It’s the resolution-y time of year, which coincides nicely with the last in our Four-Part Series on Why You Must Volunteer (And Not Just Give Money). Today we’re bringing you the Absolute Best reason to spend a life in service – and a resolution (freebies included!) that we can all keep this year.
The Number One Reason Why You Must Volunteer
1. Service Makes You Understand Why You Were Put Here on Earth.
Yes, this sounds quite lofty, I know. But stick with me on this one.
Every life has moments of reckoning. Call it a midlife crisis, call in teenage angst – call it what you will, each one of us goes through moments when we step outside of the plot of our own life and wonder what, in fact, is our theme.
Often, when we are busy and occupied with everyday tasks, we push these moments off to think about at a more convenient time – even if that convenient time ends up being 40 years later. But this reckoning will come (see any Disney movie for the details). That call to find the theme of your life will catch up to each of us – and the wise among us do not wait for old age to confront these moments. Because moments of reckoning are laced with opportunity.
It is in these moments that we choose the path of our life.
During these moments we are put in the driver’s seat – “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” says our soul. We are invited to investigate what path is right for us – and all road signs (check them out in the self-help section of Amazon) point in the same direction: a life of service is the path to living who you are.
Why? For starters, a day spent serving others never feels like a day wasted. A day spent reading all of Facebook, or liking every Instagram post, or sending emails to the boss, or sorting the laundry frequently leads to that “What exactly did I do today?” feeling. You know what I’m talking about. But a day giving food out at a soup kitchen or making a blanket for a family in the NICU…At the end of those days we point to something concrete, to something with grace and beauty and love and we say – yes, I did that today.
Service gives you that.
And a lifetime filled with these days – no, perhaps not every day, because yes, the laundry must be done – but a lifetime with service weaving throughout is a lifetime full of love, joy, and purpose. That is a lifetime that you can look back on when you’re 80 and say “That is what I did. That is why I was put here. Those are the lives I have changed.”
And nothing can take that from you. Your children might end up differently than you wished (their path is their choice, after all). Your job might be downsized away from you. But service – that thing that you do just because you’re you – that is yours and yours alone. And, my friend, it IS you – and you alone. It defines who you are. And it defines what your life is about.
So here’s the rub. Most of us wait until we’re older to stop and consider this moment. And then we realize that we let this precious gift that is our life slip away while we were busy doing all of the things. And listen – all of the things are important. Frankly, I’m off to make dinner in about 10 minutes because otherwise my children will claim that we starve them (clearly they need to learn to forage). But all of the things will eventually fall aside and go away.
And you will remain.
And without taking that time during life to do YOU, to serve the way you were meant to serve – you will be left holding an empty bag of a life. And that, frankly, sucks. Because you were put here on Earth for a reason, and you were gifted with a beautiful soul. You were given a phenomenal mission. It is your job to go and do it.
So let’s make a resolution to grab ahold of our own phenomenal. Let’s take the time to take off that cape that is your everyday outfit and reveal the Wonder Woman underneath. Let’s resolve to give ourselves the space to be the person that we were put here to be. Because we are the heroes of our own stories. And heroes, my friends, are the ones that serve the world.
Carmen Westbrook is the CEO and co-founder of Aina Giving, a socially responsible company that develops craft projects and tutorials for highly screened, trusted nonprofit charities. If you’d like to be a part of the Year of Giving Resolution, join the Aina Crew with 12 projects – one per month – to help others from home.