Time to Care

I find myself involved in so many things because of one reason: I care.

When I was in elementary school I remember wanting to start a recycling program in our classrooms because I cared about the environment and didn’t want to see waste piled up.

I remember in middle school I started a Christian club at school because I cared about the souls and spiritual health of others. I can only hope that one of the girls who came to this group found the peace that she sought. She passed away in a car accident in high school.

Throughout high school I was heavily involved in church youth group and music programs there as well as at my home church and in school. I did it because I loved music and I loved being involved in the church. I cared for the people in these programs.

For the past 15 years I have dedicated much of my time to causes related to the environment, cancer care, and grief care. As these issues continue to impact my daily life, I know my gifts are suited to help all of these causes.

My care has led to a lot of tug and war between how to manage my time. It’s difficult to know if getting involved in certain groups is the right thing to do not only because of their missions, but because of my own time constraints.

Ultimately, I want and need my number one care to be to my family and the care of myself.

I spent the past year focusing on how to bring about change in my life in areas where my gifts are suited and to step away from things that were only causing me stress and depleting my joy.

Yet sometimes I find myself called back into some of those causes-those places of discomfort and unrest.

I have a great gift for connecting people. I love being able to fill a need with help from someone I know. I’ve done it more times than I can count and each time it’s rewarding for me to make those things happen. I have never minded being the person to “make the ask” in order to get something done. Others often have a hard time asking for help. One of the great lessons in losing Kevin has been to realize when and how to ask for help when you need it, or when you believe asking for help is worthwhile.

It’s important for us to focus on several things when we want to figure out where to commit our time. It’s something I’m always struggling to balance, and I hope that the things I have learned over the years will help you balance it.

When should I “Step Up”?

  • Do you see an immediate need that aligns with your moral commitments that requires action now and cannot wait? Now is the time to step up.
  • Is a decision impacting your life in a way that will result in a negative action? Now is the time to step up.
  • Do you see others struggling with something and you have a gift/knowledge/ability to provide a solution or resolution to their struggle? Now is the time to step up.
  • Is a neighbor, friend, family member in need and you are able to provide support? Now is the time to step up.

Questions to ask when you aren’t sure you should step up:

  • Has someone asked you to be involved in something but you aren’t sure it’s “your issue”?
  • Has someone presented a challenge to you that you don’t believe in as strongly as they do?
  • Have you been asked to commit to something but it’s in direct conflict with your schedule/beliefs/ethics?
  • Have you been asked to contribute something to a cause that is outside your area of expertise/skill set?

All of these questions above can be hard answer when you’re a caring person. Often times when asked to do something, I find myself immediately wanting to say yes for a few reasons. I care about the person. I want to be involved. I don’t want to miss out. This sounds important. I want to help.

If this sounds like you, then you need to stop and go to a second level of planning. Ask yourself these questions:

  • If I take time away from my life to help with _____, how will I be of help and how will it impact my own life?
  • If I’m not fully committed to this action, how may it positively and negatively impact my life?
  • By doing _____ I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. Am I ready to do that?
  • Do I feel this is the RIGHT thing to do considering my faith/beliefs, family, schedule, abilities?

It’s taken me years to finally get to that second level of consideration; to stop and ask myself, ‘is this is the right thing to do?’ It may be the right thing to do, but not the right time or situation. It’s often never just a yes or no question.

I encourage all of you who care to take a moment, and commit to things that meet these criteria:

  • It fulfills my belief/faith/ethics/moral code
  • It is not in conflict with my marriage and children/There is a way that my marriage and children can be involved in a positive way/I have the support of my partner and children
  • I have gifts/talents/skills that can easily be transferred into action
  • I can find a time to dedicate this without sacrificing my most important relationships and obligations
  • I can find the energy to dedicate to this without harming my body, health, and mind

If you can’t answer yes to all of these considerations above, you need to decide if the thing you care about is worth what you may sacrifice in order to help. Sometimes you can still answer ‘yes’ with the help of a good support system and the ability to be flexible in your assistance to the cause. Ultimately, take some time and discuss it with the people you care most about to decide if your commitment to these causes will harm these relationships. You may be surprised at the raising of support these conversations bring.

It’s always worth caring. But it isn’t always worth being involved. Be smart and choosy about what you commit yourself to. Causes do best when they have conflict-free, passionate people on board.

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