“Adversity not only draws people together, but brings forth that beautiful inward friendship.” – Soren Kierkegaard
Working together under difficult circumstances tends to strip away the vacuous and trivial concerns that we are too often preoccupied with, especially in affluent societies. None of us want adversity or crisis, nor do most of us wish it on others. Still, we find there are rewards for perseverance and cooperation when we team up with others to make the best of a challenging situation.
I’ve had the privilege of knowing many people who have donated countless hours of volunteer time working in a variety of demanding contexts, both in their own countries and abroad. There’s a common expression that almost all of them say after such efforts: “I am so glad I had this experience – I will never be the same.” Many return again and again to the people and places that capture their hearts. Relationships forged while working together for a common goal transcend distance, and often last well beyond the initial encounter.
I have great admiration for those who travel far away, spend weeks on end, and often risk health or safety to help those who need them. But we don’t have to take such big steps to find the bonds of fellowship that form when we work together to overcome obstacles. No matter where we live, there are organizations working to address problems local to our town or region. Most all of the groups are in need of volunteers, and would welcome your contributions.
Better still, you might be able to offer assistance on your own to individuals you know who are hurting or lonely. Organizations cannot reach out to others without people, but people will always be able to reach out without an organization, just by caring and being a friend. Depending on your personality type, schedule and circle of acquaintances, you may find one or the other of these methods of outreach to be more suited to you. Both are always in demand.
Whatever method you choose, getting past the initial discomfort you feel will be worth it. The other phrase I hear from volunteers is one I’ve often been able to say myself with great sincerity: “I get back far more than I give.”
One year ago today: