“What if I just don’t care anymore?” It wasn’t really a question or a statement… more like a pleading. Or maybe like the words leaked out of her mouth before she could stop them.
I sighed inwardly. I knew how that felt, in my own way. There have been a few moments when those same thoughts have curled their way through my mind and heart, trying to strangle the very light and hope that “keeps me keeping on” here on planet Earth.
So we sat and talked. Well, mostly I listened. Maybe that’s all she needed. My input was of ideals versus reality, of principles versus people, and of ins and outs of the mortal journey. I ‘got’ most of what she said, and felt her sadness.
According to her own poignant words, she had dealt with:
- An alcoholic, abusive father
- A ‘dysfunctional’ – at best – family setting
- A spree of doing drugs and heaven-knows-what
- No knowledge of, or care about, spiritual things
- Foster care in a home that didn’t really want her
- Living on the streets for a while
- No real friends & no safe zone
But the straw to break her camel’s back had nothing to do with all the horrific events she had gotten through. It was the less-than-kind comments she overheard at church – just before a sacrament meeting. A few fellow church-goers with no idea of the life she’d miraculously gotten through, nor understanding of why she might be a bit stand-offish and shy to participate, were talking. Nope – gossiping. And while none of the conversation was ill-intentioned, it wasn’t kind. Or thoughtful. Or helpful. Sigh…..
So, we sat and talked about how people goof up. How programs come and go. How we shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, as they say. I shared my testimony of the truth found in Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” My flimsy arm of support was of comparatively little use, I explained. But the Savior’s arm is sure, and full of discerning love and acceptance.
Then it was time for her to go. I hoped our conversation helped. I prayed she’d feel some genuine love and light that would help her hang on. I hoped she’d turn wholly to the Lord – who will never let us down – and let Him help her through.
P.S. : She was 20 years old. She had joined the Church about a year ago. The gist of her hurting heart, and feeling ‘this close’ to giving up, was because she thought she’d finally found a safe place. And now she felt betrayed.
This isn’t a happy story. But it’s a true one. And it has a happy ending.
I saw her again several years later. Actually, she saw me and made a beeline in my direction. I would never have known it was her. She had hung on, and learned that the principles of the eternal gospel are what offer us our safe place. She had found a genuine relationship with her Father in heaven, and with Christ.
“People goof up, just like you said. And programs change. But it all works out. We just have to put our trust in the Lord.” She hugged me, and then- promising to visit more after the conference – ran off to serve in her calling.
She was going to be just fine. And I smiled…….