Eight hungry kids settle into their spots at the long narrow table just after the noon hour. Lunchroom-type trays are passed out, each dividing wall doing its best to keep the applesauce from running onto the sandwich and over to the carrot sticks. I love these plates. They remind me of those days eating pizza dotted with perfect squares of pepperoni while drinking a little carton of chocolate milk in Mrs. Reeder’s third-grade class. Our dining room often looks more like a lunchroom than a dining room, so I imagine the brightly colored trays feel at home here.
As all receive their food and prayers are prayed, I stop and wait for someone to say something. I wish I could say this yearning stemmed solely from my desire to see good manners displayed. We’re big on manners, but sadly, on most days I lean heavily toward being an appreciation addict. I wait for someone to acknowledge my hard work. Because on those days, it doesn’t feel worth the work unless I know it’s noticed.
I’ve read a bunch about this one guy who thought of ways to serve everyone He came in contact with, never asking for the applause of onlookers. Yeah, of course it’s Jesus. Jesus, the God-man.
He’s always known moms (or all humans for that matter) would struggle with wanting our work to be noticed. It’s nice to hear encouraging words along the way to spur us on toward further acts of service. Our families owe us as much, right? Well, no. Jesus looked at this much differently, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
He wasn’t looking for anyone to actually serve Him or give him a thumbs up during His time on earth, even if He was completely worthy of praise. There would be no huffing away after giving the now-famous Sermon on the Mount if no one stopped him afterward to mention how moving and life changing His words were that day. He simply showed up, gave His all, and let it fall where it may. Never forcing others to commend, be changed, or appreciate His work. Jesus was confident in His mission from the Father: To deliver the message of hope and serve the people.
He didn’t serve for accolades. Though He did the most amazing things and spoke the most amazing words.
He didn’t expect everyone to like Him or what He did.
He didn’t demand a thank you or even an acknowledging glance.
He didn’t yearn for the ancient equivalent of comments, shares, tweets, or discussions about his life and times for His own sake.
He simply wanted His life to point to the Father.
We all want to feel appreciated — because heaven knows it’s not easy being a mom. The hours are endless and the work is never quite complete.
But what if instead of desiring or even demanding appreciation for the ways we serve the people in our life, we do it simply because we love God and love the ones He’s given to us to impact?
Our acts of love and service toward our families and the world around us do not go unnoticed. They don’t. Our lives point to the Father too when we give without the expectation of a thank you, love without limit, and speak not to be adored — but to bless.