But let me just say, that life is hard.
This morning as I was driving to the hospital to switch off with Jeremy, I was a little too focused on all of those hard things. When I let myself "go there" I can find plenty of reasons to be anxious, depressed, frustrated, tired, hopeless, angry, sad, overwhelmed... You get the idea. Usually I end up focusing on the injustices that many of my kids face, and that's what gets me more than anything. As I was dwelling on how it wasn't fair that Sophi's poor little legs are so uneven, (I mean, really--isn't it enough that she doesn't have arms?!) I was suddenly awakened from my thoughts by a speeding driver who didn't see me and nearly ran me off the freeway as he went to change lanes. I mean, it was really close. It took quite awhile for the adrenaline to wear off. I could have been killed, and he just sped off in oblivion. So now I had those feelings to add to the others. I was not in my happiest state. I exited the freeway and found myself at a stoplight.
Then I saw him. An older gentleman, standing at the corner with a cardboard sign, obviously asking for money. I reached for my purse and got all the cash I could-- a measly four dollars. I rolled down the window and gestured to him, he came and took the money and said the typical, "God bless," and then he walked back to his corner. The light turned green and I drove away. And all of a sudden I realized that every negative feeling I had been nurturing was completely gone. It sounds like a little thing, but it actually felt quite extraordinary to me. I was happy!
My mind and heart immediately went to my sweet Jeremy. He is the one who taught me never to pass by someone on the street asking for money. Somewhere in college, I had been taught that it is only enabling "the beggar" to give them money. That they will probably just misuse the money anyway. That it would be a better use of your money to give it to a charitable organization instead, who can make sure the funds are used properly. But I couldn't convince Jeremy of this. He gave to our church and to charities, but he also gave to every single person he met asking for help, oftentimes more generously than we could afford. He's been known to quietly help strangers in many different ways, and I can't tell you how many times I've received the call, " um, hon? Could we spare "x amount" of money?" for someone we've never met. (ok, he's probably not going to love that I'm sharing this). He reasons (and now I do, too) that we never know another person's story, and that if we assume everyone that is "begging" is using the money for drugs, or just doesn't want to work, or whatever other reason we find not to give, that we will miss beautiful opportunities to help the truly needy. And that it shouldn't matter what they do with the money, it just matters that we give it. He even wrote a song about it, years ago, when we were first married. That song, 'The Bus Stop" started playing in my head as I continued my drive to the hospital:
At the bus stop on seventh in Denver
Nothing but them and the cold
A family with two ragged children
No more than seven years old
Father looked up, shame in his face
Trying to do what was right
Said, "Sir, could you spare me a dollar?
Wanna buy my kids dinner tonight."
At the bus stop downtown
My peaceful world stopped
And I thought of a lesson Mama had taught
Right from the Good Book
Time couldn't dim
When you're helping His children
You're just helping Him
And you won't have to look far to find Him around
He could be at the bus stop downtown
Standing alone on the sidewalk
Watching the crowd pass on by
I wondered how often I'd done the same
Caught up in the hurry of life
I started to reach for a dollar
The youngest one lifted his head
I saw my own son in those innocent eyes
And pulled out a twenty instead
Please don't think I am tooting my own horn, or even Jeremy's! That is so far from why I'm sharing this. Rather I am just so grateful for the opportunity that my Heavenly Father gave me today to stop putting the focus on myself, in such a small, insignificant way, and in so doing, turn my thoughts to HIM. Heaven knows I am so often on the receiving end (people are so, so good to our family) and that sometimes, I need to be on the giving end. I am so grateful for the opportunities we are given each day to serve.
I love the quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley: "The best cure for weariness is helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies in life is this; He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.' That was so true today. I can almost guarantee that that four dollars meant more to me today than to that sweet man. It renewed my spirit, turned my thoughts heavenward, rekindled a love for my husband, put a smile on my face before walking into the hospital to be with my son so that I could put a smile on his, and even helped me notice the beautiful creations and cute old homes that lined my drive.
It was money well spent!
And I am happy to report that Xander is not only doing well, but just drifted off to sleep, which means that I can take a little nap myself-- woo hoo! (: