I’m in the midst of a crisis wherein I am unsure of the purpose or meaning of this blog. I’m merely letting you know, in case you just don’t know what’s going on here. I don’t know either.
I’ve been shifting my priorities over the last few weeks. I guess the real shift is in my awareness of where I want my focus to be.
I’m doing all the same things–grieving, writing, mom stuff, etc., but I feel a greater sense of responsibility to the people directly around me. My mother. My sons. My students. The people in my neighborhood.
I feel less worried about the future and what it may hold. The result of this is feeling more present and focused on today. And, I’m doing that thing where I pray every morning for inspiration on who I can help that day. “Show me what you want me to do today,” basically.
Of course, this is all beautiful and worthy, except for those times when I actually don’t feel the desire, the capacity, or the love necessary to reach out. At a recent presidency meeting, my Relief Society President spoke about how even when we make an awkward attempt to help or love someone, God magnifies those efforts and turns them into something more than what we can do alone. And I felt the truth in that statement.
The result of this is that I’m thinking about how I can do a better at understanding, being patient, and loving people when they aren’t (or I’m not) being lovable. And refraining from judgment, which is THE WORST for flawed people like me.
Sometimes being a human who wants to help her fellow humans is painful. It’s easy to serve when it’s convenient and well-received. It’s more of a painful stretch when it’s outside our comfort zone and daily routine, and pushes us into a no-man’s land where our good works may not be met with accolades. There are occasions when our honest efforts to help may be met with disdain, or some other great wall of push-back.
I once took dinner to a woman who had just had a baby. She was single at the time. We knew each other and talked in passing at the gas station. But when I showed up with dinner (she had agreed to receiving meals from the Relief Society), she seemed bothered, even angry. I cooed over her newborn but my attempts at any small talk didn’t go anywhere. I unloaded my tray and sought to flee because I could tell how uncomfortable she was with me there. She didn’t thank me or speak to me as I left. Honestly, it shook me up a bit, this scenario of making a gesture of support and having it end with so much tension.
The whole experience did compel me to evaluate why I did it.
Why did I sign up on the list at church to take her dinner? Why did I go to the store, pull out my crock pot, make barbecue chicken sandwiches, assemble a salad, bake cookies, guard the chips from my kids, and do it all while managing Jack and the others?
Did I do it because I wanted to be appreciated and thanked? I didn’t think this was my motivation. But was I sure?
Here’s what a few uncomfortable days of pondering revealed to me:
I believe I did it because she needed to know that people cared, and that they weren’t condemning her.
I know I did it because having babies was brutally hard for me, and while it may not be as hard for every woman, I wanted to help during a difficult time.
In hindsight, I think I can see the situation better. She felt awkward and it made the encounter awkward. She was skeptical of me and everyone who knew her situation. Perhaps more than she needed dinner for her family, she needed to be understood, which I didn’t appreciate at the time.
Fundamentally, I think I did it because I love Jesus.
I love Him. He loves her. It’s love by association, and it bridges the gap.