Weeks ago, I began a series about taking action to make a difference, and then COVID-19 happened. I felt derailed as we all grappled with the resulting emotions and changes in life. But I’m getting my groove back in the midst of a new normal, and I’m ready to dive back in.
Even I’d forgotten where I left off, so here are the links for the posts leading up to this one if you want to look back.
Here’s the Cliffs Notes version: On the way home from a trip to India, I realized that God was calling me to help hurting women in my own community. After almost a year of researching all the wonderful possibilities, I believed I was being called to volunteer at Interact, a facility in my county that provides a wide variety of services for women in crisis. These include counseling, a shelter for women suffering from domestic violence, and post-rape exams. I’ll pick up the story there.
As I read through all the services that Interact provides, I felt a mixture of overwhelm, insecurity, and fear. Not knowing felt like an impossible obstacle, and thoughts like these swirled through my mind:
I’m completely unequipped for this.
I have nothing to offer these women.
What if I get into a dangerous situation? I really don’t want to get into a dangerous situation!
Do I truly want to associate with women whose lives so different than mine?
Will I find out that it’s too much and want to quit, feeling worse than if I had never done anything?
I know that some of those thoughts sound terrible, and I hope you won’t judge me. Even when we have the best motives and the purest heart, helping is hard. Providing support to hurting and marginalized people is messy, so it’s not only healthy to count the costs, it’s essential. We want to be faithful, not flaky, do-ers.
Thankfully, Interact has extensive experience with volunteers, and they knew that I’d be having these thoughts and fears. Because it’s an organization that offers support in extreme crisis, they have an extensive training program that all volunteers are required to attend, no matter if you’re helping at the desk or holding the hand of a rape victim.
I signed up for the next training, braced myself, and began to attend.
I’m not going to lie. It was deeply disturbing to my peaceful life to learn about topics that had never touched me. Topics like domestic violence and rape aren’t for the faint of heart. During the six-session training, I often felt in over my head and wondered if I should find something different.
I persevered, though, and I’m thankful that I did. If we want to enter into a new situation well, it’s likely that we’ll need education and training to step into doing. This phase takes time, patience, and stick-to-it-ive-ness, but there are so many benefits. Here are just a couple:
1. It Helps You to Find the Right Fit
When I was going through the training at Interact, I first thought that I wanted to be a volunteer that was present during rape exams. I chose Interact, a secular organization with church support, because part of my calling was to bring Light into dark places. I wanted to take Jesus into places that He wasn’t necessarily proclaimed. Holding a hurting woman’s hand and praying while she went through her exam seemed like a good way to do that. I could help with the comfort of presence.
But that wasn’t a good fit for me. Often, the calls to attend would come in the middle of the night. I still had kids at home, so that wouldn’t work for my family.
Here’s where I want to make an important point. As I said in “The Big Value of Little Steps,” I’m drawn to the grand gesture, so sacrifice automatically seems virtuous to me. That can be a trap for us, though. Often, God calls us to small and humble doing. This was a case where the sacrifice would have been born by my husband and boys instead of myself. It would have seemed like I was amazing, but it would have hurt my family.
Instead, God directed me to a volunteer position during the day in the shelter. It wasn’t grand or flashy at all. It didn’t make me feel important or look great to others, but it filled a need and fit my family. I’ll talk more about the benefits of all of that next week!
Training sessions where you want to volunteer or serve will help you find where you fit, so they’re well worth the time you’ll invest.
2. It Helps You to Fill the Gaps
I wasn’t just insecure when I wondered if I could be of any help at Interact. I was genuinely missing the skills and education needed to be anything more than a boat anchor!
The training they provided was basic, but I started my work there with a greater understanding and a deeper compassion than before the sessions. Without the education I received, I would have started to volunteer with dangerous misconceptions that could have been damaging to the very people that I longed to love well.
If you feel inadequate, you’re probably right! But don’t let that discourage you. Let those feelings motivate you to seek out training. A little inadequacy keeps us dependent on God, but a large gap can make us destructive instead of helpful.
Next week, I’ll talk about how I got a sorely needed adjustment to my expectations so that I could be of use.
In the meantime, what can we be doing even as we’re staying home?
Things You Can Do During Quarantine
If you’re like me, the quarantine has created a sense of helplessness which feels rotten to a bunch of do-ers like us. As I’ve started watching for ways to help, I’ve felt more empowered.
Source: Dawn Hayman
The graphic above is an amazing list of ways to “do,” including giving to a local charity, but I also want to give you one more that’s dear to my heart, a global giving opportunity. Here’s an excerpt from an email I received from Mission India, an organization that I trust and recommend with my whole being:
“Recent reports coming out of India have me feeling overwhelmed. What started as a pandemic has become a humanitarian crisis.
India went into a strict lock down on March 24. Unfortunately, while this might be necessary, it has been devastating to the most vulnerable: the poor and the day laborers. 40% of the population in India lives day to day. They earn…to eat. And now they face not just a deadly virus – but starvation and hopelessness.
Many of our ministry partners in India are already responding by distributing food and hygiene items such as soaps and sanitizers – and they are pleading for help.
Will you stand with them today? A gift of $40 will provide for a family of 4 for 4 weeks.
Mission India has committed to provide emergency relief to the communities we serve. Each Relief Kit will contain food items like rice and lentils, basic hygiene items like soap, and an encouraging Gospel message.
Todd VanEk, President of Mission India
The link above provides an opportunity to give a small amount that we can contribute that will make a big impact in India. Will you prayerfully consider helping both in your own community and in India?
Grit ‘n’ Grace Episode of the Week
How One Woman Turned Trauma Into Triumph--Just when you think a story is unredeemable, God walks in and uses it in a beautiful way. That’s what happened for Kim Tshirret, founder of Hope Reins. God used her childhood love for horses to spark an inspiration for helping children who have suffered abuse, just like she did as a child. The rest of the story is a true miracle! The combination of horses and transformation is irresistible, so don’t miss this episode… and have your Kleenex ready.
A Treat for Those Who Have Read Exhale
If you’ve read Exhale, I need your help!
Cheri and I have made a goal to have over 100 Amazon reviews by the end of April. If you’ll help us reach that goal, we’ll randomly give away $25 gift cards to 4 winners who have written a review. Winners will be chosen from all who have written a review, so if you’ve already written one, you’re already entered!
It’s not hard. Just a sentence or two will do. Click on the graphic below, and follow these directions to leave a review:
- Go to the Exhale page on Amazon. If you’ve placed an order for the item, you can also go to Your Orders.
- Click Write a customer review in the Customer Reviews section.
- Select a Star Rating. A green check mark shows for successfully submitted ratings.
- (Optional) Add text, photos, or videos and click Submit.