Thinking about mitzvahs for this week’s post, it occurs to me that sometimes we can perform a mitzvah (act of kindness–for you new readers) without realizing it. Sometimes simply being a friend is enough. Today I will share a couple of these kindness’ that I received and one that I gave–without realizing it.
Here is a portion of a journal entry from a year ago:
“. . .I had a good day at church. Yes, a good day is noteworthy. The reasons it was a good day:
I left Sacrament before the talk triggered me into a bad mood
Chris W. came to the library after Sunday School, asked for a chair and announced that she was going to stay and visit with me. I thought that was wonderful. She said, she wanted me to be able to go home from church happy.
Angela L. took time to talk to me –Having someone re-affirm that I am not invisible, or an emotional leper—by talking to me meant so much.
Also Laurel W. made a point to smile and say Hi as she headed to Primary.
It makes such a difference to know that people care.”
I would guess that none of these wonderful ladies knew what their kindness meant to me that day, but each one was truly significant–enough so that I mentioned it in my journal.
I think that most people are good and kind and want to help others who are suffering, but too often they hold back because they “don’t know what to say”. As the examples of my friends show, you don’t need to say the right words, sometimes just showing that you care is enough.
My next story that didn’t seem to be an act of kindness when I did it. I was “just being a friend.” But when I shared it (much later) with my friend, Laurel, she felt it was “better than a casserole.”
Once upon a time in a far away place. Okay, I’m exaggerating. but I want to stress (in case my kids ever read this) that this was a long time ago and I am much better now–so much so–that this incident feels like another world.
One night my friend and were chatting on the Internet late at night because I was at work and she has insomnia. We had both been going through a really difficult time and to be honest the word ‘suicide” had come up.
This night was different though. My friend was not just thinking about it, she had a plan was ready to act on it. We talked and talked. You know the wonderful AA slogan “one day at a time”? Our slogan that night was one hour at a time. ” Let’s just get through this hour before we make any rash decision.” I say “we” because even though I was trying desperately to talk her out of it, at the same time, I was asking myself, “Why? Why not let her? I understand why she wants to, and I don’t blame her. And yet, it just doesn’t seem right.” So I kept talking to her, kept getting her to hold on for one more hour.
When she was finally calm enough to sleep, I made her promise that she would not “do anything drastic” until she talked to me again. She was really reluctant to make that promise, until I told her that if she did it who would be there to keep me from making the same choice. And so she agreed.
I share this to make a couple points. I’m not a professional. I didn’t know what to say. Was I afraid to say the wrong thing? Yes! But I was more afraid of what would happen if I stopped talking to her.
Just last night, she and I were talking and I thought back to that awful night, and marveled at what has changed since then. She is so much happier now, and so am I. The pain that seemed everlasting–wasn’t.
Friendship matters. Sometimes just saying hello, or encouraging someone even when you are afraid you’ll ‘mess it up’ matters.
And if you are depressed or suicidal, hold on one more day or one more hour. Please believe me, the pain doesn’t last forever. I promise.
Monday Mitzvahs were inspired by Linda Cohen’s book 1000 Mitzvahs
- Monday Mitzvahs: Sharing Hope (lesliegnelson.com)
- Monday Mitzvahs: Don’t Hesitate, Reach Out! (lesliegnelson.com)
- Monday Mitzvahs: What My Sister Taught Me About Care-giving (lesliegnelson.com)