Monday, December 1, 2008

Paying it forward

Well, I've done it again, TWICE, even. And the truth is...I can never do it enough.

I signed up for to make meals for two new moms and their families in Relief Society. I probably end up cooking meals for people at least twice a month and often more. My husband would probably think I was nuts except he knows why I do it. I'm just paying it forward, even though I owe a permanent debt.

In the last months of my parents' life, I had the two of them ill, my older son to take care of, a full-time teaching career, and an impending wedding all to worry about. Since I also did all the cooking, and had to sit with my parents to make sure they ate, it got a little hectic.

Well, it did until my ward and my parents' branch started kicking in a couple of meals a week for a couple of months. I didn't realize such a little thing would make a difference, but it did. It was a night or two a week where not only did I get a small break for a couple of evenings, but it was also a twice-weekly reminder that people cared enough to brighten our day just a bit through service. When my dad died, my fellow teachers at work rained down meals on us every day for two weeks, desperate to find a way to ease our burden. I felt loved, and I understood. Growing up in Louisiana, feeding people until they burst is how we showed our love.

So although I can't ever repay the kindness of associates and friends or their amazing support during our time of grief, I can pay it forward every time the sign up lists to help someone else comes around. It's been two years, and honestly, I've probably made an equivalent number of meals to the ones we received during that time. But the spirit that sustained us, the charity that lifted us...

Well, paying it forward forever won't be enough.

So I just sign up to make another meal and count myself blessed.

17 comments:

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Oh that is sooooooo true! You're not only paying it forward, you're paying it backward.

As a Relief Society President YOU are the sista I LOVE. The one who is always willing to brighten someone's day with food.

It's truly amazing how powerful food can be. Just the exertion. The thought is enough comfort. I've been on the receiving end too and I've lost a lot of tupperware since.

YOU GO, GIRL! Great post.

Mina said...

Ditto CTD.

Food is essential. So to have it brought to us in times of trial can be symbolic of our friends' desires for and efforts toward our survival. It is a deeply touching thing. Times when I have been too ill to properly care for my family my branch was there to make sure that, if nothing else, they ate. And I have felt that gratitude, and had the sense that repayment was impossible ...

Nice post.

LisAway said...

I was honestly shocked that I was not one of the two awesomest commenters! I read and loved this post! How did I not comment? Whatever. Sorry. Sometimes when I'm eating or something I'll just read through posts and go back and comment later. And sometimes I forget.

The meal service is one of the big things I miss about living in America. I would love to take meals to people. I would also love to have any sort of help I could get when I have babies (I get nothing since we live too far away from family and church).

That's awesome that you are repaying the debt with interest! It will surely come back to you in some form!

Shellie said...

I love cooking for other families. one time in high school our family came home to an annymous dinner in a wrapped box. Nothing had been going on... like no sickness it was just there as an act of kindness and it still hits me to this day that someone thought about our family and even though there was nothing on the outside that needed help it sure felt good especially for my mom.
thanks Melanie :)

Josi said...

Good for you--the church is amazing in the way it reaches out to people, isn't it? I've had times when I don't know what I would do without those meals coming in. Not only is it less for me to worry about and good food, it's a reminder that other people care about me. Way to pay it back AND pay it forward.

Chris said...

I LOVED this post. :)

Women from church brought me meals for a month when I was bedridden and expecting. I was miserable and the food was a bright spot in the day. Not because it was edible, but because it came with a bit of fellowship! A REAL PERSON to chat with for a moment. Rob tried to be there as much as he could since I wasn't allowed up, but he did have a job. :)

So, I love to make food for people too. When you've been on the receiving end of it and understand the difference it makes, well, there are just no words for the gratitude.

Annette Lyon said...

There have been times I really wished I would have been on the receiving end like this. Even when I had babies and the like, people assumed I was doing just fine. I was lucky to get one meal after a birth, and that wasn't assigned. Not sure if people in my old wards just didn't care, or if I wasn't squeaky enough to let my needs be known.

My current VT is a sweetheart and has dropped off a meal or two when she knows I'm losing my mind. So has my RS president. What a difference a new ward makes!

Pink Ink said...

Melanie, just think of it as having given others the opportunity to serve :-). I know I can never make up for all the good deeds I've received from others...

kelberology 101 said...

one of my favorite sayings, "what goes around comes around."

Kristina P. said...

Ummmm, apparently I am a liar!!! Ack! Oh, this is when my computer froze up! I was honestly in the middle of leaving a comment.

I was going to say that I have signed up to take meals as well, but they call me the night before, and then proceed to tell me that they are a vegan who can't have wheat. Yeah, I'll get right on that.

CaJoh said...

Having people support you in those ways is always a joy. My Mother-in-law always got a box of groceries around the holidays from her church. It was very helpful for her since she couldn't get around to the store in her latter years.

Kimberly said...

I love this concept! After years of struggle we're finally in a position to begin paying back the kindness and generousity of others, but still, we're only scratching the surface it seems.

charrette said...

I think I'm STILL paying for all the meals and such that my mom's ward provided when she was dying of cancer and I was living in Los Angeles. SO grateful for the people who took care of her and the family...

Oh, and then there's the visiting teacher who arranged for THREE STRAIGHT WEEKS of meals after I had a stillbirth. These dear people knew I didn't have a newborn to take care of or a c-section to recover from, but they brought me other forms of healing.

Great post. Like, right out of heroic King Benjamin kind of post.

Eowyn said...

You are blessed and I love paying it forward.

Meals rock!

Heather of the EO said...

How DID I miss this post? Was there a black hole?

Let's pretend I didn't miss it...

I honestly love giving and receiving meals. It's just such a simple need and so appreciated. That's what I would have said if I would have seen this post.

Alison Wonderland said...

Call it Karma, call it paying it forward, call it what you will it's good for the soul. Keep it up.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I'm going to put you down for a few meals in a couple weeks. I'm just kind of tired, okay?

But seriously, it's such a nice thing to do because on a long day, I hate to make dinner, and I don't even have real trials.

And by the way, when they pass around sign ups in RS for meals and child care, I'm ALL OVER the meals, but please don't make me watch other people's children. :)