Let’s face it, everyone is busy.
As much as I hate that word, it’s true. Busy has become the norm — everything and everyone are fighting for a piece of our time. There’s always more we could be doing or enjoying or watching. When every spare moment can so easily be spoken for, it can be hard to find time to step out of our bubble and connect with people in need, but volunteering is such an important way to grow in love.
My mother always told me, “You have time for what you want to have time for.”
In other words, you have time for whatever you are willing to make time for. It’s up to each of us to prioritize. The way I see it, if we have time to watch a show on Netflix, we have time to volunteer.
Volunteering doesn’t have to take up a ton of your time, anyhow. Most of us long to do good in the world and be a part of things bigger than ourselves, so how can we volunteer when we don’t have much time?
Here are seven simple ways:
1. Provide a meal or create a meal train for someone who recently experienced a major life change, like having a baby or moving into a new home.
2. Join a movement where you can make a big impact from anywhere without a huge commitment (such as Monthly Letters of Encouragement).
3. Invite friends over one evening to make care packages for the homeless — this way you are cultivating community and socializing while doing good.
4. Seek out short-term volunteer roles such as being a greeter at your church, which typically requires 30 minutes or less on Sunday mornings and many only ask that you commit to doing it once or twice each month.
5. Carve out one day every quarter in advance that you will devote to serving someone else. Whether it be helping an elderly neighbor with yard work, or babysitting a friend’s kids so that they can run some errands, or helping restock a food pantry — scheduling in a day of service will help you offer your time joyfully while expecting nothing in return.
6. Create your own one-time opportunities! What gifts do you possess? Are you willing to give back by offering your gifts to someone or an organization who cannot pay you for your services? Think outside of the box and live generously. If you are an accountant, is there someone you could help with their taxes? If you are a healthcare provider, is there some pro-bono work you would be willing to take on?
7. Make it a tradition or part of your family’s culture. Instead of spending a holiday relaxing at the movies, spend it volunteering together serving a meal at a local shelter.
You never know what could come from volunteering. For me, it does wonders for taking my mind off of my own problems and worries. Whenever I switch my focus off of myself, my anxiety is alleviated. For a friend of mine, it led her to a new career after discovering untapped passions she never knew she had until she found a way to engage them in a specific volunteering experience.
And it’s more than just helping people in need. When we encounter people living on the margins and serve them, we learn to show love in new and tangible ways. Those relationships break down the bubbles we spend a lot of time in, which can be transformative and enriching. It’s a mutual exchange that builds up our shared human dignity.
Volunteering changes us — while giving of yourself, you just might meet a new a whole new community of like-minded people or discover unexpected joy.