Selflessness – September 23, 2007

Our greatest blessings and deepest joys always come from helping others, from opening our hearts to someone in need. Service is evidence of our love, but it can also be its catalyst. While it’s true that we serve those we love, it is equally true that we love those we serve.

A young man who often helped babysit and care for his younger sister recalled how close he felt to her during those years when she needed him. As they both grew older, though, they went through a time when they weren’t getting along so well.

Then one day, after playing soccer in the sweltering heat, he was just about to cool off with a cup of ice-cold juice when he noticed that his sister was hot too and had nothing to drink. So he gave her his drink. In that selfless moment, he felt a renewal of his love for her.1

In similar manner, an elderly man watched his wife of many decades slowly going blind. She could no longer see well enough to paint her own fingernails. Without being asked, he began to paint her fingernails for her. He knew that she could see her fingernails when she held them close to her eyes, at just the right angle, and they made her smile. He liked to see her happy, so he kept painting her nails for more than five years before she passed away.
Put simply, we are selfless when we think of others, when we put aside our desires for those of another, when we serve others. Selflessness is usually not manifest in grandiose, dramatic ways but in simple, day-to-day opportunities and interactions we see around us. Sometimes the actions are large, but most often they’re small—and always they come from the heart.
Program #4072

1See Kathleen Slaugh Bahr and others, “The Meaning and Blessings of Family Work,” Strengthening Our Families: An In-Depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family, ed. David C. Dollahite (2000), 179.