I’m that friend that’s always blurting out random, obscure facts. I’m fascinated by topics others may find boring - my top two right now: nutrition and politics. Throughout my adult life, I’ve spent most spare moments studying something I haven’t been asked to, or listening to an alarming number of podcasts.
But after the 2016 elections, my “input” nature kicked into overdrive. I don’t know if it was fear, curiosity, or both, but I felt compelled to learn everything I could about what was happening in our country and world. I would read late into the night. I was glued to Twitter, and I began to wonder how I, a 30-something non-politician with two day jobs, could ever help with any of these complicated issues. My “learn everything possible” approach was informative but exhausting. After spending the good part of a year expanding my political and informational horizons, I found myself a little jaded, and a lot overwhelmed.
So, at the end of my research rope, I decided to shift my strategy; I realized I needed to hit pause and be still. I needed to pick one thing to focus on so that I could actually do some good. I’m sure some of you would agree, stopping and being still are REALLY HARD things to do. Especially when you have questions. Especially when things all around seem bad. I struggled with this strange guilt - how does one convince their own heart to pick a single cause? Isn’t that like saying some people are more important than others? Isn’t choosing one thing neglecting the others?
But I knew I’d be more effective if I could make myself decide where to serve.
Pursuing clarity probably looks different for everyone: a walk in nature, a meditation app, a phone call to a friend (I see you, external processors). For me, it looks like a journal and a pen - I can’t think or pray or process unless I write.
So, on that day I stopped the constant media, and I wrote down this prayer to God:
“God, as You know I’ve been trying to learn everything about this crazy world. I’ve heard everyone else’s opinion on what needs to happen around here; what’s Yours? And what do You want me to do about it?”
I believe God is always trying to speak to our hearts. And I suspect that a good place to hear God is in the quiet. So that day in my room I waited, still and quiet, and then I heard in my spirit, “human trafficking.”
Everything started to click! If God is the source of freedom and equality and love, one of the things we need to fight most in this world is trafficking - modern-day slavery, basically. Of all the types of oppression in our world, this is one of the very worst. I started feeling MOST passionate about it. It was like God had been trying to tell me for a while, but I had been missing it in the barrage of depressing news and political upheaval. I felt an impression that I would fight modern-day slavery for years to come.
Soon, I ran into some people already in the fight. One guy even called my family after not seeing us in years, just because we popped in to his head - he now runs a non-profit that fights trafficking. I felt it was no coincidence. And now just this month I’ve gotten the opportunity to become an ambassador for the US Institute Against Human Trafficking. I’m going to spend my free time raising awareness. It’s only the beginning, but I know I’m on the right path.
We constantly hear about issues in our nation and world - things that all need major improvement or change. And they’re all important! But if you’re anything like me, you may feel a disparity between your heart’s desire to help and your schedule’s allowance for it. Don’t let the fact that you can’t do everything overwhelm you like it did me at first.
If you’re wondering where or how to give back, let me suggest these thoughts on how to decide:
1. Ask yourself: what change would I most like to see in the world?
Now picture yourself being part of that change. What makes you feel the most passionate?
2. Consider your natural strengths.
When I first started, I was a little stumped as to how I could fight human trafficking because my career (music) kind of has nothing to do with it. But eventually I realized that I’m comfortable speaking on stage about serious issues, so I got trained to do prevention talks. There will be crossover somewhere if you look for it.
3. Don’t be afraid of a learning curve.
If your heart is beating fast for an area of social good that you’re not an expert in yet, that’s OK! There are others who have gone ahead who will be elated to catch you up to speed.
4. Once you find it, don’t give up.
Make a commitment to help long term. The newness of every adventure will wear off eventually, but the satisfaction of serving others will only deepen - if we stick with it.
All of us can connect with a cause that is meaningful to us. I’m rooting for you as you find your way to help - right where you are.
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Andrea Hamilton is a songwriter, wife, and natural health fanatic. She lives in Southern California and gives trafficking prevention and awareness talks to church staffs and youth groups around the state.