About a month ago I sat with J, Belle and my baby brother, Chris, at a Mexican restaurant. Our original intention had been to advise Belle on what moving out would cost. Cramming tortilla chips and salsa down my gullet…I imparted my wisdom. “Turn the heat down when you leave. Ramen is a better choice than a store bought mocha. Body wash and shampoo are the same thing…save your money.” Around the second basket of chips…Belle waned and we lost her. She was fighting a stomach bug and our constant daggers of advice were pushing her to her limit.
Conversation turned to some of the kids at Chris’s school. He works at a local elementary school that has a 99% population of kids that are living in or under the poverty line. 99%!!!!! In addition to the stresses that come with living in this economic bracket a lot of these kids have domestic abuse in the home and/or are foster children. The behaviors that some of the kids were exhibiting had Chris worried and overwhelmed. He wanted to help them all…but how much can one person do. An idea began over the quesadillas and a mentor program was beginning to blossom. I’m happy to report that 4 days ago…we launched that mentor program!!!
After the high fives (ok…my brother and I don’t high five..we kind of just grunt approval at each other)…I sat to put together an itinerary and some words of advice to our volunteers (we currently sit at a whopping 2 volunteers). Mentoring is hard to describe and to define. I mean…according to my Australian King…Siri…it’s “to advise and train.” How do I tell these people the RIGHT way to do this? I’ve got some mulling….Give me a day.
There is a quote by Gandhi (brought to my attention in the book previously mentioned…”Find Your Truth”) “Ever worthy act is difficult. Ascent is always difficult. Descent is easy and often slippery.” How applicable to the life of many who are attempting to find their place…rehabilitate from an addiction..or do both simultaneously. I am simply trying to figure out life as a servant and the word DIFFICULT popped up at me. I’m in this place in my journey where DIFFICULT is a daily presence….almost a friend at this point. I wake up…check my phone and wait for that thing that will present itself as my daily hill to climb.
I sound like I’m writing a sob story…I’m not…I’ve been able to open my arms wide and embrace the task at hand. Folded hands in prayer has helped also….because I’m learning that without those words to my Creator’s ears DIFFICULT seems too….ummmmm….DIFFICULT.
I’m being so rude…I haven’t even really defined the word for you..I apologize. Here is the meaning…shout out to Australian Siri for this morning’s definition. DIFFICULT – needing much effort or skill to accomplish, deal with or understand.
As I’ve pursued volunteer work with homeless youth and adults I’ve second guessed my value and doubted my skill sets for this new endeavor. I know my end goal and I am aware of the steps…but I trip over my self-doubt and stumble on feeling inadequate. I’ll put the work in and I’ll be diligent (ahhhh….another previous word). This week I’ll work towards figuring out WHAT exactly I’m trying to accomplish. My hope is that this will help the journey be less…well….DIFFICULT.
What has helped me to continue moving forward and overcome the tougher part of the journey has been community and finding value in the shared experiences of missionaries…leaders…people who have already progressed in their own community work and from those with similar passions and goals as myself. I respect the fact that they’ve paved the way and made some mistakes that I now get to avoid. I’m not..however…dumb enough to think I won’t run into my own difficulties.
I’m a brand ambassador for a movement called Live A Great Story…which I’ll shorten to LIVE for the remainder of….well…forever. A fellow ambassador named Lou Redmond sent a book to a group of us who serve as leaders in this community. “Find Your Truth” is an autobiography and an opportunity to walk alongside Lou as he grows from a partying, raving, booze-binging frat boy…to an inspiring leader. From the intro…I’ve found myself asking myself what my truth is.
Two pages in Lou declares that “YOU WERE MEANT FOR GREATNESS” and I proudly puffed up my chest at that….on a plane…next to a stranger….who plugged in his headphones and ignored me after that. I DIGRESS….
Greatness. Am I really destined for it and am I entitled to it? What is the key to unlocking this greatness that my fellow leader assures me is there? Fortunately, he gave the answer right away…my truth and then the ability to share it with the world.
The idea of living for a purpose bigger than me coincides with that SACRIFICE I talked about. I’ve declared my truth in the past year…..serve humans..specifically houseless and foster youth…and encourage everyone to love and engage with their fellow man. I aspire to inspire others to make this second nature.
