“In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
Recently, I connected with a group of bloggers committed to addressing issues of poverty in a compassionate way. Each month, a topic is shared to write on and contemplate. This month, the topic is about Service and the questions: Which bible verse guides you to serve others? What led you to become a Compassion Blogger?
I grew up a Catholic home and from an early age, I was made aware, first by my parents and then by the nuns in school, that service to others and the sharing of alms were an important part of being a Christian. My parents were always participating in fund raisers and giving donations to help distant relatives and other people in need. I remember that we often had guests at home who came specifically to thank my dad for helping them in some fashion. They thanked him profusely, singing praises in his name and showering us with blessings. So the idea of service was inculcated in me quite early and remains a vital part of my life. I remain happily in service to the groups I support by regularly volunteering time and skills.
My family came from a culture that believed in the value of helping extended family members and sharing our largess with gratitude. It also meant tithing at church and volunteering. The nuns at school were always saying “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” and in time, it became a favorite verse of mine. The other verses I’ve shared here resonated with me because they are reminders that we all have gifts and skills that we can use to help uplift others.
In school and in catechism, we learned that charity and service were requirements for being a good person of faith, and we read stories that reinforced the message. Our daily prayers included portions on serving the poor, and when possible, The Story of the Good Samaritan was read and explained over and over again. Looking back on the experiences of my childhood, it makes sense that being a compassionate blogger would appeal to me.
One major event in my life that solidified the importance of service for me was the civil war. The war forced us to flee the city and appreciate the time spent in my father’s village during the Nigeria-Biafra war. Dad’s village was deep in the interior part of the countryside and this meant that many displaced families ended up there. It was their last stop as refugees and, by the time they reached us, most were destitute and quite distraught. Because the wartime struggles affected many families, everyone had to learn to share limited resources. Being able to serve gave us a sense of purpose and people readily shared their crops and their homes. Being hospitable to the refugees around us led to life long friendships that continued long after the war ended. More below!
“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13
Like any typical teenager, I went through a rebellious phase in high school, and found myself rejecting the teachings and dictates of Catholicism. At the same time, I started exploring Eastern religions and philosophy which piqued my interest in yoga and meditation. Even though I wasn’t attending services, I read widely and my interest in exploring other faiths grew. Coming to the USA opened another chapter in my spiritual growth; I embraced yoga and meditation with enthusiasm. Perhaps because I was a foreigner alone, people were eager to help me find my way, and I made many new friends with others who were on a spiritual journey. I believe God got my attention during that phase because I needed a lot of grace to adjust to a new world, enroll in college and make new friends.
How did God get your attention? Ironically, some of my toughest times in the US, were also times when I felt the palpable presence of the divine. I found that a simple solution to handling frustrating moments was to turn my attention to volunteer work and serve. When we stop worrying or pause in our time of pain to help others, we experience a subtle shift in our struggle. Living happily and serving happily are complimentary; one aids the other. What about you?
This post was partly inspired by Compassion.com: Which Bible Verse Prompts and Guides You to Serve Others? And Daily Post Prompt: Daily Prompt: Happily Ever After “And they lived happily ever after.” Think about this line for a few minutes. Are you living happily ever after? If not, what will it take for you to get there?
*Please bear with me as I’m finally beginning to catch up on your blogs and commenting… I’m back on track; albeit at a slow pace. Thank you all for your patience!
Positive Motivation Tip: If we serve with a joyful heart, our joy becomes a blessing to others. Spread the light.
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