The Joy in Serving Others

If you don’t read my personal blog, it maybe helpful to know that this is a continuation of this post I have there.

One thing I love about the LDS church is that it is service driven.  We have lay clergy.  Meaning, everyone position in the church is filled by a member of the church.   These people, usually, have full time jobs in society in addition to their calling in the church.  They serve because they know that by serving, their lives will be blessed and enriched.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit:  I’m not perfect when it comes to serving others.  Maybe it’s because I’m a convert, but I’m thinking it’s likely more do to the fact that I’m human.  My wife, without skipping a beat, will tell you how she has done my chores more often than I’ve done them since our move to Arizona.  I’ve also had a home teaching family or two that has fallen to the wayside.  Plus, when I had a Scout calling, I know I missed a meeting or two.  Despite my imperfections, or maybe because of it, I have a strong testimony in regards to serving others.

One of my favorite birthday memories is one based on service.  I had to get up early so I could go get a U-Haul moving truck.  An elderly woman in the ward was moving out.  I don’t remember if she asked for me or if I volunteered, regardless I spent my entire day helping this woman move.  Nothing was packed, her own children were very frustrated with her.  I just did my duties with a smile, making sure she was aware that I was there to serve her in whatever way she needed.  I never told her it was my birthday.  I didn’t need too.  As a priesthood holder, I was there to represent the Bishop and the Savior.  My sole purpose was to make help her feel loved, to let her know that she wasn’t alone in her time of need.

On the flip side, one of my saddest memories has to do with a time I didn’t serve.  I was an Assistant Scoutmaster.  It was Scout Week, when a bunch of our boys went up in the hills for a weeklong camp out.  For some inexcusable reason, I thought it was more important that I go to work vs serving in my calling.  I have no recollection of what I did that week at work.  I loved my scouts.  They were some of the best things to happen to my life.  It was amazing to see them grow as young priesthood holders, serving one another as well as those around them.  I don’t regret too many decisions in life, but not going on that campout that week is one of them.

We recently got a new calling in the ward to serve in the primary.  I’m still not sure which age children we’ll be serving.  However, I love kids (I want 10 eventually), so I know that it’s going to be a blast.  Young kids are so amazing.  Despite the fact that my wife and I are older, I’m sure that these kids are going to wind up teaching us a few things.

Once things get settled down, I’m hoping to work things out to do a bit more service work.  These past few weeks were really tough and crazy.  There was a lot riding on my shoulders and these things were weighing me down.  In the grand scheme of things though, it wasn’t much worries than usual.  The biggest difference though was I did little to no service work.  Without the opportunities to lose myself in the service of others, I found myself being weighed down by all the stresses in my life.

The point of service is to provide a good escape.  With drugs or alcohol, you lose yourself and forget about your worries, but you hurt yourself at the same time.  Service, on the other hand, clears your active mind, but leaves your subconscious working on the problem.  Many times, I’ll have a problem with no solution.  I’ll perfrom some service work.  Afterwards, I’ll look at the problem again and the answer will be clear as day.

Regardless of your faith or spiritual preference, I’m sure there is someway for you to serve.  I’d suggest taking the time to do regular service for others.  It’s a great feeling that has given me much comfort in my life.  Hopefully, you’ll find the same experience as well.

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Goals – The ones you should have vs the ones you probably have

I currently live in Silicon Valley. I came here a nobody in the tech space and I’m leaving as a little somebody.

My wife didn’t want to move here originally. She hated the idea of leaving family behind, but I convinced her otherwise. I explained that part of my goal for moving here was to build a name for myself and leverage that to work from anywhere. The “anywhere” being a spot where we had family vs here where there’s none.

Over the 3 years I’ve been here, I sort of lost that goal. Soon, the Valley started to work its magic. I began formulating long term goals. I began to lay out plans on how to settle here permanently. I mean, why not? I’m in the tech field and this is the tech mecca. The weather is simply amazing. San Francisco has anything you could want in a big city. Why not stick around?

One reason: kids. We have two of ’em. They’re a barrel of fun and mean the world to my wife and me. Thing is about kids, they think differently then adults.

They don’t care about the weather: They can have fun in hot, cold, wet or dry conditions.

