In 2010, I tested positive for Lyme disease. By remembering how Corrie Ten Boom thanked God for the fleas, I also thanked Him for this illness believing it would work out for my good. I knew it would change me for the better, but I did not realize how much change God had in mind.
After my diagnosis, my life started changing dramatically. I went from being independent, hardworking, and physically active to being in bed 13 hours a day, losing my memory, having acute social anxiety, chronic pain, and many other symptoms. Due to this illness, I ended up leaving my job, selling my house, and moving to Nevada to be with my family.
My symptoms keep me homebound at times, unable to take on many jobs. Out of these experiences, I have developed a deep desire to help others struggling with illness or disability. I launched a website and enjoy spending time volunteering as I am able.
I have volunteered throughout most of my adult life, but since my illness, I have come to understand how volunteering and thinking of others not only helps the organization, but helps the individual volunteering too. Volunteering has helped alleviate my severe depression, go through a period of unemployment, and given me a sense of purpose. It is not always easy to put forth the effort required to volunteer but God always helps me, and it is always worth it.
As someone who struggles with Lyme disease, I cannot overlook the challenges that come with volunteering with an illness. But I am also convinced that volunteering has many benefits. The following tips have helped me as I engage in volunteering, and I hope they are helpful to you as well.
- Pray: Take time to ask the Lord to provide the right volunteer opportunity for you and to give you the strength you will need.
- Start Slow: It can be helpful to commit only to short-term volunteer opportunities or to volunteer from home before gradually working up to more hours or more complex tasks.
- Find an Opportunity that is Accommodating: Identifying an organization that is flexible and is willing to work with your unique needs will help make the experience more positive and sustainable.
- Be Consistent: Building a rhythm around your volunteering by committing to 1-2 hours per week at the same location can help make it feel more manageable and will also be a blessing to the organization.
- Focus on others: While you may have a desire to feel better and have a productive life, your focus in volunteering should be helping others as Philippians 4:2 encourages us to do.
With numerous benefits from volunteering, various ways to volunteer, and inspirational examples to follow, how can you wait another day? VolunteerMatch.org and CreatetheGood.org are wonderful resources to find volunteer opportunities. I encourage you to reap the bountiful benefits of volunteering today and start living again by living for others.
Veronica Quintero: Since 2006, Veronica has been dealing with the symptoms of Lyme disease and various co-infections. Being infected with this chronic disease has taught her a lot about life and how to live fruitfully for His glory! You can find more of Veronica’s writings at www.fruitfulwithlymedisease.com.