I have been trying to think of ways to help my kids understand the importance of opening their eyes to the needs of others, and developing the ability to focus on ways they can recognize things they can do to serve others. This little object lesson popped into my head one day. I think the message was received! :)
We did this lesson with cousins and enlisted the help of aunts and uncles, just for a bit of added fun.
- Roll a piece of paper starting at the corner. Form a funnel with a dime sized hole in the end. Cut off the tops so that the wider opening is all the same length. Tape paper so that the funnel will stay wrapped. Make enough so that each child has two.
- Have the children hold their funnels up to their eyes. These are their new glasses.
- Give the kids an exact course to follow. I told the boys to walk from where they were standing to the Christmas tree. It isn't easy to see through such a small hole. They can only see what is directly in front of them. Make the course obstacle free and in a straight line. Tell them to walk slow and be careful.
- When they arrived at their destination they were pleased with their ability to easily perform the task. This is when I had them remove their "glasses" and turn back to look at the path they had just followed. As they turned they could see a few things they missed a long their path.
- Without knowing they passed Aunt Anna who was struggling to keep young Chloe entertained. Perhaps she is like a young mother in church with young children and full hands.
- They also passed little Mallory. Her backpack had fallen and all of her things were scattered. She was trying to put them back in all by herself.
- They passed Brigham. He had fallen down and his leg was hurt.
- They also passed by Uncle Kevin....who needed a refill on his drink! (Pictured above) Oh Kevin! :)
Had they noticed any of these things as they passed? Or were they totally focused on their own path/needs/course?
- I explained to them that these glasses were a representation of living our lives focusing only on ourselves. When we can only see our needs it makes us blind to all of the things we can be doing to help others. Simply opening a door for Anna, or sitting with her during sacrament meeting to help keep her young children quiet so she can listen, stopping to help Mallory refill her bag, making sure Briggy is OK, or even refilling Uncle Kevin's drink...all of these things would only take a little time, but they would all make a big difference.
President Monson said,
"Unless we lose ourselves in the service of others, there is little purpose to our own lives."
- We discussed how important that is. That means that if the end goal was to make it to the tree, making it to the tree had very little purpose, IF we failed to notice those along the path that we could have helped, so that they could continue on the path to their goal, as well. That is a really big statement. I hoped that it would impact their minds, as it did mine.
We Read Luke 9:24 & discussed what it meant.
"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever will lose his life, for my sake, the same shall save it."
We read and discussed the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37. We talked about the first 2 people to pass and how they were wearing their "Selfish Glasses". Perhaps they were "too busy" or had something they had to hurry and get to. Those are both probably the most common excuses we give for not serving others. Again, there is little purpose in all of the things we accomplish, unless we are willing to serve others along the way. We talked about how the Good Samaritan did more than just what was necessary by leaving money for the man to be cared for and then asking them to let him know if it cost more than what he gave so that he could give them what was required when he came back through.
I told them about a special experience that happened to me recently:
I told them how I have the opportunity to travel to a lot of different places to speak about Dawson. I have spoke to the youth, the youth and their parents, entire wards, groups of women, groups of adults, small groups and large groups. When Dawson passed away it was something that I knew the Lord would want me to do. His story and his special life and all of the miracles that were a part of it were meant to be shared with many people.
I told them that when I am asked to speak I go, no matter how far away, and I would never ask the ward to pay any of my expenses. I have always felt that the Lord would provide a way for me to go.
I recently went to speak in Southern Arizona. Our budget was a little tight when it was time to go. I withdrew $200, which is exactly how much the trip would cost, from my grocery budget and trusted that the Lord would help us stretch the rest to meet our needs.
The spirit was so strong at the fireside. I knew that the message the Lord wanted to share with this group was received. It was such a great experience.
As we pulled back into my friends driveway we noticed another car pulling up. A man got out of his car and walked over to me. He handed me an envelope, told me thank you, gave me a hug and then left. Later I sat in my room at my friends home and opened that envelope, thinking I would find a note. In the envelope was $200, the exact amount it would cost for my trip. To me this was a message from Heavenly Father. He wanted me to be sure that He was constantly aware of every little need and that He would work through His faithful and willing children to fill those needs, as long as we are willing to continue with faith.
We talked about how the man certainly could have used so much money, but he was a man that listened to the promptings of the spirit and was willing to watch for ways he could help others along his path. This man set an example for me that day! I was blessed by his faithfulness, both financially, and more importantly, spiritually.
We closed with a poem President Monson quoted in his talk "What Have I Done For Someone Today?" in October 2009 General Conference:
I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody's need made me blind;
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind.