Sometimes when I am thinking about what to write for Monday Mitzvahs, I think about the things that have been done for me. Today I would like tell you about a mitzvah that is very close to my heart. To help you really understand, I need to give you a little background.
I started attending church regularly when I was about ten years old. It was always a solace for me, a home away from home, a place of peace and then without warning that changed. There are many reasons. But suffice it to say the church didn’t change, the people there didn’t change, what is taught there didn’t change. But I did.
I was drowning in pain and sorrow, and I would go to church the same lessons the same scriptures that had once comforted me, now wounded me. The full explanation of why is longer than I want to get into now, but briefly:
- DID was part of it. My “system” whisked away the spiritual part of me to protect her from the memories that were about to begin surfacing
- Lessons on forgiveness made me feel more alienated from God
- Lessons teaching that God gives us adversity to help us grow no longer made sense to me, and left me with more questions than answers
- Lessons about family were torturous, because my childhood home was not a happy one
- Even Christ-centered lessons that should have been a comfort hurt me because I felt so estranged from him.
In short, I was a mess. Most Sundays made me cry and I dreaded them. One Sunday in particular, one of my leaders said he was going to speak to a small part of the congregation that he felt inspired to address. I felt so hopeful. Would he really say something that would speak to my heart? Maybe!
But he didn’t. He had some other group in mind. The disappointment that I felt was the proverbial last straw. The pain was so great that I got up and walked out the door. Not just out of the chapel, but right out of the building. I was done. Absolutely done. I planned to never enter that building again. How could God ask that of me? No more. But then . . .
A woman’s voice called out behind me. Until I heard her voice, I had thought I was alone, so I turned to see if she was calling to me. She was.
She said, “You look really upset. Is there anything I can do?”
Tears come to my eyes remembering that moment. That wondrous feeling that someone cared. Someone saw me, saw my pain and cared.
I asked her to walk with me. So we walked around the outside of the building, and I told her as briefly as possible what was going on with me. She listened to me and told me she understood because she is a Survivor too.
I don’t remember her name, and I don’t remember what she said–but I will never forget that she saw me in pain and came to help. For that I call her an angel.
Because of her, I went back into the building that day, and have continued to attend church. It’s getting better. I still have bad days, but it’s a lot better.
Now back to our mitzvahs. What if she had given into the fears and self-doubt that we all have? If the roles were reversed, would I have followed her or would I have thought, “That woman looks sad. I should go talk to her–but what if I say the wrong thing? What would I say anyway? I’m sure her family or someone who knows her will help.”
My own self-doubt and fears might have kept me from helping. And yet, thank goodness she didn’t let her self-doubt and fear defeat her. She didn’t hesitate. She acted. She reached out to me. And I will always remember her for her small kindness that meant the world to me.
Sadly, the world is full of pain, but we can help. Don’t be afraid, try not to hesitate, just reach out.
Monday Mitzvahs were inspired by Linda Cohen’s book, 1,000 Mitzvahs
Photo attribution: Reaching Out For My Star
- Monday Mitzvahs: Go the Extra Mile (lesliegnelson.com)
- Monday Mitzvahs: Perhaps Self-control is the Greatest Act of Kindness (lesliegnelson.com)
- Monday Mitzvahs: Compliments are like Thought Umbrellas (lesliegnelson.com)