By: Vicki McEachern.
As an only child, I didn’t have the in-house experience of hand-me-downs. The flow of stuffs from older to younger to youngest started and ended with… me. Add to this my consistently above-average height, and the result? An attitude that a good fit comes with an expiration date. Gradually, I would grow out of my favourite tapered jeans and shoulder-padded blouse (seriously, sixth grade) and they would be donated to strangers. That would be the end of that.
And so it is, for some people, with seasons of life. They apply that attitude of wholesale wardrobe change to their personal affiliations. They join a team, a youth group, a campus club and it fits for a while. After fun and friends and formation, they grow out of whatever is offered and move on to something new and fresh. This was my approach as CCO rolled onto the UBC campus in my final year of undergrad studies. My experience with CCO would have a “limited time only” quality, right?
Wrong. Not true. Not at all. I had no reason to expect that CCO would keep fitting after I graduated, but it drew me back. After completing classes, I moved home and kept in touch with the local CCO community. I even went on mission to World Youth Day. As I sorted through job prospects, I paid attention to what was happening with CCO. I saw new students getting involved and trying on CCO hand-me-downs for themselves. Those pieces were a perfect fit for so many. Worn in? Delightfully. Worn out? Not even a little.
It turned out the favourite family sweater that had been passed through more than 20 years of CCO was oh-so-cozy for me. I hadn’t grown out of the movement after all.
It was no secret that CCO needed more missionaries to meet the demand for outreach. When CCO proposed how my skills and experience could be put to use within the movement, that demand hit home. It was time to browse the wide wardrobe of CCO careers to see if something existed for these long limbs. I soon realized I’d hit the jackpot. During my earlier job search, I had already uncovered a desire to serve the Lord in His Church, professionally. Accordingly, I sought a job that faithfully served the Church and offered a sacrifice of my gifts to God.
CCO, through which my faith had changed so much, brought all this together. I may have grown out of CCO’s student section, but the missionary section was a whole other walk-in closet waiting to be explored.
It turns out that I’m getting the hang of this whole hand-me-down situation, and I mean more than just the women’s clothing exchange at our annual training (although that’s a situation, let me tell you.) CCO continues to inspire my faith, and I’m eager to pass it on.
Apparently, there are hand-me-downs that the older sibling clings to, dreading the day when it no longer fits. For me, CCO is a bit different. The inheritance I’ve found in CCO is both cherished by the original owners and affectionately offered to the next. Hand-me-down might be the phrase used more often, but heirloom is a much better fit.