School is back in session and now begins the quick countdown to graduations. For us high school seniors, this may be the most daunting semester of our lives. Every day we face another major life decision, and the time for choosing our futures is quickly slipping from our hands. Almost all college admissions have closed and now we must decide where we will spend our next few crucial years.
Of all the pressures placed upon our shoulders, scholarships have to be the most weighted. Deadlines are flying past and soon the results of our labors will be coming to fruition. Because college today is the leading source of personal debt, the competition for scholarships and grants can cause extreme stress. Tuition fees are outrageously high and continuing to climb. Without scholarship money, many college attendees will be submitting themselves to debt so high they’ll spend their entire lives working to pay it off.
To attain scholarships, students across the country dedicate their time to not only academics, but also good works through community service. However, scholarships are limited and not all students will receive them. So many will be looked over and left to fend for themselves. This can leave some feeling betrayed, forgotten and self-conscious.
When a community is actively putting a monetary value on our achievements, it can be difficult to see the worth of our actions, particularly when we are not rewarded for them. It is so easy to decide when we are not recognized to give up on volunteerism, but our faith tells us to do otherwise.
As stated in Ephesians 2:10, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works …” Many of us may have begun to volunteer with only the earthly rewards in mind, but in our self-serving journey, we have stumbled upon a sacred path.
The point of community service is not to win money or awards, but to truly help our neighbors and grow in our relationship with God. God wants us to be servants for one another. He calls us to share our talents and time with those less fortunate, and so, we must continue on our charitable paths.
Scholarships and awards will be helpful to our finances and our lives only in the short term. The feeling of pride that comes from being recognized will not make us feel anymore loved down the road. Honors and grants are disposable and temporary. No awards can compare to the rewards God wants to give us for all eternity. They will not fill the hole within us and can never lead us to a love like God’s love for us.
God longs to teach us how to love ourselves and through serving him we can become whole. So, let us continue giving of ourselves in charitable ways, no longer for the promise of money and recognition, but in the hope of a life spent in God’s loving embrace.
Let us aim not for our dream college to notice us or for a national scholarship to pay us back for the work we’ve done, but instead to become closer to God. We have already started on that journey when we were trying to catch the eye of academic sponsors; now let us step up for more noble reasons. For no recognition on earth will ever compare to the feeling of joy when we help one another solely for the sake of being helpful and when we sacrifice of ourselves for the sake of following God’s commands.
College stress and funding may seem extremely important to us now, but they mean nothing when compared to eternity. We cannot let ourselves be blinded by our want for rewards. We should see every opportunity for community service not as a step closer to a scholarship, but rather as a helping hand to our neighbors and a step closer to heaven.
Sarah Duvall is a senior at Sacred Heart School. She attends Sacred Heart Church in Morrilton.
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