I was sort of dreading their visit. I mean, I've had a very difficult month (few years), and I was a little bugged that they hadn't been there. (One of my visiting teachers knew I had shingles, so it wasn't all about ignorance of my situation.)
But let's be honest, here. We do hear stories about people who are in tune just at the right time, and call just when you need it. And sometimes those people are the visiting teachers. Such stories are real and wonderful, but there are also times when our desperate pleas to God for someone to come aren't answered as we want them to be. Sometimes we just feel alone, with needs unknown, and that is hard.
In an ideal world, we'd all be so in tune that we would just know whenever the people in our circle of influence needed us.
But the fact is, that often doesn't happen.
It probably doesn't help that I'm the type who just keeps trying to keep on going, even when I might feel like I'm holding on by the skin of my fingernails. (Anyone else like that?)
Still, one thing that my struggle with chronic illness has taught me is that I can't expect people to read my mind, or to always be the ones to take the initiative to be an answer to my prayers and my needs. Make no mistake; I have had people there "just when I needed them" -- but many of those times, I have had to ask for their help, let them know I needed them.
This is what I did yesterday.
We started with the usual niceties, the 'how are you's and all of that. I tried not to be annoyed, but I was. (It's hard not to expect perfection when you are feeling needy.)
But good grief, one of the women doesn't even know me (and it goes both ways -- I couldn't have called her by her name yesterday...had forgotten it...and still can't remember her last name!) Our ward boundaries were recently changed, and she's got family calling situations that mean she's often not in church, so we really haven't gotten to know each other at all...let alone to have her know me enough to know when I'm not doing well, or even to pick up on the cues that I was trying to give. (We sometimes play dumb games with each other, don't we?)
Sooooo, once I got my kids in another room, I opened up. No, the fact that I had an x-ray on my foot scheduled later that day (the way I started the visit when they asked how I was) was the least of my concerns. I didn't tell them everything; sometimes the details aren't really necessary. But I did tell them point blank that things are hard for me right now. And I figured that since they are my visiting teachers, if anyone should know, it should be them.
Of course, the next question was, "What can we do to help you?"
"In a sense," I said, "there isn't anything specific you can do for me. I already have help with my kids in the mornings, which is my critical, tangible need so I can sleep [which I need to be able to function at all]. But sometimes it just helps to be able to go to church and have someone know that the usual 'how are you' as you pass in the hall isn't always going to be enough. It helps to have a few people in my world who can ask, 'How are you really?' and take the time to actually listen, and not be caught off guard if I burst into tears right then and there."
It wasn't in so many words, but that was the crux of it. And, you know, I think they were grateful that I would let them know. We simply can't expect those who are supposed to nurture us to figure it all out on their own. I am finding that there is no reason we have to wait for people to appear just when we need them. We can invite them in when we do, and I find that almost without exception, people are there, ready and willing to help where they can. And as I open my heart to others, it hastens the process of honesty, love, and service that allows hearts to be knit together.
So, if you happen to be in one of those times when you are pouring out your heart to God, wondering why no one is coming to your aid, considering praying about whom you can invite to aid you. I have found that there are blessings that can come from opening ourselves up in this way.