Why I Joined the Lions Club
… In spite of my misgivings
When I was invited to speak at the Dinner in the Dark event held at an illustrious, historical hotel in another area of my state about forty-five minutes away, I felt flattered.
“Yes, of course. I would love to talk about my mobility training!”
“You will? Great! We are having a planning meeting with a bunch of Lions Club members. Can you join us this Tuesday at…?”
The invitation was casual but unexpected. Did speakers get involved in the planning of an event? Didn’t they just … speak? At the same time, it was nice to be included. I would learn the details of what went on behind the scenes to make events like this happen.
So I accepted that, too.
It was my first introduction to the Lions Club, an organization dedicated to serving the blind and making a difference in the community.
I loved being part of that committee, which consisted of various members from Lions Club groups across the region. They were so cordial! Over a two- month period, I grew accustomed to the sounds of their voices and could pick out a few members by the grip of their handshake and the shapes of their bodies–but not by name. They always had to re-introduce themselves.
Over a series of dinner meetings, I learned how the event married two great causes together – an opportunity for the sighted to experience what the blind or those with low vision go through and a major fundraiser to benefit a housing facility for leader dogs in Michigan.
After some weeks, I was invited to join a local chapter of the Lions Club. I could think of several reasons not to join.
1. Comfort zone. In groups, I’m rather quiet and hesitant to interact. I’m a listener rather than an initiator. This would definitely put me out of my comfort zone.
2. Transportation. I already had difficulty getting to where I had to get.Why add more stress and another burden to my load?
3. Finances. I wasn’t at a place to take on any more financial commitment. My income was sporadic, depending entirely on book sales and speaking engagements and a strict, meager stipend I took from my future retirement to pay my bills with.
4. Time. My time was already being divided and further divided into tiny morsels. I struggled with time management–family and writing time as it was.
And yet … when I prayed, I felt God saying …
1. Make a difference. Make their mission real to them if it’s not already. Let your sight (or lack thereof) be an ongoing reminder of what they stand for in the midst of all the other “club” goals they have to focus on.
2. Share your story. Start in groups that are pre-disposed to learning about vision loss. Not only will you educate and share your testimony of faith, I will use these venues to provide for you.
3. Step into My plan. Trust Me. Didn’t I help you make the transition into your teaching career? You were fearful then, too. Liaise with this group. My plan is always best and will achieve far more than you can do on your own. You’ll grow with the responsibilities and opportunities I place you in. It’ll give you a chance to impact others.
4. Look at the service. They provide eye glasses to those who can’t afford them. They send the blind to camp. They even drive them there. They educate the community about the importance of eye exams. Aren’t all these issues something you care about?
I still wasn’t completely convinced. I lacked confidence, the ability to organize myself and I wasn’t exactly extroverted. Besides, I needed to stay focused on my career and develop my writing and speaking platforms. And the money issue…
I sat it out for awhile as I tried to make up my mind, waffling back and forth. But, then … I took that hesitant step of faith and joined the new chapter!
I’m still feeling my way around the group. So far, I’ve been quiet but every once in awhile my personality briefly emerges. I’m self-conscious about arriving late and getting lost in the building–and am definitely still out of my comfort zone. Sometimes I’m afraid I can’t hear them well enough to respond. I’ve got my issues to overcome.
But I’m trusting God to bring me out of my shell and do what He says I can do–impact others!
I represent one side to vision loss and the Lions Club, the other. Working together, we can fill in the gaps and “see” better.
As I finish this post, I feel certain for the first time that I made the right choice. I would have never imagined I would go in this direction. But I feel at peace with my decision.
Finding my comfort zone, the transport, the finances and the time issue can all be worked out. The opportunities are what God wants to put into my life. They are the life-changers for both parties. It fits in with God’s goal for me.
So it’s time to own it.
And sweep my cane forward in confidence.
What do you know about the Lions Club? How have you interacted with them in your community? Share in the comments below.