I recently had the opportunity to be selected as a participant in the Volunteer Selection Programme. I have completed a series of writings to share some of my thoughts and feelings during that time.
In Part One of this post I’ll share some background about the Volunteer Selection Project I was involved in and my reflections in the days leading up to the project and arriving at the venue on my very first day.
In Part Two, I’ll let you know how it all turned out and my lasting impressions of the programme and of the God’s Way Ltd organisation.
About the Volunteer Selection Programme
The programme commenced on the 22nd March and finished on the 25th May, 2018. It was a 9 week programme and eleven of us came together for an average of two participation days per week, to work at different organised tasks, under the leadership of two facilitators, Eloisa Lytton-Hitchins, and Tristan Miller. They were in turn being mentored by Jesus and Mary (AJ Miller & Mary Luck).
The tasks we were presented with during the weekly participation days were designed to challenge us emotionally, mentally and physically. Open and honest communication was constantly being encouraged and reinforced. We were encouraged to self-reflect on our attitude, intentions and motivations towards the activities and tasks we were doing.
“How are you feeling about what was just said to you?”
“How do you feel about that task?”
“What’s going on for you?”
“Do you feel you could do that better?”
“How could you have organised those tasks more efficiently?”
These were just a few of the questions we were asked at seemingly random times. There were also specific feedback sessions in which we were given direct and “to the point” information about our interactions and behaviours that were impacting on the group and hindering our desire to be of service. We were constantly being encouraged to cut through all the pretence of whom we thought we were, and to be completely honest about what was really going on for each us during the task. The non-participation days throughout the 9 weeks were designed to allow us time for personal reflection and to work on the assignment tasks that were given to us.
My lead up to the Volunteer Selection Programme
I want to take you back to the days leading up to my early morning drive on that first morning out to the venue. It can be summed up very briefly. I was somewhere between having feelings of excitement and trepidation. I had completely stepped out of my comfort zone and I knew I was going to be challenged and confronted by me, myself, and I. Knowing that I wanted to be open and humble to what was happening, not only on the outside (around me), but also on the inside of me during the course, my fears of the unknown, of putting myself out there were, not knowing what to expect, and my self doubts were all swirling about. I knew I wanted these challenges; I wanted to have to face myself, to just be me with all my errors, to see my facade and how it had defined me and to confront my beliefs about myself. This was the first time I had done something in a long time where I had no idea of what was to come.
And this was where the feelings of excitement on that first eventful morning had reached their fever pitch.
I knew that engaging in the course would be a quick confronting lesson in facing my fears. I wanted that.
The trip over that morning takes about 45 minutes and it winds along and around the countryside with fields and farms on both sides of the road. I don’t believe I noticed anything on that first morning. I didn’t see the silo towering above the wheat fields, which when I viewed it from a distance looking out from my veranda at home, always reminded me of the child’s story of the tower from which Rapunzel let down her golden hair. I didn’t see the old little graveyard nestled amongst the Eucalyptus Trees, or the fruit stalls that sell whatever the farmer has excess of for the donation of a gold coin or two.
I wasn’t aware of anything happening for me on the outside, but so much was happening for me inside, emotionally. The overwhelming feelings of fear that I was trying to intellectually override or detune from during the weeks leading up to the Volunteer Selection started to open up for me as I drove. With every kilometre that passed by, all my anticipation about engaging in the course was nearing reality.
I felt I was walking into a situation where I knew I would be vulnerable, which is something I have always tried so hard to avoid and cover over. Because with it, comes the voice “You’re not good enough”. The fear was certainly there and the tears, which were more like sobs, are all I remember from that morning. I remember praying to God for help and asking my Guides to be there with me.
I parked the car in the area we were directed to and sat there trying to gather the strength to begin the journey that was challenging me to stand up and look at what was real and what was not. I was going to be seen from other people’s perspectives, people who weren’t invested in pleasing me, but who were honestly seeing me for the person I am now. As my morning drive was finished, a new journey of discovery was about to unfold on entering the room filled with other participants.
Did all of my fears and anxiety continue through the course? Rather than leave you to wonder, I share more about my discoveries and reflections as the course progressed in Part Two (below).
In Part One of this post, Two Journeys Meet, I mentioned my preconceived ideas and fears about what the Volunteer Selection Programme (VSP) was going to entail. Now, after completing the VSP, I can reflect back on my drive and arrival on the first day from a completely different perspective. There was, on my part, a great disparity between what I thought was going to happen and what actually happened. My resistance to feeling my fears of the ‘unknown’ caused me to have a distorted viewpoint of what was real and what was unreal, and influenced me to distort the truth and purpose of the Volunteer Selection Programme.
On entering the room where the initial VSP meeting was to be held I could see the other participants seated and chatting to each other. Some were strangers to me, while others had familiar faces. I knew that all of them would become known to me over the duration of the programme. The two facilitators, Eloisa and Tristan, greeted me warmly at the door with a welcoming comment “Come in Jules and find a seat”. From the casualness and light hearted openness coming from both of them, I must say I felt more relaxed but, hanging onto my fears, I headed for the safety of the back row. This can be automatic for me to want to ‘stay under the radar’ and at all costs remain invisible.
Let me tell you here, staying under the radar was not possible throughout the VSP and I was challenged when I was asked on a few occasions to take one of the front row seats!
