So, just when you get a really good pity party started for yourself, isn’t it amazing how God smacks you right upside your hard head? (Hey, I can’t help it, I’m from the south, and that’s what we would say.) Often, He adds a little “Snap out of it, you idgit!” (Yet another southern endearment.)
I got one of those a couple of days ago. Work was exhausting; my students were whiney; I was pulled apart at the edges with no hope of covering all the empty spots I needed to cover; and to top it all off, I could feel my throat starting to get sore. Great. Just great. My family had already had a monolithic cold, and I was the only one who had yet to succumb. Succumbing was on the horizon.
I pulled up to our house, shuffled slowly to the door, and took the mail out of the box. In it was a cardboard mailing envelope addressed to me. The return address was from the state of AK. “Huh, maybe our friends from Arkansas sent me something.” I sauntered in the house and decided to open it up. Inside the envelope was a pretty wool hat, seemingly made from the color palette of a fall day. Blues, purples, teals, earth-tones—it was clear that someone had made it lovingly by hand. There was a short note enclosed inside:
I’m so sorry I didn’t get this sent sooner. I did finish it a couple of weeks ago but then life happened and things get crazy as I’m sure you know! I can imagine the stress from health issues and the unknown and I only have MS. Hope this little present fits and offers some warmth and comfort with my prayer along with it. <3 Kelli K.
“Wait a minute,” I thought. “I have no idea who this is! Could it be from a former student who has a different married name now?” Even more baffling was the fact that I realized AK is actually the abbreviation for ALASKA, not Arkansas (duh). I could not think of a single person I knew in Alaska who would send me such a beautiful hand-made gift, and who sounded as if they knew me well.
I decided the answer could be found on Facebook, the Wonder of Our Existence (or the Bane, depending on the day. That day, it was the Wonder.) I found Kelli and sent her a message, apologizing for not knowing who she was, but thanking her for the gift. She responded, saying that she is part of crochet group on Facebook that makes hats for family and friends of people who have cancer. Somehow, I ended up on that list, so Kelli made a hat for me. For me. For someone across the country in an utterly different time zone.
I was stunned. I had my breast cancer lumpectomy last May, radiation all summer, and had been feeling like life was getting back to normal. My cancer was “over,” in the past. This hat reminded me that my experience will never be in the past, and the things I learned about myself will remain branded on my soul forever. I do not want to forget that time in my life, even the really painful moments.
Getting this hat also reminded me of why I am a Christian. You see, when you become a Christian, you become part of a network, or a hive, if you will. That network is connected on city, state, national, and even international levels. Christians all over the world pray for each other, simply because it’s what they do. They pray because they are told to pray in the Bible, but that’s not the only reason they do it: they pray because it feels good to focus on the needs of others instead of themselves for a change. Prayer is more about awareness, compassion, and hope for the well-being of those who need it; it is both an outward action and an inward action.
We Christians pray for friends and family who need help, and then we pray for people we don’t know—like the people in Puerto Rico, or the people suffering from the recent mass shootings in Texas or California. What is so amazing is the realization that people are praying for me all the time—people I don’t even know, who have never even met me. When I am eating breakfast, someone is praying for me. When I’m folding clothes, someone is praying for me. When I’m at the grocery store in the frozen foods, someone is praying for me. And you know what? I can feel those prayers. How humbling is THAT? How comforting it is to feel held in someone’s heart. I am embarrassed to continue fussing about things in my life that don’t really matter. Also, I have come to the realization that, as cliché as it sounds, it’s the small things we can do for others that can be the most meaningful.
B-Flat Christian, try to find one of those small things today that you can do for someone else that just might brighten someone’s day—or even change someone’s life. Whether it is praying for someone, writing them a card, calling them on the phone, or crocheting a hat, do it.
P.S. Kelli, I’m praying for continued strength and courage for you as you deal with M.S. Thank you for being so kind and thoughtful to someone you don’t even know.
I Thessalonians 5:
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.