You’ve heard that true happiness is found in serving others? We Christians especially should cultivate this bit of wisdom, following Christ’s example. Because when the focus is on us and our desires, we’re wide open to discontent and heartache, and the resentment that often follows repeated disappointments.
Of course, so much depends on your personality. Sloughing off hurtful things has always come easily to me. I remember telling my childhood friend Myrtle, at age 5, that I was so mad at her I was never going to speak to her again! Less than an hour later I was back at her house making peace. And because of that, I realized at a tender age, that it was never worth it to harbor resentment.
It’s served me well in marriage. Again, my dh rarely shows his frustration, but the times that he has directed it at me it’s been easier to immediately forgive and dismiss it as him having a bad day, than to bite back and turn the whole evening into a tension-smoldering reactive ground zero.
Here’s an example of how “serving others” has grown and stretched me in my marriage. You see, I realized on our first anniversary that I’d made an awful mistake. Huge. And I beat up on hubby for letting me make such a blunder.
Unbeknownst to me, we were married during the busiest time of year for a cowboy: cattle shipping. For you non-rural types, this is the time of year when all the pasture-fed cattle are rounded up and shipped off on cattle trucks to feedlots or elsewhere. On any given day from mid-July to early August, my cowboy will be up at 3:30 A.M. and put in a long morning/afternoon and then be completely wiped out that evening. This usually happens on our anniversary, and the weeks before and the weeks after. On our first few anniversaries, I saddled up and went with him. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have seen him that day. Not much fun, as you can imagine, spending your anniversary and birthday all alone back at the house.
We’ve tried celebrating our anniversary on August 24th, halfway between his birthday and mine, but we usually forget. And now that we have 3 children, my oldest is the one that gets to saddle up and go with dad, though she did stay home this year and spoiled me with cards, homemade gifts and even made me Pecan Blondies and hot tea and told me to grab a book and enjoy myself.
Due to finances this year, I told dh not to get me anything. We didn’t even exchange cards, but he kissed me good-bye (early!) and wished me a happy birthday. I proceeded to be blessed all day by my three sweet girls, and we made a double batch of BBQ meatballs and scalloped potato casserole and an apple pie—all daddy’s favorites. We even had fun using the extra scraps of pie crust to make experimental apricot tarts.
My hubby got home from work, took a quick power nap and headed to his leather shop. He’s got a project and a deadline. Sad to say, it took three radio calls from me to his shop till he could wind things up and come over for our special supper. Everything was dished up and guess what? The phone rang.
I admit to being a little ticked at this point. After all, the food was getting cold! But it was someone calling in response to an ad we’d placed for several goats and border collies, so we girls sat at the table and played the “patience” game with toddler.
Finally he was able to end the call and come eat. And his enjoyment of the meal was gift enough for me. I knew he regretted his schedule keeping him from being with me, and our debts keeping us from splurging. I also know his love language is serving, and he’d taken time the night before to help me on a project of my own that had been waiting for his expertise.
In our first year of marriage, an anniversary spent without him, or without something special marking it would have found me seriously upset. Mostly because we all have a set idea of what husbands and wives are supposed to do on their anniversaries. We want this because it makes us feel cherished and appreciated. It is a good thing to celebrate every year of marriage! But in my situation, I’ve had to learn to look at the whole picture and realize that one day a year to celebrate isn’t near enough. Why hinge everything upon that one special day wishing for what you can’t have when every other day of the year I’m giving thanks for the wonderful man God gave me?
True happiness isn’t dependent on money, things, or big chunks of quality time. It’s in the everyday little things and in keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.
1 Peter 4:11, “…whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (NASB)
Psalm 100:2, “Serve the Lord with gladness…”