This afternoon I got the sweetest note in the mail. The card wasn't signed, but I figured out that it was from a high school friend I haven't seen since graduation. We reconnected on Facebook a while ago, and apparently she reads the things I post about my crazy real life both on Facebook and on my blog. Her note was a tender mercy in my life. Here's why.
Lately I have been sad and lonely. I realize this is unjustified on so many levels (e.g. I am living the blessed life I have always wanted, and I know there are lots of people around me who love me), and yet the feelings are real. Some hard days are just hard days and I wake up the next day and move on. Others, like that one day the other week, are harder to shake. I have been having more of those kinds of days lately. I kind of can't believe I'm saying this out loud...
So the last few days have been especially rough. I had kind of a bad morning on Saturday, so I decided to shake it off with a run outside. Endorphins and sunshine are good, right? I didn't get too far from home when the sidewalk began an ascent that my lungs didn't like. As I trudged up the hill, with what seemed like gale-force wind blowing against me, I started to cry. Have you ever tried to run and cry at the same time? Not super productive. But I was pondering how running is a metaphor for life. As I ran (I use that term loosely) up that hill, I lamented the mountains and opposition in my life that seem too hard. I set my sights on a light pole at the top of the hill and thought, "I can only go that far," which is exactly how I feel about my life right now. I made it to that light pole and then staggered to a stop, lungs burning and tears flowing. I continued on in a stop-and-go pattern, usually stopping to walk because I was sobbing. (Valerie and Alexis, you drove by at one of those walking points...now you know. Haha.)
After that I ran away (in a car) to the temple. It was one of those "Where can I turn for peace?" kind of days, and that's the only 100% guaranteed place of peace for me. It was there that my desperate prayers started to be answered in ways that I could actually see. After a lovely hour in the temple I walked to my car and ran into a wonderful friend. It was pretty crazy to see her in the parking lot, since we're practically neighbors in Colorado Springs and the temple is an hour away. We hugged and talked and cried a little, and then I had to get home. As I drove I reflected on the way Heavenly Father placed Amy in my life...not just in that parking lot, but in this particular season of my life. She is a ray of sunshine, and one of the few people with whom I can jump straight to a "real life" conversation and feel perfectly safe.
Sunday came next. Oh, Sunday. I'll say it out loud: I don't like Sundays. I love my religion, and I love my ward, and I am 100% committed to the LDS way of life, but Sundays are hard. It seems like everyone is grumpy most of the day. The kids are crazy during sacrament meeting (my boys were actually punching each other during the last speaker's remarks) so it's hard to listen and feel anything spiritual. I know some people adore their Primary callings, but I am struggling with the fact that the Primary room is too much like my bench in sacrament meeting, with the same net effect for me. How's that for real? Ha. Sundays used to be my re-charge days, but now they are just as draining as the rest of them.
So last night I was lamenting the things I don't like about my life. I have a special talent for focusing on the negative. It was kind of late (10-ish) and I was hiding in Kate's bedroom. She had had a hard time getting to sleep (late nap for the fail) so I held her until she nodded off, and then just stayed with her. And moped and cried, because I'm a 34-year-old baby. At the exact moment that I felt like the most insignificant, invisible person in the whole world, my friend April sent me a text: "How are you?" Another answered prayer. Someone cared.
And then Lori's note showed up in my mailbox today. She told me she wrote it months ago, but it arrived today, when I was feeling vulnerable and alone. Heavenly Father is trying to tell me something: I matter. My keys matter. The things I feel matter. My small spot in the world matters. My mere existence matters. Yes, life is hard. Yes, I've had some setbacks and disappointments lately. Yes, there are times when I feel very alone. I really don't know what any of it means, except that I'm not alone, even when I don't receive that miracle text, even when people around me don't understand, even when I'm frustrated about seemingly impossible mountains I have to climb.
So what's the moral of this story? I'm sure there are lots of people out there who feel like I do, either all of the time or some of the time. Maybe to you, their problems don't seem very significant, or maybe they do. Maybe they look like they have it all together, but I promise you they don't feel like they have it all together. Regardless of your perceptions, regardless of your own insecurities, if you've been thinking about someone, call or email or text or write or whatever you can do to reach out. Be present for someone who needs a friend. Follow your gut when you feel like you should do something for someone. It might be way out of your comfort zone to reach out. Your efforts might not always be life changing. But sometimes, when you write a note and don't mail it for three months, it might show up in the mailbox at the perfect time and allow that person to see the hand of God in her life.