First off, I have once again been bereft in my blog-keeping. It boggles my mind that I haven’t been here in a little over a month. I guess I’ve been attempting to deal with the fallout of finishing college and figuring out my life from there. Over the course of the past four weeks, all I’ve really figured out is how confusing and muddled life can be without a very clear objective in sight (such as going to school).
This confusion became extremely apparent to me during my now-yearly tradition of being a part of Teen Service Week, this being my second year as an adult leader on the week. During the week, I led a group of four wonderful young women to Nativity BVM Elementary School and the Sisters of St. Casimir Food Pantry, where we diligently performed every task set before us. It was in one of my down-times during Teen Service Week that I realized how undirected my life had been in the weeks since graduating. (Granted, it had only been three weeks up to that point, but I still felt that way). Being able to focus all of your energy into the work of service and seeing the satisfaction it brought to the people we worked with really revealed to me how wonderfully worthwhile it is to perform service for others.
During the course of the week, we watched the 2000 film “Pay it Forward”, with Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment. The basic premise of the film is that this young boy comes up with the idea of doing a good deed that doesn’t require a reciprocal act for the person who does the act, but that the benefiting party “pays it forward” to someone else. It definitely runs counter of the modern “what have you done for me lately?” mode of thinking. These days, people are more obsessed with what they’ll get out of doing something, rather than doing it for the sake of doing something good.
To me, it’s part of the reason why doing service is so fulfilling. I do certainly have great reasons for wanting to do it, because of all the positive experiences I’ve had doing it, but that’s not the motivation for doing it. If we spend all our time chasing gratitude and accolades for the acts we perform, the product is a hollow endeavor. The pursuit really has to be solely motivated by a want to do it for the sake of itself, with a hope, not the expectation, that there will be gratitude or a pat on the back for it. The difficult part, besides the service itself sometimes, is to find that intrinsic motivation to go and do it and persevere through any hardship you face along the way.
During a prayer I planned on Teen Service Week, I used this excerpt from the letter of James for some guidance through the difficulties we may face. (If the Bible’s not your thing, thanks for reading this far anyway 🙂 )
“Consider it all joy, my brothers & sisters, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lack wisdom, he or she should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he or she will be given it. But he or she should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he or she will receive anything from the Lord, since he or she is a person of two minds, unstable in all their ways.” – Jas 1:2-8
Mother Maria Kaupas, the founder of the Sisters of Saint Casimir, who started the high school where we had Teen Service Week this year once said, “Always more, always better, always with love.” Once you’ve managed to persevere, I think this is a perfect mantra to live your life by. Hopefully, there will be less of gap between now and the next time I post here.
P.S. definitely a cheap plug, but I’m involved in an online singing competition. If you like this blog, head over to the following link and forward it on to your friends. Thanks for the support! Sing! 2011