I have pain days, too. Not like Jen's. Not like my friend Rebecca, who has suffered with cancer way too many times and is currently taking chemo drugs that require her to endure ridiculous amounts of debilitating pain on a regular basis. My pain days don't look like theirs at all. Physically, I have many more options. I can choose to eat food if I want, perform all my necessary household responsibilities, and even leave the house without having to wear a surgical mask because of germs flying around in the air.
Some pain is physical. Some is emotional or spiritual. But it's all valid and it's universal. We all feel it at some point, sometimes for longer periods or in greater depth than we would like. We can choose to sit in it. And wallow. Like I usually want to. Or we can ask for help and then listen for promptings and be satisfied doing the needful things we're instructed to do, however small they may seem.
After I read Jen's post, I was inspired to get up and choose a different plan for my day than the Sitting Around Being Miserable one that had sounded really good before. We had the sister missionaries scheduled to come over for dinner anyway, so probably getting up would be a good idea. And that VT who lives down the street from me was alone this week because her husband and son are in Nauvoo on that same youth conference trip my girls are on, so I invited her to come for dinner, too.
I took Jen's advice and instead of hitting the ground running like I have been all week, I asked for some heavenly assistance first to have the strength to get through the day. The craziest impression came to text a friend, which led to a brief, but perfectly timed conversation about how she happened to be headed to the temple, and that little voice in my head said, "Ask Robin to put your name on the temple roll today." What?? I have never in my whole life asked someone to put my name in the temple. I just go to the temple myself when I need that kind of direct and immediate help. And I am neither sick nor debilitated in any way, so not only did that seem an unnecessarily extreme request, but I was also concerned that it might make Robin worry that something was wrong with me. About five minutes of wavering with that little voice still in the background and I finally got up enough nerve to send the text. And guess what...Robin wasn't the slightest bit worried or irritated. She just said, "Sure. I'd be happy to."
We were in a bit of a hurry yesterday to plant stuff, make hummingbird food, clean up, and reset for dinner all in a few short hours, so I let McKay pour the liquid into the feeder and hang it outside on the existing chain in front of the window, even though I really wanted to do it myself so I could be the one to have flocks of hummingbirds gather around me to check out their new birdie diner. Shortly after, dinner guests arrived and all of a sudden the day was gone, and I hadn't even seen a hummingbird yet. Darn it...that was the one thing about our nature activities that I was actually looking forward to.
When the missionaries left, Gretchen offered to take me for a drive around the neighborhood in her golf cart and Craig thought that was a great idea. His hearty response meant that he and McKay wanted to go fishing and they loved that Gretchen was going to keep me occupied so they could do that...um, I would have been perfectly happy sitting inside and watching for hummingbirds while they fished. But I couldn't say no after that, so I went. And it was really fun. Gretchen knows everyone and she's one of those people who likes to look at homes on realtor.com, so she knows exactly what the floor plan of every house is in our neighborhood. She was a wealth of information, and I was happy to ride around in a golf cart outside (which is a lot like being in nature!) and get to know her and the neighborhood better. She drove me to the other side of the lake. I didn't even know you could drive to the other side off the lake!!
I came home chatty and happy about the drive and the scenery and a conversation with another human being! And there were a handful of other happy messages and surprises that night. I went to sleep grateful that it had been a much better day than the one I thought I was going to have.
This morning, I came out to the kitchen and remembered our little bird feeder and hoped to have a million little hummingbird companions join me for breakfast. They didn't. And of course, I was immediately disappointed. My first thought was that maybe we did actually need to buy the little birdie Kool-aid packets. Maybe they hated their new little feeder. Or...maybe there weren't even any hummingbirds in Alabama at all and our efforts were all just a giant waste of time. (It's super hard to train my brain to take a different path. Those old roads in there are well traveled.) Just as I was getting my phone to take this picture of how pretty the bird feeder looks up there anyway, with or without anyone coming to have breakfast at it, I noticed a tiny little something flying right behind it. His tail is in the picture, but it's so small you can't even really see it. There weren't a million. There was just one tiny one, but he came back about every ten minutes this morning to drink McKay's homemade birdie food.
Crazy, huh? How miraculous the little things are. How quickly I am inclined to give up. How Heavenly Father's hand is in every detail of our lives. How patient He is with me even when I consistently have the patience of a two year old. And how He knows exactly the amount of pain necessary to remind me to come back to Him, but also the exact answers that I personally need to restore light, love and hope immediately.
I could have sat there in front of that window all day and all night after McKay hung that little bird feeder. I could have cancelled the missionaries, not gone on the golf cart ride with Gretchen, and just waited for happiness to arrive in the form of a tiny little bird. But it wouldn't have made them come any faster. And I would have missed out on some really great things that had nothing to do with hummingbirds.
I still don't have a calling yet or many friends in this ward. My neighbors are definitely not like my besties, Karryn and Jill. And Gretchen is definitely not Stephanie. But...yesterday was still a good day. There was a sunset. The dinner I made was really good. The people I talked to were so nice. And I did a handful of good things that made me forget my handful of pain, heartaches and loneliness. The answers to my prayers always come looking a lot different than I expect them to. I expect millions of hummingbirds, and instead I get one really cute, really persistent one. I expect Allen and instead I'm getting whatever this Birmingham experience is becoming. I expect speedy and I almost never get speedy. It's a good thing I'm not the one in charge of the planning because we'd be overrun with hummingbirds. I'm super grateful for pain days that come to and end, and for a Heavenly Father who is mindful of all of our needs.
That's all such wise advice on a bright, sunny day after I've heard from all the people I love and been visited by birds, isn't it? I'll try to remember to read it next week when the days start to feel long and monotonous again and the hummingbirds are no where to be found.