Monday, July 15, 2013

My own Calcutta

Andrew and I just returned from a brief camping trip on the Mirror Lake Highway in eastern Utah. And since we forgot to bring any card games or really anything to do while we were there, I plowed through another of my library books (just two to go before they're due on Saturday!) and had plenty of time to enjoy nature and just think.

I just finished Happier at Home and have thought a lot about one idea from it since: Find your own Calcutta. This is what Mother Teresa told people who wanted to join her cause — and it means that you should find a way to serve others in your own part of the world and in your own way.

I am not the best at doing big things to help other people. I have friends who travel to other countries to build schools or teach English or provide healthcare, and I know extraordinary women who organize fundraisers and seem to know instinctively how to help people in need.

However, I had an impression today that I need to share two personal experiences about women who've had an impact on me, all during the short period of time when I was battling cancer. This is probably more of a reminder for me, but maybe they'll help you think about the ways you serve — or the people who've served you.
  • A wonderful lady named Janice, who was my mom's visiting teacher, seemed to know that in some ways we wanted to be left alone and battle the disease privately. I was fortunate enough to have health insurance that covered the cost of my cancer treatments (which is another story), so we were doing OK financially. Instead of bringing over meals or coming to visit all the time, she would surprise us every few weeks with something sweet. I remember waking up one morning and finding a big box on our doorstep with a note that said "How about breakfast?" In it was pancake mix, butter, syrup and a bunch of other ingredients. She did things like that all the time, leaving surprise boxes with different items. I still get emotional, 10 years later, thinking about what that meant to my family — and I don't think she even knows that. I need to tell her.
  • Shortly after I was diagnosed with cancer, my dad learned that he had a serious blood clot in his leg and had to stay off his feet for a few months. And right after that, my brother Reggie broke his nose while playing catch with my brother Randall and had to have an emergency blood transfusion when he began bleeding out of his tear ducts. My mom was a wreck and had no idea what to do at this point. As I was receiving treatments and aching everywhere, an amazing lady who lived just around the corner from us, Stephanie, came to the rescue. One night when my mom was at the hospital with my brother, Stephanie rubbed my feet for a few hours to relieve the pain and just listened to me talk about my family and how worried we were about my brother and my dad. It wasn't something huge, but it was important to me, and it lightened my mom's load for a little while.
As I was thinking about these incredible ladies today, I realized that I can be like them. They didn't do anything huge like move to India or start a foundation. They just saw a need in their neighborhood and filled it.

OK, I know this post is getting huge, but I have one final thought to share. My church's leader, President Thomas S. Monson, frequently quotes this poem from C.R. Gibson and it has stayed with me. I want to make it my motto.

I have wept in the night 
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind; 
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind.

Do you have thoughts on service — or people who've helped you? Please share.


  1. I am guilty of not sharing my problems or asking for help, so no one knows to.

  2. Replies
    1. I love you, too, Stephanie! I need to come visit you soon. I miss you. :)

  3. This just made my heart swell so much! I love knowing that there are people who do things like this.

  4. We spent weekend in the woods, played cards and looked for Shrek (that's what children were doing) so it's nice to see you had a great time out in the wild.

    While reading the stories about two ladies that had an impact on you I couldn't help thinking how great person you are, humble and grateful for the small things that are the essence of happiness. Have a beautiful day, Lindsay and I wish you many more great people in your life! xx

  5. I really enjoyed reading this post. I think the small things that people do to help others have big results and are no different than huge gestures of kindness. You really don't know how you're actions (no matter how small) will impact others. I'm so glad you had those people in your life who helped you and your family out :)


Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts! I love reading them.