I hope that the series served as an inspiration and skill builder of how to get the best out of your relationship with your young child. This article completes the series. Well done to all those who followed and applied!
TEACHING THE JOY OF SHARING and SERVICE
“The only ones around you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”–Albert Schweitzer
I have a friend who taught me a lesson about joy. He is a public person: That is, the public knows him. (I would guess that 50% of all persons in the Western world recognise his name, and perhaps 95% of those interested in sports.) One of our conversations was about pleasure. What did we do with our spare time? What did we do with those rare moments–rarer for him than for me–that we really had to ourselves? (Keep in mind, he could do anything, go anywhere, have anything that money could buy.) He said, “When I have a moment for myself, I try to use it to find some way to help someone. That’s where I find real happiness. It’s so much more fun than doing something for yourself.”
I’d heard that you can judge a man by what he does with his spare time. I used that criteria and judged this man to be great; maybe more importantly, I judged him to be joyful, because the joy of giving is so deep. The joy comes from losing one’s self in helping others, from dismissing self-worries to make room for other-worries. We make our living by what we get, but we make our life by what we give. Emerson said, “See how the masses of men worry themselves into nameless graves…while, here and there, a great, unselfish soul forgets himself into immortality.”
A personal recollection (Linda’s) may further illustrate the joy:
I remember that a particularly miserable time in my life came when I was in the sixth grade. I was 11 years old, considered my leftover baby fat anything but cute, and wore salmon-coloured “cat-eye” glasses which I abhorred. I sensed that I had no style &, worst of all, thought I had no friends. I was worried about who liked me and who didn’t, and each day I wondered whether or not the one marginal friend I thought I had would be nice to me.
One Saturday afternoon while I was getting ready for a school party, I began telling my mother my feelings. I don’t remember whether I just had not bothered to tell them to her before or whether she had passed them off lightly as childish whims when I had mentioned them. On this particular day, however, she took me seriously and could see that I was really concerned. As I donned my clothes, I said, “Mom, sometimes I feel so left out when I’m with other people. I just can’t think of anything to say and yet I feel so uncomfortable if no one talks to me.”
My mom, in her wisdom, gave me some counsel in those next few minutes that changed my life, “Linda, whenever you are with a group of people who are socialising with one another, look around; just stand back and look around a few minutes, and you will almost always see someone who needs you, someone who is feeling insecure and in need of a friend. You can tell by a look in the eye, a nervous mannerism, someone off by herself. Decide who needs you and then go to them; relate to them, ask questions about them, show them you care!”
This advice was like a miracle drug for my ailing soul. I went to the party. I stood back and observed. “There she is,” I thought as I saw Beverly, the girl with the stringy hair and the buckteeth, sweet but not too bright. Everyone knew that she lived in a strange, broken-down house outside of town with about nine brothers and sisters, equally untidy and shabby. I remember her as though it were yesterday, sitting quietly in a chair, looking at her hands, while those around her giggled and chattered and ignored her. But what will everyone think? I cringed in my immature mind. If I talk to her, everyone will think I’m dumb and “out of it” like they think she is. But my conscience told me it was right, so I walked over to her. Suddenly, instead of muddling in my own misery because I didn’t have any friends, I became her friend. I started by asking questions about her family and farm, and as the party wore on, I felt her warm acceptance and saw the joy in her eyes as she understood that somebody cared about her. But even more important to me, I was needed. I was providing a service to someone that, in time, made me grow to appreciate her. I also noticed that no one shunned me because of my association with her.
The experience gave me such a good feeling that I tried to pick out those who needed someone in other situations. As I began to forget myself in other people, I found that I was surrounded by a host of friends who really liked me for what I was.
If I could instill this in our children at an even younger age, how great their rewards would be. So often we say, “Oh, they’re too young to understand.” I wonder. Try teaching this principle to a four-year-old–you might be surprised.
You might start by performing “services” for each other. Services include anything from helping brother find his socks to letting sister use the new crayons. If we want children to love, we must teach them to serve. Older children can serve their younger brothers and sisters in countless ways!
Dare to Be Different–Poem by Helen Marshall
Dare to be different; life is so full
Of people who follow the same push-pull,
Poor, plodding people who, other than name,
Try to pretend they’re exactly the same.
God made men different; there never will be
A replica soul made of you or of me.
The charm–the glory of all creation
Rests on this very deviation.
Your charm–your own glory, too,
Lies in being uniquely you–
Lies in being true to your best,
That part of you different from all of the rest.