Not long ago, in the job description of the state employees who cared for orphans said to not get attached, and to not let the children get attached to them either. If the state employee disobeyed the written law and did what their heart moved them to do, that’s when they truly served the the children and the cause of the orphans with long term benefits.
Breaking an attachment is painful and traumatizing, but it is much more damaging to remain suspended, unattached, for an endless period of time. And when working with the heart, the rules and needs are fluid.
We base our most successful endeavors on attachment and love.
Out of a hundred teachers I had, the ones that made a lasting impact on me and inspired me are the ones that saw me. That loved me in the way a teacher loves a student, with faith and time. I am forever grateful to those who brought more of themselves to work, and went above and beyond the job requirement.
This past decade in California I volunteered in a youth group for two years; with another young woman we mentored a group of 12 adolescents. Most often it was hectic and confusing. Or so it seemed. My adolescence had been wildly different. They talked a lot of nonsense which exhausted me. And yet I kept at it. Commitment was a big deal in this volunteering gig. It didn’t feel like we were making much headway. But they seemed to hear us when we shared from the heart, about our own stories.
The point of mentioning this context is the word of wisdom I got from the youth pastor. He said it’s his job to serve the whole group. Our job is to be real, to mingle and allow ourselves to connect with one or two. And let it grow organically. Take one or two girls under our wing to guide or mentor. It is the only way we could make a difference.
A decade later I volunteer again and it’s the same age group. I don’t know why I’m yet again drawn to this particular age, the beginning stages of teenage life. I may just find it fascinating, as for me it was mostly introspection, for which I had ample time and opportunity to process.
Yet again, for self preservation or because this nonprofit organization has less control over structure, we were advised to not get attached and to not treat anyone with any kind of apparent favoritism. Basically don’t take an interest. I assumed it is because they might be more vulnerable and so we would protect them to not get the wrong idea about what we can do for them… but still. We humans don’t function that way. We sort and favor, we form attachments and we acknowledge special clicks. I am not their collective mother. I’m a volunteer in a day center.
At a previous well-known employer I made myself noticed, useful and indispensable. Hungry to learn, reliable and communicative. It is our human nature to seek recognition and to stand out. I got more responsibilities, I got mentored and I got guidance. Then I got promoted. It came natural to do the same when I became an influencer, a leader: observe people, validate strengths, encourage further development, offer my support. And my capacity broadened beyond what I thought possible, being an introvert and all. In a sense I got to form special connections. It is how we were meant to grow.
The generosity of mentorship received seems to be pure luck. But I believe we all contribute one way or another.
Let’s allow our hearts to see and to connect. To love lavishly in the present. To pour out of our abundance. And as we give of ourselves honestly, we will see it multiplied, not depleted.