I’m calling this our peanut butter sandwiches months.
I have been sooo tired and sore, and did I say tired? lately, that fixing fancy lunches, or 3 course meals, is often more than I am up to. I keep fresh fruit in the fridge, and make peanut butter sandwiches. When I get really bad, I start trying to figure out who I know that has a shoulder to cry on. I’m lucky to have an awesome hero for a hubby- but he’s been working long hours, and even out of town. So when I can think of anyone at all, I often end up falling into a pondering mood.
Recently, I was mulling over a comment given to me. It was said with the best of intentions and meant, I think, to encourage and strengthen me– but it didn’t work, in fact, it sat like a lead weight in my stomach, and I couldn’t figure out why. Then, it came to me.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Backing up to the start of the story…..
I am by nature, extremely shy. But I fully embraced the need to communicate and try to do the “awareness helps” thing, and tell everyone about Autism and what it does and doesn’t do to our family’s lives. After a while, tho’, I kinda stopped. I got feeling like I had talked myself blue, and maybe too much, because it started to feel a bit like people have withdrawn even farther from me, probably from overload. But recently, I found out that there were still some key people I had not told, and who did not know what my health had turned into. In fact, recently, one lovely lady came right out and asked me what fibromyalgia was. (careful with that open door, I’ll answer. )
So I pulled up a brief synopsis I had already made of the various things that move through our family on a daily basis, and sent it to her. Now I certainly don’t want to hurt any feelings; but I need to paraphrase some of her response…
“Wow! Lots of info! Good job! That symptom list goes on forever doesn’t it-
“This life sure is a test – Can’t tell what will come up. It is our job to figure out how to handle it and just get the job done, no matter what it is. I am glad you are starting to find answers, and I will pray that you have continued strength to help your sweet family travel the path back to God.”
Now I’m positive it was said in love, and I am grateful she even responded, so many of my attempts have not even gone that far. But suddenly it hit me why it hurt instead of helped. First, it’s important to know that I was not really asking for help- I cannot bear the thought of trying to handle the mega meltdown of all my kids at once, if any “group cleaning event” showed up at my door; nor do many people know how to cook gluten free to send dinners. I guess I was hoping for some understanding- maybe, I won’t lie, even a little comforting hug. But I did not expect a “man-up” lecture.
On the surface, her note looks kinda wonderful, and rather unremarkable. I’m afraid it tends crop up as a by-product of the culture we live in sometimes in the gospel; You know- the self reliance, be strong in the trials, with a bit of blazing-the-trail stuff thrown in for good measure. These things are good points to be sure, and as the tail end of a long line of pioneer stock, I was raised with the value of do-it-yourself.
But then I had an amazing thought.
Maybe even an Epiphany Moment-
This life is NOT just to learn how to handle pain.
Yes it does that too. Enduring is not un-important, and we gain much strength and faith through that process. But as I searched for scriptural advice on how to just “handle” things and work out our salvation ALONE, (the endure to the end stuff) and even tho many people do have to make it thru life alone as their personal trial, still- I found a very different thread running throughout history…. The more I pondered and searched, the more I found things things like “Visit the Poor” “lift the hands that hang down” and “bear one another’s burdens”. And it’s found not just in our own corner of the world. In fact, nearly every culture and religion of the earth has a version of the Golden Rule; some way to say “Love thy neighbor.” Not love just our own inner circle “for even the wicked do thus,” but when we come upon one “who had fallen among thieves,” we are asked to go beyond just praying for him as we walk by– we are asked to be more than that- we are asked to stop, and take the time to look and see, and to do. Even if it is just a small thing, like the other day, I saw a note on someones mailbox that read “you left your key in your mailbox, it is safe. call ###” What a tiny, valuable, thing to do for a neighbor. There is so much that we can do to help each other’s burden be lighter to bear. This a a great lesson that the Lord is trying to teach us. How to empathize. How to see beyond ourselves. It is the lesson I work on hardest with my ASD kiddies, because empathy is the hardest thing for them to understand, and it is one of the biggest tools required for them to gain their emotional maturity. One of my favorite movies (The Ghost’s of Dicken’s Past”) says “How healing is a simple act of charity…”
Look at our ultimate example– Christ was sent down to the Earth, and everything about his whole Earthly experience is about helping others besides himself. He was sent into a regular working class family, in a troubled time period- “that he may know of his own experience how to succor his people.” As we follow him around his homeland through the writings of his disciples, we see He constantly journeys among those who were having the harder struggles, not the ones who felt they had “handled” everything. Finally he paid a price that no-one could handle on their own, so that we may have the chance to repent and recover from our weakness and mistakes… and He gifted us the resurrection on top of it all- Simply because he loves us enough to want to be with us again.
Of faith, hope, and charity, “The greatest of these is Charity”
I think I’ll go make some peanut butter sandwiches.