Yesterday a group of friends and I volunteered for the Special Olympics. It was another one of those awakening moments for me. I ‘d like to share with you what I learned.
We were assigned the concession stand at a soccer tournament. There were 6 of us girls there to do a 2 person job. I didn’t feel very useful. I wanted to do more, give more, help more…probably deep within me, I was yearning to grow more. Feeling futile, I set out to find the coordinator to see what else we could do to be of service to them. When I found her, she said, “I would love it if some of you could go cheer and be supportive of our local teams we have out here today. They would love that. They don’t always have the family support from home and any extra support we can give them, would make their day.”
At first, I thought…’Really, that’s it? Just stand there, clap and be supportive? I thought we signed up to do something…’ I have to admit, it wasn’t until I was actually cheering and observing my surroundings that it actually sunk in…hit me upside the head…sent chills down my back. Support. That’s it. Nothing else. They don’t really need you to stand at the concession stand and give them a gatorade or some string cheese. All they need is your support.
The dictionary defines support this way: to endure bravely or quietly ; to assist, to help; to hold up or serve as a foundation or prop.
Ahhh, to assist or help, to serve…as a foundation…I love that! I am not a dummy… I knew what the word support meant without having to look it up in a dictionary. Yet, after witnessing how much our support meant to the athletes out there yesterday AND now reading the meaning of the word support…I sure feel like a dummy. I feel like a dummy because I thought I really knew what being of service meant to someone; I thought it meant that I had to physically be doing something for them, rather than something far more important, like being there for someone; being supportive.
To see the smiles on their faces when they scored a goal with a crowd cheering around them was everything to them. To tell them good luck as they walked by or ask them how they did at their game and watch their face light up with exhilaration, was far more “helpful” than taking their order at a concession stand or helping set up a tent for shade…now I get that…silly, silly me.
After looking up the word, support and seeing those words: help, assist, serve, foundation…to me all of those words also mean, love. What all those athletes really needed and wanted was love. They may have some challenges that not everyone else faces day to day, but they are just like the rest of us when it comes to love. All we need is love. That’s all we really need and if we’re honest with ourselves, that’s all we really are yearning for deep within us. Simply, love.
After learning such a small but gigantic lesson yesterday about what it means to be of service to someone, I want to pass this lesson onto our children. So here is a little letter I wrote in their baby books last night:
You will probably never truly know the extent of the love your dad and I have for you. It is far bigger than this entire universe can stretch. To say that we love you to the moon and back doesn’t suffice. We love you oodles and doodles more than that. You see, love can’t be measured. It’s far too powerful for that. I learned a lesson in love today and I want to share it with you three.
I learned that to love is to also be supportive. Not only being supportive to your friends, but to be supportive to all those around you. I don’t mean the physical support like helping your buddy move some furniture or clean out his car for his first date. I also don’t mean helping the elderly woman with her groceries or yard work…although these are very nice gestures to carry out. What I mean today is the brave or quiet support from the “sidelines.” Show the people you encounter day to day, that you care by observing their real needs like being a listening ear, a smile when they are feeling unsure, doubtful or not worthy. Give them a loud “you can do it, buddy” type of cheer or a quiet visual of just your physical presence of being there for them…showing up for them…so that they know they are loved.
Please don’t let your ego get in the way of asking your buddy or a complete stranger, “Can I help you with something?” when you sense they are feeling sad or alone. Simply be there for them…quietly or bravely. This is an expression of love…and all we all really need to survive, is love.
My wish for you three boys is to feel the love your dad and I feel for you boys, for your own children someday. I could sit here and try to explain this overwhelming feeling of love I have for you, that fills up my chest to the point of combustion…but until you experience it for yourself, it just can’t be described by words.
I love you through the milky way, through the galaxies and the entire universe and that still doesn’t portray the love I feel for you.
Spread your love by showing support. By being there for someone and everyone. All they need is love.
Affirmation: Today I express support for myself and for others by simply being there.