THEY SAY IT TAKES A VILLAGE, BUT WHO REALLY BELONGS IN YOURS?

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They say it takes a village. Never has that been truer than in the past four months as I’ve recovered from back-to-back reconstructive surgeries on my feet. The bones in my feet are literally being held together by four very long pins, a metal plate and two screws, and I am not allowed to walk. Or drive. Or really do much of anything. Talk about being totally dependent on someone else. Talk about taking me out of my comfort zone.

I spoke in a previous blog post about asking for help. I gained a lot from that experience, far more than just the acts of service I requested. I developed a deeper appreciation for generous hearts of many, a new perspective of what I value in my friendships, and a greater understanding of what it means to serve others in a community.

I found my village.

As I asked around, I realized there are always those will tell you a million times over that they want to help, but they really don’t. I think they like to say the words out loud as an affirmation that they are good, charitable people. I don’t doubt that they have good intentions. Maybe they aren’t ready to be a part of a village, or maybe they belong to a different village.

But for each of those people, there were ten more who astonished me with their generosity. Not all of them liked to help in the same way, nor did they always know what type of help I needed. It was up to me to ask, be specific and sometimes ask again. Some preferred playing chauffeur, while others couldn’t be near but offered emotional support and helped me work through the logistics of what I needed. Some gave gift cards while others wanted to bring the Martha Stewart meal in a gift basket with fancily-labeled dishes and homemade pie. Some watched my kids while I rested and iced my foot. One even wanted to clean my toilets. Not one of them served a more important job than any other. I needed them, every single one of them. Not only did they make my life easier, they all brought me joy and filled my heart with thanksgiving.

Yes, they do exist, these amazing people with the heart of a servant who will give graciously and ask nothing in return. They are clued into something I believe is so critical to human nature and yet is sadly dissipating from our busy, modern lives. When you give of yourself, when you become a part of someone’s village, you transform your life.

These are the people I want affecting me on a daily basis. I want to be inspired by their beautiful souls, feel invigorated by their sharp minds and safe in their loving presence. I want to grow with them. They are the food that nourishes my soul.

I’ve done some spring cleaning of my village and evaluated with whom I want to invest my time and emotional energy. It’s not to say I would turn down an opportunity to serve someone outside my village, whether an acquaintance or a complete stranger. I will always strive to have the heart of a servant. But as for cultivating relationships, I will save that opportunity for those who give my life sustenance. It is my hope that I can reciprocate.

I encourage all of you to do your own evaluation. Ask yourself who you want in your village.

Do you want the narcissist who sucks the life out of you? What about that stagnant friend from your past? The one-dimensional person who speaks of little more than dirt and air? Or, do you want someone who will help you, share with you, challenge you, lift you up and enrich your life?

-Suzy

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SUZY

I’ve always enjoyed being in motion, whether it’s playing tennis, running a marathon, hiking the desert trails or mountain biking. Managing multiple autoimmune diseases has forced me reevaluate my definitions of healthy and active. It’s given me a new perspective on medicine, doctors and nutrition.

I am stubborn, though, and refuse to give in to disease. Determined to find the answers, I search each day and have been known to do some CRAZY stuff in the name of healing. And I won’t stop until I win or die trying.

In between those searches, I volunteer at my kids’ schools, read, write, get crafty, bake, organize my Pinterest boards, attack everything in the house with a label maker… What can I say, I get bored easily and need hobbies, lots and lots of them.