Extend a Helping Hand

It is Sunday. A day to reflect on the week. A day that we often use as the panicked day to prepare for the next week or procrastinate pretending it is not really Monday tomorrow. 

OR it can be a day of gratitude. 

This week has had a lot of ups and downs for my family, my friends and myself. I have felt the stress creep back in and nearly overcome and paralyze me. These days, I when I feel that, I use a great meditation app(unplug me - and no, I am not an official sponsor of this app) to help refocus myself and ohmygosh does it make a difference. 

I also try and focus on being grateful. Being grateful really can change your mindset. Now, let me tell you a story for which I am INCREDIBLY grateful. 

I love to give back. I love community service, lifting others up and helping people know they are loved - even by strangers. For us, Best Christmas Ever has been a way Michael and I have been able to give back in phenomenal ways. Giving to others sets my soul on fire. I am SO excited and passionate when I get involved because there is nothing better than knowing you played a role in changing a life for the good. 

But last week, someone gave back to my family and I in a way that I will NEVER forget. We were traveling home from vacation in northern Minnesota, trailering our boat behind us. About an hour from home, in the middle of a highway full only of cornfields, a tire on the trailer blew out. There was no hope in driving the trailer home. We didn't have a spare with us due to the limited packing space. 

We looked up tire shops, we left our boat on the side of the highway, fully loaded with gear and drove from place to place in a nearby town for over an hour and couldn't find a tire to buy. We drove all the way home, got our spare and some extra tools, and drove all the way back to the boat on the side of the highway. 

It was hot. Our two children were in the truck. There were semis constantly driving by. My husband was on the ditch side of the boat, trying to jack it up and replace the tire. The truck and boat would shake with each passing semi and I stood on the highway shoulder, between the vehicle and the boat, terrified that we would be hit. That the boat would fall on my husband. That a tire of a semi would blow right in front of me and I would be seriously injured. 

We called the state patrol, but it is not routine to help or block the lane if you can get off the shoulder. 

For an hour, my husband tried to lift the boat on the jack. No one stopped to help. Many slowed down. A few actually honked at us as though there was something we could do. 

Then the boat and trailer fell off the jack. 

My heart stopped because I thought my husband was hurt. Thank GOD he was not. But, now we were back to where we started. 

I tried to call for a tow, but the shops I was finding locally were closed. 

Finally, a truck stopped. He offered to help and bring a different jack back to us and change the tire. We were SO grateful for the offer of help. My husband kept trying to change it, but it clearly was not going to happen.

We waited. He never came back. I remained terrified with every passing minute of impending doom. Oversize loads came down the highway and passed us. Standing at the edge of the highway as THOSE come by.....There are no words. 

THEN, a truck pulled up behind us. Not in front where is truck would be safe. His truck became the shield for my family. He pulled behind us so that his truck blocked ours AND the boat. Passing vehicles now had to give us a larger berth. I had tears in my eyes for the willingness to selflessly risk his truck and give me a few moments to not be quite so afraid. 

What he did next still leaves my heart bursting to think about. He spent over an hour with my husband, in extraordinary heat on the side of the highway working on the trailer. Digging a flat spot in the ditch to place the jack from HIS truck and lift the boat. Together, with great effort, the spare was on the boat. But, we could not get his jack off without making the entire trailer unstable again. He graciously said keep it for now and he would get it later once your boat is fixed. We offered to buy him a new one,  but he declined saying that was not needed. 

He followed us on the highway for a mile or two to make sure it looked like we were safe. And then he pulled ahead and passed us. 

He may not ever fully realize the depth of our gratitude despite trying to put it into words. Sometimes, there just are not words that match the emotion. 

But - there are two POWERFUL lessons for me on this Sunday. 1) Selflessly giving to others fills your heart, yet you may never comprehend the gratitude from the recipient. Reflect on that. How would you feel in that circumstance? Let that fill your cup again. 2) Gratitude diminishes stress and burn out. It fuels you to do more, give more. Why? Because you feel the purpose. Despite my stress today, after reflecting on this. I want to dive back in. Give back in the ways I can - as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, doctor, educator, leader and writer. 

Be grateful today. Selflessly help someone. Extend that helping hand. It is worth it and so are you.