Expanding our focus

We know for a surety that happiness comes not by looking inward, but by stretching outward.

"Bear ye one another's burdens," the apostle Paul admonished. (Gal. 6:2.) Such a simple - but yet so far-reaching - admonition. As we reach out to others in their times of need, we find that we draw not only closer to them, but also closer to Him who gave the ultimate in bearing the burdens of mankind.If we fail to expand our focus beyond our own needs and concerns, we may never notice the countless people all about us who may need our help. We thereby lose the chance to bless their lives as well as our own. We miss some of life's greatest joys, found only as we help lift the burdens of others.

The opportunity to help is all about us.

There may be the elderly who are alone, those whose families have left home and may not be close enough in miles to visit or close enough in spirit to care about their aged parents. Sad, indeed, is the situation where the elderly are neglected for any reason. We have an obligation to care for the aged.

During the past holiday season, some young ladies "adopted" the elderly in their ward to do "the 12 days of Christmas." Each evening for the 12 days prior to Christmas, they would leave a goody on the porch, ring the doorbell and run.

At one home, an elderly widow was the recipient of a young lady's love and concern. Each night, the young lady would bake a goody or select some special item and carefully wrap it. She then would write an anonymous note of love and cheer to go with the gift. The young lady would, with such great care, place the items and the notes behind the screen door so the widow would not have to go outside to find them. Then in a "secret" place she would observe the widow open the door, and pick up the carefully left surprise.

On Christmas eve, the widow was to go to her son's home in another part of the city for dinner. But before she left, she expressed to a neighbor that she didn't want to leave because she would miss the visit from her unknown friend that she had come to look forward to with such anticipation and excitement. She told the neighbor that she couldn't go to bed each night until after she received the surprise. In reality, it wasn't the surprise at all - it was the fact that somebody loved her and cared about her!

She asked the neighbor to pick up whatever her secret friend would leave because she was certain she would come. When the widow returned home some hours later, she immediately called her neighbor and asked "if anything had happened in the neighborhood" while she was gone. The neighbor, realizing what she was referring to, replied, yes, and that she would bring it right over. "When I arrived," the neighbor related, "she could hardly wait to open the sack containing the surprise."

What joy! The lives of two people were greatly blessed by the service of the young lady. Each night the young lady would lovingly prepare something for the widow. Surely the giver was blessed! And each night, the widow excitedly waited for the doorbell to ring. It was the high point of her day. And just as surely, the receiver was blessed!

Deeds like this can be done throughout the year - not just at special holiday times.

Opportunities for good deeds abound.

There may be those who are "cut adrift" from their families because of negative lifestyles. Living contrary to one's teachings can be a lonely existence. How they need loving support and direction to find their way back to the teachings of our Father in Heaven.

Sometimes people are even alienated from their families because their families won't accept them when they do something good. Some converts, for instance, find acceptance in their own families very difficult after they embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. They, too, need our support.

And then there are the lonely. Outwardly they may appear to be cold or unfriendly, but inwardly, they cry out for help. Will we be there to help them?

Life is painful for many. But it can be less painful if there is somebody to walk with them, to share the load with them.

As we understand the teachings of the Savior, we realize that that someone to share the load is us. Yes, there is so much that can be done, and we in our small way can make a difference in the lives of those we help.

We can only live a Christlike life as we give of ourselves.

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