Watch for Whiplash

Full of love for our neighbor, we ask in a difficult time: “How can I help you?”

In an effort to make our husband’s priorities our own priorities, we ask, “What would you like me to get done today?”

Out of love for a good friend, we share, “I’d do anything to help you right now. What can I do?”

These offers of service are a great way to focus on loving our neighbors. We are asking for the best way to do that. Then we can do what helps the most.

And then…

The answer comes.

And then…

It doesn’t quite fit with what we were hoping, or expecting, or desiring to do that day or week. We really wanted to get some baking done that afternoon, but the neighbor asked for an errand run instead of fresh cookies. The hallway closet desperately needed an overhaul, but he wanted some research done and there isn’t time for both between other responsibilities. The help needed is a big inconvenience or a drastic change in the day.

We can prepare our schedules to leave room for service, but our hearts need to be prepared just as much. When the I didn’t really want to do THAT kicks in, we can be ready to immediately speak truth to ourselves. Before we ask, we can be braced for the whiplash that may come.

Don’t get pulled away from what is right so easily. Pray for strength to fight for love before, during, and after. Remind yourself of what you are called to do. Motivate yourself by reflecting on how you have been blessed.

Note: Sometimes we are simply unable to fill a request. Responsibility conflicts happen. The comments above are about the attitude conflicts — when we can do it but just don’t want to. Pray for wisdom to see clearly and know the difference between what can be done and what is a legitimate obstacle.

Volunteering in Your Community

It is good. It is necessary for a healthy community. Someone needs to do it.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction… (James 1:27)

Some have volunteer opportunities everywhere they turn. Others have limited circles and no known connections. If you want to help others, how do you make it happen?

Know your calling. Why do you want to do anything? What, in a broad sense, are you called to do? Remind yourself of your motivation so that you can serve from the heart and not just off the checklist.

…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Know your availability. You can’t give what you don’t have. If you aren’t free 20 hours a week, don’t sign up to work 3 days a week at the neighborhood thrift store. Before you make any decisions about what you will do to offer a cup of cold water to anyone, know when and how much time you can offer.

Know your gifts. What are you good at? If you love nothing more than serving dinner to the entire block, a soup kitchen is probably a good fit. If you are an extrovert and communicate well, leverage those people skills on a one-to-one basis or as a group leader or teacher. If you prefer limited small talk and being outside, check into a list of houses needing yard work or repairs from a local church or agency. Habitat for Humanity is a lot of fun as a group project and serves great needs. I am by no stretch of the imagination a contractor, but I have enjoyed several years of builds with that program.

Know your possibilities. Start asking. Talk to friends. Let people know you are exploring options. Get ideas. Research local agencies. Call places and ask questions about need. Brainstorm. Pull together a list or pool of what might work. Now you have what you need to make a choice.

Enjoy! Put your heart into it and be blessed.