I've been thinking a lot about what "Jer" said in her profile about getting outside of herself.
As Church members we are constantly encouraged to get outside ourselves--mostly through service. And, consequently, as Church members we are subjected to a barrage of service opportunities. Sometimes I feel like I'm a bad Mormon if I don't sign up on that third clipboard making its way around the room. It's for that reason that, for me, service can be a double-edged sword.
But, service has its benefits and Church leaders aren't the only ones to notice that. A study done in 2007 by the Corporation for National and Community Service found that people who volunteered had greater longevity, higher functional ability, lower rates of depression, and less incidence of heart disease. Interestingly, the study also found that people who benefited about 100 hours a year (or two hours a week) were those who benefitted the most. There were no increases in benefits for people who volunteered more than this. (That last part might serve as a cautionary note to those of us who try to over-magnify our callings!)
As an active member of the LDS church, and especially as a member of the Relief Society (the errand of angels is given to women! Does that intimidate anyone else?), service is something that I can't avoid. I have a calling (Enrichment Committee) and I'm a visiting teacher. I'm also on the substitute list for Primary and Nursery (because I secretly like it better where I get to play games and sing songs and eat snacks). Also, since I have three little kids I am usually grateful to babysit other people's kids because then mine have someone to play with.
Most often, though, I don't think of those things as service. They are just part of my life. Service, I tell myself, is something big and it probably should be hard or it doesn't really count. President Thomas S. Monson spoke on this subject last fall during the General Relief Society session. He said, "You are a mighty force for good, one of the most powerful in the entire world. Your influence ranges far beyond yourself and your home and touches others all around the globe. You are, of course, surrounded by opportunities for service. No doubt at times you recognize so many such opportunities that you may feel somewhat overwhelmed. Where do you begin? How can you do it all? How do you choose, from all the needs you observe, where and how to serve? Often small acts of service are all that is required to lift and bless another: a question concerning a person’s family, quick words of encouragement, a sincere compliment, a small note of thanks, a brief telephone call. If we are observant and aware, and if we act on the promptings which come to us, we can accomplish much good."
So, tell me, what good have you done in the world today? What ways do you all work in your two hours a week? I need the ideas for the next time I feel the blues setting in!