Serving Rather Than Achieving


Having grown up in a large, dysfunctional family, I internalized the sense that earning love and approval were grounded in achieving success in the world. Self, chores, school and eventually career were measured by their intrinsic worldly value. Underneath this current of get out there and ‘do it’ there was a river of love and belonging that felt predicated on achieving. So, not so surprisingly, it took me a long time to dive deeper and surface in a new place that compassionately encompassed that personal history and moved beyond it. The roots of that new landscape are fecund and grounded in serving rather than achieving. Underneath this new landscape of being present here and now ‘to serve’ there is the energy of love and compassion that feel predicated on co-creating. So, serving rather than achieving becomes the means of co-creation in the world.

There are moments where the pull of my family life and achieving surface as distractions that I need to catch and release as I witness my authentic self and gently allow myself to be drawn more and more toward my soul’s discernment of what is real. This leads me deeper into loving and compassionate service.

Recently, one of the people I work with who is crippled by illness and bed ridden taught me anew the vulnerability of receiving and the gifts of opening and accepting. The encounter revolved around my offering Reiki for the first time to this person who has been bed ridden for more than a year. Disabled and living with the expanding diminishment of an illness that will end in death, this person has become bitter and closed. I have visited for many months now and offer what comfort through companionship I am able. I suggested Reiki and demonstrated on myself exactly what would occur. This person reluctantly agreed to try it caustically asking first, ‘Will it give my legs back?’ I responded, ‘No. But it may feel comforting to the emotional pain you feel about the loss of your legs.’

And so I served this patient through Reiki and once again touched the hem of authentic inward healing in those places we are socialized never to speak about. Just two human beings, in full and aware presence in, through and with each other sharing energy through the heart’s hands.

As I reflect on this watershed moment in our relationship, I am overwhelmed by the joy of serving. No thunder, no lightening bolts – just the gentle softening of a suffering human being – the opening to being fully seen, the vulnerability of our humanity. And touching humanity in this way fills me with awe at our capacity to care for each other. I am humbled in the wake of such ‘aliveness’. And, my capacity to serve expands as I wholly/holy surrender to this person – this amazing teacher- who serves me.

“I live in him, am him, am him-as-me Living as me, with me, as me-with-him.”   Rumi

One thought on “Serving Rather Than Achieving

  1. As someone who has always been very focused on achievement and even selfish at times, I feel like I’ve only recently started to understand the idea of serving others. It’s amazing to me how, when I place my focus on giving value to others, things just seem to flow much easier in life. Maybe it’s just the result of the ego being taken out of the picture.

    Regardless, the way you describe your serving in this post inspires me to make it an even greater part of my life.


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