January 20, 2015

Giving, as a Basic Human Need.

holding hands

There is a trapdoor of love that opens within us as we release our fervent grasp on our time and gift it to others.

I, like most mothers, have piles of peed on baby laundry, dirty floors that desperately need a thorough wash, healthy meals that needed to be cooked a week ago, a baby raising partner who feels a tad bit neglected, in more ways than one and a baby who desires my rapt attention all the time. To put it simply, mothering is hard (and let’s not forget wonderful and draining.)

With that said, I made the decision with the coming of the New Year to step outside of my hourglass of time and give to others; and not just give my money, but my time.

I decided to give my time to another mother.

Now, I muse at this time that I’m a bit peculiar for choosing to go help another mother fold her laundry, clean her floors, cook some food, soothe her fussy baby and do other mom-ish-esque tasks when I have my own fore mentioned unending list of mom chores to attend to. But so what, it’s been phenomenal, in a wholeheartedly un-sarcastic meaning of the word.

The opportunity to volunteer in the home of a fellow mother, who was even more overloaded than myself, felt like an easy choice for where I would place my gift of time. “I get it, I know, I feel the unspoken emotions, concerns, joys, and pressures that course through you fellow mama, and I’m here for you.”

My time with this family has opened my eyes, opened my mind, and opened my heart to the true potential that the gift of time, support and unconditional love can give to not just those we serve, but us. We are the ultimate receiver when we gift our time.

These are five of the transformations that can occur when we discover the wonderful world of volunteering:

Stepping Out of the Enticing Comfort Zone.

Volunteer work pops a little hole in the bubble we live in and slowly busts us through and out, into a vibrant new world, where we are intimately exposed to those who are not in our immediate sphere of community. The rote tasks of daily life cause us to pigeonhole ourselves into a self-induced comfortable mold. We release the constraints this mold has on us by choosing to step out and do something for someone else, that will not bring direct monetary gain, or critical acclaim.

Changing the World.

We might not feel that helping one person, or one family will do much towards healing the crises our world is facing, but think again. If I, if we, if they each made the choice to step outside ourselves and lend a loving hand to another, and those that we touched then extended their hand to another, and a snowball of love slowly rolled through us all, we might just be able to begin to produce global healing. My volunteer work has sparked a newfound sense of global hope inside of me, and it feels really good.

Renewing of Perspective.

All strife, struggle, and sacrifice is valid, but, exposing our hearts to the strife, struggle, and sacrifice of others has the potential to transform our perspective, of our own internal turmoil, to that of, well, gratitude. Many times, when exposed to the core obstacles others are facing, we would happily stick with our own.

Overwhelming Sense of Gratitude.

When we experience the power of the change, hope, or simple smile we are able to elicit in another, with the gift of our time, our world will open up to love, our flood gates of gratitude will be released and there’s no going back. When we tap into the power of I, of we, this power we hold within ourselves can be released through the simple act of just being there for another, especially a stranger and we’ll never see the world through the same eyes.

Learning to Be Here Now.

It’s all here, everything we need, right here, right now. All we need to do is accept it and cease living in yesterday, or tomorrow, or two hours from now, but now. Live here right now. When we are gifting our time, we’re there, right in that moment. We’ve stopped focusing on the email we need to send, the dry cleaning we need to pick up, or the cookies we need to go home and burn, because we’re there, in the moment, helping someone else make their life better, it’s not about us, and there is something so profoundly freeing when that realization hits.

I used to think of volunteer work as something I would do “some day,” when I didn’t have as much “stuff” going on in my own life. I viewed it as a luxury of the rich or retired.

What I’ve since discovered is that serving, volunteering and giving is not a luxury that should be put to “some day,” but is a basic human need.

If I want to continue to not just survive, but thrive, I need to serve.

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Author: Bailey Gaddis

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor/Flickr

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