Tuesday, July 5, 2016

First Observe, Then Serve: The Resurrected Lord

Welcome back to the last post in my "First Observe, Then Serve" series.  To participate in this online discussion, please see my first post of this series with all the information!  Feel free to join our Facebook group, as well, where people from all walks of life are joining the conversation.

Today's post focuses on the resurrected Lord and Mary in the garden.  You can find this story in John chapter 20.

Mary Magdalene came to the tomb of the Savior on the first day of the week.  When she arrived there, she saw that the stone had been rolled away and that Jesus' body was no longer there.  She immediately ran and told His apostles what happened.  After the apostles came and saw that she was correct, and that the linens Christ's body had been wrapped in were still there, they left and went home.  But Mary did not.  She stayed near the tomb.

As she stands at the entrance of the tomb, sobbing and inconsolable, she sees two angels.  They ask her why she is crying.  She tells them she is crying because she doesn't know where Jesus' body has been taken.  There are so many things she could be imagining about what had happened to it. Because she loves the Lord so much, she is overcome with grief.

Mary turns aside and sees another figure.  In her agony, she does not recognize who it is.  He asks her why she is crying.  She begs Him to tell her where the body of the Savior is so that she can bring Him back to the tomb.  In one word, the Savior calms and consoles her.  That one word is her name.

She must have heard the Lord say her name many times.  She immediately knows who He is after this one word.  She turns to Him and says, "Master!"  She knows who He is and what she means to Him.  He tells her not to touch Him, because He has not yet gone to Father in Heaven.  He asks her to tell His apostles what has happened.  She immediately goes and does so.

It is amazing to me that the first person that the risen Lord revealed Himself to was a woman.  What also amazes me is His ability to help her to feel joy after so much sorrow in such a quick way.  There are a few things that I see in this story that help me to become better at observing and then serving.

The first thing I see is that Christ notices that something is wrong.  Now, of course, Mary is sobbing and distraught.  There will be times when we see that in others and are able to help.  The harder thing to do is recognize other signs that mean someone is overwhelmed and help them.

In my life, I have noticed that people usually withdraw when they see intense emotions in others.  What if, instead, we were willing to listen to them so that they can work out feelings and issues?  Feelings are human.  We all have them.  It's not healthy to tell people not to feel.  It is healthy to help them deal with their feelings in an appropriate way.  The Savior did not tell Mary to stop crying.  He allowed her to do so as He comforted her.

The next thing I see is that the Savior asked what was wrong.  So many times we assume that we know what is going on with others.  I have experienced this in my life.  Due to our journey with infertility, many people assume that is what drives my life, as well as my husband's life.  Fortunately, this is not the case.  We have other daily issues that come up and make things difficult, as well.  It has been those people who have actually asked what is going on, instead of assuming, who have been able to help us more fully as we struggle to make it through.  We should never assume that we know a person's heart or what is troubling them.  We should ask, so that we can serve more perfectly.

I also love that Christ knows exactly what to say to comfort Mary.  He doesn't give a long speech about how she should be glad because He's back and how awesome it is that it happened.  He states her name.  He tells her the basics, and doesn't overwhelm her even more.  Learning what to say and when to say it is an incredibly difficult thing to do.  There is only one way to be able to do so--follow the Spirit.

There was a time in my life when I was out visiting with the sister missionaries assigned to my ward.  We went into the home of a sister who was really struggling.  She was very upset and was yelling as she expressed her anger, frustration, and grief.  The poor sister missionaries sat there, looking visibly upset, also.  I sat there praying that I would have the words I needed to say when the time was right.  I did not interrupt, which is difficult for me--just ask anyone who knows me.  I'm working on that.

After this woman, who I dearly love, finished saying what she needed to say, I took a breath, and looked at her.  I said her name, told her I loved her and wished I could take away all the pain.  I then told her that I couldn't do that unless she was willing to also put forth the effort to help herself.  She stopped, looked at me, said, "You are exactly right.  And I don't want to help myself right now."  I will never forget that.  I then said, "When you are ready, I am here."

She immediately started to cry softly, calmed down, and we were able to come up with a plan to help her.  Those words were NOT something I would have said of my own volition.  I tend to want to fix things.  Those words were an answer to prayer.  This experience taught me that fewer words and more listening help to invite the Lord's Spirit to be with me in times when others need me the most.  I am not perfect about doing so, but I am working on it.

The Savior's example of observing and serving is something that is imperative for us to study and take into our daily lives.  And it is incredibly easy to do, if we take small steps each day to be better.  Start in your home.  Express love to your spouse when they have done something to irritate you.  Make your child's bed for them, even if they are able to do so.  Make a phone call to a family member you don't get to speak to regularly.  After you do that, take small steps towards those around you.  I know that out of small things, great changes can be made in our relationships.

That is all that I have for today, and for this series!  I hope that you have gained something from these posts.  I know that they have encouraged me to be better and do more each day.  Now it's your turn one last time. :)  What do you see in this story about the need to first observe, then serve?  I can't wait to hear your thoughts!  Feel free to email me, comment below, or join our Facebook group.  Do what you are comfortable with!  I'll be back next Tuesday with the last installment of this series.  Until then, HUGS and prayers sent your way! :)

P.S.: Please make sure that you keep all comments uplifting and kind.  Assume the best of each other and read all comments in a positive manner.  I truly believe that anyone commenting is only seeking to be understood and heard, not offend. :)

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