Sunday, December 22, 2013

40 Acts of Service

I've been very bad about blogging our 40 acts of service in honor of my 40th birthday. I haven't been as bad about actually doing them, though.

During the past three months we've hauled bags of food to the food pantry, shoveled snow for neighbors, donated money to help other families adopt, and babysat for friends, to name a few.

I'm giving up right now on recapping all of them here, though we did indeed finish our list.

My focus is the takeaway from this little project.

Sometimes I think that I am one of the most obtuse people on the planet. So many of my friends seem to have a knack for noticing the needs of those around them, and finding ways to help. Me, I'm the clueless one on the sidelines who stands and watches, and thinks of opening the door for you after you've already struggled through with four kids and ten bags. This whole charity thing is just not hard wired into my brain and heart.

It's something that I pray for, and work at, and try to do better. And that's been the best thing about our 40 acts of service. For the past three months my mind has been focused on ways to serve people, and I've felt myself actually becoming the compassionate, kind person I want to be.

The 40 acts themselves were wonderful. I'm almost more excited about the smaller kindnesses that popped up because my mind and heart were in charity mode.

The miracle was that for the past three months I've actually noticed. The woman clearing six inches of snow off her car in hose and heels. The mother with more crying children than lap space. The woman with her arms loaded up between buildings. The elderly gentleman who needed a listening ear. This 40 acts project we took on finally succeeded in breaking down some walls of self-absorption around my heart so my eyes could see more clearly.

That is a gift. That is an answered prayer. That is my favorite thing about this experience.

The challenge now is to keep those walls down. I want to keep seeing with these new eyes of charity.