When I was a year and a half old, my parents found themselves in financial straits. It wasn't hard to do, with three children under the age of three and living in Sacramento. As Christmas approached, my mom began to put together what Christmas she could for us, which for me meant... homemade Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. But these weren't just any Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, for they sported a yarn-do unlike any other. Green. 1970's green. If I remember right, it was leftover yarn from a green sweater mom had knit for my brother. Aren't they awesome?!
As you may suppose, our being needy didn't escape the attention of the neighbors and the good folks at church so these dollies were not the only present I had to open that year. In fact, my mother says that in addition to Ann and Andy...I scored eight other baby dolls that Christmas morning, thanks to the generousity of those we knew! That's a lot of loot for one little girl, and apparently, too much of a good thing, for as I surveyed the room after all the presents were opened and did whatever reckoning toddlers do...it all added up to one thing for me....WAAAHAAAHAA!!! Too many babies! How was I going to take care of all of them?
My mother has always been extremely intuitive (she could seriously have her own call-in radio show). She recognized why I was crying and started to put the babies back in their boxes and into the attic. They were brought down through out the year and used as birthday presents for myself and my friends but Ann and Andy, to this day, have always been here where I (and now my own children) need them, warding off bad dreams and lonely nights in a way only green-haired rag dolls can.
I've found myself in overwhelming life situations recently that, although I have no memory of my breakdown that Christmas morning 39 years ago, must have been what it felt like to feel responsible for all those babies. More than once I've felt hopelessly inadequate to minister to all the sisters in our HUGE Relief Society. For whatever reason the Lord prolongs the split of this ward...may His grace temper the resulting side-effects of all the members in it now who find themselves feeling lost in a crowd and neglected by their Relief Society President. I hope they know she's really only two years old and partial to rag dolls.
But perhaps the most poignant and sacred experience akin to my infant overload drama, had more to do with receiving love as opposed to giving it. It happened as I sat on the end of my bed one evening in 2009, awaiting a PET/CT scan the next day that would reveal whether or not my cancer had spread to my lungs like my doctor suspected.
I sat there on my bed sobbing, inconsolable. Not because of the test or the fear of it's results, but because I knew my ward and my family would be holding a special fast for me the following day. I felt the gravity of being the object of someone else's sacrifice. Someone else's willingness to be uncomfortable. It was more than I could handle. I did not know how to accept all that love. It was in some ways, simply too much. Too heavy.
Can you imagine...how are we going to handle feeling all of God's love when we are finally in His presence? I think of the people in the scriptures that fall down as if they were dead. That are "exceedingly astonished" when they feel His love. I'm convinced that we have only sampled His love for us in minute, managable proportions. Someday it's going to go right through us down to the marrow of our bones and change every ounce of every cell in our body. It will be glorious and we will never be the same. Will our old selves even be recognizable? Questions.