But if you wait until you can serve without any selfish motive, you may wait forever. Gandhi insisted that the best way to attain the ideal was to start on the journey: "If we all refuse to serve, until we attain perfection, there will be no service. The fact is that perfection is attained through service."
These words spoke to me. I spent two years of service as an AmeriCorps member. I started to serve because I felt that I needed to give back because others were doing so little. I started my service on a path of superiority. I looked at those not serving and was afraid to see myself. This service was out of fear. Then as I went along my service was from guilt. I was given so much, so I needed to give back. This service too was out of fear. As I went on I was told that I needed to have job skills to survive in the real world, and my service became a way to receive recognition and credibilty. I was serving still out of fear.
But as you can see my understanding and desire was transforming. It changed as I served. Near the end of my service. I stopped seeing myself as superior to my peers who "did nothing." I stopped feeling guilty for what I had. I stopped needing recognition. My heart started to lead my journey. I stopped letting the fear in and I began to realize why I was really serving.
It was the message that had been in my heart all along. It was simply muffeled by my fear. I was serving out of love. When I noticed this, and recognized it for what it was the fear started to stop confusing me. I was serving because this was how I wanted to live, connecting with others, finding myself in others eyes and stories. I was serving because I saw myself in others and others in myself. I was serving because it helped me to feel balanced and it made the world make sense.
I served because when I gave of myself a part of me was found, and I was able to watch another person discover themself as well. I began to see self-less service as the purest form of communication, the quickest way to connect with someone.
I'm still traveling on this journey of service, but Gandhi was right. It is transforming me. It is stripping away the fear. It is letting me see myself as I really am, and each day is making my service a little more pure.