“Aren’t you tired?” she asked over pizza while our kids giggled around us in the booth. “I mean, you’re a mom and you have a busy life, you write and have Mercy House and now you’ve added Fair Trade Friday to your plate.”
Good friends ask hard questions.
I think about her question and stifle a yawn before I answer.
“Yes. I am. Tired.”
Good friends give honest answers.
I thought about my hectic day of car lines and deadlines. I remembered the early morning wardrobe drama and the tears over a lost library book and then the very full day across town serving refugee women in my city.
After a long pause, I answered, “I spent the first 30-something years of my life wavering between the pain of the past and chasing the American Dream and I was always asking God the same kinds of questions — to help me, to heal me, to give me more of something.
“But when I changed the question to, “What can I do for you, God?” instead of, “What can you do for me?” He answered.
“When I stopped trying to fix my problems and tried to help others fix theirs, God helped me. He healed me. He gave me something deeper and more fulfilling than I could have dreamed. I’m overwhelmed and tired, but I don’t want to live any other way.”
If I had to name a regret in my life—it would be this: That I didn’t discover the breathtaking beauty of serving others sooner.
It’s not only helped other people; it’s helped me.
God doesn’t just want our good works. He wants our good works because of our faith. We can’t separate the two. We serve, we give, we look past our own problems and help others–not because it makes us good people, but because we are compelled to love others as He first loved us.
Life can be hard. Unfair. We carry hurts and pain from others, we watch those we love suffer. We wonder why?
And sometimes we live there and never move past our pain.
God can handle our questions and we shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed to ask them. But some answers won’t be known until we are face-to-face with God and some hurts won’t be healed until we let them go.
We can always name a trial and a hard place. But when we look past our own pain, and help someone in theirs, we see we aren’t alone. We can step back and get a different perspective and sometimes that view leads to gratitude. Sometimes it leads us to healing.
And often it’s the answer we’ve been waiting on.
by Kristen Welch, We are THAT family
I’d hug you if you were in the room with me. (and I’m not a hugger) Come, Church, let’s do this…do something, serve! Thanks for your example, Kristen!
Crystal Stine says
“the breathtaking beauty of serving others” – oh how I love that. Yes, Jesus, let that be my prayer as well. I’m weary of chasing the same worries and anxieties with the same “all about me” prayers. I just want to serve God and His people, with a holy passion. Thanks for this word today, girl.
Susan Houser says
How perfectly on-target…and inspiring. I am going to print this and keep it before me to keep my thoughts other focused and not self focused. Thanking you for allowing The Lord to speak words of truth through you so that others could read them and be blessed!
Amen. It is a more blessed place to give than to receive.
Beautiful words. Thank you.
lasabrae valverde says
Beautiful, i love it. I’m more fulfilled when I’m helping others. I’m going to ask the Lord what i can do for him. Thank you! God bless you my sister. 🙂
Thanks for redirecting me. <3
Susan Shipe says
This.Is.So.Good. Love the CC quote. Oh my… die to self. Whew.
Lisa Brown says
What can I do for you God? Yes life does change when we ask this question. Its amazing when I do things for God I feel more strength. When I live to serve I have more joy. Honestly though I do struggle with a poor me attitude sometimes. I don’t get anywhere good with selfish thinking. I been asking God to send me help. I need help God so I can write. I need help God cleaning my house while I home school my kids. I need help God so my husband and I can go on dates. But when I asked God, Who can I help with watching their kids. I started offering my help to other families and it is a blessing. My kids have friends to play with when I am watching them. And I am getting to go out on dates with my husband. Then moms I help – have offered to help me. Pretty cool how this all works out. Thanks for posting.
