When my children were little it was often difficult to get them to fall asleep. In fact it used to take 1.5-2 hours to get my oldest to fall asleep on any given night. I still remember how frustrating that would feel. I would work a full day and then spend the evening cleaning up after my children, play with them and then get them ready for bed. When it was finally time for them to go to sleep I just wanted them to nod off so I could have a couple hours to do something I liked, something that I was interested in. Now if you’re a parent you can relate to what I’m talking about. But even if you aren’t, I’m sure you can understand. I remember one night we were visiting friends at the beach and as I was holding Della and trying to get her to fall asleep, I came to the realization that I was calm and perfectly content. To be holding her and putting her to sleep was as close to perfection in life that I could recall. I wasn’t ‘just waiting’ for her to fall asleep so I could go do something else. I genuinely felt at home and at peace. It was an amazing feeling. Usually I was trying to get my children out of the way for the evening so I could do something that I would enjoy (read a book, watch a movie, play a video game, surf online, etc.). But I had found perfect peace in that moment of loving Della by showing her physical and emotional love. Some of you may be saying, ‘duh’ Brad, that’s what being a parent is all about. But this was as in the center of God’s will as I had felt since I could remember. I wasn’t making a massive gesture of world change or anything ‘enormous’ like that. I was simply holding my daughter and putting her to sleep.
I’ll be honest. In my life and in my line of work, there is a lot of talk about serving others. And while I know it’s important, up until that point, I really didn’t enjoy it. It was just a necessary part of being a spiritual counselor and leader. But after that realization with my daughter, everything changed. I realized that serving someone else and truly finding perfection in loving someone else was enough.
Most of us volunteer somewhere and give of our time because we know that to be a good thing. But do we know it to be a perfect and beautiful thing? In the moment that we are absolutely adding value to someone else’s life, what could be more perfect? Or we look at the subtle gesture that we have offered and think nothing of it. When in fact even the smallest gesture of service to another human being is of incredible importance.
May you find beauty and perfection in giving of yourself to another person, even in the tiniest of ways.