The Healing Power Of Charity
We can gain a lot of perspective and wisdom by looking backwards and reflecting in our own lives. I am privileged to be in a season of life that is affording me to give back and encourage others. As I look back, I see how God in his goodness didn’t wait for me to find my way to him. Instead I can clearly see how he was always pursuing and coming after me. Using different people and situations to help me get to know him and his love for me.
I was in my early twenties when I first looked for help with therapy for my brokenness caused by the abuse I suffered as a little girl. At that time, I lived in Boston and was working two jobs to make ends meet. A friend recommended I go see a therapist she knew. I took her recommendation and made the appointment. The therapist was a very kind woman in her forties.
After a few visits I realized I couldn’t afford to pay her fees and would have to stop going. She felt bad, but I understood this was her job and she needed to get paid for her services. She did however give me one of the most important pieces of advice I ever received from anyone. She encouraged me to look for ways to volunteer my time by telling me -“Be intentional when you are deciding how to volunteer your time, look to help other women who are hurting and you’ll find healing for yourself among them.” It has been over 25 years since she told me this and I have tried to incorporate her advice into the fabric of my life ever since.
I heeded her advice and started volunteering at a women’s shelter. There I met battered and bruised women running from abusive relationships. I remember this one young woman in her mid-twenties who was at the shelter for a few days. She had to keep moving with her two small children for fear that her abusive husband would find them. How sad it was that she was running from the very person who promised to love and take care of her and her children.
I identified with their pain. Being there and listening to her story, as well as the other women’s stories, helped me concentrate on something other than my painful past. These unforgettable hours spent with the women served as my therapy for a long time. I also think they helped me be more compassionate towards people in general. You just don’t know how heavy a cross another person is carrying.
And this of course solidified how my therapist was right on with her advice. The lesson here is that when you focus on the hurts and pain of others instead of your own, this somehow, by the grace of God, becomes your own healing balm. Charity intends to help others, but it has a remarkable healing power for the one doing the helping as well. I discovered this firsthand.