I’ve always held this theory about our church. That sometimes when we try so hard and nobly to stay positive, we often let a very tender and shared moment pass—the opportunity to grow closer to one another through our stories. We know that behind each face that smiles on the outside are usually quiet hearts full of ache or worry. We know these things, but do we always know what they are specifically?
One of my favorite Sunday school lessons included a personal lament by our sweet teacher that I will forever remember. She said something like, “I just wish the Church would let us be sad. Sometimes I just want to be sad first… and then I’ll do what I’m supposed to.” I’m all for staying positive and moving on, for “forgetting yourself and getting to work.” But in our mad dash for the finish line of problem solved, are some people getting left behind?
I find that people will talk if you’re willing to listen. That generally people don’t want to complain, but sometimes they do want to vent, sometimes they want advice, mostly they just want a friendly ear, a hug, someone willing to nod their head and be there.
And when I do listen, and friends and neighbors and strangers open up to me about their trials it makes me love them more. I can’t name the phenomenon. I don’t know why that is. But when I truly know them, the compassion part is easy. The whole “sister” part of sisterhood makes sense.
Sister Hinckley once said:
“I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden.
I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”
And it’s a quote I love and live by. When someone asks me if I do daycare (because the house is teeming with children of the same size, from all over the neighborhood), or if I run out of bananas and Gogurts the very day I purchase them because of said teeming kids, then I feel happy in a satisfied, soulful sort of way. I love taking meals– the idea that food for the belly is food for the heart. And cookie delivery to the down and downhearted? One of my favorite things ever. (Okay, cookie delivery to all, no down-ness required…)
I get setting boundaries. I get the need to sometimes say no. But do we tear down this shared sisterhood (and shared motherhood) by our unwillingness to help one another out? To say, “I can’t” (babysit or drive carpool or teach a lesson or take a meal or talk) when we really can and it may just require personal sacrifice on our part? Do we sometimes worry we’re not getting what we need for ourselves when what we need is to love each other?