The Healing Journey Part Three: Serve Someone Else
It was a tough time in my life. I had left home only a few weeks ago and everything in my world had been turned upside down. On top of the anxiety about leaving home and an abusive father, I was also dealing with the rejection from my mother. I was fighting off the sense of shame and guilt that more than seven years of sexual abuse had given me, and I was learning to live in a world where everything was new for me. New city, new home, and a new me.
Realizing I needed a job, I took the first one I could find – waiting tables at Pizza Hut. I was determined to make some money fast and start supporting myself. One of the perks of working the day shift was the pizza buffet. After the buffet hours were over, we threw any uneaten pizza slices away. We were allowed to take it home if we wanted and if you got lucky, sometimes there would be almost a whole pizza left!
I met Janice within a few days of starting my new job. She was hired at the same time I was, also as a waitress and she usually worked the shift following mine. One day, she called out before her shift. She said she had some trouble and wouldn’t be at work that day. When she showed up the following day for her shift, she had a terrible bruise on her cheek and a black eye. I soon noticed a pattern – every few weeks Janice would suffer an “accident.” Sometimes she begged me to cover her shift on the tables and she would stay in the back washing dishes so she wouldn’t have to be seen. To make matters worse, her car broke down and then she didn’t have a way to get to work. Sometimes I would pick her up and take her to work if our shifts lined up right. I knew she needed the money badly – her little boy was about 4 years old and she was trying to save up so she could afford to move out of the trailer she was living in with the man who hit her.
One day, some customers came in just a few minutes before the buffet ended. We had to cook several pizzas so they would have a selection to choose from. There was almost a whole pepperoni pizza and about half of a supreme pizza left over when I closed down the buffet line. I’m not sure what made me think about it but I knew Janice wasn’t scheduled to work for a few days and I knew too that she often depended on the leftover pizza for them to eat. Rather than boxing up the pizza for later to take home, I asked permission to clock out for my break. I had to act fast – I only got a 15-minute break. I quickly loaded up the pizzas in my car and drove to Janice’s home. She opened the door in amazement that I was there and her little boy came hurtling out of the door. He almost knocked me down when he wrapped both arms around my legs and hugged me; he was so excited to see the pizza boxes in my hand!
Right then, it didn’t matter that my father had done horrible things to me. It didn’t matter than my mom stood by him and blamed me for it. It didn’t matter that I felt ashamed of my past and wanted to forget it all. It didn’t matter because I realized the incredible gift of being able to help someone else. It wasn’t a big act – it didn’t even cost me anything but a little time on my break. But, when we serve someone else, we get far more than they do! Sometimes helping someone else gives us a reason to go on.
Mack and I were privileged to serve on a team of John Maxwell Team Coaches in 2013, teaching leadership to the leaders in Guatemala. We volunteered to go and paid all of our expenses in going. We wanted to give and we wanted to serve, but we felt like we received so much more than we gave. It was truly a life changing experience. Every time I speak, someone shares with me how I’ve impacted his or her life. I love getting messages and emails from someone who has read my book and wants to share how I have positively lifted them up and made a difference for them. Because when we are able to help someone else, we find the true meaning of life.
Rabbi Harold Kushner said, “Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so that the world will be at least a little bit different for our having passed through it.”
Regardless of your situation and how difficult it might be right now, when you are able to serve someone else, add value to someone else, and lift someone else up, you will find yourself moving to closer making the world better – and that gives your life meaning. Take a step toward a life that matters – help someone else. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive. Just be conscious of ways that you can brighten someone’s day. I saw a Facebook post this morning from a former co-worker. She asked her friends to send a birthday card to her brother, who suffers a mental disability, and yet he LOVES to receive mail and know that someone cares about him. It took just a few minutes of my morning to send a card. So little, and yet so big at the same time. We underestimate the impact we can have in the lives of the people around us.
Ria’s passion is helping people all over the world realize that they can take what life hands them and be bitter about it. Or, they can choose to be better because of it. Raised on an isolated farm in Alabama, she was sexually abused by her father from age 12 – 19. she was forced to play the role of a wife and even shared with other men due to her father’s perversions. Desperate to escape, she left home at 19 without a job, a car, or even a high school diploma.
Now, more than fifteen years later, Ria speaks about her story at women’s groups, church groups, corporate events, conferences and other events to share her inspirational story of transformation from victim to victor. Contact Ria to inquire about her speaking at your event.