Let’s put on our spiritual eyes and ears so that we can get out of ourselves. I too spent the last 30 + years figuring out past pains, neglect and rejection. I could have never imagine the joy in my life now – Let’s share with others the Grace and Mercy that has been given to us.
the joyful potter says
“God doesn’t just want our good works. He wants our good works because of our faith.” I’m having a problem with this part. I wholeheartedly embraces this wonderful post about serving, focusing on others’ needs instead of our own, giving being more blessed than receiving … except that it hasn’t (so far) worked for me. I grew up in a performance-oriented family serving in an appearance-oriented church and I learned to perform for the appearance of it. Forty years later, I’m stuck. I want to love God so much that it overflows in service to his children, but I’m worn out just serving my family, and feel thoroughly depleted of love for anyone, much less my fellowman. It hurts to admit that. It hurts to admit that I don’t even feel love for God, despite trying my whole life to serve him. So what gives? What am I missing?? Why doesn’t “die to self” work for me? (or maybe all these decades I’ve been missing the point, and haven’t really truly died to self….) Where does one start to go right?
Angie B says
Dear Joyful Potter, I LOVE your honesty. God can work with that! As women, we feel as if we have to “have it all together” all the time. I remember one time in particular (though there have been several times) that I was feeling like I was failing at everything and God spoke to me and said, “It’s ok if you don’t always have it all together. In your weaknesses, I am made strong. There is nothing you can mess up, that I can’t fix.” Sometimes we hold ourselves to a standard of perfection that God never asked us to meet.
As a little girl I used to love to “play church.” I would line all my stuffed animals up and teach them Sunday School. It was great, but the problem was as I grew up, I was still just “playing church.” I was “saved” and even became a pastors wife and I was good at it too! I could have won an academy award for best supporting actress in the role of a pastor’s wife! I worked with the kids. I sang in the choir. I planned dinners and events, etc. BUT, I was empty inside. One day God said, “You don’t know who I am.” To which I replied, “Of course I know who You are. You are the creator of the universe. Jesus is Your son. I know the stories about Moses and Noah.” God said, That’s just it. All you know are stories, but you don’t KNOW me.” He invited me into a personal relationship with Him. Not just the “repeating a prayer because you are afraid of going to hell” kind of salvation, but the “daily fellowship with a friend that will never leave you, that sticks closer than a brother, who gives peace that passes understanding” kind of salvation.
Angie Smith wrote an amazing book called God Chasers. I highly recommend it. She gives some amazing examples of what it means to truly love God. I pray that God will calm the chaos in your mind and lead you to a place of rest and renewing in Him!
Linda McClellan says
I’ve been reading the stories that have been posted on here and I just want to say. A child is a child whether the color or what he or she looks like or talks like. We’re all different. I just had a back surgery that straightened my scoliosis as well as they could but I went to see my surgeon yesterday and the all the hardware they used in my back is not going to go away. It is a part of me that will show forever and will always show. So now people will look at me and wonder or even ask what is wrong with my back and in a way I have it puts me in a similar position. I have spent over 30 years in the medical field and working with children gives me such a feeling of love for them and their parent and our God who is right there working in the middle of it all. We have a glorious God and these special people have so much joy to offer. God bless you and keep you strong!
Stephanie Kruse says
I love your words and how God speaks through you to me. Every single post has struck a chord within me, almost like the topic was wrote just so I would see it. Thank you for sharing.
Mary T says
Kristen, thank you for a gentle reminder…I have learned and relearned many times that in changing the perspective of my prayers from self to serving God, in patience, hope, perseverance, faith and trust in His timing… God has blessed me, loved ones and others with answers. Some so quickly, others so worth waiting for, but He always answers me…when my eyes are upward seeking Him vs. inward seeking self… God bless!
Beth Williams says
This year has been rough for me. I have worked a stressful job that I don’t like and tried to care for my aging dad who ended up in hospital X2. Through it all God was there.
Lately I’ve wanted work to go away and just be able to serve God! I’ve had this nudge on me to wishing I could just help others ALL THE TIME! It is tiring yes, but rewarding also. More rewarding than a paycheck gotten through futile efforts.
