This is the beginning of the YW lesson I'm teaching tomorrow. It's not the scheduled lesson, but sometimes there's a reason to bump those and throw in something impromptu. When I first read this Dog Food story by Brent and Blaine Yorgason, I thought of my Young Women and the challenges they have with friends everyday at school or at church or in their neighborhoods. I thought about my own daughters and the things that rattle around in their heads at night. I thought about the 6 new Beehives coming into YW in the next 5 months and how hopeful I am that they will feel loved and welcome into the group. But I didn't really think about myself.
Yesterday, I had planned to go to the two-day Stake Youth Conference at UT Arlington. All of the youth ages 14+ were invited to go down for the Opening Ceremonies last night and then again all day today to serve and be a part of the Special Olympics events being held there. Meals were going to be light, at best, for all the kids, so I planned to make a few things for breakfast to bring with us in the carpools so that the kids wouldn't be starving, and then to have a few snacks stashed in my trunk in case they needed sustenance during the day. I packed bug spray and camp chairs and bought a cute little visor that I could use out in the sun for the full day Saturday and also later next month at Girls Camp. I was pretty excited about the weekend, and as always, looked forward to spending time with this amazing group of youth.
Yesterday afternoon, I picked up TCD and her friend from school and mentioned the excitement I felt about the activity. And then later, told TCD about my grand snack plans. She's 15 and she was in a hurry to get ready for our 5:00 departure. She's tired and stressed out, like we all are, by the pace we've kept this entire month. But she didn't choose her words carefully. She said something like, "You don't always have to try to be the most popular leader, you know." and "You don't always have to spend all your time worrying about everyone else. I'm sure they'll bring their own snacks." and "We're all going to be in Sis ------'s car anyway." I can't tell you how instantly deflated I was. TCD and I are extremely close, but we live together and spend a lot of time together, and neither of us is perfect. I don't actually think that she intended to hurt my feelings. I'm sure she was just trying to tell me that I didn't have to worry about all that extra stuff if I had better things to do. But that's not what I heard.
So, instead of making fun little snack bags for all the girls, I came home and threw myself on the bed and sat in a very large, very pitiful pile of self doubt for the rest of the night. I opted not to volunteer to drive down on Friday night after all because there were plenty of leaders. And I didn't respond to the many texts that I received that night asking me where I was and if I was coming on Saturday. And then this morning, when all the kids jumped into all the other cars and I was sitting in my van all by myself, but with no extra seats available to ride with anyone else, I thought, "Great. Well, I guess I have an unexpectedly free Saturday." I threw two camp chairs out of my trunk and sped out of the church parking lot as quickly as I could. It wasn't exactly the morning I had envisioned...6 girls in my van, singing Justin Bieber, eating blueberry muffins, and breathing life into me, all the way down to the event. Instead, at 6:00am, I changed back into jammies, put away my cute visor, and crawled back into bed for three more hours (which I also desperately needed.)
About an hour ago, I decided to work on my lesson for tomorrow. Apparently I needed a personal testimony of it. None of us, in this ward, have ever had anything quite as devastating as the dog food story happen to us. And none of these girls is capable of treating another person as badly as this poor little girl had been treated, but there are times when ALL of us give away things that are more like dog food than gifts to one another. I'm sure I did it, too, this weekend. Because I was wounded by the things TCD had said, I wasn't as nice to the Scout Master or to my children on Friday afternoon. I'm sure the Bishop wondered what the heck was wrong with me this morning when I walked away while he was talking to me. And I'm sure the impression I left on whoever watched me speed out of the parking lot wasn't love and kindness.
It's a hard thing to always be mindful of the way we make other people feel. It's even harder to not be consumed by the things that occasionally offend us. But it's a good thing to work on. I'm going to use my free day to re-plan this lesson for tomorrow. And to get rid of all the dog food leftover from yesterday so that tomorrow is a much better day, and so I don't give out anymore of that stuff.
Be Good. Be Patient. Don't Forget.