Tuesday, November 10, 2009

An Introspective Night

I’ve had an introspective night.  I want to do something to better my community—but I just don’t know what.

I went to a grocery store on Main Street--one that I usually don't go to because it's scary--and I heard more profanity in ten minutes than I would in a two-hour long R-rated film.  The most memorable incident involved the young couple who was in front of me in line.  They got in a huge argument which included vicious insults and the worst profanities in our language.  The husband finally turned to the teenaged clerk who was checking them out and said, “Do you see what you have to look forward to when you get married?  Do you want me to hook you up with her sister?”  The clerk was speechless, as was I.  When they left, we looked at each other in horror.

When I got home, I read this article online, and I almost threw up.  Then, I sat on my bed for an hour and thought about our world. 

Ryan asked me why I read about this stuff—all it does is depress me.  I told him he is right, but sometimes I think I need to feel a little depressed about the condition of the world…because it awakens my desire to do something—anything—about it.

I live in a bubble.  The bubble of the privileged.  I can go for weeks at a time without feeling any real discomforts.  I have a warm bed, an awesome husband, plenty of good food, wonderful friends, a fulfilling job.  I sometimes say things to Ryan like “I hate my life!” when I am stressed about school, or I whine and grump when I am feeling sick or frustrated.  But let’s face it, Rachel…compared to 99.9% of the world, your life is perfect.  So get over it.

Sometimes, I have to admit it, I completely forget that there’s a big, grim world out there.  In my oblivious stupor of surfing the Internet, going to the gym, and planning weekend get-togethers with friends, I truly forget that any other reality exists.  Honestly, I often go through the day without doing a single thing for anyone outside of my immediate family. 

If I didn't take an occasional shopping trip to the "ghetto" store on Main Street, and if I didn't occasionally read heartbreaking stories in the newspaper, would I even remember what the real world is like?  I don't know.  I truly don't know if I would.

I can’t change the world.  I can’t change the culture of vulgarity that seems to be a spreading plague; but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t act.  I said to Ryan tonight, “I need to do something to acknowledge the rough world out there.  I cannot live in this bubble for the rest of my life.”

It’s more for me than for anyone else.  Just so that I keep my eyes open.  Just so that I remember how blessed I truly am.  Just so that I can look back on my life and say, “I was aware of the world, God.  I was aware, and I didn't just stand back and watch.”   

The problem is, where to begin??  How to find opportunities to serve?  What programs could I help with?  Where am I needed?  Even when I want to help, sometimes it’s so hard to find out how and where and when and what.  With no kids, this is the perfect stage of my life to engage in something meaningful in my community, BUT WHAT?!?

I'm not talking about a total life change or anything.  Just small things, to make some sort of a small difference.  Maybe I could do after school tutoring downtown?  Or help inner-city teens with college application essays?  Maybe I could help people who are unemployed with resumes and interviewing skills?  I have talents and abilities that surely could be put to some use...but how do I find the opportunities?

Tonight was a wakeup call.  I hope I don’t forget it or ignore it.  I hope I actually act.


  1. Did you look up that story after we talked about it on the phone? Horrifying, isn't it? I was speechless when I saw that on the news. It is so frustrating to try to find small things to do because the problems seem too huge to possibly tackle. Let me know what you come up with--I'd like ideas too!

  2. Hey Rach! Yours is the only blog that I read from start to finish because I always enjoy what you say. I have been SO feeling like this lately. I LOVE what Rachel Fordham did this year. Last January, she committed to do a year of service. Every Sunday night, she would come up with a plan of what she would do that week. She is a GREAT person to ask for ideas. She hasn't missed a week and the year is almost over. She always did something little or maybe sometimes big actually, but she would always do something. I think that is what service is. You can volunteer at the Ronald McDonald home some weeks, and i'm sure there's tons more. I am going to do what she id this year. I might wait until January though. I might post on my blog like she did when its something that everyone can do.

  3. I know we can all do more. . . but I look at you and you are an example to me of someone who is doing so much.

    You have chosen a occupation that isn't easy and you spend so many hours making sure that you are making a difference in those kids lives.

    Plus you make a big impact in your church calling and are an inspiration to us all.

    And then if there wasn't all that there is Deborah. I wonder if you have singlehandedly made all the difference in her story making sure she has a friend and is always able to be there. If you can make a difference with just one person it is a huge accomplishment.

    But I think that being a good person means feeling guilt knowing that we can always do more.

    I know exactly what you are talking about as far as your experience in the grocery store. It is pretty sad to see people degrade themselves and their friends. They haven't had any great examples in their lives so I have learned not to judge them. It can be pretty ugly though.

    Sorry so long, but just wanted to say thanks for inspiring us to all try harder to make a difference.

  4. Tiffany makes me sound better than I am. I have been doing a service project once a week and it has been a great goal and a great year. I think you do a ton though. Your cookie club, teaching, church calling, the orphanage...me I had to set a goal in order to do more but you already do it. I think it's great. I agree with Kashann being shocked by the world is a good sign. If you come up with any great plans for changing the world let me know and maybe I can tag along!

  5. Thanks for your words of encouragement, Kashann and Rachel. I feel the exact same way about you two amazing ladies.

    I think I've gotten a little lazy the past 6 months...the Cookie Club has only been over a few times, and the stuff for the orphanage really isn't a big deal. It's easy and fun to serve internationally--but harder to serve at home. There's so much that needs to be done in OUR community...why do I sometimes feel that I have to leave the country in order to serve?

    Why is it so easy to become comfortable and lazy and passive?

  6. Holy cow Rach! You do so much and don't forget what you have done in the past too. Being a good friend to people is like a chain reaction of goodness. I think we influence more people than we know that way. Also, at the risk of sounding like a Molly, I've found that since I've had Liz, I have a lot of power to change the world through her too. By the way I teach her to make good choices and love others, I can influence that many more people. So just by living life, we change the world! But I think YOU ARE amazing!!

  7. You know, I think about this all the time. Problem is, I'm NOT in the 'no kids' stage anymore and I feel like it's nearly impossible to find some way to serve the community. But I'm working on it too. Plus I think we need to remember what we DO EVERY DAY does and will make a difference. Just living a good, righteous life makes more of a difference than we realize. You are a great example of this. But opportunities are out there for stretching ourselves beyond what we already do. I think prayer is a great avenue to those opportunities. And just remember even though we can't change the world, God knows what he is doing with the world and it's all for an all-wise purpose we can't understand. We just need to keep working on being our best self!

  8. i know i am making like a million comments (actually only 3, but you know), because i just discovered the goldmine of westover blogging, but... i hear it gets freezing in buffalo. if you have an extra blanket or even a tupperware you could do without i bet some of that soup in your freezer would taste pretty good to someone that might hang around the store on main street. that is a really easy and direct way to help those in your exact community. in your very "bubble" even. that's what i would do. pass out some fresh out of the oven brownies, even. that is one of life's truest (sp? even a word??) treasures that people without a home don't get. also, give yourself some credit. you do so much. i dont even know what you do day to day, but i know YOU and you do so much.


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