Today, more than ever we are being called into community with one another. We are being called to notice what is going on around us, within our immediate circles, as well as within our neighborhoods. Life is passing us all by at a lightning fast speed and all too often we become wrapped up in the frenzy of our daily routines and endless to-do lists. Where and how do we find time to make a difference in such a busy, striving world? Where do we begin?
Bridging the gap in each day between our personal pursuits and serving others can be as simple as smiling at a stranger in the grocery store or another student in the hallway at school. So often in the haze of our day, we become so self-absorbed that we forget we have the power within us to create, love and inspire greatness in others. Building community is about taking responsibility for what we see all around us, being personally accountable for our fellow man, or the young woman we see eating alone in the corner table of the cafeteria each day. We are called daily to risk what’s comfortable, and “be the change we wish to see in the world”.
Last Sunday, at a local church here in the greater Phoenix area, I had the privilege of joining 50 high school teens and a handful of adult volunteers for two hours to discuss, and brainstorm how they could improve their faith-based youth ministry program. These teens wanted feedback, ideas and support from the adults on how they could provide “Radical Hospitality” to another 100+ teens during the upcoming school year.
These amazing young people clearly recognized that many kids today truly struggle to feel accepted, wrestle with their beliefs and ideas about themselves and desperately need to find a place where they can feel safe and at home with their peers. The daily social and academic challenges of high school have not changed, perhaps they are even more challenging now in our current digital age, but these 50 kids were in no way discouraged from reaching out and opening their hearts to their fellow high schoolers. I was blown away by their commitment, these teens gave up their Sunday night, right after their first week back to school to see what they could do within their faith community to make other teenagers feel less alone.
During this two-hour meeting, which was the second of three scheduled, no one was on their cell phone, no one was participating in gossip or bullying, and no one was left out.
Everyone in attendance agreed that more could be done to make the atmosphere of youth nights more welcoming, interactions more meaningful and the spirit of friendship more abundant. It was inspiring.
All too often we are more concerned with the “things” we must accomplish within the frame of our day to surrender self-promotion for a greater purpose. “There is never enough time in the day,” we often say when we have fallen victim to our schedules and self-imposed demands. The excuses are endless. Yet last Sunday 50 teens knew where to begin. 50 teens committed themselves to making the world a better place, and stepped out of their comfort zones to begin.
Where do you see a need? Where should you begin?
It can be overwhelming to focus in and be present to the world around you when a person with a sign and an open hand is standing on every corner. However, we instinctively know we were designed to do great things, to see what others choose to ignore, to stop instead of walk past, to help where others have given up hope.
Be brave! Start small, start here! Become a M.A.D. Ambassador and invite your friends to join you! Perhaps you can start a M.A.D. Ambassador Club at your school? Start somewhere! Start now! The world is waiting…I’m M.A.D. Are you?
The M.A.D. Girls, Inc. Board Member