Okay, I promised my friends on facebook I would explain more about why volunteering at the Hope Center was such a huge step of faith for me personally. So here it is!
First, I think I need to explain a little about what the Hope Center is. It's a ministry involving many churches in Moscow, Idaho. They have their own building called the Hope Center here in town. It includes a thrift store, a food bank, and last I knew they also offered free tutoring for K-12. As far as I know they are still hoping to someday have counselors and possibly a mechanic who can help low-income people with their cars at a substantially lower cost than anywhere else. Like hopefully only having to charge for the parts, not the labor. Obviously, someone trained in these areas would have to volunteer their time in order for that to happen. I think there might be financial counseling available at this time. Not sure on that one.
Now, to my part in this story. Growing up on a ranch there was a lot of work to be done and everyone in the family was expected to contribute. I'm not sure what my siblings would say their experiences were like in this area, but all I remember is getting yelled at and asked why I couldn't do anything right. I had the same experience working on my homework in the house. When I would make a mistake my mother would say to me, "And you wonder why all the kids think you are so stupid." It wasn't a pleasant experience and I quickly learned to find somewhere else to be when there was work to be done, and tried to hide the fact that I even had homework to do. I rarely did it and barely graduated from high school. I just squeaked by somehow. When I went to college I didn't work at first but eventually had to, especially after I got married. I only had a couple of jobs, but I experienced similar responses from my bosses. Even at the Christian Camp my husband and I worked at during the summer. I continually got yelled at and told I was too slow. I learned too slowly and even once I got the idea and had it figured out I didn't do my work quickly enough. I do remember my father complaining about this as well. I decided to have kids right away, instead of waiting like we had planned, because I knew my husband wanted me to be a stay-at-home mom, at least for a while and I very much wanted to get out from under a boss and pretty much any environment where I had to work with other adults. So, I've avoided any kind of service at church or anywhere, where people might be watching and might criticize me. Any criticism at this stage of my life is taken very hard and I basically have a nervous breakdown.
When, my mentor (that is sort of what you've become, Jeni) suggested that I volunteer at the Hope Center before attempting to find a job to help with my family's terrifying financial state, you cannot even imagine how terrified I was. After all, I had worked in a "Christian" environment before and the unthinkable happened. I was treated like a worthless piece of garbage. So, I wasn't at all confident that the Hope Center would be any better. I tossed and turned all through Monday night, with all the horrible things that were said to me in the past rolling around in my head, like an old CD with no stop button, continually playing over and over again. I cried, thinking that one more criticism would kill me. In actuality it already had. I was just a walking dead woman. My intelligence was even insulted once by one of the leaders at Celebrate Recovery, although he didn't realize he was doing it at the time, but believe me, that was on the tape, too. I've often been called lazy and told I have a poor work ethic. That really hurts me, because I really do value hard work. I'm just terrified of being insulted if I try and fail. When I hear others say I do not have a good work ethic, it literally feels like someone just stabbed me in the chest with a knife. I hate having that reputation. Anyway, I ended up calling Jeni in the wee hours of the morning (I'm thinking she's getting really tired of the phone calls at odd hours) and told her I couldn't sleep. I was crying as usual and she said to not volunteer if it was upsetting me that much, but I did anyway. I helped sort clothes for almost an hour. Although, I don't really know how much of an accomplishment this was since that's pretty much what I do at home and it was really boring. I think next time I'll bring my ipod.