When I think back to the build up of my fear over the weeks leading up to the course, I feel that it had all been heightened after listening to the grape vine gossip about how ‘hard’ some past participants had found previous VSP courses. I now feel the people who told of this negative experience were choosing to be in denial of the truth behind their experience and the feedback they received. I now recognise these as ‘drama tales’ which were coloured and created by the teller’s desire to remain resistive to feeling their fears and other emotions, and didn’t reflect the reality of the time, love and care that Eloisa, Tristan, Jesus and Mary put into the course. I wasted time listening to these stories, that were really just justifications of people’s lack of humility.
As I took my seat in the back row, I saw on the white board were written the qualities of a God’s Way Ltd volunteer:
- A desire for God
- A desire to love
- A desire for truth
- A desire to love self and soulmate
- A desire to love others
- A desire to love nature
- A desire to give gifts to the world
- A sincere desire to serve
This is what the VSP is all about – measuring each participants’ desire to embody each of those qualities. And our personal resistance to these desires were the only challenges we, as participants, were confronted with throughout the course. Most notably it was our resistance to taking personal responsibility for all of our thoughts and emotions that was exposed the most.
Even though I didn’t know what personal challenges were ahead of me, what I did learn that first morning was this truth: It’s easy to go and listen to Jesus and Mary talk about the numerous and revealing topics they discuss, as I’ve done over many years, but to actually confront yourself and your addictions in numerous activities and interactions is a whole different ball game. You are faced with putting into action all you have listened to, or not listened to!
Eloisa and Tristan thanked us for having the desire to want to participate in the programme. Before that moment, I hadn’t given a thought to the fact that even by being there I had some sense of a desire to grow in the qualities listed on the board. I also saw the kindness in Tristan and Eloisa to recognise and acknowledge our wish to be there.
The first homework we were given was to write up a procedure for cleaning the inside and outside of a house. The next day, in teams, we were to clean Eloisa’s house (the venue for this round of the VSP). I thought I had this ‘in the bag’. I would check out a few house cleaning websites when I got home, and put down on paper what I had been doing all these years. Simple! Or so I thought.
Putting into practice God’s Principles of Economy and Function when cleaning a house and then writing a sequential procedure turned out to be a much bigger deal. Working in teams? Well that was also another big issue I was to be confronted with! My desire to love others was going to be challenged. Or should I say, my lack of desire to love in all circumstances was about to be exposed!
I spoke about my drive over to the venue in Part One. I now want to tell you about the drive home after that revealing first day.
I feel I can explain it better by offering you a visual of the difference I experienced. If you’ve ever seen a black and white movie, and then you watch a movie in colour, the colour movie has so much more life and exhilaration to it. My feelings had changed from black and white to technicolour. I felt like I had been given such a gift and an opportunity to be part of something that was unique and incredible. I was thrilled to be going there again the next day.
God’s Way Ltd is an organisation that has people like Eloisa and Tristan, under the guidance of Jesus and Mary, who do uphold Love and Truth. Using clear communication, these people consistently gave us feedback, lovingly and truthfully, about our motivations throughout the course. Their desire to love others was evident. Addressing personal motivations out of harmony with Love is one of the principles governing God’s Way Ltd and I saw first hand that it was taken very seriously during the VSP.
How often in your life have you been given the opportunity through honest, loving and direct feedback about issues of a lack of love that you have been playing out without any desire on your part for self awareness? This was one of the great benefits I found during my time in the VSP and since become a volunteer. My demand on others to understand and support my fears was a big one for me. Being given this help even simply to recognise the many ways this demand plays out was a gift. Becoming more real about who I am, giving up the ‘good girl’ image I have about myself and to simply be myself without facade is, and continues to be, a struggle. However I know I would still be ‘in the dark’, in denial and firmly entrenched in my facade, if these injuries weren’t exposed. Do Eloisa, Tristan, Jesus and Mary have to offer these gifts of their time with loving feedback to the VSP participants? No. It’s a choice they have made to help us grow in love if we choose. I’m grateful for this gift.
As I mentioned previously, I’m now a volunteer in God’s Way Ltd.
Is it challenging? Yes
Is it at times confronting? Yes
Do I enjoy and want the challenges and being confronted? Well, I know I’m still resistive, but this is purely my own issue.
My self doubt and lack of humility are blocks I’m working through. What I do know is that I have gratitude for the time and effort that Jesus and Mary give to us volunteers to grow and aspire to the place to be ‘of service’ to God’s Way Ltd. It is a unique opportunity that is not seen in this world. Being a volunteer challenges me in every way possible. Working and interacting with people in a more truthful, loving way has incredible rewards. Being shown the far reaching understanding of what being of service really means.
I actually believe that completing the VSP was just the beginning of the process, it was simply the prerequisite to being a volunteer. The real journey began when I became a volunteer.
I named this post ‘Two Journeys Meet’. In Part One I shared about my journey to reach the VSP on my first day, and in Part Two I shared a little about my journey as a participant in the programme. But really, my two Journeys are actually journeys of self-discovery and refection which the VSP encouraged and being a volunteer in God’s Way Ltd enhances and develops.
God’s Way Visionary & Founding Member
Volunteer Selection Programme Designer & Mentor
Information Sharing Auditor & Editor
Date of Event: 22nd March 2018
Branch: Volunteers & Members
Branch Auditor: Mary Luck
Branch Manager: Eloisa Lytton-Hitchins & Tristan Miller
Programme: Volunteer Selection & Training
Project: Volunteer Selection
Location: Wilkesdale, Queensland, Australia