I thought I'd share before and after photos of myself this year. Far from improving in physical health (perhaps I know what my 2013 resolution should be), what I see in these pictures is a transformation in spiritual health.
Allow me to explain:
This is me at NCompass' 3rd Annual Festival for the Homeless in 2011.
I am intimidated as all get out to be standing here among people living on the street, trying to help them find donated clothes to fit.
I am cold and tired from being on my feet for 3 hours. (Yes, I realize others live outside under bridges full time, but that did not stop me from internally whining.)
My kids are around begging to go home. I want to go home, but I can't.
Did I mention I was cold?
After we were done that afternoon, Edd and I sent the girls off for a play date while the two of us found Rock Bottom Brewery for a full meal, a glass of wine for me, a beer for him, and time to just sit in warmth.
Reflecting the next morning on my experience, I wondered what was wrong with me. I went downtown to serve the homeless and all I thought about was myself. My needs. My comfort level. My selfish heart.
Life needed to change. I cried out to God, "Please, PLEASE, change my heart! Help me to value others over myself."
I made my 2012 New Year's Resolution.
This is me at NComass' 4th Annual Festival for the Homeless 2 weeks ago.
I have just spent a year serving people living on the street, among others.
I am cold, but I am not complaining. I have seen where these people live, and I know that in a few hours I will be on my living room sofa, warmed by the fireplace, cuddled in a blanket. I can be here and help a homeless woman find some jeans or listen to a man yell at me because I can't find him the "right" coat. I have compassion.
I am confident. No one here scares me. Each person I meet I greet with a smile and a genuine happiness to make a new friend. I want to hear their stories. No, I need to hear their stories. And they need love.
My kids are around. Still whining a tad about wanting to go home, but now they know what to expect from the day. They are excited to give amateur manicures to anyone willing to sit that long, and pass out bags of homemade cookies to everyone at the Festival. People that live on the street do not frighten my girls. Rather, my daughters search their own pockets to see if they have an extra coin to spare.
We did not eat at a local restaurant that afternoon. We waited until everyone that needed a meal ate their share and then partook a portion of the same donated food.
This year, I didn't save the world and I definitely didn't earn a halo or wings. I'm not moving to Calcutta and I have no plans to start an orphanage any time soon. But I am not the same girl I was before.
God answered my prayer. He changed my heart. I am aware.
2012 ends today, but my sojourn does not. I have plenty planned for 2013. Through this blog and my Facebook page, I'd love for you to follow along.
Blessings to you in the year to come!