They don’t care about the local job market: My son thought I made fries at eBay. I wondered why he thought that, then it dawned on me. When he wanted fries, he’d call me at work and I’d come home with a hot batch. So yeah, I can make “fries” anywhere.

They don’t care about the perks of a metropolitan city: Sure my oldest likes to take boat rides around the San Francisco Bay, but he likes riding his big wheel around the back deck equally as much.

There is one thing they do care about: Family. Kids have an inherent desire to be loved. All humans do, actually. Kids are just the only ones open enough to admit it freely.

Now, assuming you have a loving family (a big assumption in this day and age, I know), they will love your kids and that’ll make the little ones happy.

In November, my wife and 2 boys went to visit my wife’s family in Arizona. They had done this before, but something happened this time around. Their cousins were old enough to play with. Both their minds were old enough to tie faces to names and experiences.

I went to pick them up Thanksgiving week. I asked, “Alright, boys, you ready to go home?” I’m not really sure what answer I was expecting. I guess, in some delusional state, I was looking for them to be estatic and respond with, “Yeah, Dad. We’re ready.” Boy was I in for a shock.

The reply I got was swift and short. “No.” When pushed for more info, they offered it quickly and easily. “We want to stay at Goddess’s house.” (My mother-in-law prefers to be called “Goddess” vs “Grandma”.)

Their response hit me hard. It was in that moment that I realized that my kids didn’t care if I made it big in Silicon Valley. They didn’t care if I managed to buy one of the (small) million dollar homes. They didn’t care if I revolutionized the world. They wanted to be loved and they wanted to be near those that loved them. Plain and simple.

I needed to rethink my goals and it took my kids to help me see that. Within 30 days and a lot of prayer, a plan was in motion. I would focus on my business more and I would get my boys closer to people who love them. It may be a foolhardy plan, but it’s what my heart says I need to do. It was also my original goal when we moved here 3 years ago. I just needed a voice of reason to remind me.

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"I love my wife."

I can’t remember what for, probably our anniversary, but my wife got me a brown t-shirt. Embroidered on this shirt, in off-white stitching, is the simple declaration: “I love my wife.”

I wear the shirt in regular rotation with the rest of my clothes. Since I don’t have many, that means I wear it a lot. As you can imagine, a shirt like that garners many types of comments.

The woman usually say, “I need to get my husband one of those.” Then about half of those say, “Ah, but he’d never wear it.” I’m sure some of them are kidding, but sadly some of them probably aren’t.

Men typically respond to the shirt with, “What’d you do to have to wear that?” or “Someone’s in trouble.” While I do have my fair share of run-ins with the Law (i.e. the Wifey), I don’t wear the shirt as some form of punishment or suck up. After I explain that to them, most men will ask, “Well, why are you wearing it then?” To which I respond, “Um…because I love my wife.”

In the LDS faith, marriage is eternal once a couple is sealed inside a holy temple. There is no “’til death do us part” since families are just reunited after they all leave this mortal life. I spoke to the LDS Missionairies 10 years before I joined the church. What they said must’ve stuck because for as long as I can remember, I thought of marriage as eternal.

I mention that part about the LDS aspect for a reason. This week, at the Adobe Community Summit, I had dinner with a group of male LDS techies. At dinner, we had to do round table introductions. I was third in line and after I was done, Rance Patterson pointed to my shirt and said, “He loves his wife too.” To which I said, “Yes, I do love my wife.” Rance introduced himself and ended with, “And I love my wife too.” The next person did his intro and again ended with, “I love my wife too.” The person before me, not wanting to be left out, also jumped in during the break. “Well, I love my wife too!”

Now, I have to admit, that was a first. A bunch of guys talking tech, taking a moment to let each other know that they love their wives. Call us a bunch of “saps”. Call us all “whooped”. Call us “Mormon freaks”. However, be sure to add, “but I guess they love their wives” at the end. 🙂

I’m glad to be part of a faith that not only teaches the importance of the eternal family, but also teaches men that it’s okay to publicly profess your love for your wife.

Next post, I’ll write about an excerpt from James E. Faust derived from this piece that he wrote. It was the feelings expressed by President Faust on marriage that convinced me this was the church for me.

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