Yesterday evening I went to the 5:30 mass, which is not my usual service. There was an event at Fatima that started at 6:30, so I decided to just go to mass and then the event. Since Friday, I had been feeling really weird. I don't know how to describe it, and I don't know if you've ever felt this way, but I guess the best way for me to describe it is that I felt raw. Like my whole body was an open wound. I was very, very anxious, which is not a new thing for me, but it comes and goes in terms of severity. As I was praying before mass, I prayed that God would help me feel better because I so desperately wanted to enjoy the event after mass as well as the community service event I had signed up to help with today.
I finished praying, put my kneeler up, and sat in the pew, waiting for mass to start.
Not three minutes later, one of my students came bounding over.
Well, she's not just "one of my students" -- she's probably the most cheerful, positive, and optimistic person I have EVER met.
She came over and said, "Miss Lafferre, I was hoping you'd be at this mass!" So I said, "Oh really? Because, you know, I normally go to the 7:30 on Sundays. I'm hardly ever at this mass." Then she said, "I know, me neither! But when I was putting in my earrings tonight I was thinking about you and hoping you'd be at this mass because I wanted to show them to you. Look, hoops!" (She had recently gotten her ears pierced, and these were her first-ever pair of hoops.)
We chatted for a few more minutes, just about her weekend and life and things, and at one point she said, "You know, I thought about my life, and I realized that there is not one thing I don't like about my life!"
That. is. Magic.
The thing is, this girl doesn't have the "perfect" life. Her parents are divorced, and that is tough for any kid. But she just genuinely likes her life. And maybe you want to argue that she's only 12, what does she know, but I can pretty accurately assure you that when I was 12 I could not and would not have said the same thing.
I told her that what she had is truly a gift. A gift that helps other people when she shares it with them. People like me.
After mass, she, her mom, her grandmother, and I walked across the parking lot to the parish hall to take a look at the event set up since all the classes had created artwork to be auctioned off. My student and I just stood there chatting about events and dressing up and things and at one point she said, "Miss Lafferre, will you come and teach at my high school after I leave Fatima?" And I smiled and told her I'd love to, but I can't be in more than one place at a time. So she said, "We should raise money so we can clone you!"
And I told her that was probably the nicest thing that anyone had ever said to me.
It is rare that I say a prayer to God and then have it answered within minutes. But last night, it was.
The event itself was a lot of fun. My friend Sarah came with me, and I got to sit with one of my coworkers/friends and her family. The only thing that made it tough is that I had to talk to and interact with a lot of my students' parents, and I am just so awkward. Give me a roomful of kids, and I'm good. Give me a roomful of adults, and I say and do the weirdest things. Sigh.
Today I participated in my first-ever Helpington. I had been wanting to do this for a few years but have always had scheduling conflicts. I knew I was scheduled to work with my friends and their kids, but I was showing up to a new church by myself this morning.
And, as previously stated, I had been feeling really anxious this weekend, and those feelings usually make me want to stay home and, essentially, hide. Hide from the world. But I knew I couldn't do that, so I headed to church at 7:30 with the best attitude I could muster.
Before we began our community service, we had a worship service in church. One of the scriptures the pastor shared was Philippians 2:1-5 (The Message version, which I recognized because Amy shares verses from that version a lot!)
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
I really needed to hear that today. And I tried to follow it.
Helpington turned out to be AWESOME, and I had a great time serving alongside my friends Ryan and Jana and their kids and family. I am so, so glad I went.