For those of you that know me personally- you should know how important service is to me. I jump at any chance to get involved and give back. Lately I have been longing for more. More connections. Deeper involvement. Ultimately- more meaning. After my time in Fort Wayne, I have been shown even more so than before that this journey of fitness has really morphed into a journey of self discovery. It is all about digging deep and putting my life on a self corrective path to ultimate happiness. From this point on my blog will focus on my life, liberty and the pursuit of self.
This year I was selected to participate in the USABA's 2018 National Goalball Championship Tournament on behalf of Delta Gamma. I applied with the support of several fellow advisers form the Gamma Tau chapter of Delta Gamma at Texas Christian University, as well as the love and support of my fellow sister Kate. If I am being honest with you- I was certain that I wouldn't get selected. I mean for Christ's sake they open this trip up to every Alumna and collegian that is a member in good standing. When I applied I was facing a serious state of self doubt. I was doubting my impact and just desperate for a deeper meaning to my life. Little did I know what I was getting myself into.
My perspective started to shift when our team started meeting. There was a real pivotal moment for me. "In the Service of Life" by Rachel Naomi Remen was read during one of our meetings. This piece has been able to articulate how I feel about service in a way that I never would be able to do. It is long but important to make sure that it is in this blog- so you understand how my thoughts on service have been changed because of this trip.
"In the Service of Life" - by Rachel Naomi Remen
"In recent years the question"How can I help?" has become meaningful to many people. But perhaps there is a deeper question we might consider. Perhaps the real question is not "How can I help?" But "How can I serve?" Serving is different from helping. Helping is based on inequality; it is not a relationship between equals. When you help, you use your own strength to help those of lesser strength. If I am attentive to what is going on inside of me when I'm helping, I find that I'm always helping someone who is not as strong as I am, who is needier than I am. People feel this inequality. When we help we may inadvertently take away from people more than we could ever give them; we may diminish their self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity and wholeness. When I help I am very aware of my own strength. But we don't serve with our strength, we serve with ourselves. We draw from all of our experiences. Our limitations serve, our wounds served even our darkness can serve. The wholeness in us serves the wholeness in others and the wholeness in life. The wholeness in you is the same wholeness in me. Service is a relationship between equals.
Helping incurs debt. When you help someone they owe you one. but serving, like healing is mutual. There is no debt. I am as serves as the person that I am serving. When I help, I have a feeling of satisfaction. When I serve I have a feeling of gratitude. These are very different things.
Serving is also different from fixing. When I fix a person I perceive them as broken, and their brokenness requires me to act. When I serve I see and trust that wholeness. It is what I am responding to and collaborating with.
There is distance between ourselves and whatever or whomever we are fixing. Fixing is a form of judgment. All judgment creates distance a disconnection, an experience of difference. In fixing there is an inequality of expertise that can easily become a moral distance. We cannot serve at a distance. We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected, that which we are willing to touch. This is Mother Teresa's basic message. We serve life not because it is broken but because it is holy. If helping is an experience of strength, fixing is an experience of mastery and expertise. Service, on the other hand, is an experience of mystery, surrender, and awe. A fixer has the illusion of being casual. A server knows that he or she is being used and has a willingness to be used in the service of something greater, something essentially unknown. Fixing and helping are very personal; they are very particular, concrete and specific. We dix and help many different things in our lifetimes, but when we serve we are aways serving the same thing. Everyone who has ever served through the history of time serves the same thing. We are servers of the wholeness and mister in life.
The bottom line, of course, is that we can fix without serving. And we can help without serving. And we can serve without fixing or helping. I think I would go so far to say that fixing and helping may often be the work of the ego and service if the work of the soul. They may look similar if you're watching from the outside, but the inner experience is different. The outcome is often different too.
Our service serves us as well as others. That which uses us strengthens us. Over time, fixing and helping are draining, depleting. Overtime we burn out. Service is renewing. When we serve, our work itself will sustain us. Service rests on the basic premise that the nature of life is sacred, that life is a holy mystery, which has an unknown purpose. Fundamentally, helping, fixing, and service are ways of seeing life. When you help you see life as weak, when you fix you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. From the perspective of service, we are all connected. All suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy. The impulse to serve emerges naturally and inevitably from this way of seeing.
Lastly, fixing and helping is the basis of curing, but not of healing. In 40 years of chronic illness I have been helped by many people and fixed by a great many others who did not recognize my wholeness. All that fixing and helping left me wounded in some important and fundamental ways. Only service heals."
This trip has been a series of several gifts. It has completely shifted the way I view my life and the friendships/ relationships I have made over this last weekend and in my life in general.
