Sometimes interactions with strangers impact me more than relationships I’ve spent years building.
The various volunteer projects I’m involved in introduce me to strangers nearly every week. I become attached to these people, even after only meeting them once. I wish I could say that I get attached because I make a profound impact on their lives, but that’s not true. I’m a face in the crowd and most of them will forget me as soon as I walk out the door.
But, they make a profound impact on my life.
These strangers uncover the good things in me. The sincere, unguarded, optimistic parts of myself that get lost somewhere beneath the sarcasm and other protective shields I put up. These beautiful people give me more than I ever give them. They help me find the places of my heart that have become calloused with disappointment. They reveal the blessings in my life that I never bothered to notice.
Last week I felt completely discouraged and worthless, but I went to my volunteer shift at the hospital anyway. I was asked to keep a young woman company. She’s close to my age… and paralyzed from the neck down. As soon as I met her, I dropped my dejected attitude and became what she needed: optimistic and hopeful. I became her hands as I fed her dinner and colored pictures for her.
This girl probably won’t remember me, but I think about her all the time now. I think about how she asked me to dial her mom and hold the phone to her ear. Even on my worst day, I can pick up the phone to call my mom. Or go for a run. Or drive around aimlessly. I cried the entire drive home from the hospital because God blessed me with beautiful, functioning hands and I never even thanked Him for them.
Service is not just about helping other people; it’s about healing your own soul while you help others. You may think that you don’t have anything to give, but I promise you that if you give what you can… God will keep giving you more to give away. The more I get involved in the lives of strangers, the more I want to be involved. They unknowingly teach me about the really beautiful things in life and they help me see the really beautiful things in myself.
God gave me hands and feet. God gave me today. And I’m happy to have them.