A while after my ex-husband left me, as I was getting up from the metaphorical ground, I started to assume that, now that I was a single person with no one to "serve," God would expect more from me than ever. I assumed I ought to be mentoring inner-city children and running soup kitchens (not that I particularly want to do those things). I felt guilty for so much freedom to do what I wanted, even for those days when I was only capable of going to work and then spending the evening in front of the TV. Sometimes it took effort just to take care of myself, but it didn't feel like "enough."
Around that time, my good friend Laura referred me to a scene in Return of the King* that helped her during a similar time in her life. I was reminded of it last weekend when the movie was on TV. In this short scene, Eowyn, the courageous noblewoman of Rohan, is experiencing a lot of grief and frustration - over the rejection by and loss of the man she loves, the inability to go into battle for her people, and the enormity of the darkness they're all facing. Everything seems lost, or nearly lost. But her father**, King Theoden, comes to her. Apparently I can't embed the video, but please watch it here.
Eowyn: What other duty would you have me do?
Theoden: Duty? No... I would have you smile again.
Not grieve for those whose time has come.
You shall live to see these days renewed. No more despair.
This exchange goes straight to my heart every time - it feels very personal. It reminds me that I am God's daughter, and He cares about both my grief and my happiness even more than my earthly father would. He counts my tears in His bottle (Psalms 56:8). I believe that sometimes God wants His children to raise their eyes beyond duty, to be still and allow Him to bring them hope, take away their despair, and cause them to smile again. He wants us to rest in Him for a while. I believe I'm in that kind of season now. I am smiling again, and it's because He's lavishing His love on me with His presence and so many unnecessary blessings. I have hope that I will see my days renewed - I'm seeing it already - and I believe that in the long run, I'll be able to serve Him better because of this time of rest and strengthening.
* = If you consider Lord of the Rings too nerdy, you might as well head for the virtual door now. :) Other than the Bible, it's the book that's had the biggest spiritual impact on me.
** = Technically he's her uncle, but he's raised her and served as her father figure. Just wanted to stave off any corrections by bigger LOTR nerds than I. :)