The Greatest Gift in Life
How to reflect on and fully grasp a year that was full of so many small moments that led to such a large change in my perspective as a child of God. Whether it’s a moment where I am looking into a resident’s eyes feeling our humanity intertwined, crying with laughter at the dinner table, or feeling the pull to find God in silent prayer, they have all changed my life little by little. These moments are all small encounters of the face of God as He sat before me through the people I interacted with this year.
One of my greatest insights found at my service site is that day to day actions are a form of prayer. As I sat and talked with many residents at Francis House, I found God in the words I heard and the compassionate love I saw in their eyes. I found each person such a gift before me and a beautiful creation of God as I heard about their life and allowed them into my heart forever making an impact on my life. I found this intentional, vulnerable space a form of prayer because we let God enter the space between us and connect us as beloved children of God. I had come in to Francis House expecting to be the one giving out God’s love, yet I received way more love than I could ever give from people who I thought would have so little left to give. This taught me no matter where you are in life or what little you may possess, love is always the greatest gift to give and lucky for us, God made it free. I learned that the people who are the most satisfied with their life at the end of it are the ones that gave this gift out the most freely. It simply does not matter what you have as I witnessed many deaths that all occurred the same way regardless of what the person owned or achieved, all that mattered is the love they gave this world.
While my service taught me in many small moments the greatest gift in life, emulating a life centered around Franciscan spirituality taught me spiritual poverty. I learned that to live in poverty is not simply materialistic poverty, but entails handing your life over to God. For me, this means relying on God for all things as I give him my worth, my every action, my every good deed, it is all His. When you live a life of poverty, you can’t lose anything because you have already given everything to God; you own nothing of your own. Therefore, everything you are given is a gift including life itself which can be lived in such joy with so little as seen from Saint Francis. I have learned to truly believe my worth is not found in how the world defines me or how I compare to cultural standards, but in Him. I have seen just how big our God is and how his mercy overflows to us as we hand our life over to him.
My spirituality grew as I slowly handed control over to God, but my acceptance of God’s love came through my community. They made me believe that God has truly counted every hair on my head and called me His own. Through the endless love and support they poured out, through their laughter and joy, through their willingness to be vulnerable and open their hearts to me, they showed me God’s love. The blessing of this community is one I will never stop being grateful for because they gave me what I have learned the greatest gift in life is, unconditional love.
While my heart aches from the loss of not being with the community every day and working at as incredible of a place as Francis House, I am excited to embark on the next journey. I will be attending medical school in California and using the life changing insights I have gained from this year to continue to serve and love those around me listening for God’s will for my life as I hand it over to him.
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