Sunday, February 20, 2011
Judy, a woman in her thirties who worked at a local business, came into my office fidgeting with her key chain and looking all around the room. Obviously uncomfortable, I asked her to sit. She continued to jiggle the keys, but finally sat, leaning on the edge of the recliner.
After a few minutes, she slowly started to talk about not feeling happy and being concerned about the future. Then she said, “No one loves me.”
Tears formed at the corner of her eyes and then rolled down her cheeks. It took her a few minutes to speak again. She spoke of having loving parents, and a brother and three sisters who loved her. She also spoke about her wonderful extended family, all of whom loved her. She spoke of friends and church leaders who cared for her, but still she felt unloved.
Missing from the descriptions of important relationships in her life was any mention of a boyfriend. Indeed, this was the deep heartache causing her so much pain.
Judy went on to explain she had a great childhood and enjoyed activities in the LDS church with her entire family. She had even gone on a few dates in high school and a couple more while in college, but nothing serious. Judy, now thirty-one, felt alone, and filled with dread for a long, solitary future.
We took time to discuss her understanding of the meaning of life. Did we exist only to have a spouse and children? What of the many couples who were childless? Or the couple who lost their child? Or what about the spouse who has an unfaithful partner?
Judy said she believed we were here to learn, grow, and help each other. I agreed with her wisdom.
It was natural and normal for Judy to feel lonely and wonder about the course her life was taking. I honestly don’t know anyone who hasn’t sat down and wondered about roads not followed or opportunities missed. I think we all have the experience at times of wondering “why me.”
The answer may not be easily accepted or understood, but the management of the situation is clear. In speaking to a group of unmarried women, the LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “To you wonderful young women I send a charge to reach beyond the routine of your daily work to serve in the Church, in the community, in the society of which you are a part. Though your talents be meager, polish them. Increase your skills, extend your love to help those who need your lifting hand .... The best antidote for worry is work. The best medicine for despair is service. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired.”
Being able to move beyond our sadness through compassionate service to others in need is a skill and quality born of the angels. To see examples of this we need only look towards those serving in positions in our local ward and stake. These good men and women serve unfailingly whether they feel happy or sad, whether they are healthy or not feeling so well, whether things in their life are going great or not so great.
Real Life Applications
In a local psychiatric hospital there is a saying painted on a conspicuous wall which says, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a difficult battle.” I’ve heard it said in another way, "This life is tough—no one gets out alive!" It is true, however, that some do have a more difficult time in this life than others. Focusing more on others who are having a difficult time helps us deal better with the inequities in our own lives.
Ideas for consideration:
Volunteer at a local elementary school and work with children with special needs.
Work with teens in a troubled youth home. Learn about tragedies that have occurred in their life.
Pick a charity, any charity, and become involved in helping. It can be breast cancer, autism, leukemia, juvenile diabetes, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, mental retardation, spina bifida, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, etc.
Volunteer at a psychiatric mental hospital or mental health facility and help those suffering from mental illness.
Work with mothers against drunk driving or victims against crime, or organizations supporting battered women and children, or other worthy organizations.
Look around your community and see where the needs may be. Talk with the local social service providers, police, and religious leaders to get ideas of opportunities to serve and carefully select one.
Ultimately, serving others who are in pain brings us out of our own concerns and allows us to be a part of helping to ease their burdens in this life. Additionally, we will find our own pain and suffering eased as well.
Until next time …
-----© Russ Beck, 2011-----
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