As far as weeks go, this one has been pretty awful. The lease on my apartment ended before the lease on my new place begins so I've been a homeless couch surfing bum for a week. On top of that I got sick on Wednesday so I haven't even been a fun homeless house guest to those who have kindly taken me in. My ears are plugged, my teeth are throbbing, my cheekbones feel as if they may crack from the amount of pressure behind them, my eyes water more now than they do during a normal viewing of Becoming Jane, sneezes riddle the silence, and my nose is dripping incessantly. Not to brag, but my head colds put most people's to shame. On a good day the doctor has been known to point out the poor quality of my sinuses. Needless to say I'm miserable. Couple my illness and homelessness with the never ending thoughts and worry that have been plaguing my mind this week and it's safe to say that I have had better weeks. Oh, and naturally I developed a nasty zit on my right cheek. Amidst all of my troubles I still had to work and meet my other obligations. In doing this I re-learned a powerful lesson.
I am currently the volunteer coach for a 5th and 6th grade girls soccer team. We practice on Wednesdays and have games on Thursdays and/or Saturdays depending on the week. On Wednesday morning I contemplated canceling practice because I wasn't feeling well but decided against it because we had lost our previous game. I drove begrudgingly to the elementary school where practice was being held and steeled myself for an hour of passing drills, defensive blocks, and scrimmaging. We weren't three minutes into our practice before I forgot how awful my week was. The hour flew by and I excitedly reminded the girls to show up at 4:15 for our game the following day as they left with their parents one by one. The next day I was feeling worse still, but met my girls at the soccer field for their game. Again, the hour quickly passed and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. They're always full of quirky comments, funny one liners, and enough energy to make anyone in their presence happy to be alive. I absolutely love them. Plus, we won our game Thursday night after my girls implemented some of the more aggressive strategies I taught them the night before. I was probably beaming with more pride at our 4-2 win than their parents were.
Here is what I learned:
Service really is an easy remedy for melancholy. I lost myself in those girls for a few hours this week and they were by far the happiest hours I had. Further, the peace I felt while serving them gave me the perspective I needed to trust in the Lord. Even if I hadn't been sick and homeless, this week would have been hard because I have more on my mind than ever. I spent the first half of the week doubting recent decisions I've made and wallowing in self pity. By Wednesday it was all I could do to put on a happy face and not spontaneously cry. Soccer practice on Wednesday night shifted my focus outward to others and helped me realize how ridiculous I was being. Life is hard and sometimes we will have to endure things we don't want to. Sometimes we won't understand why things are happening the way they are. Sometimes we'll be thrown challenges we don't think we deserve. But that doesn't mean we get to be selfish. That's what I learned this week. Being selfish doesn't benefit anyone, especially yourself. Service is the gateway drug to better things.
"An attitude of love characterized the mission of the Master...He gave sight to the blind, legs to the lame, and life to the dead. Perhaps when we [face] our Maker, we will not be asked, 'How many positions did you hold?' but rather 'How many people did you help?' In reality, you can never love the Lord until you serve Him by serving His people."
--Thomas S. Monson