We live in a society where it’s become cool not care. Being apathetic has become the new norm. The less you care, the better. Misery loves company, and so many people bond over shared misery rather than gushing over good news.
There’s also this expectation and feeling of entitlement. Like if you give someone a gift for Christmas, they’ll expect next year’s gift to be better and so on. Or if you’re always cooking dinner for someone or cleaning up after them, that becomes the norm, and when you don’t do it, they get upset as if you did something wrong.
I recently started volunteering at the Shreveport Bossier Rescue Mission, and it’s opened my eyes to the things I take for granted. One thing I love about the SB Rescue Mission is that it’s not just a place for people to sleep. When I pictured a homeless shelter, I thought of the movie, Pursuit of Happyness, where people had to stand in line for hours in the hopes of getting a room, and if they were one of the lucky ones, they’d still have to pack up their stuff (assuming they had any) and stand in that same line the next day. The SB Rescue Mission is more of a transitional program. They take people in and train them and give them the resources to get back on their feet again.
People end up in homeless shelters for a number of reasons. A lot of outsiders are quick to judge and assume that people become homeless because of drug addiction or alcoholism when the truth is, that’s such a small portion of it. There are a number of reasons people can become homeless: loss of a job, unpaid medical bills, domestic abuse, etc. The SB Rescue Mission helps people get back on their feet and give them the resources and tools needed to do so.
I’ve started serving breakfast before work a couple times a week, and even though I haven’t been able to spend a significant amount of time with anyone, the impact has already been made. I’ve met some of the friendliest people in the kitchen, some of which are going through the Mission’s culinary program. I also met these two adorable little brothers who really are just the absolute sweetest. That’s one of the most heart-breaking parts of volunteering in the Mission though – seeing these children who don’t even know the full extent of their situations.
Being in an environment like this and serving food to people who are just so grateful to have a bed to sleep in and warm food to eat three times a day is eye-opening. It’s made me think about the trivial things I complain about on a daily basis.
>>>My office is always cold, so I put on the jacket I keepat my desk and cover myself with my blanket. Not everyone has the luxury of having additional clothing or items to keep themselves warm.
>>>I complain that I’m “starving” when I haven’t eaten for a few hours knowing that I’ll be eating again soon. Some people don’t have the means to pay for a full meal or even a snack when they’re hungry, and some don’t even know where their next meal is going to come from.
>>>I get aggravated when I’m sitting in traffic. Having a car is such a luxury, one that some people can’t even imagine getting to experience, let alone having a car with air conditioning, working windshield wipers and Bluetooth.
>>>I get frustrated when the GPS on my phone takes me on weird roads. The fact that I can afford a phone is pretty significant, and beyond that having an app that tells me where to go from any given location in the world is huge. There are so many people that don’t have phones or any means to communicate with their loved ones.
>>>I don’t always feel like getting out of bed in the morning to go to work. The fact that I have a bed to sleep in makes me so lucky, and also the fact that I have a job to go to at all is a blessing in and of itself.
Some of the people I’ve met at the mission are just so happy and grateful to have even just a smidgen of the things that most of us have come to expect from our everyday lives. While we’re complaining about someone using up all the hot water, there are people in our own cities that haven’t showered for days or even longer. The little things that we take for granted are huge luxuries to them, and complaining about trivial things just makes us seem so pretentious.
I’m not saying any of this to sit on my high horse because I know I’m guilty of doing all of these things, but volunteering at the Mission has really opened my eyes to what’s truly important. As I continue to volunteer with the Shreveport Bossier Rescue Mission, I want to challenge myself to focus on the things that truly matter and to be thankful for the things and opportunities I have, and I want to challenge you to do the same.