Over the last few months, I've been reevaluating how I allocate time to the different areas in my life. Up to now my time was all about work, exercise, social fun, and going to my church. In my lifelong effort to grow in self-awareness, I spend lots of time reading non-fiction books. Through some of my latest readings, I discovered that I wasn't giving enough time to other areas of my life, mainly service. The other being rest.
Upon realizing this, a deep conviction came over me, and I immediately started finding new ways to share my time and energy for the benefit of others. As with all habits and routines, they can't be changed overnight. It takes a slow merging of new activities and purging of less fruitful activities to build in new habits that feel more natural. After some thought about where my service is needed most, I decided the easiest and best place for me to give my time was at my church.
It was really good timing with a major event happening at my church. I'm a Greek-American, Southern girl and part of the Dallas Greek Community. Every year, the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas puts on the annual Greek Food Festival of Dallas. Over a three-day event that is the church's biggest annual fundraiser, we feed thousands of visitors. Needless to say, it is an enormous effort on the part of the church members to volunteer their time and energy to make the event a success.
Each year for the last eight years, with the exception of one or two, I have gone to serve for a couple of hours. This year, I made a decision to give more, even if it
felt inconvenient. This year I helped with the pastry baking. I went to the church and discovered a team of volunteers who arrived to make cookies and sweets for the festival.
When I arrived, I picked up a job and worked there all the day long, while getting an opportunity to meet more people I had not known before. It was wonderful to hear so many stories about life, children, and history from some long-time members of the church. Their company and experiences were so enriching. I made so many new wonderful friends that I felt like the experience gave more to me than I to it.
It was so enriching, that I decided to go a second time, and a third. I went until my back ached and I couldn't stand up anymore. It was exhilarating. All I could think of was how many years I had missed out on this sense of community because I felt too busy or was quite honestly too selfish to give. This act of giving has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my year.
As the festival commenced, I returned to serve, and serve I did. Those pastries had much more significance for me this year. The church grounds filled with thousands of visitors and volunteers who enjoyed tons of food, events, and music. There were even special performances by American idol favorite, Constantine Maroulis. As the glorious festival wrapped up, we gathered again to clean up.
And this is only the beginning. In addition to the festival, I found some more long-term ways to give of my time. I volunteered to help with the church's social media presence and the high school youth group, GOYA. I'm waiting in joyous anticipation so see what the coming year brings in terms of service. My single, most important desire from it all is to give and contribute in some way to the betterment of the church community.
I hope this story of service encourages you to find new ways to serve. It is a most rich and rewarding experience. You can!