In response to a question my daughter posed about how to serve and love someone without that person taking advantage of you:
I was just thinking about the questions that you asked about selfishness, pleasing others and pleasing Heavenly Father. Here are some of my thoughts:
I think that it all comes down to charity. Charity is naturally selfless and charity naturally pleases our Heavenly Father. But what about pleasing others? I think that rather than thinkingloving others. We can’t always please others and please God, who is the only one that we truly need to please. But when we think about truly loving others, rather than pleasing others, it changes everything. We can love others and still not give into them. Loving others does not mean being their doormat. We can love others and not always give them what they want. We can truly love others and still be firm with them. And, as long as our love is sincere and real, our motives will be right. As we act with Christlike love, we can’t be wrong. That’s is because charity never, ever, ever, ever faileth. It is always, always, always the correct course of action. And if our hearts are filled with charity, we will be filled with the Spirit (because they are one and the same), and we will be inspired as to what we should say or do in any situation. Sometimes, the answer is to help a person out of a difficult situation and other times the answer is to allow them to learn to help themselves (with our support and love, of course).
Either way, if we are acting out of Christlike love, we are pleasing Heavenly Father. In fact, I’m sure that nothing pleases Him more than our acts of charity. It’s this pure love that refines us and perfects us. There is nothing more powerful or more life changing than the pure love of Christ.
Another interesting thing about charity, is that it literally changes the way we see the world. When we look at the world through a heart filled with love, we experience a paradigm shift. The self-centered problems or questions we used to have, don’t exist. Instead of worrying about how to respond to certain people or how to control certain situations, we find ourselves concerned with how to truly help and love a person or group. We feel empathy and understanding instead of judgement and frustration. We see the world with a completely new set of eyes. You can see just how true that is if you take two people--one self-centered, proud person and one selfless, charitable person--and have them both experience the same event. They will come away with two completely different descriptions of the exact same event. And in every case, the selfless, charitable person will have a more accurate and objective observation of the event, because he is filled with the spirit of truth and love.
Here are a few quotes I found. Hope they help!
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Council of the Twelve has told us being meek and lowly of heart does not mean being used or abused—or being a “doormat” for others. “Meekness,” he says, “is more than self-restraint; it is the presentation of self in a posture of kindness and gentleness, reflecting certitude, strength, serenity, and a healthy self-esteem and self-control” (“Meekness—A Dimension of True Discipleship,” Ensign, March 1983, p. 71; emphasis added).
Elder Lynn G Robbins: Trying to please others before pleasing God is inverting the first and second great commandments (see Matthew 22:37–39). It is forgetting which way we face. And yet, we have all made that mistake because of the fear of men. In Isaiah the Lord warns us, “Fear ye not the reproach of men” (Isaiah 51:7; see also 2 Nephi 8:7).
One last thought: We should serve as the Savior served. He didn't stress out. He wasn't a doormat. He didn't try to do everything for everyone or to fix every single. He served the individual. He allowed them to be accountable. But above all, He loved them unconditionally!