Recently, I started a daily confidence building regimen: Doing one thing everyday that is out of my comfort zone.
Anyway, since arriving back in Oregon I have been volunteering at a “homeless” shelter. I work 2 days a week and I have offered to be available for any other need which may arise.
Last week, an extra need did arise: they requested that I do child care for five boys ranging between the ages of 2 and 6. It was a pretty big undertaking on my part since over the past few years I’ve decided that being around kids in general is really not my cup of tea.
However, I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to grow past my inhibitions and fears, so I accepted.
I was kind of nervous when I met the two youngest ones for the first time and within minutes, they were handed over to me and told to hold my hand and listen to everything I had to say. I looked down at their uncertain eyes as they seemed to be measuring up this random person who was supposed to take of them. They seemed nervous. Maybe they were mirroring back my uncertainty.
I thought to myself, “Oh man, I wish I didn’t sign up for this.”
As the afternoon went on, the three older boys came to join us for a fun- filled time of playing with trucks. I was always a doll and pink stuff girl myself, and had no clue how to relate with these foreign little people who loved yelling, pushing around trucks and occasionally hitting one another.
The two days of child care were interesting ones for me with playground adventures, trying to maintain everyone’s safety in the parking lot as everyone moved at different speeds, more truck playing, making pretend to be cougars, lions and leopards, making forts, and more activities that are not part of my comfort zone.
At the end of it all, I had a few brief moments of bliss. Two of the older ones laid in the fort talking about their homes and what they loved most. It was heart warming to watch them comfort one another. Another one sat on a couch and played with his remote control truck and the two little ones sat in my lap as we played candy land and learned colors together. It was about four minutes of pure and total bliss.
Then one of the workers came in to take them back to their families. I was surprised to feel sadness when we parted ways….. I mean, as far as I know there have been about a half of a handful of kids that I have felt comfortable being around in my whole life and I generally consider those random encounters fascinating coincidences.
Anyway, today I was on my way to a job interview by way of the bus. When we were almost at my stop, 4 of the 5 boys got on the bus with one of the moms. All of the kids came right to me and sat right next to me. I was surprised.
One of the smaller boys reached across another and held my hand all the way to my stop. His mom said, “You are his favorite person there… he talks about you all of the time and calls you, My Teacher.”
The boys talked my ear off about lizards and swimming shoes and snakes until my stop. When I got up to exit, one of the other boys said, “Already… she’s going already??” And one of the younger ones shouted “I’m saving you a seat!!!!!”
I smiled and said, “Wish me luck” and they did..
Apparently I left a positive imprint on their lives.
I often wonder if all of my volunteer work and my sunshine spreading over the past several years have been in vain. It’s rare that I get to see the effect I have on others, and as of late I have found myself questioning my life’s goals…. Especially after the recent MN fiasco. I’ve found myself saying, None of it matters… No one cares and I should just give up. What is it all for anyway? (I do get notes here and there about my blog and how people are inspired to give to others and that warms my heart, but what I am talking about here is getting a result from those I make a direct effort with)… These thoughts are defeating, I know. However, that’s honestly where I’ve been at lately.
So, todays small gesture on the way to a job interview was the best kind of miracle I could have imagined for my recent “rut.”
I’m glad I’ve been choosing to get out of my comfort zone and I’m really glad I decided to spend time with those kids for a few hours. Had I not done that, I wouldn’t have had this love returned to me, and let’s face it, sometimes we all benefit from a little reassurance.
Most times I’m okay with not knowing how I am touching the lives of others, but in the midst of a rut, it means the world to me that I got to see my impact through the sweet and uninhibited gestures of children.
Maybe sometimes we aren’t meant to know exactly how our random acts of generosity are directly impacting the recipients… If we are meant to know, maybe it’s better to find out randomly at the exact perfect moment in time.
However, today I now have a renewed hope in my dreams and I look forward to jumping out of my comfort zone into a perfectly unknown little miracle.