The day I decided to open my heart more, I got a voicemail message on my cell phone while I was still out of town. It was my Relief Society President, who had tracked me down with some help from my husband at home. She wanted to ask if I'd be willing to add Maria to my visiting teaching assignment each month. (Visiting teaching is an LDS custom, where each woman in the congregation is assigned to another to care for, look after, and make a monthly visit to.) Maria is a brand new member of the church, baptized with her entire family just a week before Christmas. I played the piano at her baptism. I already love her, and Lyndsay has already become fast-friends with her two teenage daughters, who spend time at our home. Maria's youngest son is in my Primary class, and I adore him, and her husband has given me great tips about my future nursing career. We had them over for Family Home Evening a few weeks ago. I think the whole family is wonderful and amazing.
But visiting teaching?
I was so glad I had missed the call so that I didn't have to give my Relief Society President an answer right then. I was really upset by the request. Hadn't she looked at the records? I haven't done my visiting teaching in years, practically, with a few spotty exceptions. I really like the other woman I "visit", but arranging schedules and that compulsory urge to take a treat and prepare a lesson overwhelms me at this stage of my life, to be truthful. Something about me? I do things all the way, or not at all. For instance, I either diligently homeschool my children with a complete classical curriculum, or I send them to public school and never volunteer in their classrooms. Go figure.
I deleted the message and stewed. I had to tell her no. I had to think of all of my other responsibilities--my children, my family, schooling, piano lessons, etc, etc, etc. And, I reasoned, Maria deserved someone much more dedicated than I. Much more willing than I. Much more loving than I.
I let several days pass. When I got home, I told Adam of the request and my desire to just say no. He said nothing one way or the other. (Why can't I ever be like that?)
But as I said my prayers, asking for help in this goal to love more fully, I couldn't shake the feeling that Heavenly Father was delighting in the irony he saw me swimming in. "Father, help me to love more--(but please don't ask me to actually do anything!)" Thankfully, He is so patient with me and my stubbornness. I could feel Him up there smiling, and shaking his head in an amused, Fatherly way.
I called the Relief Society President back the next morning. "I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you," I said. "Your request really threw me for a loop. I thought to myself, 'Why is she doing this to me?'" She laughed on the other end. "I've been thinking," she began, "I know you're in school, and. . ."
"No, no," I interrupted. "I will do it. I will try my best."
There. It's done.
Adam asks the next day what I ever decided to do about it. When I tell him, he says, "I knew you'd cave." Is that what I did? Because caving feels like falling, and I feel elevated.
At church I tell Maria the good news. Her face lights up. "Someone to come and visit just me?" It's as if she feels like the luckiest woman ever. And then I realize.
Maria doesn't need me. I need Maria.
I go tomorrow, to learn more love.