How Volunteering Changed My Heart

When I walked through the darkness I experienced in the spring of 2015, I was unaware of the ripples that would span for years to come. After the loss of my mom, coupled with my most painful breakup, I knew I needed something else to focus on. Hence, I made the decision to become a mentor. At the time I started mentoring her, she was a darling 5th grader. As of this spring, she has grown into a fierce and spunky 7th grader. I honestly wasn’t sure if she would still want me in her life when she reached junior high, fearing that having a mentor was “uncool.” But, here we are. I spend 30 minutes with her each week during her lunch break. It doesn’t sound like much and for all the moments where I wonder if I have any sort of impact on her life, there are 1,000 other moments where she pours her heart out to me in which I realize that yes, this is where I’m supposed to be.

I had always felt compelled to give but never truly devoted myself to it. (Aside from kids’ ministry at my church in Wisconsin, which has forever touched my heart). Mentoring sparked something in me and I found that the traits of my unique design I previously felt made me flawed or too different, could be put to great use. My compassion and emotional sensitivity were not to be changed but instead, channeled. So, that’s precisely what I did. After finding a church I meshed with, I immersed myself within it by volunteering there. And am I so thankful I did! The people I met and the relationships formed have brought tremendous change, strength and positive growth into my life. After that, I was called to bigger projects where I formed even more connections. I’ve worked alongside refugees as they develop the tools to one day operate a small business. I’ve seen little kids approach me in wonder to tell me all about their day while I listened patiently. Finally, I am being urged to lead other young women in a variety of ways and while I never pictured myself landing here, I am nonetheless willing to stick my toes over the line that is my comfort zone as I take these steps towards something bigger.

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Photo Credit: symphony of love Flickr via Compfight cc

 

It’s true that when we start giving, we want to give even more. I couldn’t imagine a life without service to others. Where my eyes and my heart have been opened by true, meaningful experiences. Where I have shared and listened. Where I have found myself feeling as if I am the one receiving more than I thought I would. Here I am, yet again, after another breakup and leaning deeper into the giving of my time. It is here, when I listen, lean in, close my eyes and trust in all I am capable of. Here, in this period of changeĀ and the in-betweens of life, that I have been the beneficiary of sweet reminders. Reminders of how blessed I am, of all those who love me in this life, and of the unopened doors I have yet to enter during this next journey.

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