Last week was a monumental marker in my parental progression. My oldest son went on his first date (first one he asked a girl on, I’m not counting the girls choice dance before). As planning started we were going to host him and three of his friends, along with their dates. A small group of 8 would fit nicely in our front room, we could use the nice china dishes, and decorating would be simple. Gradually however, the group grew and grew. Suddenly transportation, food preparation, decorations, pictures, and a large enough venue started to become concerns. Basketball games evolved into mother planning times, hundreds of texts were sent between parents, and I had to show up three hours before the dinner just to set up and decorate. It had become a major event!
Arrival time quickly came, and my younger son was dressed in his nicest suit and stationed at the front doors to greet the young couples. My two youngest daughters were in their best dresses to serve the food, refill glasses, and clear plates. My wife was working with the other mothers to fill plates, prepare food, and keep things running. And I somehow found myself at the sink with my older daughter at my side helping me.
I never do love doing dishes, I don’t like seeing wasted food, I don’t like how it makes my hands feel, and I don’t like how my back aches from bending over the sink. As the endless stream of different sized plates, the plethora of forks, and the lipstick smeared goblets began to bury me, I paused to stop and look around. I realized my son was more worried about conversation topics, using the right manners, and avoiding embarrassing moments. He probably didn’t realize the army of people in the kitchen helping the dinner to go off smoothly. But when I saw my entire family busy and engaged in helping him behind the scenes, I was profoundly moved. Gone were the questions of “who’s turn is it, didn’t I just do this, or how do I get out of this?” For a brief moment, each member of my family was working their hardest in a completely happy and selfless way as part of a unified effort of service.
Marion G. Romney said that “Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom. Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made.” Though we were enduring mundane tasks, serving together created a beautiful tapestry of love and laughter. I reflected back on shoveling snow for a neighbor, weeding a widow’s garden, or other seemingly random acts placed in the path of our family to enjoy together a glimpse of eternity. Certainly this glimpse was also given to remind me to serve more as a family and enjoy more of these glimpses of greatness.