When I was in my first year at BYU, I was asked to be the SWAT team leader for my dorm floor. Sounds like a made-up, freshman-dorm community-building assignment doesn’t it? It was actually one of the coolest things I got to do at BYU. The SWAT team was the Service Without A Trace team. There were three of us. Our job was to do little things for people through that first year to make them feel welcome and important, to make that transition to adulthood a little smoother for all of us.
Since I decided that I wanted to involve my kids in service so that they learn to notice the needs of others and to find meaningful little ways to serve them, I’ve decided to look for activities that allow me and my kids to serve both in and out of our home. These aren’t always “without a trace” in that we’re not trying to hide our service, but they are activities we’re doing to serve others without any expectation that the service will be returned or even that we get a pat on the back for our efforts. If you have an idea of something you have done to scatter sunshine or otherwise participate in a random act of kindness, I’d love to hear it! Please share it with me in the comments. Here are the suggestions for this week:
1. Buy two books – one for you and one for a friend.
If you’ve been tempted to by yourself a little something in all the Christmas shopping, make it something worthwhile. Choose a good book. Get a copy for yourself and one for a friend. You not only can discuss the book together, but it’s a great way to send someone a little thought: “I care about you.”
2. Take Grandma out for dinner.
Before my grandmother died, she was a widow for many years. We all had good intentions of visiting regularly — and many of us did — but it was still an often lonely time for her. Make a point to take Grandma — or Grandpa for that matter — out for dinner some time soon.
It was this week last year that we attended my dad’s funeral. My husband and I had planned to take my parents out for dinner during the week before he died because it was my mom’s birthday. My brother, who hadn’t reached out to my parents in nearly a year, called and asked to take her out for her birthday, so she called me to see if they could reschedule for another night the following week. I was glad to agree, knowing how important it was to her to see my brother. Unfortunately, Dad passed away before our dinner was possible. It’s clichéd, but you never know when an opportunity might be the last. Take time to make the memories now, since you never know when that opportunity might be gone.