Lou encourages the choice to inspire and the choice to find and live out our truth. What’s your truth? That’s the hardest part…defining that…the encouragement can be found to proceed and move forward once that part has been determined. Can’t find the encouragement from your circle? Get a new circle and then message me…I’ll encourage you. Can’t determine your truth? I’m happy to dialogue. Also….get this book by Lou Redmond.
As I’m working towards a life of SERVITUDE, the word DILIGENCE seems appropriate as a word for the week. I’m discovering that DILIGENCE, as a verb in my life, is lacking on some days and it definitely stunts my progress towards living this life of ministry and volunteering. If you know me, you know that sometimes sparkly, shiny things distract me…if a squirrel runs by my head turns….if serving becomes taxing I instantly become distraught and decide to nap the day away. DILIGENCE Ang…DILIGENCE.
I’d say my biggest downfall is smutty entertainment. Those that know me also know that I have an embarrassing addiction to all of the Housewife shows. That reality show pops on and one episode turns into four and the promised phone calls, emails, connections and volunteer research go out the window. If I don’t abide by my word…DILIGENCE…the likelihood of this happening frequently and ruining my momentum is high.
Careful and persistent work is what will bring my goal of bringing humanity to the forefront of people’s minds to fruition. Careful planning with each day. Persistent writing to keep me accountable to this space and to myself.
Diligence in evolution of myself, with careful thought to what each hour entails and persistence in pursuing human connection and finding ways to bridge the gap between the needy and the givers.
The past week has been a one word kind of week. My commitment level is waning..but I think this is a good thing. I’m marinating in a word…feeling it..absorbing it..letting it become a part of my world (yes..I just watched “Little Mermaid”).
Last Sunday I sat and scrawled the words “things to get rid of” up at the top of a piece of paper. What I wrote underneath were things like old t-shirts, 5K souvenir sweaters, jewelry and socks. I was uninspired by my own thoughts and list. I had hoped for more from my time of pondering and meditation. The paper got pushed aside and I pulled out my phone to look up words that described the act of giving up possessions. SACRIFICE was the first word…but it seemed so cruel and mean. SACRIFICE…it feels like a forced act…not one done freely. Does anyone enjoy or take pride in things that are forced on them?
Looking up the definition of SACRIFICE was my next step…since the word had riled something up in me I wanted to delve in and figure out what exactly I was dealing with here. Here’s what Siri said about the definition…and a Roget’s Dictionary confirmed the accuracy of this definition…SACRIFICE: Surrendering a possession as an offering to God or a divine power. I mean…WoW…this makes the act seem so much less self serving and so much more powerful. I wish I had more to say on the word…but I’m going to SACRIFICE my words and process. My list is going to have to change as are my feelings towards the act, but I’ll return with my list.
To be continued…..
I have a confession to make….please don’t judge me. I’ve typed and re-typed this and have decided to forge ahead with this public declaration. I….am a Real Housewives addict. I’m hanging my head in disgust…but how glamorous is that world of BMW’s and perfect hair and seemingly endless amounts of money? What would my life look like on camera? Would the world find me fancy and fascinating? Sometimes I replay my days or weeks like an episode in my head…to see if IIIIIIII’MMMMMM at least interested in what I do with my time. Would I watch myself and cringe…or approve?
If the camera were on me now..you’d cringe at what you see. The time is 11:50 a.m. and I’m uncombed, not bathed and I can taste last night’s tortilla chip binge still. My one solace is that it’s still technically before noon…therefore it’s morning…and I’m still within that time frame of it being acceptable for me to be this disgusting.
Had I been under scrutiny of a camera a couple of hours ago, at 9 a.m. you would have caught me in earlier stages of unkempt-ness…contemplating my word of the day…ADAPT. I looked up the definition and… according to my laptop search engine… adapt means to make something useful for a new situation. Seeeeee!….I may resemble Pig Pen more than a glitzy housewife but I WAS working on something deep and kind of glam. (Is contemplating glam?)
About 9:30 a.m. I realized that ADAPT is a great word to go with SERVITUDE because I’ll need to actively work on change so I can be useful to a community of people I aspire to help. The next half hour of glamorous mulling was about how to begin to the process of becoming useful for this new situation. What strengths do I already possess to go out and minister and what weaknesses do I need to seek mentoring and guidance for?
