You need to get out more.  Serving others not only transforms the community, but it transforms your own life in very real ways.  By getting out and sharing yourself with others whom you might otherwise never meet, your own heart and mind are stretched in new ways, your comfort zones are expanded a little more broadly, and your life finds a renewed sense of purpose.  Serving others is good for others, but it’s no doubt good for you as well.  This is often the hidden blessing of living compassionately in the world: love comes back to us in fuller measure.

I just read the remarkable story of Bud Stringer of Moultrie, GA.  Bud’s wife, Dolly, had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  To show his solidarity with his wife—who lost her hair from the chemotherapy treatments—Bud decided to shave his head.  After doing so, members of his family became curious about the black patch on his newly shaved head.  At first, he was sure it was just a birthmark, but a dermatologist later confirmed that it was stage three malignant melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer.

Despite the diagnosis, Bud’s prognosis is good.  With extensive surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, his doctors remain quite optimistic.  Had he not shaved his head out of love for his wife, those same doctors told Dolly that she would have been burying her husband by Christmas.

I don’t know how this works, but I believe it with every fiber of my being: when you reach out compassionately to others, it has a way of saving your life.  It’s not why we choose to love others.  It’s never our motive.  It’s just one of the unexpected outcomes.  Maybe this is why, time and time again, I hear people say, “I went on that mission trip thinking I was going to help others, but those others ended up helping me.”  Maybe this is what Jesus meant when he said, “give, and it will be given to you.   A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back’ (Luke 6:38).

I hope you’ll choose to get out more, knowing that what’s good for the world is, in often mysterious ways, also good for you.