Sunday, November 30, 2014
Never Suppress a Generous Thought
I think I first heard the words while I was at BYU. "Never suppress a generous thought," attributed to Camilla Kimball, struck a chord with me as words to live by. I have tried to implement this wise guidance in my life, but still find myself setting aside inklings to do good or getting too distracted to sit down and write/call/text that friend who came to mind. More impressive than my efforts, are those of so many people around me, who have heartily been aware of and responded to needs, seemingly without giving a second thought.
When I was first married and "officially" entered the world of taking in meals, those occasions were pretty scarce - limited to assignments for funerals or new babies. Now, at the ripe old age of 32 I have had numerous encounters with the harsh-yet-subtle realities that leave each of us needing help - or even just love and encouragement. Friends and neighbors have had children in the hospital, spouses work insanely long hours, miscarried babies, lost children, dealt with unemployment, depression, anxiety, hit rough patches in pregnancies, marriages, and relationships with other family members.... the list goes on. Elder Eyring counseled, "When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time."
Aside from being kind and sensitive, I have come to recognize the need to act. People all around are carrying heavy burdens, many quietly. But when we find out about the needs and struggles of others, how tempting it is to hang back, to give them space to mourn, to grieve, to work it all out on their own. Understandably, we are easily paralyzed by the encompassing nature of certain trials we watch our friends wade through. We think, "There's no way I could fix that," and so we do nothing. Mortality is full of challenges that are beyond fixing, but I've learned that loving is better than fixing.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in covenants. The first covenants we make as members of the church are at baptism, and they include a promise to "mourn with those that mourn" and "comfort those that stand in need of comfort." Those covenants not only bind us to Christ, they bind us together.
In the past two years, our family has been on the receiving end of so much good. To be honest, it's a little more than I am naturally comfortable with (how many of us really want to need help?), but I have been so grateful to wonderful friends and family who have simply acted on those generous thoughts. We've received hugs and prayers and tears. Meals and cupcakes and flowers. Texts, notes and phone calls. Boxes of creamies and loaves of homemade bread. Visits and chats providing guidance and assurance. Countless offers for babysitting. Countless hours of babysitting. Earlier this year I casually mentioned (on facebook) a new technology that would be cool for Betty to have, and friends and family members - some I haven't seen or spoken to in more than a decade - lined up asking if and how they could help provide it. I couldn't believe my eyes, when later that day I checked my email and found a gift card covering the cost.
When Betty was two months old, she had to have a brain MRI at Primary Children's. Because she was just a small baby, she had to be sedated for the procedure and we spent several hours at the hospital getting her prepped and then waiting in recovery. The procedure itself was relatively quick, but all told it took more than half of our day. When Betty came out into recovery we waited at her side until she woke up. While she slept, a text came and my phone buzzed to notify me. It said simply, "I'm bringing dinner." I hadn't thought about dinner, or the fact that we would even need dinner. But there my friend was stepping right up to help. Not asking if she could help; not asking if she could bring dinner. But doing. Acting. Being. Not suppressing that generosity.
In this season of Thanksgiving, we often focus on our thanks. But this year my gratitude has more than ever to do with giving. And the people all around me who do it so well.