By Nichole Giles
I burned the lasagna.
That’s okay, I told myself. My family can eat that one, and I’ll make another one for the Browns.
But it wasn’t okay, not really. Nothing was okay in my world that day. With a heavy heart I got out the ingredients I would need, and started putting another casserole together. The noodles broke, the sauce was runny, and I would barely have enough cheese.
My husband, Gary, put his arms around me and said, “Honey, what is the matter with you?”
He couldn’t understand. I guess I didn’t either.
Gary’s mother, Carol, a woman who for ten years I loved as my own, had passed away less than a week before. Yesterday we held her funeral, and my little children watched as their grandmother’s body was laid to rest. Today a family in our ward suffered a similar loss, and I needed to bring them dinner.
Since I had also burned the garlic bread, I decided to run to a nearby Italian restaurant and buy some breadsticks. My heart raced as the minutes ticked by. Lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, onions…what else should I put in the salad? I tossed it, dumped it in my best Tupperware, and loaded it in my car with the uncooked lasagna. By five thirty, I was pulling into my neighbor’s driveway with a full meal—completely unexpected.
In my anguish for our loss and theirs, I had forgotten to announce my intentions. I stood on the driveway with tears rolling down my cheeks and asked the Lord why I was feeling such opposition in what should have been a simple task.
My legs propelled me to the wood front door with my offering, though I had no idea what I would say to the grieving people inside.
The young sister Brown opened the door, her red-rimmed eyes wide with surprise. “Hello, Sister Giles,” she said.
I cleared my clogged throat. “I brought dinner,” was all I was able to get out.
“Thanks,” she said. Her voice was clogged too. Although her embrace was warm, neither of us was able to say more. I gave her instructions for baking the food and left the family to their grief. A wave of relief rolled over me as I got back in my car. I knew my Heavenly Father approved.
I had to bring them dinner. No one had called asking for my help, I had no assignment or calling giving me a responsibility to help the Brown family, but something inside me insisted that I make sure the young family had what they needed that day. My grief was lessened, and my heart lightened. The loneliness I felt for Carol was soothed because my soul desired to serve someone else. The spirit had whispered to me a secret recipe for soothing my own heartache.
I later learned that the young woman, into whose arms I had placed uncooked lasagna, had felt forgotten. Other members of her family who lived in the ward had received food and many condolences, but the Brown family had unknowingly been overlooked. Even in my time of sadness, the Lord sent me to brighten someone else’s dark day.
I have never forgotten the peace I received for bringing a simple meal to a grieving family even as my own family suffered. That peace stays with me each time I give the gift of service. The truest, and most precious of gifts.