The other day, I was talking on the phone with a Christian friend of mine, and she encouraged me for us both to pray for each other to know how God would have us serve Him and help other people in this time.
Neither of us are by nature the boldest or most confident of people, but sometimes we all just need to be willing to seek and find ways to help other people.
Perhaps you are similar. Maybe you want to use some of your time to help other people but don’t quite know where to start or maybe opportunities arise but you don’t feel confident in them. I have a confession to make that this is where I found myself, and therefore thought that writing a blog post would be a good place to start.
My friend and I were discussing ways in which prior to Covid-19, our churches did face-to-face work with international students to help them feel more welcome in our city when they were so far away from home and everything familiar to them in terms of culture, language, day-to-day life, and far from friends and family. We decided to pray about whether God wants us to help international students in any way or to use us in other ways.
Well, shortly after this, I came across an email from my church that I had perhaps missed before. It was a volunteering opportunity to provide telephone or online support for a short time to international students far from home, to have someone to talk to, practice their English with, and be a source of friendship and support during their start to the University year in the time of the pandemic.
I saw this and thought that’s a great idea. I only saw it a few days ago, at the start of October, but as I read through the volunteer application, for some reason, doubts began to creep into my mind. It said that the start of this would be the end of September. I start overthinking whether or not it’s too late to get involved. My friend was the one particularly interested in international student ministry, but she is away visiting family elsewhere so I can’t update her properly about it. What if I don’t know what to say, or if I’m not good at helping people practice their English, what if I’m not good at it? Doubts and questions came to my mind, as did the thought that I had previously wanted to volunteer somehow to ‘befriend’ by telephone an older person, isolated during the pandemic. Of course some of this may just seem ‘silly’ and overthinking, but I do have generalised anxiety disorder, and in a way this situation has kept me from action as well as prompting me to take action.
While the above doubts caused me to hesitate in one area, they also have spurred me to write this blog post to encourage you.
Sometimes we know we want to help but don’t know where to start. At other times, opportunities may arise but perhaps a lack of confidence or other commitments in our lives may ‘get in the way’ if we allow them, from taking action.
While in such cases, we may respond by ‘beating ourselves up about it’, we can also look at things another way.
If you want to help people, don’t feel discouraged if you are not doing as much as other people, or as much as you had hoped to. Simply start from where you are and allow that momentum to build.
There are so many people in need of help right now that if you miss one opportunity that doesn’t mean that someone else won’t be there to pick it up, or that you won’t find another opportunity. The whole world is in need of help.
As I said, start from where you are.
– Look around you and consider the people in your life whom you know and can provide some support or encouragement to.
– Maybe you can be that compassionate and listening ear to a friend who is going through a hard time. If you are not in a position to provide that level of support, perhaps you could send an encouraging text, email, message or card, or give someone a phone call to let them know you care.
-Maybe you can’t volunteer regularly at a food bank, but perhaps you could make a donation, or help one of your neighbours.
-Maybe you are helping others in your job or home or personal life and taking some time to recharge your own batteries right now is the best thing you can do to continue to be there for other people without ‘burning out’.
-Perhaps you can commit to praying for certain people.
-What do you enjoy doing and are good at? Maybe you’ve missed an opportunity, but you can take more time to reflect upon what you can do and start researching ways in which you can get involved in other things.
– Think about how to lighten the load of the people in your life just now if you live with others. Can you help with housework, can you take time to talk, or simply encourage times of fun and laughter, relaxation and play during what might be a stressful time?
– Can you use your platform as a blogger to share some love and kindness and encouragement? Maybe you can write a post about mental health and wellbeing, you could share encouraging stories of what you have experienced and learned from this very strange year, as it may be just what someone else needs to hear.
– Are you artistic or musical or creative in some way, and can you use and develop these gifts and talents to bring happiness to someone else?
There are so many ways we can continue to reach out to and help and support each other. Maybe we don’t always get it right, but a willingness to take these small steps forward, and making a change little by little could make a real difference to someone in need in these challenging times.
Take care, be kind to yourself and each other, and God bless. x