Volunteering: ❤ in Motion

Paige Weslaski

With my hair pinned back in curls, half-inch heels tightly strapped to my feet, and a flowing red gown draped over my small frame, I was ready. As a wide-eyed 11 year old, I couldn't wait to wow the judges with my wit, charm, and fake eyelashes. I knew they would adore me.

Stepping into the interview, I smiled big (braces and all), introduced myself, and gave the three pageant judges a little wink. With only three minutes on the clock, I couldn't waste a second.

They jumped right in: "We assume you volunteer, Miss Paige?"

This interview was childs play. "Oh, volunteer? All the time! I love volunteering! It's my favorite hobby! I'm the volunteer queen! And speaking of queen, I'd be a great candidate to win this pageant, don't you think?" I added another wink just in case they missed the first.

With blank stares, the judges continued: "…okayyy then, so, why do you volunteer?"

Eyes big as saucers, they hit me with an unrehearsed question. Nothing came to mind, not a thing. I mean, I was in Girl Scouts because I loved Thin Mints and had a crush on the male swim instructor at camp, but that answer wasn't exactly pageant queen material.

I took a deep breath and eventually stumbled through an answer. I interpreting their nods as a good thing and added a few more winks for good measure.

I went on to win "Most Outstanding 11 Year Old" and got that crown I so desperately craved, but the interview question still irked me. Was volunteering supposed to mean more than just having fun? I mean, I was 11, for goodness sakes! Cute boys, candy, calling my friends … anything else was off the table, right?

Thankfully, my priorities have shifted (candy, meet green juice), and with 14 years of additional life experience, I'm finally grasping the right answer to the question. As uncharacteristic as it is, I now know exactly why I volunteer:

To ease my broken heart.

Hang with me here, as this may seem a bit radical. But before you start envisioning me eating a tub of chocolate mint ice-cream watching Pretty Woman in a snuggie, I'm not talking about an ex-boyfriend; I'm talking about our world. With the brokenness associated with human trafficking, plummeting self-worth, and hurting people, it's our duty to step up and serve as God's hands and feet. We are PLAN A!

God agrees in His word. Nehemiah, a cup-bearer for a king in the Old Testament, was told his hometown was in severe distress. "Jerusalem is in great trouble and disgrace. The wall has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire!" Hearing this, Nehemiah cried for days, but he decided to do more than just cry. He asked the king if he could not only travel hundreds of miles home but also receive a tremendous amount of timber to rebuild the city. Asking alone was enough to get Nehemiah killed, but his heart was so heavy, he did it without question. He went on to volunteer his life away, using his days as an offering to bring relief to the cause he cared for.

Nehemiah is a key example. When we burn with anger about A, B, or C, it's a sign to get involved, beloved. It's a sign to grab a volunteer slip, to give financially, and turn the problem around. Remember, just five loaves and two fish can feed thousands with God's help. With Him, we can do tremendously more than we think or imagine.

If I could go back in time (which I wouldn't, braces are terrible), I know exactly how I would answer that pageant question. "Why do I volunteer? Easy. To help those who can't help themselves, to love the unloved, and to bring the light of Christ into any speck of darkness I stumble upon. That, and the Thin Mint discount." *wink