Perhaps soon I will be able to see my dream come true!
Michelle Sarabia says
Love this! This is so true – If I had to name a regret in my life—it would be this: That I didn’t discover the breathtaking beauty of serving others sooner. These last few weeks I threw my hands up and said God use me however you see fit. I’m tired of trying to be a circle fitting into a square peg. It’s not for me control anymore, this life is yours and yours alone. Since those words, I have either been approached to be a mentor or have been given the “I need to talk to about something” conversations. I wish I was reminded sooner in the chasing for His plan, that it was never about the grand plan but about the one in front of me.
Linda, I know exactly what you mean. Serving others is beautiful, but sometimes it can come out of a place of performance or obligation, maybe even out of feat of not doing enough. I think maybe God wants you to know. That you are enough. That he loves you with all of his heart, and that he “has called us friends, not servants.” While it is beautiful to serve others, loving and serving your kids is enough. It is brave, and it is hard, and it requires continual sacrifice. Dad loves you Linda. He is proud of you. Sometimes loving God really has to come from knowing he loves us.
Kyndal Payne says
I sure did need to hear this scripture this morning, the Lord is my shepherd, I have a dear soldier friend of mine, and I just found out last Friday when I emailed my soldier friend just to say hi and to see how he is doing and that he has my support and prayers and to please stay safe he told me that he is deploying again next year, I wish my soldier friend didn’t have to go:( I know that it’s his job, but still it’s hard to let him go. I know that God will be with him and that He will keep my soldier friend safe, but still it’s hard to let my soldier friend go. I’m feeling sad, so thank you so much for this scripture this morning, going through a tough time is not easy, I know God would say to me, Kyndal trust me, I’m trying to trust God but it’s hard. But I’m gonna try. I know God’s in control and that He will be with my soldier friend. Again Dayspring I just want to tell you thank you for this scripture, God knew that I needed it today.
Wow! I needed that so badly today, in the right here and now in my life. Thank you for heading Gods desire to write that! It was for me!
Dear the Joyful Potter,
My heart hurts for you…
But I think Tricia said it so well…
“Linda, I know exactly what you mean. Serving others is beautiful, but sometimes it can come out of a place of performance or obligation, maybe even out of feat of not doing enough. I think maybe God wants you to know. That you are enough. That he loves you with all of his heart, and that he “has called us friends, not servants”.
While it is beautiful to serve others, loving and serving your kids is enough. It is brave, and it is hard, and it requires continual sacrifice. Dad loves you Linda. He is proud of you. Sometimes loving God really has to come from knowing he loves us.”
Yes, JESUS called us FRIENDS….what a wondrous relief to once again relax and let Him be our friend, and Saviour. It is not by our works that we are saved, lest any man should boast. At that point He, by His Holy Spirit, will guide us to touch people…we aren’t responsible for figuring that out ourselves.
May Jesus hold you close, the Joyful Potter!
I needed this today. My best friend forwarded it to me and it said what I needed.
Barbara Farrell says
I long to serve others but have had a very challenging physical ailment for the past couple of years, so my prayer has always been, “God, heal me and make me stronger to be able to help others.”
I am challenged by your post because I hear God calling me to lean on on Him to give me strength so that I can meet others needs inspite of my ailment. To trust Him enough to meet my needs while I meet others needs…this sounds daunting to me, but maybe that’s why there’s that Bible verse that says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…”
VR Sooria says
I have been hearing the word of God day in day out for years. It simply fills and Norishes my Spirit.
The problem, I realise is I have only been a hearer and not a doer of HIS works. I thank God for Godly Bros and Sisters all over the world that today has made me WALK THE TALK…..
Thank you people, I love you with the Love of Christ.
Sally Ferguson says
Serving also helps me see that my problems pale in comparison to others. And makes me grateful for what I have!
Thanks for the reminder. So often we worry about “us” forgetting that others need our help.