In studying the last General Conference today while feeding HJ, I was reading through Elder Costa's talk, and a very pertinent insight distilled in my mind . . . and yet it differed in that it bore little relation to what I was reading. I think I had read about midway through the second page of the talk, when a question popped into my mind.
When we serve, whether it's at home or at church or elsewhere, are we inadvertently serving the thing or task (just "getting it done"), or are we consciously consecrating our efforts to those we love, to our fellowmen, and to the Lord of Hosts?
I've often heard "Treasure the 'doing' more than the 'getting it done'," but even that falls short. Mindfulness holds great value and deep lessons, but it misses entirely the joy and peace and richness of consecration. On Sunday, I stayed home with a runny-nosed, coughing toddler (poor little Bear), and HJ (who I still feel is a little too small for the high stimulation level of three hours at church). I got them both down for naps, and really wanted to go tackle the chaos that had completely swallowed the bonus room. I hesitated, because it was work . . . and that's not something I usually include in my Sabbath observance. But I felt very clearly that I was to do it, and to consecrate it as service to my family. If I had gone to visit an elderly neighbor (on the schedule for a Sunday very soon) and saw that they needed some help in their home, I wouldn't hesitate to do it while I was there. The same principle held true here. The ox was in the mire, and had been floundering there for quite some time while I've been wholly occupied with more urgent matters. (This mired ox has been sinking slowly, so it was still save-able.)
So, I spent the bulk of the three hours my husband and older children were gone in reclaiming the space . . . and in consecrated service to my family. Such a different feeling than I had ever had before, cleaning that room. Before it was either a struggle with the children to get them to help reverse the progress of child-fueled entropy, or a great deal of frustration and resentment on my part because I was doing it myself (or Vern was tackling it himself). Night and day.
So, when you're clearing the table, sorting & folding laundry, or vacuuming, what object claims your service? The task at hand (serving the dishes or laundry just isn't all that exciting to me), or those who depend on your help for their success? Even the Lord himself is bound by the law of agency, and has no hands but ours . . .