Once again, my husband and I are working on a holiday performance with the youth group at our church, and once again we wonder how we’ll find the time and energy to do so. These events always come at a crazy period in our work lives – we’re stressed, long hours, lots of competing priorities, you know the drill. And yet, somehow, the time is found and the cost in hours and effort is extremely high. Here’s the crazy thing: the psychic paycheck is enormous.
No matter how tired we are, or how terrible the traffic, when we walk into the church hall and see the faces of the young teenagers, hear the welcome in their voices and the expectation of a good time, that all falls away. For every moment we spend with these teenagers, we are repaid a hundredfold in new ideas, new ways of looking at the world, and a new respect for the thousands of young people who aren’t found in the news outlets. They’re not part of the group that fired at a stranger or hit up the local corner store. These are the unsung representatives of a generation that is often cast in a bad light. These are the people who bring a youthful step back into my life at times when my feet are sore and my spirit weary.
I came to volunteering late in life, unless you count the many many hours I spent working backstage on theatre productions for the community. There always seemed to be more in it for me than them. Somehow, though, that’s the whole point. With these psychic paychecks, we always get back more than we put in. Now to get the word out to all of those who still fight the “I don’t have time” syndrome. You do. Promise.