Wednesday, October 24, 2012

For You, Anonymous - And For Anyone Who Needs The Reminder

I have something I feel is important to say.
Really important.
And I've actually prayed that the person I want to say this to reads this post.
Sadly, I don't know who the person is so I won't know if it reaches her (or maybe him), but if it reaches you, that will count for something.

I moved away from home when I was still 17.  I had graduated from high school and was starting my first semester of college.
My sister and I lived in the dorms and shared an apartment with four other girls.
I had never been away from home, and I was incredibly homesick.
I cried a lot.
I called my mom every chance I could.
We went home almost every weekend, and it was a good five hour drive one way.

On top of the homesickness, I had the worst combination of roommates you could possibly imagine.
The dean of housing at the college told my mom that he had never seen such an awful situation as my sister and I found ourselves in.

On top of the homesickness and the roommate situation that ended up being my undoing (I got the worst case of mono on the planet and my doctor said it was because of stress.  I was in bed, literally, for three months) I was dealing with some unresolved issues from my childhood, that had left me scared of life, and with little trust in men.

My mom had arranged for me to meet with a counselor and she was my lifeline for the semester I was away from home.
I called her more than one time crying, and in one situation, she and her husband drove to the campus and took me to their home to spend the evening with their family, just to get me out of the situation I was in.

On more than one occasion this counselor suggested I find friends - friends that were boys - and learn to trust them.

One day a boy found me, and he changed my life.

We were in a bowling class together, and we were on the same team.
For some reason he saw something in me that no other boy ever had, and he became my friend.
My best friend.
It wasn't a romantic relationship, not even a little bit, but his friendship healed my heart.

We laughed together, we ate lunch together in the cafeteria, we spent hours and hours talking, and when he put his arm around me I didn't flinch and pull away - when he hugged me I felt safe and secure.

His name was Austin and I loved him.  Again, it wasn't romantic - just pure love based on a solid friendship.

When I went home for Christmas break I had every intention of returning to school in a few weeks.
I had arranged to move into a different apartment, and I was excited to have a fresh start.
Austin and I said our goodbyes and he flew home to Alaska.

When Christmas break ended, and my sister returned to school, I was in my mom's bed dying.
Oh, I'm sure I wasn't dying, but I've never been more sick in my life.
My mom called and cancelled all of my classes and she cancelled my housing contract.

My sister called me a few weeks into the semester and said, "I saw Austin.  He asked where you were. When I told him you weren't coming back he seemed so sad."

Austin and I talked once on the phone, and arranged to see each other after I was well and could make the trip back up to campus.

I slept for the next three months.
I would muster the energy to shower, and then take a nap.
I would wake from my nap and then attempt to go upstairs for the rest of the day.
I would often have to sit on the steps and rest half way up, and there were only 11 stairs.
I didn't have the energy to comb my hair.
I didn't have the energy to put socks on.

After the three months I was over the worst of the mono, but didn't fully recover for years after that.

I tried to find Austin but he had moved and this was in the day before everyone had a cell phone.
I had no way to contact him and my sister never saw him again.

I asked my friend, who was also from Alaska, for an Alaskan phone book and I spent hours pouring over every page, searching for my friend Austin.  I never found a number that matched his last name.
And now, when we have the amazing technology that we do, I can't even remember his last name.

I didn't keep anything from that semester of college.
I burned my pictures; I tore the pages from my journal and threw them away; I blocked out most of the memories except for of Austin.

And I will always be grateful for him.

* * * * *

After my last post someone left this comment:

All my life I've been taught we are on this earth to fulfill a mission. I'm afraid I'm failing - failing miserably. I have no purpose & can't seem to find the courage you speak of.

And I thought about it all night long.  I spent hours trying to think of a way to respond.  And over and over again I thought of Austin.

If Austin never accomplished another thing in his life (which I'm sure is far from the truth) he accomplished the most important thing ever - for me.
He healed my heart and he taught me to trust again.
If he had no other purpose here, that was enough.
And I never even got to tell him.

