As I have seen over and over again in my life, and I am so fortunate to have learned this lesson early on, the very best way to heal from heartbreak, personal problems and pain, is to get OUT of yourself. How do you best accomplish that? Service.
Serving others takes the focus off of yourself, brings you out of whatever hole of hurting you are in, and lets you actually give something to others who need it, when you didn’t even think you had anything left to give. When you least expect it, when you are finally not being absorbed in your pain or problems or heartache, you receive even more back than you had ever imagined. You receive healing. Peace. Joy. Refuge from being wrapped in yourself. Release. All while contributing goodness into this world that only then grows exponentially.
These past few months, as amazing as they have been here in Guatemala, have thrown some hard blows at me. Thankfully God had already put in place ways for me to serve, to help and be healed by finding a respite outside of wallowing in my own pain. I had been heartbroken. I had been hurt so badly by a love I trusted in. I had a family member die while I was far away from my family. And I kept adding on things to feel sorry about. I was heading towards throwing a pity party, no, a pity-block-party-bash-o-thon. Then I remembered the most healing thing I could do: surrender up my hurting and trade it in for joy by working with others and giving something of myself. I had the most amazing opportunities to do this in Guatemala.
The San Hermano Pedro Hospital in Antigua is home to many mentally disabled and special needs people, and I was blessed with the opportunity to work with and serve them. My favorite was celebrating birthday parties with the children, playing ukulele for and with them, helping to feed and take care of these precious kids, and just spend time with those who really valued my presence. It was humbling. It was hard to see and have hope at times. But most of all, it was FUN.
When I was living in the mountain town of Magdalena, I was able to volunteer with a child sponsorship program which helps kids continue education and have the resources to be able to go to school and get an education. I delivered gifts from a proud sponsor in Seattle to her girl, Lurian, who had just decided to continue on past 6th grade, thanks to the contributions and belief her sponsor had. I played with the precious children of a woman that made such an impact on my life two years ago, Delia. Her beautiful baby, Raquel, was a twin but had lost her sister last year. Yet the joy and love and warmth of this family radiated and healed me, with my suddenly insignificant problems. Here I was trying to “do good” but having more good touch my life than I could have ever asked for.
Working in a health clinic helped me to be close to families really struggling with basic needs, the worry of keeping their family healthy, and the stark presence of child malnutrition. Once again, putting my self-absorbing problems into perspective, bringing my blessings to the surface of my mind. I really wasn’t even contributing that much, I weighed and measured children, sorted medical files, took blood pressure, and painted little girls’ nails. But just spending time with others and giving of my time and talents in any way I can, brought with it a tremendous and disproportional amount of joy and purpose.
This blog post isn’t at all to say, “oh look at me and all the good I am doing in the world”, but rather the opposite. It is to say how humbled I am when I, for a second, step away from my problems that may seem huge and insurmountable to me at the time, and start to give to others instead. To contrast my life and all its blessings with those who are struggling in their hurt as well. We can move through it together, I can serve where I can, and I can be blessed immensely by trying to be a blessing for others.
There is no quicker way to feel joy in the midst of pain than service. Service is a healer, and it works on a two way street. Give and you will get. Be selfless and you will receive. I am so glad to have been given the opportunity to serve, especially when I felt a lot of things crumbling around me. Peace enveloped me, and I grasp to that sense of purpose that comes from trying to bring any measure of good into this beautifully broken world.
peace and blessings, and joy from giving be upon you all — Kira