In the quiet heart is hidden Sorrow that the eye can’t see.
Who am I to judge another? Lord, I would follow Thee.
(Lord I Would Follow Thee, Hymn 220)
I think when we think of people who need a small service, let’s say just a friendly smile or a hand with groceries or something, we think of people like, well, me.
As I sit in my wheelchair, I am totally, inescapably, and obviously, how should we say, “limited,” and I can’t pretend I’m not. I get to park in the handicap parking. I’m slow. I’m short. I know how I look. And I know that others know.
But all my visible struggles are just enough invitation for do-gooders everywhere to give me some very needed and welcome small services (which really aren’t very small to me).
But I’d just like to take a minute and say that I’ve been in a wheelchair since I was 22, which means I walked for a good, long time before I was in one. And let me just say that I know from personal experience that you don’t have to BE in a wheelchair to feel as if you just can’t take another step in this life. Any of us can feel “disabled” in a truly immobilizing kind of way, no matter if we have a handicap parking decal for our car or not.
I asked six beautiful friends of mine if I could share a little about them and post their pictures in this message. They are moms, aunts, daughters, CEOs, entrepreneurs, teachers, and good, good people.
These six friends of mine are happy and living wonderful lives. But what you can’t see is what’s hiding behind their smiles. You can’t tell by looking at them that behind these happy eyes are trials. Real trials. Within just these six pictures are women who struggle with abandonment, eating disorders, rejection, insecurity, health issues, instability, abuse, pain, fatigue, loneliness, money troubles, fear, infertility, family struggles, and good, old fashion inadequacies.
You can’t see any of these trials on the outside and if you met any one of these friends of mine at a grocery store, she would smile at you. These women are living proof of the poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
It is easy enough to be pleasant,
When life flows by like a song,
But the man worthwhile is one who will smile
When everything goes dead wrong.
For the test of the heart is trouble,
And it always comes with the years.
And the smile that’s worth the praises of earth
Is the smile that shines through tears.
When we think of those we should serve, we don’t think of the smilers of the world. We don’t think of the happy women we pass by in the fruit section of the grocery store because they seriously seem just fine. But just like you and me, they have a real need for some encouragement along the way.
I’d like to propose a challenge: As we see our sisters in the grocery store, at the post office, at our kids’ school, and wherever else our errands take us, instead of looking at her outward appearance, which probably won’t indicate someone who’s having a hard time, let’s look into her heart (it’s easy to do if we just imagine her heart as a mirror reflecting our own). Smile at her. Ask how she is. Offer a helping hand (which will likely be refused because, hey, she really IS capable. But the offer will open up a tiny chitchat that you’ll forget in just a moment but she’ll remember her whole drive home).
I know that this challenge is small. So small it might seem insignificant and not worthwhile of our service efforts. But just remember the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 64:33 Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
The greatest thing we can do for each other isn’t fight each sister’s battle, but rather to just show her that we’re on the same side. And we’re rooting for her! And we’d like to help out, even if all we can offer is a friendly smile and a hand with the groceries.
Thank you for reading my message this month. And thank you for looking out for my friends and serving them! I’ll do the same for you.