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Finding Your Calling, Fulfilling Your HeartDecember 02, 2011
by Courtney A. Buxton
It all started when I met Susan in a crowded church nursery. We were both there to help during a holiday weekend when the usual college girls were home on break. The room was overflowing with Goldfish-munching toddlers and their guilt-induced mothers, there for duty.
Susan and I made small talk. When I asked her about life outside the home, she told me about Florence Crittenton. I’d vaguely heard of it before, a home for pregnant girls with (often) nowhere else to go. Seventeen years ago, Susan started volunteering there with the Junior League, and enjoyed it so much that she kept going, even after her commitment was satisfied. Eventually, she went back to school to get her Masters in Social Work, and her volunteer status changed to employee. She’s been a social worker there, and now with three kids of her own, she is the part time Volunteer Coordinator for the Home.
I left the nursery thinking that I’d just met someone who must have a really fulfilling job. I was especially interested in the path she took to get there. I couldn’t stop thinking about Florence Crittenton, but I didn’t do anything about it. Sound familiar?
A few months later, I found myself in a Junior League meeting, listening to an announcement that the League would be volunteering with the Florence Crittenton House once again. A leader would be needed.
I didn’t volunteer immediately. I felt like I had a lot on my plate. I decided I would need to rotate off a church committee, and as I walked into my last meeting there, late of course, guess who was speaking? The Executive Director and the Board President of the Florence Crittenton Programs of South Carolina. I had no idea that they were on the agenda. I listened to their moving message, and then I simply bowed my head and said, “Okay, Lord, I’ll do it.”
Volunteering with Florence Crittenton has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. We meet with the girls twice a month, in the evening. We talk about whatever is on their minds, and we present a short educational program. Then we do yoga. Say, what? Yes. Exercise was one of their greatest needs, and we all benefit from some deep breathing and stretching. The girls love it, but you know who enjoys it the most? The volunteers.
Our time together is fun. We aren’t giving them a whole lot of stuff. The gift is simply something we all want, consistent time. The thanks, at least for me, has been their honest questions, their willingness to try new things, and their sincere smiles. When I experience that one-to-one connection, I am reminded of our similarities; our common female journey, and our common Maker who is cultivating miracles in their bodies and in our hearts.
I didn’t arrive at this place of happy volunteerism overnight. I didn’t even feel capable of volunteering until I had two children under my roof. A need to do something different suddenly pressed in. As I looked for ways to become involved in my community, I made the common mistake of saying, “Yes” to too much, too soon. I felt depleted, and not exactly motivated to find the right fit. I wondered, I searched, and then . . . the church nursery, the Junior League meeting, the surprise presentation . . . I felt called.
This month, we are in a season of giving; a season of good causes with pressing needs. It can be overwhelming, especially for women whose hearts have been softened by motherhood, but whose time and energy is stretched thinner than ever. We often don’t know where to start or how to accomplish anything “with meaning.” My message to you is this: keep your heart soft and your eyes open. Try new things, but if they don’t work out, that is okay. God has a way of getting your attention if He really wants you to do something. He may place that needy neighbor in your line of vision over and over again. He may cause your friend to mention her friend who needs a crib, which you were about to pack away. He may bug you, through many people, places, or circumstances, to do just what you are being called to do in this soft-hearted, motherhood season of life.
For me, that has been pre-natal yoga with a bunch of giggly teenagers in an old brick home. I could not have predicted that, but I could not ask for more.
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