Thursday, May 4, 2017

Service Heals

I was recently asked to speak at an event for the BYU Center for Service and Learning. I was so thrilled for this opportunity as this center really came to define my time as a student. I can say without hesitation it made my college experience richer, and I don't know if I would be the person I am today without the experiences I had through my time serving.

Below is the talk I gave at the event. While I do share my story (and those of you who are long time readers will be familiar with that, if not, check out my complete story here), it also delves into one of my earliest successes as a new paraplegic: finding out I could serve others.

Eight years ago, I was involved in a snowboarding accident that left me paralyzed from the waist down. As you can imagine, it was a huge transition that forced me to think about my life, what my purpose was, and what I was to do next. There were many things to think about, but one thing I knew was that my Heavenly Father loved me and that He would lead the way. After months of learning as much as I could to live life in a wheelchair, I left the hospital, unsure of what was ahead. Life as I knew it had changed so much. I struggled with needing help in so many aspects of my life and having to navigate an inaccessible world for someone in a wheelchair. Admittedly, despair began to overwhelm me.

A blessing came in the opportunity to serve. I remember a school program needed some volunteers to paint rooms for a family who had a child with a disability, so I signed up. It wasn't until we arrived that we realized the house was three stories high and had two flights of stairs (I totally didn’t think to check--rookie mistake!). One of the other volunteers so kindly carried me up the stairs, and I was so grateful. I was stationed in a room with other volunteers and got to work. Words cannot express how happy I was to be able use my arms--something I still had use of--to serve and to work alongside such wonderful people. I realized from that experience that I could still make a difference in someone else’s life, in my capacity. That was my purpose. I echo the words of Deiter F. Uchtdorf when he said of service that I discovered [my] own life and [my] own happiness. Especially when prospects seemed dim and challenges were overwhelming, focusing on my abilities and how I could use them to help others were the best things I could do.

My sweet sis and me on a volunteer trip to build homes in Battambang, Cambodia, 2010.
Service, no matter how big or small, brings so much healing, happiness, and hope. It sure has in my life and that of my family. I know we are here on this earth to serve one another, and to remind each other that our Heavenly Father loves us. I know our purpose goes beyond ourselves, and focusing on serving others will allow us find ourselves. I'm so glad to be able to share service experiences with my family and friends as we grow closer together from it. Service brings true happiness.
If you're looking for opportunities to serve, I just found out about this new site, Just Serve, that helps connect people with service opportunities in their community. Just so you know, I'm not affiliated with this site, I just love it! How do you find ways to serve in your community?

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