Today is the kind of day that can only be called good.

But first, some context:

The 36 hours from Sunday afternoon to Monday night had crises aplenty.  Sunday afternoon, an acquaintance at church was put in a very distressing situation that she pulled off like a CHAMP.  No one would have known how disconcerted she was if she hadn’t started crying after the meeting block.  I chatted with her, assured her that she reacted to it perfectly (seriously, I could not have pulled it off half so smoothly), and held her hand until the shock wore off.  I’m glad I was there to chat, as I had been in a similar situation in high school (which is how I know she handled it way better than I ever could), and I had the experience that allowed me to tell her that she definitely did the exact right thing, and she did it well.  That night, Mikki (the roommate) got a text from her younger sister, who desperately needed an ear and night with her older sister.  Which meant Mikki ended up sleeping on the couch so that her sister could stay over and get her much needed sister time (and that meant I needed to do a VERY quick clean up so that the crafting war zone was no longer a minefield).  Thankfully, the next afternoon, Mikki’s sister was feeling much better and had had the time  she needed with her sister.  I was not at all put out by these mini-crises, but they did start the week on an interesting foot that would be carried through to the next day.

After work the next day (which was not a smooth Monday, like we all would hope for but never really expect), I went to pick up some jewelry and things I had lent to a friend.  When I got there, something seemed off.  A bit of chat later, my poor friend took me through her very distressing day as well as the week leading up to it.  I was SO glad I forgot to call her about picking up the materials during lunch.  I don’t believe that forgetfulness was without purpose for a second.  I was there when I needed to be there.  After we talked, I was able to call my wonderful father and youngest brother, Moose, to come over to assist in a blessing.  It was an amazing experience, though certainly stressful for my poor friend.

Right as we were wrapping up and it seemed my friend no longer needed an ear, I got a text from another friend.  I knew she had had a few days of emotional upheaval, and it turned out the night had compounded the stress and all the horrible feelings.  Her self esteem was at an all time low.  I had planned on going to a costume party last night, but had ended up staying with friend one.  This opened me up to have the time and–much more importantly–the energy to spend with friend two.  I offered to take her to ice cream and she refused.  I had a feeling her refusal was less about a need for time alone and more about being so miserable.  I told her I respected her need to decompress, but that I was willing to help out.  Very suddenly, as I was hanging up with my father (who I had called for friend one), I felt a DISTINCT impression that I needed to call friend two.  So I did.  Again, I am convinced this was no accident, because my suspicions were confirmed when she called back.  She needed a friend.  Thankfully, I was 15 minutes away as soon as friend one no longer needed me.  About 40 minutes later, I was able to take friend two to Chipotle (we were starving), and we talked until she felt better.

Now, as glad as I am that I was able to open my apartment to Mikki’s sister, be an ear and resource for friend one, and an ear and distraction for friend two, let me tell you how I feel when my friends (peripheral or directly) are in crisis: USELESS.  I am crazy and Bi-Polar.  I have a history a mile long that proves that I MAKE HUGE MISTAKES.  With DISTURBING FREQUENCY.  Why anyone trusts me to be an ear and then give advice is BEYOND me.  I was so freaked out that I texted another friend who I know values my advice FAR MORE than he should, and asked him–just once more–WHY THE HECK HE WAS CRAZY ENOUGH TO WANT MY ADVICE (not to mention the others who did).  He told me it basically came down to my willingness to be honest when not everyone was, as well as perspective (so maybe huge mistakes come in handy . . .).  Okay.  Take his word for it.  I don’t think I’m super exceptional in the honesty category, though I’ll admit that my perspective is different, but I don’t necessarily see that as good or helpful.  Later, when I was talking to friend two, she got a text from another of her friends who wanted to cheer her up that said, “Joie is good people.  She’s a good sort to be around for distraction and cheer.”  Seconds later, he send this addendum: “She’s also not afraid to tell you when you’re being stupid. :D”

WAIT A SECOND!  WHAT?!?!?!  I have been acquainted with this guy since I was eleven, but we haven’t seen each other since I was seventeen or so and we were never that close in the first place.  I mean, since we were teens we’ve passed each other in the halls at church (we’re in two different congregations that share the same building), but THAT’S IT.  Which means that I gained this reputation for being way honest LONG BEFORE I had the experience (and made the huge mistakes) that I would account for my limited ability for advice (which I thought went hand in hand with the honesty).  I wasn’t upset by his observation, but I was CONFUSED.

I know I’m blunt to a fault (I’ve written about it before).  I know that my friends appreciate the transparency that comes with the bluntness.  But this reputation that I seem to have, that I was totally unaware went beyond my immediate circle of friends, really weirds me out.  Because remember, when it comes to giving advice and being the comforting friend, I feel USELESS.  I am genuinely surprised when people tell me that I’ve helped them.  So, last night, I went to bed a bit bewildered, concerned for several parties, and very exhausted from the emotional stress of the past day.

A little more context: Last night was Moose’s last night at home before his mission for the LDS church.  He was dropped off at the airport at 6:30 this morning.  I saw him for the ten minutes we were both at friend one’s house.  I hugged him and kissed his cheek for the last time, told him how proud I was, that I was needed by another friend so would not be at the airport drop off this morning, and left before I got too sloppy.  By the time I got up this morning, he was on his flight.  Moose is now Elder Moose.  The next time I will see him will be sometime in November of 2014.  The next time I’ll hear his voice will be on Mother’s Day of 2013.

So why is today the kind of day that can only be called good?

Well, there are a few reasons.  One is that my little brother, who is one of the most compassionate and solid young men you will ever meet, is finally on his mission.  He had a long wait for visas and such.  He was READY to go.  And now he’s where he’s wanted to be for six months.  I’m so proud of him.  The second is being able to say I’m a missionary sister.  It’s one of the coolest things in the world to have a missionary out there.  The two years Monkey was on his mission were two of the most formative years of both our lives, as well as our relationship with each other.  Also, having a missionary out in the field brings with it an awareness of blessings and peace that I don’t always feel.  It has everything to do with having someone in your life whose perspective is so Christ-focused.

The third reason, and probably the most significant, is that I got to spend 36 glorious hours in the service of my fellow beings.  Was I inadequate?  Probably.  But I did help.  And the fact that it happened on the days and evenings before my brother left for two years dedicated to the service of others has not escaped me.  I could have spent last night with him, hovering while he packed and thinking of all the things I wish I had said to him for the last 19 and a half years.  Instead, the Lord, in His grace and perfect timing, provided me opportunities to serve and love, and the reminder that it is not just my brother who has committed to serve.  I am a Latter-Day Saint. I promise, each and every week, that I will serve others.  That I will “mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and … stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9).  And it does not take an invitation or calling from the prophet of the LDS church for me to fulfill that promise.  It takes a feeling or a text or a call for the opportunity to present, and from there all I need to do act.  And in His grace, God allowed me and enabled useless, crazy me to be what my friends and acquaintances needed.

So yes, I missed out on my last night with my little brother.  But I didn’t miss much.  I got to follow his faithful example and start the next two years on exactly the right foot.  While my brother is serving the people of the Brazil, São Paulo Interlagos mission, I will be serving here at home.  And that charity, that pure love for our fellow man, will connect us across the hemisphere far better than one or two or twelve extra hours in each other’s company.

Today can only be called a good day.  My brother is on his mission.  Godspeed, Elder.  I will carry on here at home.