August 2, 2011

Linda West's Injury That Prompted Friendship

This story is about a girl named Linda that I didn't meet until she was all grown up.  This girl grew up to be my Mom!  I want to let her tell you the story.  She wrote:
When I was about nine or ten years old, I was hit in the eye by a large rock.  My eye was blackened and my nose bloodied, plus a bump was raised on my nose.  I faithfully rubbed olive oil on the scars and they went away, but the bump didn't.  I became extremely self-conscious about my nose.  It was rather large in comparison to the rest of my face, and I took a lot of teasing.  Up until then, I had usually felt like I fit in with my friends, but now I felt really different, and ugly.  For a while I went into a shell and just felt ugly.  I didn't like people to see my profile and I used to look at people with straight noses with envy.  Then somewhere along the line the idea came to me, 'Well, if they don't like me for my looks, I'd better have something else to offer!'  I decided that I would be a real fun person to be with and try to be interested in other people and their lives, instead of feeling sorry for myself.  I made a real effort to do this, and it worked!  I forgot about my nose and myself in reaching out to others.  I was still a little self-conscious around people I didn't know, but I gradually came to think that if people didn't like it, they could lump it.  They could learn to like me for myself, not for what I looked like.  This process took a long time and there were a few setbacks, but usually I felt pretty good about myself.

I have to add more to this story.  It doesn't end here.  When she said she'd become a 'real fun person' she meant it.  Linda became the 'life of the party' wherever she went.  Her cousins, who knew her as a kid, thought she was great fun.  She came up with fun things to do and always looked for the positive in what was going on.  And she showed an interest in them and tried to help them.

As a kid, I had the funnest, craziest and happiest Mom ever.  All of my friends loved to play at my house.  She played games with us kids, took us fun places and made us feel like we were the center of the universe.  She loved life and made life great for everyone around her.  Whenever she drove kids somewhere, like to Girls' camp, all of the kids wanted to drive in her car.  Sometimes I'd end up in some other car because they'd pass a sign-up sheet around and by the time I'd see it, her car would be full!  And when she went to Girls Camp as a leader, she pulled as many pranks on everyone as the kids did.  When I'd have problems with friends or kids at school, she'd always come up with ways to make friends with the person, not retaliate.  And when I felt like I didn't fit in, she'd tell me to start a new trend, not to follow the crowd.  Many times I'd come home from school to see other young people at my house, talking with her.  She helped them work through their problems by listening and offering encouragement.  Somehow she always made it seem like everything would be all right. 

Linda's nose, a real trial in her life, became the reason she learned how to become a good friend.  Because she felt ugly, she decided to develop her personality instead of focusing on her appearance.  And it paid off her whole life, because as she became a good friend, she was always surrounded by good friends.  Her 'ugly' nose became a real blessing in her life and in the lives of all of those she treated kindly.  She forgot herself and her problems and reached out to help and make life better for others.

It's a good exercise to try to figure out what good can come from our trials.  How would her life turned out if she had just felt ugly and felt sorry for herself?  Probably nothing like the wonderful friend and mother that she became.  And when her nose was first injured, would she have called it a blessing?  No!  She could only see the value in this trial afterward. 

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