Few things in life can bring us complete, down-to-your-core joy. This is different than happiness. It’s different than satisfaction.
One of the things I’m convinced brings this type of joy is when you serve others. When I say “serve” others, I mean truly help them.
Approaching 50 years of age in a few months has brought me to a different level in life. At this level, I have come to know that life is about helping others. It sounds simple and even cliché, and that’s because it is simple. Helping each other through this experience of living life is what we should be doing day in and day out.
Many people think that their purpose on this earth is to find a career you love, to excel at a hobby or skill or talent, to be a good parent, to be good friend, be a good church-goer or religion follower; the list goes on and on of ways we try to fulfill ourselves.
All of these goals and purposes are good, and we should by all means aim to achieve them and be the best we can be. But life is so much more than that.
Every single one of us is part of a community of people who all need each other in different ways. Some people don’t care to admit that. Some people don’t believe that. But it’s a fact. Everyone needs someone, and we all experience challenges, dreams, and times when we need to invoke the help of our fellow humans.
It’s easy for those of blessed with a loving family, a righteous and fulfilling upbringing-or even just a decent one-who had someone in our lives who loved us, to focus solely on our own personal joy and/or our own families.
But that’s not why we’re here. We have to open our eyes. We have to step outside of our comfort zones and find ways to serve others.
Helping others involves taking time to find where your impact can be made and best used. Open your eyes and ears. See where there’s a need. We all can’t start a charity.
But if we all find one person, one family who needs help, imagine what could happen. Believe me, they’re out there. And they’re everywhere: in every single city, neighborhood, section, village, and town of the world.
The manner in which we get involved is up to us. Some of us open our homes to people. Some of us write checks to pay for tuition. Some of us purchase food, clothing and other necessities. Some of us invite them to holiday or special occasions.
When I was child, the church we belonged to decided to host a misplaced and lost family from Vietnam living in a refugee camp. They lived in our church basement. My mom extended her reach by offering them to shower and bathe in our home and by including them in our family dinners. I still remember having this family of 6 celebrate their very first Thanksgiving with us. The lessons we as children learned from this were invaluable and life-changing. People need people.
We can exempt ourselves from getting involved by saying how busy we are and that we’ll do this after our kids go to college. We can live in the fear some of these people having a bad influence on our children or being a potential danger to us or our homes. We can say that we’re financially struggling ourselves and can barely make ends meet. The list of so-called reasons not to help others is long.
Now is the time. People are crying out for help everywhere. They might not ask for it, nor might they appear to need it, nor might they accept it. But the fact remains: people need people, and being present for them is the only way to truly live.
I’ll end with a soul-touching story that is playing out now with a beautiful girl named Monique.
Monique has been in one of our Angels’ Arms homes for 12 years. She did well in school and had an infectious smile and always upbeat demeanor. She decided to go out on her own at the age of 19 and get out of the foster system. As is often the case with foster kids aging out, things didn’t work out too well. You see, Monique needed people. But she didn’t know who to go to and how to ask. Her pride was in the way.
The staff at Angels’ Arms decided to help this young lady. And guess what’s happening? Monique is quitting her current fast food job that is taking advantage of her and dictating her life. We took her to apply after a bit of coaching to a nice local restaurant, and she got the job on the spot after 2 interviews. We helped her complete her FASFA forms and apply at Meramec Community College. We tracked down her birth certificate and other documents that were needed. We arranged for a dentist to donate his services to fix her front teeth all banged up from a car accident. He did it the same day in a matter of an hour.
The process of helping Monique took several hours and days. We all have so many other things to do. But seeing this one lovely young lady realize that she needs others to help her and seeing the joy in her face and her confidence go through the roof is worth it all. Monique gets it. People need people. If only we could all embrace this fact.