When I look back on my life I see themes based on how I was feeling mentally and emotionally over time. It seems like there are periods of fear, anxiety, and depression but also times of emotional stability, providence, and abundance. I’ve learned to love and appreciate the ebb and flow of my time on earth. I am able to fully know joy because I’ve been fully intimate with fear and pain.
As time went on I learned more, became more open, and learned to ask for help. My fear of doing these things kept me in over my head, doubting myself, and difficult to be around. Self love is a learning curve and self care is too.
Twenty years ago I could best describe my life as flailing. In the ocean of life I wasn’t exactly drowning but more like doggie paddling for a very long time. My arms would get tired, I’d sink for a bit, flail for a while and get back to paddling. I was always one paycheck and 5 minutes ahead destruction.
The critical mistake I made was instead of asking for help, I’d try to maintain the charade that I had everything under control. I absolutely didn’t. When it all came crumbling down I remember a lot of people being surprised. I was only surprised it didn’t happen sooner.
I had a moment to reflect on that time at the Camp Berea Women’s Retreat in Hebron, NH, this past September. Leaving a workshop I saw a woman I worked with years earlier. She recognized me instantly. We only had a second to talk as we were both on the move. I kept catching glimpses of her the rest of the weekend but I never got a moment with her.
On the final morning of the retreat, we were packing the van getting ready to drive several hours back to Rhode Island and I saw her again. She was with one of her friends also getting ready to leave. There were so many things I wanted to say but didn’t know if I could say them or if I should say them. I turned around to go to the van and it was like God Himself turned me back around. This was my moment and I had something to say.
I went over to say goodbye and then I told her this:
I knew you at the darkest time of my life and you were always so kind to me. I will never forget your kindness, it really was a shining spot when I needed it most.
As the words came from my mouth I was crying and then she was crying. She didn’t realize that she had a positive effect on me. She never knew how sad and overwhelmed I was and just how much I appreciated and needed her encouragement.
It reminded me of a quote that I love (that the internet has been attributed to everyone from ancient Greek scholars to Jar Jar Binks)
The true meaning of life is to plant seeds of trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.
Reflecting on my walk with Christ I can feel the true weight of that statement. For years I ran from God but in looking back I can see the seeds that people planted along the way. From my Godmother who first showed me the love of Christ to one of my neighbors years ago who never wavered in her faith despite my many questions and general disbelief. I was getting trees planted all around me!
Flash forward ten years later when my daughter asked my husband and me to attend church I didn’t realize that these seeds were going to get Living Water and ultimately led me to my old friend that God placed right in my path at a women’s retreat 20 years and 200 miles from when I saw her last. She, like the others, never knew she planted a seed of kindness and a seed of God’s love. Two decades later she got a moment in the shade.
You may think your words are falling on deaf ears, you may believe that you aren’t affecting change, you may even think you should stop because people aren’t hearing you. Never underestimate the power of planting a seed. You may even be blessed by a moment in the shade!