Expressing Your Love Through Service
by: Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
A client of mine told me that she had been making food for a friend of hers who was very ill. “I find that my heart opens and I feel so happy when I am doing something for someone else. I need to do this more, but I don’t know what to do.”
Doing service is a powerful way to open the heart and fulfill the soul. Those people who do service know how much joy they receive from giving to others. The more inner work we do to fill ourselves with love, the more our heart overflows to the point where we may feel compelled to help others.
There are many forms of service and we each need to find the way that works best for us. There is no right way. We can serve by helping one person, such as being a Big Brother or Big Sister to a disadvantaged child, or we can be of service by helping whole groups, such as raising funds for environmental projects. We can offer our time building houses for the poor, or we can offer money. We can choose to be of service to people, animals or Mother Earth. Your service may be in being a loving parent to your children, helping a friend in need or being a loving mate who supports the other’s highest good in many little ways.
Doing service is a matter of discovering your passion and then offering your time and love. You might have a special interest in protecting the environment, stopping child abuse, helping the homeless or caring for the dying. You might offer service through your creativity, creating beautiful drawings, ceramics or quilts to donate to charitable causes or give as gifts. Tuning in to your feelings of what brings you joy will lead you toward knowing how you want to be of service to others.
Steve discovered his passion for helping the elderly when his father became ill and was in a convalescent home. A hard-driving businessman, Steve was surprised to find how joyous and fulfilled he felt when he visited his father and brought his humor and compassion to the other elderly at the home. Being with the elderly was so satisfying, Steve decided to cut back on his work and spend more time at the home. He had discovered what makes his heart sing.
Toni had always loved animals. One day she discovered that there was a wonderful animal sanctuary not far from her, a place that took in animals no one else wanted. Toni started to volunteer there and found that it brought her great joy to help maintain this loving sanctuary.
Work, too, can be service. When you experience your work as helping people and you love doing it, it is service, whether you are a hairdresser, a teacher, a physician, an auto mechanic, a therapist, an attorney or a bus driver. While you get paid for your time, no one can pay you for the love you put into it. Love is always a gift that comes through you.
In fact, anything you offer that expresses your love is service – your time, creativity, encouragement or a warm and caring smile to a hassled store clerk. Service is not only expressed in specific works but also in your intention in each and every moment. Have you ever smiled at a stranger or offered a compliment just because you noticed something in him or her that caught your eye? When was the last time you said how much you appreciate someone? When your heart is open to others, service can be a way of life.
The practice of service does not have to be done only on an individual level. It is possible for whole families to participate in service projects. Rather than relaxing around the house and watching TV together, you can participate in a local environmental or social project. Families who do service together generally maintain a higher level of values and unity than those who do not create the time for such activities.
Each of us needs to find the service that excites us, enlivens us and fills our heart with joy as we express God’s love through our actions. Giving for the pure joy of giving feeds the soul. We love God by loving the children of God and serving them in any way we can. It is through service that we can truly grow spiritually. Through service, we are confronted with our issues and given the opportunity to practice our ‘lovingness’ and expand beyond what we think our limits are.