A few Sundays ago I was having a particularly hard day. The pressures of my life were weighing me down. Josh happened to be home so I took advantage of the opportunity to escape from the girls and go somewhere.
It was a beautiful sunny day and since those days are rare in Seattle, I decided to try and find a place outside where I could meditate and have a pow-wow with Heavenly Father. I found a peaceful walking trail and sat down where I spent about an hour having a chat with God and crying. A little while later a woman walked by who noticed I had been crying. She asked if I was okay and I quickly told her I was fine. I noticed that she had a cross around her neck and I had the thought, “Ask this woman about her relationship with God.”
I quickly dismissed the thought because the woman had kept on walking when I told her I was fine. Then the thought came again, “No, really, go ask her about God.” In all honesty, in that moment, I didn’t want to act. I didn’t want to pursue after her. As the woman walked further and further away from me I thought, “Oh well, I guess I lost that chance.” A few minutes later, however, the same woman returned to me and said, “I’m sorry to bother you, but do you need someone to talk to?”
I was amazed that she had come back and took it as a sign that I really should talk with her. I broke down and started telling this complete stranger all of my burdens. She was very kind and during the course of the conversation I found out that she was Episcopal but hadn’t been to church in years. She was very spiritual though and prayed every day. She told me that as she was walking away from me the Lord told her, “You had better go back and talk to that girl.”
Here was a woman who hadn’t been to church in years, yet she was in tune enough with the Spirit to follow God’s promptings to talk with me and bless my life. I could see how much God loved her and I could see how much God loved me. He sent her back to talk to me even when I wasn’t willing to follow His immediate prompting. And this woman was a willing instrument in His hands. God does want to bless us and He gives us all second chances.
After an hour of talking together she said, “You know that you don’t have to earn God’s love. He doesn’t determine His love for you with a tally sheet of all your good deeds. His love is unconditional. He loves the drunk on the street as much as He loves the woman serving every day in the soup kitchen.” This statement was something that I have always believed. I have always believed that God loves all of His children, but for some reason hearing it from her, in that way, hit my heart in a different way.
Heavenly Father does love me. He sent a random woman, whom I had never met before, to come and comfort me. As I pondered on the fact that God loved me unconditionally I was relieved. I started going through a checklist in my mind of all of the things that were stressing me out and wondering what ones I could eliminate. Since God loved me unconditionally did I really need to do my visiting teaching? Did I really need to serve others? God would love me no matter what I did.
Then something else hit me. Why do I do what I do? Why am I doing my visiting teaching? Why do I serve others? Is it for other people? Am I trying to earn tally marks in their books? Because in all honesty, what does it matter what other people think?
It all comes down to my personal relationship with Heavenly Father. He loves me unconditionally and I love Him. I show my love for Him through my actions. I am obedient to His commandments and I serve His children in need. I do this not because I’m worried about what other people might think. Not because I’m trying to earn His love. I do what I do because I love Him. That, in and of itself, is enough to relieve my burdens.
God loves me no matter what. He knows where I am at all times, He knows what I’m feeling at all times and He cares at all times. He knew I was crying on a random Sunday on a random park bench on a random walking trail, so He sent someone to me. He sent a woman who loved God enough to follow His promptings to go and talk to a stranger. Then I was reminded that God loved me too.