In high school, I was highly involved in community service. I spent every other Friday night volunteering at my local YMCA, served food with my family at the local soup kitchen, and tutored Hispanic children in English at a local church. How much I attribute my high school volunteerism to altruism versus the desire to bolster my college application I am embarrassed to admit. However, regardless of my motivations on any given day, it was indisputably a large part of my role in the local community.
When I came to college, I assumed that participating in volunteer activities would remain a consistent part of my schedule. This assumption was sadly wrong. While opportunities to serve were abundant, I found myself apathetic towards volunteer opportunities. Suddenly I was busy with homework, and academic talks, and club meetings, and virtually anything else. Throughout the semester at Lighthouse, leadership would pass around clipboards to sign up to volunteer. Every time these sheets would go around, I would let them pass by me, never signing my name.
The lack of service in my life became my new normal, which contrasted with my growing faith life was comical. I had isolated an integral part of my relationship with God, which is serving others, and I didn’t fully realize its effect on my faith. While I did not always have faith-related intentions while serving in high school, the ability to connect to others in my community helped form my spiritual identity. Suddenly that formation had halted
Around this time of service stagnancy I became aware of an opportunity through Lighthouse to volunteer on a Native American Reservation in Washington over Spring Break. While I had ignored previous calls to serve, this particular opportunity suddenly leaped out at me. I confronted the question of what my lack of service meant in terms of my faith life, and I didn’t like the answer I came up with. So, I signed my name, and when Spring Break rolled around, I hopped in a car headed to Yakima, Washington.
My time on the Native American Reservation reignited my call to serve. While the volunteer activities I did were at times both physically and mentally draining, the opportunities they opened for me to make connections with other people made it all worth it. As a Christian, the ability to see God working in and through other people is an important part of my religious experience. Through my conversations with leaders on the reservation, I was reminded of the love of God I experience every time I bear witness to the joys and hardships of others through service.