You know how you sometimes have weeks where, over and over again, you’re taught the same lesson in different ways? Well, this week’s theme was service and devoting myself to the Lord. Of course, it’s a lesson I’ve learned many times before throughout my life, but if I knew it all, I’d be perfect and there wouldn’t be any point for me to continue living on this Earth. So I am very grateful to have learned something new this time.
Over the years, I’ve heard the phrase: “Consecrate yourself to the Lord.” My response to that was “Yeah, yeah, I know I know. It means to serve the Lord.” Which is true, but that is only a pretty small part of it. In the last six months of my mission during a Zone Conference at the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial, my mission president made a quick comment that just hit me way differently than before and helped me understand what it really means to consecrate myself to the Lord. First of all, it FINALLY connected in my brain that it isn’t just a commandment, but a COVENANT, a promise that I’ve made with Heavenly Father to do. I have no idea why my covenants and that commandment were two separate things for that long, but they were. And second, whatever he said wasn’t really any different than I’d heard before, but because it connected that way, I finally understood it to mean: “Nothing you have is yours to keep. Your time, talents, gifts, experiences, testimony, stuff… ALL of it has been given to you by the Lord to bless the lives of others. You have no right to keep it for yourself, nor do you have the right to determine exactly when, where and how much of it to give.” Yes, I still have agency to choose what to do with my time, talents, gifts and whatever else I’ve got, but I know that if I listen for Heavenly Father to tell me when, where and how much to give, I will be so much more blessed than if I just did it on my own. I have two examples from my own life. One is pretty significant. The other, not so much.
Over the last year, I’ve been thinking of changing my area of study in school. At the moment, I’m a composition major, which means I write music. My goal up until I started thinking about this, was to write film scores (soundtracks for movies). Yep. That’d be pretty cool, right? Sure. But the more I served those around me, the more I felt like I could be doing something better with my musical talent, that I needed a better reason for wanting to work for Disney besides “it’d be really cool and fun”. All of a sudden, things came up, experiences happened, stories were read that gave me the idea, for the second time in my life, to be a music therapist. I’d researched it during my sophomore year in high school, but wasn’t completely serious about it for very long because it was only a few months after that that I discovered my talent of writing music. But Music Therapy. This would be a career where I could use my music to heal people physically and spiritually. It’s proven to help with autism and other mental disabilities. In my own life, it’s helped me with stress and anxiety. Music is truly a comfort and a wonderful source of peace. This would be a career that really served others and helped them become happier and healthier. The more I thought about it, prayed about it and studied it, the more I felt like that is EXACTLY what I was supposed to do with the talents I’d been given. Not only that, but it’s exactly what will bring me the most joy – serving others through music.
The second experience is more recent. This week, in fact, and only something I share because I want to point out that it doesn’t matter how small or insignificant something may be – if it’s important to you or to someone that could benefit spiritually from it, Heavenly Father will let you know. For the past few months, I’ve seriously contemplated chopping off my hair. But for selfish reasons, I wasn’t ready for it. My hair has almost always been long (when it was short, I didn’t enjoy it as much) and I always get compliments on it. I know how to style it and I’ve always loved seeing it’s length in the mirror when I braid it, or curl it, or just let it do what it wants. Oh, I love my hair! But at the beginning of this week, I had conversations with a few people that just would NOT get out of my head. And when a thought comes that strongly and won’t leave, I know it’s not me – it’s definitely the Lord. So I talked to some friends to see what they would think. Of course, their first reaction: “WHAT?! NO! Why?” But as I explained to them my reasoning, they quickly agreed and told me to go for it. So then, I called my hair dresser and, chop chop! I have short hair. Okay. So what would possess me to go from having waist-length hair to having it just barely reaching my shoulders, particularly when I’m not so fond of it? Because the Lord told me to. But why the heck would He counsel me about my hair? It seems such a silly thing. So mundane and unimportant. Well, here’s what I think: If I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ, I will do everything in my power to help lift others up, to help them feel important, loved, and beautiful. I have made a covenant to consecrate EVERYTHING I have to the Lord. And to me, that includes my hair. Though I love my long hair, I can get along just fine without it and for me, it’ll grow back. There are some girls and women who don’t have such a blessing at the moment, for whatever reason – cancer, hair loss, other diseases. They struggle to feel beautiful and loved when they’re sick and their hair is gone. If I can change a life by simply giving my hair, then why wouldn’t I do it? Perhaps the life I was meant to change isn’t even the one who will have my hair. Perhaps it was my hairdresser who maybe needed that experience. Countless lives can be blessed by one small and simple act of service. As insignificant as it seems to you and me, it’s extremely significant to someone else.
I know that great blessings come from serving others. There are two sayings that I have. First: “If you want to change the world, you only have to change a life because then, you’ve changed their world.” And second: “My life is so much better and I am so much happier when it isn’t about me.” I stand by those quotes because they’re true and because I love my Father in Heaven. He truly has blessed me with so much and every day, I try more and more to give it back to Him by blessing the people around me, even people I’ve never met.
There are so many choices for us to make, so many things that might seem important to us, but the truth of the matter is, the Lord is asking us to give what we have. That doesn’t mean to take what you want and give what’s left over. It means to give everything you have, to give the things that are not essential to living. If someone is in need, give. If someone is struggling, give. If there is anyone around you that needs your time, your talents, your love, your testimony, or anything of yours, give. What they do with it is their choice, but it is your choice to give.