I believe with all of my heart that all of us, no matter what we believe about ourselves, are here to touch and bless the lives of others.

My dear grandpa spent the last five or six years of his life sitting on his couch, listening to music on tapes because he was mostly blind and couldn't do anything else.  Day in and day out he sat on his couch, and he told me more than once how useless he felt, how little he felt that his life mattered.

He had no idea the legacy he was leaving - for me, for his neighbors, for his loved ones.  The last five years of my grandpa's life were a blessing to everyone he came in contact with.

My dear Anonymous, you are fulfilling a mission, somewhere, to someone.
Don't EVER doubt that.
Your life has purpose, more than you might ever know.

I hope you'll indulge me in one more story.

Several years ago I spent some time in Guatemala with a group of people I had never met previously.
We were from different walks of life, and we had different experiences coloring our individual reality, but we were joined together in a mutual cause of working to better the lives of a group of people in a small village in the jungles of Guatemala.

One of the girls I met and was roommates with for a few nights was different than me.
We had different backgrounds and different interests, and after getting to know her a little bit I felt like she might be misunderstood by a lot of people.
But I loved her.
I enjoyed out conversations, and I learned a lot from her.

We kept in contact a little bit after we returned home, and there were a few times she reached out to me in times where I really needed it.

Her friendship, although brief, touched my heart and made me a better person, and she'll probably never know.

Anonymous, you are doing the same, for someone or many someones, every day you live - and don't ever lose hope in what you are doing.  You aren't failing.  None of us are.

And for all of us, I hope that we will stop and take the time to thank the people who make a difference in our lives - so that they will know that they too are far from failing.



13 comments:

ahnash said...

Noelle, I just started following your blog. I guess it took me moving across the world to do it. I love your writing! This particular post struck me. I have been in China 2 months now. There are days when I only leave the house to dop off/ pick up the boys from school. I have often wondered what I am doing here? I went from days filled to the brim to days where I just count the hours until the boys get home. I know the Lord has a plan for me. I know He is looking for ways he can use me. Perhaps that starts right now in my own home. I understand the feelings shared by your anonymous reader. I think we have all felt them at times. When I feel that way, I know it is Satan trying to discourage me from reaching my potential. Thanks for the post. I needed it today!

Sharr said...

Noelle! This is the most beautiful post I have ever read!! What a beautiful reminder! Would you mind if I shared it with the young women I teach?

Sharr said...

Noelle!! This is the most beautiful post I have ever read! Thank you for sharing! What a powerful reminder! Would you mind if I shared it with the young women I teach?

Jeff and Andee said...

Beautiful Noelle!! YOU are amazing! Thanks for sharing!

Bossy Betty said...

What a sweet post. I have this quote from Helen Keller above my desk at work and I think it's appropriate here:

"When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another."

We must never forget to thank those around us for all their kindnesses, no matter how big or small.

Lalis said...

<3

Dazee Dreamer said...

Noelle, I love your neverending faaith. You are a great inspiration to me.

Anonymous said...

I am NOT "the anonymous" that wrote you earlier, but I could have been that person. I DO identify, completely. I want to find "that" courage you speak of. I am sick, I am sick of being sick, and I do NOTHING day in and day out. People wait on me and do for me, and I do NOTHING. Thanks for sharing. I'll look harder for "that" courage. Our gospel teaches what you do, I just can't muster it up. Stress is a killer!Thank you, dear one.

Kristie said...

Fabulous!

I love the 1st sentence of the LDS Relief Society Declaration: "We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction." http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,160-1-12-1,FF.html

Gene and Sheri Family said...

Noelle...you are AMAZING! Thanks for opening yourself up, and letting us learn from your experiences!

Beth Zimmerman said...

I LOVE YOU! So much!

From Tracie said...

This is beautiful.

It is what I needed to read today.

Thank you for that.

Karen Mortensen said...

I found your blog through Tracie. I love it. Your words and thoughts are beautiful. Thanks so much.