The Time for Looking Out Has Begun

My son’s college is trying to make the students more aware of things going on in the community.  To that end, as part of his English class, he is required to participate in some community service work aimed at hunger and homelessness.

Now, I have to be honest.  When he came home from his first class and his syllabus said he would have to participate at some extra events, I was not excited.  My first thoughts were selfish.  How would this requirement impact my schedule?  Would this mean more time at the school?  Would I have to give up my free Fridays?

A little later in the evening, he had me read an essay required for his English class.  He was having a little trouble deciphering some of the language and making inferences about what the people where feeling.  (His autism can make thelping-handhat difficult for him.)

The essay was about compassion and described two events.  The first was a woman who gave a homeless man a dollar from the bottom of her purse.  She gave it begrudgingly; as if she was annoyed that she felt like she needed to give.  The other was a bakery shop owner who gave a warm cup of coffee and a bag of bread to a homeless man on her doorstep.  She gave openly and graciously.

The assignment given to my son was to write about these events from the perspective of the homeless men.  How were they feeling?  What could they have been thinking?  How did they receive the gifts given to them?

As we talked about the answers to the questions, my heart broke over my selfishness.  I was acting very much like the first lady.  Yes, I thought community service was good idea and I’d make sure my son participated, but I was not doing it from a place of generosity or even kindness.  I was going to do it begrudgingly.


Where was my compassion?  Where was my empathy?  Where was my love?

Over the last few months, there has just been a lot going on.  It caused me to turn much of my focus on myself and my immediate family.  That happens sometimes.  Sometimes we have those seasons where we need to focus on ourselves or those closest to us.  Maybe its a death or health issue.  Maybe its getting your marriage back on track or going through a divorce.  Maybe its dealing with teenagers who are making poor decisions or an addiction.  For me, it was a move, four kids graduating, and a new season of life beginning.  It was all I could do to keep up with everything, including what was taking place in my heart.  I needed that time of inward focus; time with my family; time for my heart to make adjustments.

But things are normalizing now.  And God is telling me it’s time to start looking out again.

So I went with my son to his first event.  The school, along with other agencies were giving out fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and bimageread to families in the community.  All they had to do was drive to the school to get it.   They had record numbers of families show up.  One of the organizers said they usually ended up with food left over.  This time, we were running out of food with a long line of cars weaving through the parking lot still waiting to be served.  Either word had gotten out, or there are more people in need.  I suspect it’s a bit of both.

I have to say, though, I was so glad I went!   It was wonderful to work side by side with the other volunteers who came.  Some were students, some were faculty, some were volunteers and employees from the partnering organizations.   All were joyful and helpful even in the blistering heat of the day.  It was so good to be looking 0utside myself again!

I’m thankful that God gave me the precious time He did so I could focus on my family.  It’s one of my greatest treasures.

But now is the time for looking out.

I’m not sure what that will look like.  I’m not sure what things I’ll do.  But I’m excited for the new things I’ll notice; the new adventures I’ll take; the new people I’ll meet.  I’ll keep you posted…

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