Written by Elissa Romines
I have tried really hard to be a normal, productive person.
I went to college (Woo Pig Sooie!) and earned a Master's Degree in Speech-Language Pathology. My resume is loaded with service projects and hours of committee-ing it up. I have spent months working with inner-city kids and have rallied man, woman, and child around anyone with a pulse and a need.
But the truth is, I have always felt . . . out of place . . . like I was on the wrong side of volunteering. Not in terms of need, but of perspective -- I was face to face with those I came to serve, but what that really meant was we were looking in opposite directions. I couldn't see their view from where I was standing.
It's the feeling of being way too far removed. And my heart knew it was true. I could almost hear God whispering, from deep down in my depths, "There's more..."
I didn't want to do for people. I wanted to be with people.
So in May of 2014, with my six month old in my arms, I made the switch from doing to being. And I have never looked back. As it turns out, being is now a full time job. But I must say this is a job that gives more life than the time it takes.
This work isn't about feeling good (although it often does). In fact, a lot of times it feels bad. Watching friends struggle to escape relationships shrouded in violence and abuse. Spending months alongside people fighting addictions, only for them to succumb once again and retreat to a tent under the bridge. This is the ebb and flow of being.
When disappointment floods in and I begin to calculate the time and effort now seemingly voided, I remember I am not in the business of doing anymore. I am free. And my friends are free, too. Just being fully present means I am giving them room to grow -- time to learn and change as their Creator sees fit.
No longer am I a volunteer doing all the things volunteers do. In fact, I'd probably be a terrible volunteer. But I get to be a friend, and do all the things friends do . . . like sit in rehab waiting rooms, and swap stories about motherhood, and share warm embraces that say more than words ever could.
Doing, my friends, is definitely overrated.