Seeing the need for some more excitement in my day I got up to do what I always do when I need to clear my head from it’s deep thoughts…I cranked up my Missy Elliott and danced…I suppose this is where viewers would learn to appreciate me a little…in these moments of spontaneous dance. Pajamas make wonderful hip hop clothes and unstyled hair is the new funky. If neither of these claims are true…please don’t tell me…I like my world of fantasy. ADAPT….ADAPT…ADAPT…..it ran through my head while I performed…errr….danced in my living room. ADAPT!
I don’t know where 10:15 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. went. Eggs were made…emails were answered…a few people needing places to volunteer were helped and I had to find some resources for an 18 year old homeless youth. It’s all pink champagne and elegance over here and the day is just beginning.
If you’ll excuse me…I must go prepare for a posh day of errands..event planning and figuring out how to ADAPT. If this were truly my episode of Real Housewives you’d get to see me post shower…fab outfit on…and an afternoon of lunching..munching…gossiping and working. I can tell you that 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. will most likely see me putting on one of my cleanest white or gray t-shirt…lunching and munching on avocado toast…a second tortilla chip binge and a trip to the rescue mission. Oh this life of elegance I lead…..
I’ve worked in customer service for years and years and years. Every job I’ve held has been one where I’m the person who is the concierge between a consumer and the provider. At 18…my way of serving was very different than how I do it now.
Back then my thinking was always, “How can this customer make it quick so I can continue writing out my grocery list, read this book or stare off into space?” “Why do they have to pick me to help them…can’t they see I’m busy (staring off into space)?” “It’s 10 minutes until we close…If I sigh and look at the clock enough will they get the hint and leave (so I can stare off into space)?”
Hold your applause for me…barista of the month and salesperson of the year. What makes these moments of reminiscing embarrassing…other than the reminder of my once fantastic work ethic…is remembering about how often I fought back with superiors as they attempted to give me constructive criticism and feedback.
At 21, I began going back to church and exploring Christianity in my life. I became aware of how being a Christ follower bled into the way I worked. Realizing that I was a selfish brat and a shoddy worker…I pursued some work mentoring. Working in sales, at the time, and for commission, meant I had a way to gage my growth. How I defined serving evolved a little and I began to think differently in every situation where I was serving a consumer. My thoughts were more “I’m working on homework…but this is my job so I’ll get up and go help with a smile.” “I’m busy…but this person needs what I’m selling…so I’ll sacrifice some of my time.” “I’m off in 10 minutes…but I need to be mature and NOT look at the clock and huff.” Laugh all you want…I know you’re making fun of my customer service skeeeeels aren’t you? It’s ok…it’s called evolution and I’m not ashamed to admit it took me some time to evolve from simply selling to a mindframe of SERVITUDE.
God…with His sense of humor and loving way of coaching…intervened in my life to reveal that there was something to be gained from these serving jobs…some kind of lesson here. Through friends..adults who had infinite amounts of patience…and a boy named J…I began to see examples of what true selflessness and humility looked like in a customer service environment. From these lessons in the work place I finally opened my eyes and realized what serving looked like when it was carried over to a community and ministry. It would be more than a decade for all these pieces to come together…but here we are. Finally…my years of customer service graduating me into a world that needs SERVITUDE -someone to become completely subject to someone more powerful (God) and to HIS loved ones.
As I’ve chosen to commit to a word a day (see commitment issue confession in previous post) I find myself sitting with “SERVITUDE” today. I know how to serve a coffee, a presentation and a product to a consumer…but I did those things in a way that served MY needs first and the consumers second…how will I serve a community of people? That piece has to come together and be thought through every day that I wake up. I see the importance of personifying that word when I’m in front of a hungry man who is lying in filth and needs sock and food service. I can tell him…”It doesn’t matter what I have on my to-do list…because you and your needs are all that matter right now.” I understand the importance as I’m tutoring a woman still fighting drug addiction and needs love and attention served. I can tell her….”I’m so glad I was picked to serve you during this 2 hour stretch….your learning and growth are my only agenda right now.” When I encounter a 20 year old who is at a loss as to what a resume is or how to draft one, I now think…”We got this…and if it takes us an hour we’ll get it done right….I’ll help with whatever you need.”
I’m learning SERVITUDE..enslavement…the act of giving myself completely..and my 18 year old coffee serving self would be shocked at how much I’m enjoying the process.