Sunday, December 27
Today was our ward Christmas program. My younger sisters sang a song called "One Little Candle." It was beautiful, but I didn't understand all the words during the program. I came home, found the music, played it on the piano... and cried.
The song starts out simple. But the second verse begins:
One little word to someone new...
One little deed of kindness too...
Kindles the friendship flame anew...
Soon the loneliness is gone.
Ironically, this verse captures both essence and anathema of my life. One of the things I care about most is helping people feel wanted and loved... so I'm the person who greets & tries to befriend new people in my ward, the author here at (G)MG, and the owner of a shop where anyone can make something beautiful. Most of the things I do are driven by people, from the person I've never met to my best friend.
And it's worth it. Being outgoing, showing kindness brings rewards that nothing else does. I get to watch people learn to smile, find new hope, and become new people. Having someone who honestly cares when no one else seems to understand can make all the difference.
The bitter irony of the verse is this: For many people who are truly outgoing and friendly, the blessings go both ways. They have no lack of friendship - their loneliness, too, is gone - and they develop close friends from the many around them.
"Soon the loneliness is gone" doesn't really apply to my life. Yes, the loneliness goes away when God takes it away. Other times it gets locked in a box when I'm too busy to worry about it. But it's still there... and no amount of kindness, from my side or sometimes even from others, can make it go away. Most of the friendships I kindle with kindness are stepping stones or waypoints on a journey to something else. People realize, either consciously or no, that I'm different, awkward, and broken. And so they move on.
Sometimes I feel like I need someone to put their arm around me and let me cry into their shoulder. Or to listen as I just talk about all the things I wish I could change in my life. Or to be physically in the same room, not because they feel obligated or want something or admire me or are attracted to me, but because they honestly care.
The reality is that someone could do all those things, and more. It would make a difference. But it wouldn't take the problem away. It could chip away the outside, but the core would stay whole. People have moved mountains and done countless things for me... yet I'm still the way I am.
Part of my feeling this way could be the holidays. I began writing a blog post on Christmas Eve about how much I couldn't stand holidays - here was the beginning:
Can I be honest? Totally honest?
I want quiet. I want to be alone. And I want there to be no more holidays.
Being with family is great for the first ten minutes. But then it plunges into constant, loud, insistent chaos. It makes me concerned that someone will push me over the edge and make me yell at people and cry or rip my hair out just so that I don't have to deal with it.
The holidays are loud, overwhelming, and chaotic. That usually means I have to look for time to retreat and find quiet. In this case, I was really sick yesterday - the day after Christmas. And during the quiet that brought, I thought about my life.
I *am* lonely. But I've been lonely for a long, long time. First I fought it, then I prayed for it to go away, then I fought it more in every way I could fathom. I've read books and studies on communication, gone to see therapists and counselors, tried medications and lifestyle changes, and pushed myself far beyond my comfort zone. And then I finally accepted it. A while ago I realized it probably would never go away - that, most likely, God has given me this so that I'll always remember to reach out to the people around me. That realization killed both hope and pain.
All the fighting, while it hasn't changed my feelings, has taught me how to be a better person. How to apologize. How to listen. How to watch for cues and signals and signs, and little bits and pieces of what they mean. What it means to really show someone I care. And all the things I can improve to better show kindness to the people around me. From that perspective, it was worth it.
No. It was worth it. It is worth it. *People* are worth it.
But there's something else. Some people must have some type of ability to break through to me - else why would I be so deeply drawn to them? Why would I crave friendships, yet also push some people away? It doesn't make sense that just because I'm lonely I would reach out to help others avoid my same fate... or does it? Maybe I love people enough to give without getting anything in return, or maybe God aligns blessings with when I reach out, or maybe something in some of my relationships with people actually fills a need, albeit partially, deep inside me.
I don't know.
Talking like this makes me wonder if I should let myself hope again. Tonight I'm too emotionally exhausted to deal with that demon, and I probably still have a fever from yesterday. I blame anything wrong with this post on the flu.
Maybe someday I'll understand it all. Maybe someday it will all make sense. For right now, I'll just keep trying to be a good person. To be friendly. To be kind. To be a friend to the people around me the best that I can. Perhaps it may not meet the needs I wish it would, but sharing the light of Christ helps others find their way... and that's worth it. That sounds like a good thought.
Posted by Mormon Guy at 8:30 PM