Saturday, October 18, 2014

This I Believe

You may be familiar with the 1950's radio program called This I Believe.   Perhaps you already know that NPR sponsors a national This I Believe project and you can read or listen to them by clicking here.  I'd encourage you to read some of the essays and maybe even consider submitting your own.  This week in my college class we were asked to write our own This I Believe essays.

This is the second one I've written.  This one was harder for me than I expected.  It was hard to decide what to write.  That's surprising, right?  Well, if you're interested ... this is one of the things I believe...

I believe in visiting with people, empty handed, but willing to work.  I suppose I can blame my parents for this predicament.  When I was a kid, we would spend hours visiting with people.  Sometimes we would just drop by and chat with them.  I don’t remember my parents ever asking, “What can we do to help you?”  More often than not, mom or dad would just notice something that needed to be done, and we’d get right to work.
As I grew up, I started to notice that other women always brought a little goodie when they’d stop to visit a friend.  One of my first visiting teaching companions showed up at an appointment with a cute, brown gift bag rustically tied with raffia.  As she apologized for having to “throw together something,” the escaping aromas gave away the secret of fresh baked peanut butter and chocolate goodies. 
This wasn’t an isolated incident. Over and over again, as I went to visit families, other women in the companionship would show up with little bundles of home baked goodies.  I started to wonder if I had missed the rule that required all sisters to present goodies when visiting another home.  My empty hands felt insufficient.  
Sure, I was capable of pulling together a meal for the homebound family, but I didn’t feel as confident about whipping up a batch of cookies every time I went to visit someone.  I settled on taking jars filled with small candies, flowers, and re-plated store bought goodies for special occasions.
During one early morning presidency meeting, the President had mentioned that a family in our ward was having a particularly hard time.  When the family didn’t show up at church, I thought about them all afternoon.  I wanted to do something to lift their spirits.  I wanted them to know they were loved!  It hadn’t been too long, since I had taken a jar of candy, I wasn’t prepared to make an entire meal, and since it was Sunday, I couldn’t go buy flowers.  What could I do to help?
I turned to every woman’s inspirational site:  Pinterest.  Like most other LDS woman, I had pinned lots of yummy things; however, for me, Pinterest was much like a library full of beautiful books, purchased but never opened.  This time, being desperate, I was motivated to actually try a recipe.  I decided on the sophisticated sounding Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies.  The blogsters all described them as “salty and sweet with smoky undertones.”  Who wouldn’t love that? 
Each mound of cookie dough baked to the perfect golden brown with chocolate chips peeking through in just the right ratios.  I gathered my family and we taste tested the cookies.  We each enjoyed a few, warm from the oven, plated a dozen, and proudly delivered the perfectly shaped cookies to the needy family.  I was so proud of my unusual triumph in the kitchen that I dropped off a couple of bundles around the neighborhood.
            The next morning my oldest son noticed an awful smell coming from the cookies.  I thought he was imagining things, but when I tasted one, the smell seemed to reflect the rancid taste.  Oh, my!  The cookies that looked Pinterest perfect yesterday were definitely disgusting today.   I immediately imagined the warning phone calls from one family to another: “Don’t eat the cookies!”  I could only hope my Pinterest failures were enjoyed immediately and not left to stink up their kitchens. 
            One day not long after that experience, I was thinking about a time that me and a friend stopped to visit a pregnant mom with three little children.  As I sat with the mom, my friend noticed the kitchen was in disarray and she started cleaning it as we visited.  We didn’t stay too long, but before we left we had cleaned the kitchen and the family room.  It felt good to leave the mom’s home knowing that she had been relieved of a couple of burdens.

            I realized that while I love the goodies that some women bring, what I do best is visit, empty handed, but willing to work.  

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