Despite my personal mantra of: “Go, Do, Be…You and Me” I have caught myself repeating another phrase more often than not: “Really? Really!?! Wow.” It is not a phrase of excitement, but rather a phrase of shock or incredibility. Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t handle one more thing? Or, have you ever been completely blown away by life, itself? That’s kind of how I’ve been feeling lately. Today has been another one of those “really?” days.
I wonder if that is how a bug feels when they see the sole of a foot coming down to squish them. I can almost hear a little squeaky bug voice saying: “reeeaaaallyyy???” I am making a personal vow right this second to never step on a bug again! (At least not on purpose!)
So, despite my “really?” day, I thought I could turn it around by writing about one of my favorite heroes. I take this hero for granted, and it is not good. He has had “my back” for a very long time, and I really need to let him know that all of me, not just my back, is very appreciative. I’m referring to my husband of almost 19 years now.
Some of you know our “story,” but I need to tell it again just so I can have a cheesy grin cover my face. The story, itself, can turn a “really?” day into a “really!” day. It actually did more than 19 years ago, and countless times ever since!
We were both missionaries in the Italy, Catania Mission. Don’t even think for one moment that we had a mission romance! On the contrary! All I had heard about the whole first part of my mission was how wonderful this particular Elder was. It didn’t help any, that I kept hearing about him from other sister missionaries! To be honest, I was quite sick of him before I had even met the poor fellow. Then, to top it all off, he was at a zone conference we attended and had brought homemade chocolate chip cookies for all of the sisters.”Really!?!”
First of all, one cannot get chocolate chips in Italy. He had to get them from the American Base. Second, he had to figure out measurements, etc. since they are all in metrics in Italy. So, to say the least–it was a very big deal to have made these cookies. I didn’t fall for it. I wouldn’t even eat one because I thought he was so cheesy. Really! Be a missionary, man!!!
Needless to say, I was mortified to find out that I would be spending the final 5 months of my mission with this particular Elder serving as both my District Leader and Zone Leader. Aaaahhhh!!! Talk about a bug about to be squished! The “foot alarm” was wailing in full glory for all to hear!
I wasn’t very merciful. In fact, I was down right difficult. We (or I guess, really ‘me’) wouldn’t share our contacts with him and his companion even though we had more than we could handle. We (or I guess, really ‘me’) would stay out past curfew every night even though there was a perfectly legitimate reason that resulted in many baptisms. (Which I argued about with this particular Elder over and over and up and down!) And, he was the one and only Elder that I ever lost my “non-existent” temper with. I totally railed on him over the phone. Let me add that there was a legitimate reason for this, as well! In my own defense, I had just gotten word that my blood was about to be spilled on Italian soil as a result of something he did! Really! I would dare say that warranted a bit of yelling, no? I mean, my life was on the line here, folks!!! No mercy. Absolutely, no mercy!
And then, transfers came up. I was being sent to a neighboring city. The “Elder” was still to be my Zone Leader and District leader, but what really killed me was that my companion and I had several baptisms in just a few days. Baptisms were a very, very big deal in Italy. They weren’t the most common thing around. Especially, if they were compared to olives or cheese. In that case, they were mere crumbs! And, because they were mere crumbs, our mission sent out a monthly news letter listing the baptisms that had occurred that month with the name of the companionship that had baptized them. It was kind of like rewarding a kindergartener with a million gold stars!
Now, I know that the missionaries really don’t convert people; the Spirit does. But…it was pretty darn cool to have your name listed in that monthly news letter. I had let “pride” get the best of me, and the only thing that mattered to me at that moment, was knowing that despite how hard I had worked with these “contacts” my name wouldn’t be posted beside the names of these baptisms in the upcoming news letter. Only my companion, and her new companion would get the credit. Really!?! Really. It hurt. It pained. It nearly killed me! In fact, I didn’t sleep at all the night before transfers. (Mainly, because the Spirit greatly humbled me!-Funny how that happens when needed!)
Despite that pretty painful humbling by the Spirit, I didn’t even want to look at the news letter when it arrived the following week. My companion eagerly snatched it up and quickly perused it. Then I heard her say: “Wow! Congrats on the baptisms!” “What baptisms?” I asked. (As if I didn’t know!) The baptisms you had last week! “Really!?!” I asked as I snatched the letter from her. Sure enough, there was the list of baptisms, and instead of 2 missionary’s names listed beside them, 3 missionary’s names were listed: my old companion’s name, her new companion’s name, and MY name. Cool.
Suddenly, I was very, very humbled again. I knew how my name got on that list. A certain Elder, who was a zone leader, had mercy (despite my lack of mercy). When he had submitted the list of his zone’s baptisms to the office, he had included my name with them. Ouch. He taught me what it meant to “have someone’s back.” He’s had my back ever since.
I have to admit that I turned down his first two proposals of marriage, and broke his heart. He never gave up on me, though. The third proposal, I asked him. He said: “Really?” I said: “Really!” I will forever be grateful that he was still a really merciful guy and said: “yes.” Oh, how I am grateful!
But-in my own defense, I must also say that he is the only guy I have ever taken chocolate chip cookies to. Really, that kind of thing is too cheesy of a thing for a girl like me to do! But-I did do it for him when he got home from his mission. Hee hee. I really did!!!
So, that is how “really?” can be turned into a good “really!” And now, my not so good “really?” day, is now a much better “really!” day because I got to write about my favorite hero who always has my back. He really does.
“I love you very, very much.” — Just Nat