Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sometimes less is more

Last night I found myself in a bit of a funk. A got an e-mail from a friend and faithful supporter of SKM to let me know that there had been some questions raised at a popular knitting message board where she had posted a reminder about the Think Pink Challenge. I expected questions like "When is the drop-dead deadline?" or "Who will be receiving the scarves", but instead the posts were really comments about the usefulness of the entire project. One knitter, a breast cancer survivor, wrote "I don't need a pink scarf. I need a cure."

I'll be honest and admit that my first thoughts were angry ones. But they were quickly replaced with sad ones. I can't imagine what it must be like to be so bitter that you can't see the goodness in the hearts of strangers who are simply trying to let you know that they care. This project is completely voluntary, none of the countless women from all over the country who have enthusiastically donated their time and talents to create so many beautiful pink scarves were forced to do so. Similarly, none of the intended recipients of these gifts are forced to accept them. So why, I ask, is it necessary to diminish or demean the simple acts of kindness of others? My grandma used to have a saying... "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything."

Initially, I felt a need to respond to these posts, particularly because my friend who'd submitted the post sent another one informing the other commenters that she had forwarded the link from this thread to me. And, in fact, after much thought, I did craft what I thought was a very *diplomatic* reply. Yes, in retrospect, I realize that in my reply, I was defending our work and *apologizing* if I offended anyone. I added that I'd given several scarves, prayer shawls, afghans and other knitted items to people who were sick over the years and without fail, they had all been delighted and thankful to receive them. I even added that I too had had a personal encounter with breast cancer and that I was so appreciative of the people, both friends and strangers, who expressed their love and concern in so many ways, both big and small. In those darkest days, the loving kindness of friends and strangers alike was much more important to me than the knowledge that they'd sent a check on my behalf to the American Cancer Society.

However, my post was lost in cyberspace when I hit the Submit button and I couldn't get it back. At that moment I realized that it was just as well. Perhaps it was God's way of telling me that not all questions need to be answered and not all criticisms need to be defended. Those who are trying to do good would never get anything done if they spent all their time defending themselves to those who just don't "get it". So, I thanked God for teaching me an important lesson and turned my computer off for the night.

This morning, I went to the local hospital for my weekly volunteering. I'm so blessed that I get to sit in the surgery waiting room for 4 hours a week and knit while assisting the families who are waiting for loved ones. Almost without fail, my knitting always opens the doors to all kinds of conversations, the opportunity to share the work of this ministry, and sometimes, even the chance to share examples of God's goodness...All that while I'm knitting too! It doesn't get much better. :)

This morning, as I was saying good-bye to the OR nurses, 2 that I'd never seen before noticed the pink scarf I was knitting and asked what I was doing. I told them about the Think Pink Challenge and nearly started crying when the both started telling me how awesome and amazing this project was. They said that as OR nurses, they see women come in all the time who are so scared and confused and even angry. These women often feel like God and the whole world has forgotten about them. The nurses said that this project was a wonderful way to show these women that people care about them, are praying for them, and are supporting them in this struggle. One of the nurses said that she was certain that these pink scarves would be "worn like loving hugs" by the women who receive them.

At that point I was so thankful that I wasn't able to send that reply last night. I didn't need to. Isn't it amazing how God has a way of giving us just what we need just when we need it?


Mary said...

Syd, thanks for sharing such a positive outcome from that experience. I apologize for causing you any pain.

Allena said...

wow i think that is awesome how even though you were feeling down God showed you that what you were doing is sooo good! i think that many women would love to get the scarves like hugs. i was thinking that before i read the end of your post where the nurses said that. and maybe the lady who wrote the not so nice comment is very upset and down. maybe you should send her a scarf. secretly she may love it!
i never had breast cancer but i had hodgkins disease and i would've loved a scarf! anyways that's just my 2 cents.

Bea said...

He is ever there - touching our hearts at just the right time. He is such a good God.

As one who has knit and sent in my scarves? I realize my 'job' is to do what God calls me to do. I am not responsible for how, when or where my gift is received. It's a lesson that is learned through the pain of having my gifts 'rejected' over the years. And it's a GOOD lesson and reinforces that we are to TRUST and OBEY!

((((((((( Thanks for taking the Hit for us! ))))))))


Jenean said...

I can understand what people are feeling. I think the best solution would be to find an avenue to SELL the scarves and donate the proceeds to the Susan G. Komen foundation. That will help further the research for a cure to breast cancer.
Don't be discouraged :) You are doing an awesome thing here!

Jenean said...

:) I, of course, didn't read that last part about the scarves acting as loving hugs. That is so true also! So, instead of my earlier suggestion being the best solution, just consider it another solution. I'm going to rally up some other knitters to join in on the project. Thanks for doing this!!