Someone on Facebook made a snarky comment the other week about all the drama that has occurred in my life lately and how I kept posting about it, and how they were a little sick of hearing about it all. My first thought was hey sunshine, no one is sicker of the drama then the person it is happening to. Then I thought of those people, you know you have some too, those who are forever complaining, forever a victim, seem to not really want to get better. Was I being one of those? Gosh, I hope not! We all have times when we just need to get something off our chest or need a few sympathy comments to help us feel better, and I try to error on the side of mercy if I find myself judging, because, hey, I’m no angel. We also all have friends who are apparently perfect, always in a great mood, never have anything happen to them, never share trials and sail smoothly through their lovely lives. Right.

Let me tell you my experience with sharing. When I was barely 21 I married someone who I thought was one of my best friends. Our marriage only lasted 18 months, but, in the way of trials, seemed to last much longer. For the majority of our time together I was bewildered, lonely, and sad. Things were not going the way I’d planned. Where was my Mormon fairy tale?

I was also isolated during this time in two ways. First, I was geographically very far from my family. Second, I believed that what was happening in my marriage was so shocking, that it would open us up to so much judgy behavior (judgy is not a real word, it means to judge harshly and allow future actions toward the judged to be forever colored by that judgment) that I could not, must not, tell anyone what was happening, the struggles my then husband were going through, or how I felt about it. As a result of these two forms of isolation, I sank deep in to a depression, wasn’t thinking right, felt completely alone.

When it all came crashing down and I finally felt like I could tell my family, the weight that was lifted off me was enormous. But those feelings of shame stayed with me. When I met Jeremy and on our first date told him I’d been married before and it didn’t bother him, my relief was immense. When I finally figured out, a year into our marriage, that I didn’t need to be ashamed of what happened, that if I’d have talked about it there would have been friends that wouldn’t have judged, they would just have been there for me; when I learned, after miscarrying my twins, that God most often uses others hands to perform His miracles, I finally made the decision to stop keeping things to myself!

My life has been richer and immensely blessed since I’ve learned to truly take the scripture in Mosiah 18: 8-9 to heart. “…bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light…. (be) willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort…” The richest memories and experiences I’ve had have been in the company of true friends who were sharing my joy or sharing my sorrow, or times when I’ve been able to do that for them. For example,after the birth of my second son, when I almost died, I could feel the prayers of loved ones and church members as a tangible, physical presence around my hospital bed. These people were there for me, serving me and my family, for months afterward. We've moved since then, but I still love those people like no other.

Later, as we decided to adopt, we were not silent about it! We shared with everyone we could our hope to bring a new child to our family. We worked hard for almost 2 years before Jacob came to be with us. We had made and given out hundreds of pass-along cards, held several fasts with family and church members, shared our hopes and sorrows. When Jacob showed up, it was very quick and took us by surprise. We were not prepared for a baby. Our friends and family threw what we now refer to as not a baby shower, but a baby hurricane. We were completely inundated by clothes, blankets, cribs, formula, diapers and cash. We did not have to buy a thing for Jacob until he was almost 9 months old! They were sharing our joy and our joy was full!

In the last three years and intensely in the last few months, my family has been through some very trying times. Whereas four years ago were would have been in the positions to help others financially, we were now in the position of being the ones needing the help. We have lost a dear family member, battled cancer with another, and now I face my own health battle. I have not kept these things to myself! I welcome the support, sympathy, and the many, many miracles that have occurred in my life because someone KNEW about what was happening!

I don’t know about you, but my life is so busy and I am far from being a constant vessel for inspiration from the Spirit. I’m pretty sure I’m missing out on many opportunities to be there for people who need me because I’m not so good at pulling needs out of thin air. But tell me about what is going on in your life and if I can help, I will! In fact, I’ll probably pray for you, think about you, have my heart and mind open to your situation, and the Spirit will start working on me. Thoughts will start to come about what I can do for you, and hopefully, I’ll act on them. God’s hands.

The other end of this is being humble enough to accept the help when it comes from others. This can be just as difficult for some as giving help can be for others. The help you might receive may embarrass you. Maybe the service will come in ways that are different from what you had envisioned you needed. Maybe even in a way that you don’t like, or even makes you angry. Try not to let that happen inside yourself. Everyone needs a chance to serve, and if no one will accept the service, then we are in trouble. 

I try to be prayerful and mindful of what I share with people, of course, and I try not to dwell too much on the negatives. I try not to worry about those who will be judgy. It’s not my problem, it’s theirs. I am so grateful to friends that let me know what is going on in their life. The love that I have for the people I have been privileged to mourn with, comfort, laugh with, celebrate with: the love that I feel for those who have shared my joys, helped carry the burden of my sorrows, and served my family is deep and abiding. If I think about it too much I get very emotional. The feelings are so large, they don’t seem to fit in my body, and inevitably come pouring out in tears and intense gratitude. These are the Saints. These are my family. These are the legs, the hands, and the body of Christ. These are they who I strive to be worthy to be with in heaven after we leave this life of trial and testing, and hopefully, some times of joy. Don’t deny yourself this experience because you think you need to do it all alone, or you think God is supposed to send you an angel to help you, or because you’re embarrassed of what you’re going through, or because you think no one cares.

So share on Facebook friends, blog on you writing goddesses, share your experiences in church, with your neighbors and family, pick up that phone, send out that email. Keep an ear out for the allusion to problems that someone is too timid to speak fully of, take over that plate of cookies, and be generous with your resources. Be God’s hands.