A question inspired by this weekend’s events in which I found myself in an unfamiliar setting with many unfamiliar faces. I volunteered at Young Life camp family weekend. My job along with several other girls about my age was to care for toddlers while their parents attended seminars and worship services. I was a last-minute fill-in for a volunteer who had to backed out and the only person I knew was my roommate who had signed up to help weeks ago.
As the weekend progressed, I found myself conflicted as to how much I should be getting to know the people I was volunteering with and the families I was working with. The camp was about 36 hours long, so was it worth really getting to know people? I also wondered how the families were getting to know the other families, knowing they would part ways in so short a time.
I haven’t always been so thoughtful regarding this type of thing. Throughout my school days I went on countless weekend trips with my youth group and school and various camps. At all of them, I probably met knew people, got to know them, and didn’t hold back only because I knew our relationship would be short-lived.
But this weekend, I was acutely aware of it. I didn’t pry too much into the other volunteers’ lives when we ate meals together, I didn’t go out of my way to introduce myself to them if I wasn’t working directly with them, I didn’t even learn some of their names until the morning we left. Why was I acting this way? Is it from my near quarter-of-a-century’s life experience that has taught me friendships take energy and energy was not something I had after a long week at work? Was it because I’ve gotten too comfortable with my social circle in Nashville and felt no need for expansion?
Or was it because investing in others’ lives takes dangerous amounts of vulnerability, and who actually volunteers vulnerability?