Almost six years ago I sat in my therapist’s office. I was probably crying. I cried a lot in her office. Our daughter, Savannah, was just six months old and we were getting ready for her to have open heart surgery. She had been slowly dying for months; her organs shutting down as her heart struggled to move enough oxygenated blood through her little body. It had been six months of doctor appointments for her, a postpartum depression diagnosis for me, trying to still love and nurture a toddler, and hold down all that came with normal life.
I was just barely holding on, and the only reason I was even doing that was because of the huge number of people who were holding me up. Countless people were praying for us, and friends were watching Micah constantly as I ran Savannah to different appointments. And then when we finally got the surgery scheduled, our small group from church pooled together enough money to pay for our parking and meals at the hospital for those weeks. They filled our freezer with meals that would last for six weeks after we got home from the hospital, both of our sets of parents came into town to be with us and care for Micah, and the prayers continued.
So there I sat in my therapist’s office, telling her how guilty I felt that so many people were doing things for us, and supporting us, and there was no way I would ever be able to “pay them back” for that. There was no way that I could truly show them how grateful I was. The little energy I had went right back into our family, and I felt bad about that.
But then my therapist held my gaze, and said something that penetrated my heart.
Maybe you won’t help these people, but you will help others. When all this is over, and your head is back above water, there will be other people you will help, and by doing that you will honor all of these people who are helping you now.
And that came true. Less than a year after Savannah had her surgery, we moved to Arizona. I was now thousands of miles away from the people who had been my survival during those months. They had babies, went through heartache, and experienced interrupted lives, and I was too far away to do for them what they had done for me.
But now, now I help others. I help people who are so new to my life, that most of them have never, and probably will never have the opportunity to help me. And every time I make a meal for a family that I don’t know well, or have a mom who is at the end of her rope drop her kids off for just a few hours, I remember those that helped me when life was the darkest. I remember them, and I honor them with my ability to help someone else.
I don’t know who you are you, and I don’t know what you are going through. I don’t know if you are in the middle of darkness that you can’t see your way out of. I don’t know if there are friends and family surrounding you, and holding you up during this time. Maybe you feel like I did. Maybe you feel the weight of their love and support. It feels so good, but also heavy with responsibility. If that is you, be encouraged today. You may not ever give these loved ones back the support that they gave you, but someday when your darkness has lifted, you will be presented with an opportunity to help someone else. You will take that opportunity, and you will feel the real impact of what small acts of kindness can do, because you have been there. You will make a meal for someone you hardly know, and you will remember those that helped you when you didn’t have any way to help back. And in that you will honor them.
And just for fun. Savannah right after her surgery, and Savannah now at age 5!
Yes, she broke her arm. This one keeps us one our toes!