Is Changing the World as Simple as Loving Your Family?

Children soldiers, no water, starvation, lack of medical care, sex slavery, the humanitarian needs of the world are many.

True to my millennial stereotype I want to leave the world better than I found it. Sure I could (and do) support local business and purchase organics, but what can I do that would really leave a lasting impact?

How can I help?

An average middle-class American trying to raise a family of my own, what could I possibly contribute? Am I even capable of making a difference? Yeah, I know #FirstWorldProblems ***sticks finger down throat***

The world’s problems seem too big. I mean, sex slavery, what on earth could I ever do to help with that? Child soldiers, seriously, what the hell is anyone supposed to do?

Mother Theresa gave me the answer

In a Netflix induced binge, I folded laundry one drizzly Sunday afternoon when Mother Theresa’s  message came through loud and clear on a documentary filmed about her life.

It doesn’t take great acts to change the world, rather, “small acts with great love.”

This little home, this little family, this little neighborhood: this is where I am called to serve, to love, to find my greatest joy. “What can you do to make the world a better place?” says Mother Teresa: “Go home and love your family.”

So simple, so profound, and yet somehow I managed to get it wrong. That’s the trouble with simple advice, sometimes you can over think its message.

Volunteering

This little home, this little family, this little neighborhood, that’s it! I’ll volunteer.

But where?

Everywhere my kids are involved!

PTA, oh yeah, sign me up.

Cub Scouts, I’ll run that. Not just his den, but I’ll organize the whole pack.

If a little volunteering was meaningful, a lot of volunteering must be more meaningful.

I volunteered so much that it consumed most of my free time. Meetings, fundraisers, clerical tasks, I did it all. Organizing chaos was my main objective all day every day. And I was good, really good at it too.

But at what cost?

Slowly I began skipping out on coffee with friends, I missed a few of the kids’ events, then I started missing family dinners. I grew tired and agitated and unfulfilled.

Parents complained about the way we did things so we would change them only to have other parents complain about the new way. No one ever seemed to be satisfied and finding other volunteers was next to impossible.

The strain of the positions combined with the time away from my own family had depleted every ounce of reserves in my tank.

Why was I volunteering?

To make this community a better place for my children.

The same kiddos that were now eating dinner without me and missing me at their activities. What good would volunteering within my community do if I neglected my parental duties?

None. Zero. Negative.

How can Mother Theresa, the OG of humanitarianism/original humanitarian boss, be wrong? The woman who has pledged her love to God and devoted her life to helping the destitute can’t be wrong! Not when it comes to making the world a better place.

If she’s not wrong, that means that I am wrong.

Go Home and Love Your Family

Instead of doing exactly what she said, I stepped out into the community trying to help everyone else’s families. And while that noble task is a strength of several other mothers I know, it was taking a negative toll on me and my family.

Mother Theresa said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family”, not “sacrifice time with your family for the betterment of the community.”

I missed it, the meat, the heart, the meaning of the message.

Step 1 Go HOME!

For me, this meant I needed to stop being so busy that I was never home. Home is my sanctuary. It’s the place where we get to take the masks off and just be our true selves because here we accept each other just as we are.

Step 2 Love YOUR family!!

Being home also meant I had more time. More time for walks around the block with my oldest, more time to bike rides with my youngest, more time for deep conversations with my husband.

After all, how do you spell “love”? T-I-M-E.

What I learned

Could changing the world really be that simple?

Yes.

Going home and loving my family has changed MY world and my family’s world. I made a difference that will endure the length of their lives and imprint the next generation.

What is more important? Tell me because I can think of nothing.

I challenge you to stop looking outside of your home. What can you do for your family that you are not already?  And for the love of Pete, I don’t mean materialistically. We don’t need to consume anymore in this country than we already do.

Can you get your family around the table for one meal today? Breakfast? Dinner? Maybe just a quick snack? Can you watch your kids ride their bikes or battle them in a nerf gun war? Can you read together at bed time?

What is one small thing that you can do to make a difference at home today? This small act will mean more than you can imagine.

It doesn’t take great acts to change the world, rather, “small acts with great love.”


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