cleaned the kitchen and cleared everything off the kitchen table, my son said, “Mom I like what you did with the table.” It was a little clue to me that I hadn’t been creating the right environment in my home. At the end of each day that I make an effort towards keeping a nice home I feel good. I’m not saying that this is something you need to care about (just like you’re not going to tell me to care about TV), but for me, and where I’m at in my progression, it is something that God wants me to care about.
I have to trust God enough to let Him lead me in a direction that roots out the useless cares of my life, choosing the path of selfless service. To me that is what the hymn means when it says, “No toil nor labor fear.” Choosing service usually involves a period of stress where I renegotiate my own priorities and find useless cares to eliminate. Through this process I find greater happiness, please God, and have the great benefit of aiding those in need.
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