There are Many Ways to Give

     We can give our money and our time. We can give on a small or large scale. We can serve locally or globally. We can volunteer. We can donate to charities. We can help neighbors or friends. We can help relatives, or we can help strangers on the streets. We can go on mission trips. There are so many amazing stories to share of people giving back, paying it forward, and helping those in need. But today I want to talk about another way to give. 

Another Way to Give

     Maybe you don’t have money. Maybe you don’t have a lot of extra time. But we all have a story to share, and I guarantee your story can help someone in need. 

     Often times when we are struggling or challenged by something, we have an array of different feelings… guilt, shame, anger, and resentment to name a few. So understand that the person sitting next to you, despite having a vastly different story and struggles to go along with it, has had similar feelings. That’s one thing we all have in common: we all have struggles, we’ve all experienced hurt because of those struggles, and we’ve all had to face our struggles head on at some point. We’ve also all felt alone in our struggles, but we don’t have to.

We don’t have to Feel Alone in Our Struggles

     Sometimes when we share our stories, we find others who have experienced something similar. The moment we open up to someone else, the moment we allow our vulnerability to show, we open ourselves up for others to share their stories with us as well. This creates friendship, community, a bond, and a support system, and we all need support. 

 Instead of Fearing Judgement, Create Space for Friendship to Grow

     At my first job, I spent the first three years closed off to my co-workers. I didn’t want to share who I was with them, because I feared their judgment. I think if we are honest with ourselves, we all fear being judged. 

     Find comfort in the fact that we all have struggles. It’s hard for someone to judge you, when they’ve been through something similar. When I did finally share my story, I created the space for friendship to grow and prosper. Those co-workers are some of my best friends and confidants. They share openly with me and I with them. They are my support system, but I had to be willing to open up first.

     When we are open, we invite communication and dialogue into our lives. We begin to learn about others, and that’s how friendships are formed.

Be Open to the Wisdom of Others. Give your Wisdom.

      As I began to share my struggles, I found others who were experiencing or had trudged through similar circumstances. Imagine that! I wasn’t the only one who had seen the effects of addiction on relationships.

      I learned from others, I empathized with others, and I taught others through sharing my story. If there is a situation I’m going through, and I’m not sure how to handle it, I know there is someone out there that has been through that same thing, has overcome it, and can help me overcome it.

     I may be young, but I have a story to tell. I have wisdom. Trials that have worked and others that have not. Sharing what hasn’t worked can be just as helpful as sharing what has. I could go back and tell you a million approaches that didn’t work for me in high school. Those things probably still wouldn’t work today.

     This is also why 12-step fellowships can be so important. They allow us to share our stories in a safe place, free of judgment, and protected by anonymity. We can learn from others overcoming their obstacles. We can share what worked for us in hopes that it works for someone else. We can simply lay it all out there: the good, the bad, and the ugly. We can cry about it and later laugh about it.

Give Your Gift

     We can give the gift of friendship, empathy, and knowledge through sharing our stories. Be vulnerable. Be open to communicate, to learn from others, and to provide to others. 

     Without time and money, we all have a story to give to the world. Make yours known!

By: Emily Jung

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol or other drugs please check out the resources below.

Alcoholics Anonymous
Narcotics Anonymous
Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)
Smart Recovery
Women for Sobriety

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