How Volunteering is Like Dating and How to Win at Both

**This post was originally published by Kerry at Fishbowl Fortune for The Zelie Group**

I wonder how many women have volunteering as one of their resolutions this year. Healthy eating and organisation are probably the top two, but I bet that volunteering is a close third.

So far, my experience with volunteering at my parish has been a lot like dating.

Guy: Everybody needs somebody!
Girl: Do you need me?
Guy: No, not you. I have someone specific in mind and it’s not you.

The cycle of rejection goes both ways.

If you’re an introvert like me it takes a lot of work to get to the point of volunteering to help. I feel like I don’t have anything special to offer. I feel like it will be costly, emotionally and energetically. I want to be allowed to stay in my comfort zone, at least until I decide differently.

Since I’m searching for that perfect fit, my heart’s not open. If my heart isn’t open I fail to appreciate the richness of the experience that comes from working with other people. It’s messy and chaotic. It needs love.

It’s just like a romantic relationship.

I met my husband on an online dating service. Now there are some things that you’re probably thinking right now, and I would have to say that you’re right. I had exhausted my possibilities in my circle of friends and I didn’t feel like there were many to being with. I knew that there were things about me that guys might avoid. I wasn’t dating for fun. Serious requests only! I had two cats. I was penniless. I was short and chubby. I figured that men on the dating service were having the same kinds of issues. I was tired of being rejected and I wanted to lay it all out in an online survey and then start interviewing for the role of man of the house.

Someone wanted to meet me, cats and all! To be honest, our first date was weird. We went to a romantic restaurant where all the booths were built into little caves. It was a nice idea, but the candles made it HOT! Bob was soaked with sweat. I talked a lot about my ex. When our second date rolled around I cancelled because my cat was depressed. It was true. He was lonely. Instead of being scared away Bob invited himself over to my place and agreed that the cat was neglected and depressed. We were willing to keep reaching out even though it seemed risky sometimes. It worked out because we rose above the awkward fumbling and bruised egos to focus on the heart of all relationships: compassion.

Volunteering requires you to grow and that never happens without some discomfort. There is no perfect volunteering opportunity. It will humble you, and make you wonder if you’ve made a good choice. You will have to compromise and your heart will need to get bigger. You probably won’t be appreciated in proportion with what you’ve given, but you’ll keep doing it out of love and compassion. Real love is more about giving than receiving. We will never find a perfect match, rather we are blessed by becoming the person that we need to be.

The insecurities that are revealed to you and the walls that you build are the same whether it’s your first date or your first day of volunteering. This year, when you commit to giving of yourself in your family, community, or parish, it’s my prayer for you that God will give you the strength to push past the things that hold you back. God has planned good things for you. Commit to giving fully the gift of yourself and God will do the rest.

P.S. I have a meeting about working with our parish ministry for youth tomorrow morning. I’ll have to reread this to remind myself what I said! If you want to know how it goes head over to my blog, Fishbowl Fortune, and sign up for the newsletter.

Let us know in the comments – are you volunteering in some way this year?


3 thoughts on “How Volunteering is Like Dating and How to Win at Both

  1. I hadn’t ever thought about this before, but it is so true! The way in which we have to look past, and sometimes struggle through, our own feelings to do something good for someone else… while also recognizing the good it does to us personally! Great perspective and great thoughts!


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