The first gift I received on this trip was the gift of unwavering sisterhood. The amazing part of the Hope Serving experience is that women from all over the country travel alone to meet at a service site, use their different experiences and skill sets to "Do Good". I met 10 of the most amazing women I have ever encountered. When I joined Delta Gamma in April of 2011- I didn't just join for the T- shirts , and the title of being a sorority woman. Let be real- if you know me you KNOW I live for a good t-shirt. But I knew I was joining an organization that would give me a greater purpose in my life beyond college. I never thought that as an alumna I would have this rich, deep and meaningful experience that made me fall even more in love with Delta Gamma than before. I am prouder than ever to wear the letters of Delta Gamma. I fully support the mission of Service for Sight and the impact that our fraternity is having on the blind and visually impaired community. The privilege of seeing that impact is one that I cannot put into words. To physically live the mission of doing good and impacting service for sight is an amazing experience that I will not ever forget.
To my lovely sisters: never give up on service or on yourselves. You are each unique and exquisite young women who can make a difference not only in your chapters but in other people's lives. Especially after this trip, we have to continue to integrate service deeper in our personal lives and into your individual chapters. We cannot let the holy mystery of service be lost for the convenience of getting an easy service hour. I challenge each of you to share with your chapters the meaning of this trip and I encourage each of you to dive deeper into you passions, and continue to Do good in the states that you live in. From New Jersey to Cali- I hope that each of you have an endless supply of nuggz, and great coffee. I have developed a love for each of you that is so unconditional its ridiculous. I pray that each of you have fallen back in love with DG and will continue to be the genuine, amazing, beautiful, intelligent young women that you are and never question why you joined- even more importantly I pray that each of you never question your self worth, in relation to the world or to DG. Each of you possess the qualities of what it truly means to be a Delta Gamma, and I know our founders would be very proud of each of you. You have shown me the love of Delta Gamma and I hope that you can share that love with your chapters. - TDH & LITB
The second and third gift I received on this trip was the gift of perspective and awareness of privilege. As a member of the seeing world it is easy to take for granted the ability of sight. The most interesting part of this service learning experience is that you get to dive deep. Dive deep into friendships and learn that not everyone's story is the same. As one of the amazing women I met this weekend said - " the thing about the blind and visually impaired community is for the most part they will treat you the way that you treat them." My girl Victoria's saying this has stayed with me for the entire trip, and keeping that in mind I just chose to show love. I wanted to make sure that I showed love and acceptance to everyone that I encountered. I wanted to dive deep and make those connections that would last forever.
Speaking of that- I want to take a moment to highlight my new friend Noah. Noah is an amazing human who has such a great soul. Noah's positive spirit just radiates and is contagious. The best part of my new friendship with Noah is that from the moment we met there was no judgment. I will say to make a true friend that can see into your soul with out physically seeing you as a person was an incredible experience.
To Noah- Thank you for being you and sharing your perspective with me. It has impacted me in a way that I cannot describe and I am forever grateful for meeting you. I hope we continue to stay connected and our friendship grows over the years to come.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no judgment based on how you look- somehow the people I have encountered have a way of getting to know my soul. If you take the superficial aspect out of social interactions then small talk fades away and deeper questions get asked. The connections are inherently stronger because that superficial aspect is gone.
After spending the weekend with these incredible athletes, I was sitting in the airport waiting for my flight trying to control the tears that kept involuntarily streaming down my cheeks. When I noticed someone I met at the tournament was traveling alone and was turned around. I approached her and offered to guide her back to her seat since I could tell she was turned around and could not locate her bag. I cannot put into words the looks I got from the other people sitting in the terminal. I have never felt so many judgmental eyes on me, and it proved even more so that we live in a self serving social culture right now. Even later that afternoon, I ran into another Athlete and we spoke for over 2 hours while we were waiting for our flights. We played with his service dog and laughed the entire time. Even then I could still feel people glaring at me and my friend. I couldn't help but get overwhelmed with sadness. How could people of the seeing world glare the way they were? Don't they understand that their ability to see color and the world clearly is a privilege? Is it easier for them to judge because of the clear evidence that he was visually impaired? But more importantly my heart broke because the work of DG is not done yet. If we treated everyone, regardless of ability, with the love and grace then part of me wonders if there wouldn't be any glares, but more people asking "How can I serve?"
Since leaving Ft Wayne, I have not stopped crying for more than an hour at a time. The best way I can describe it is that I feel like a soaked sponge, ready to spill water everywhere. My heart and soul are so full of the love and spirits of the people that I encountered on my trip. This blog, while it seems long, does not even remotely do my experience the justice it deserves but I thought it would be nice to share my experience in hopes of educating, and motivating any of my subscribers to get out there, dive deep, and more importantly, "Do Good". Dive deeper into your friendships and service opportunities- I promise you won't regret it.