Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Becoming Mary: My Way of Serving

Wow! What a lively discussion there is on the message board of my “Lady Codependency, a Good Samaritan?” post.
Thanks, especially to reader Jeri who wrote:

I don’t think this lady [me, in case you missed it] is a codependent; she just doesn’t know and hasn’t been creative enough to think of what to do with all her blessings, that’s all. I read an old Chinese proverb that said: “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart”…..and I’d like to add: “Whatsoever you DO, DO with all your heart”

I have been thinking about that (I’m a natural ruminator) ever since you wrote that, Jeri. And you’re right.
For the longest time I have equated Christian service to assisting the poorest of the poor. Right now I don’t have time to volunteer at a soup kitchen, so I have this nagging guilt that I’m not doing my part. When I get hit up for change, then, even if I smell alcohol on the guy, or if I know that the woman didn’t just run out of gas–that she pulled the same scam on a friend two days prior–I still fork out the money because, again, I feel guilty that I’m not serving soup during my afternoons.
After reading your thought, I reminded myself of my trip to Calcutta, India, and what it taught me.


I embarked on this adventure to test out if I did, in fact, want to become a missionary like Mother Teresa (and also to visit an Indian man I’d met). As far back as my memory goes, I’ve wanted to be a saint, and I figured that traveling to third world countries and feeding the poor was the quickest route to beatification.
But when my big blond self (in comparison to Indian women) landed at the Nirmal Hriday (Pure Heart) Home for Dying Destitutes in Calcutta, I wanted to bolt immediately. I was so overwhelmed as I observed volunteer doctors and nurses clean up flesh wounds–completely exposed and blood oozing everywhere–of persons with cancers, infections, and injuries. Hungry kids grabbed soup and bread out of my hands faster than I could feed them. I couldn’t take it, all the suffering. And I ran back to the home where I was staying.
There lived a gentle and kind Indian woman who listened with great interest to my stories about my family, my courses at school, my priest-missionary friend, whom we both knew.
Somewhere in describing myself I mentioned my struggle with depression, and how difficult recovery can be at times.
Tears formed in her eyes.
She began to nod.
“I, too, have those struggles,” she said.
And she hugged me and embraced me in a way that I’ll never forget: I was the first person she’d met who suffered from depression as well, or the first person who admitted it and was willing to talk about it with her. She was so relieved to know that someone else had to work so bloody (similar but different to the blood I saw the day before) hard at her thoughts so that they didn’t completely disable her, and that another devout Catholic woman couldn’t find complete refuge in prayer, as many hours as she sat in front of the altar, begging God to take it.
This woman and I, 14 years later, still keep in touch. She helped me see that depression isn’t just an American disease. It afflicts persons on every continent. And although my Indian friend had plenty of clothes in her closet and food in her refrigerator, she still suffered. Immensely.
That was the first exchange that led me to believe that my calling might not be with the poorest of the poor, that perhaps I could provide comfort to the wealthy (or at least working class) in this country and others who agonize in a different way. I began to appreciate what Mother Teresa said when she wrote: “I have come to realize more and more that the greatest disease and the greatest suffering is to be unwanted, unloved, uncared for, to be shunned by everybody, to be just nobody [to no one].”
In the last two months, as Beyond Blue attracts more and more readers, several people have said to me, “This is your calling.” And I do believe that it is. But I’m still fighting the voice inside that says, “If it’s not service to the poor, then it doesn’t count. Start with hungry mouths.”
So I’d scan the church bulletin to find out about stocking can goods at one of the warehouses of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. I’d stress out about how I could squeeze in organizing a clothing drive to my already packed schedule.
But two weeks ago I made a decision to take all that time–the minutes and hours that I waste in trying to figure out how to volunteer at church and at the soup kitchen and direct all kinds of community service–toward my mission of educating people on depression and other mood disorders and e-mailing as many of my readers as I can to let them know that they aren’t alone.
And I feel better. Less guilty. Charged by this vocation.
Just as I was pondering all this–where to invest my time–I walked in (20 minutes late of course) to Mass, and the Gospel was about Martha and Mary:


Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).

And I knew that God was telling me, once more, to be Mary, the person who loves to write Beyond Blue. To be creative in how to use my blessings, as reader Jeri so eloquently put it.

  • Wendi

    I’m glad you’ve come to this understanding. It makes a big difference to know you’re contributing in the best possible way for you. Besides, how do you know at least some of your readers aren’t poor? :-)

  • Anonymous

    Reading your blog today the one thing that completely stood out to me was the following: “If it’s not service to the poor, then it doesn’t count. Start with hungry mouths.”
    You are doing service to the poor and the hungry…the difference is poor in spirit and hungry for spirituality.

  • linda

    you know you maybe can talk to the bank and have the bank auto-deduct 50 or so dollars to the charity of your choice (that is a choice from metro min-one of the premier homeless and Helping business/ministry does) so you always give some automatically and then give more when you want to like in time or your copious talent and then you are getting twice as much and you wont have to worry about giving so much!

  • shelli

    I am so glad to read this quote. When I was suffering with clinical depression, my husband sat on the edge of the bed and told me that we needed to get help fo me. I was opposed to taking pills so I prayed. God brought the story of Martha and Mary to my mind and focused me on thepart “One thing only is necessary”
    As you know when you are depressed you are totally overwhelmed by everything, so focusing on one thing at a time saved me. Some days that one thing was just to get out of bed and get a shower and that was it for the day. As I progressed, I just remembered “only one thing at a time.”
    I feel fortunate that this worked for me.

  • Jennifer

    I think sometimes it is hard to recognize our charitable efforts if they don’t come in a traditional form. I was berating myself for not volunteering a few years ago when it occurred to me that I do spend hours every month working as a volunteer to help breastfeeding moms! It was right in my face but I couldn’t see it.
    I would wholeheartedly agree that you are serving the community here through BB and beyond.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment william

    Imagine for a minute you are so in love with this one girl and you believed that she was also in love, she said yes to your proposer and on your wedding day you catch her having sex with your best friend and still she tells you to your face that she never loved you, and then file for a divorce then move in with your suppose to be best friend.This is all that happen to me.It seem like a story but believe this is my life story.My name is Charle William i am a paramedic and live in Dublin, Ireland.My marriage ought to be the best and i ought to be the proudest man that day but Kelly Cater made a fool out of me.I never thought she would even think of cheating on me on my wedding day with the man i consider to be my best friend.It all happened during our wedding reception.I caught them in the bathroom i would say how but it too embarrassing for me to speak about.I was so mad that i punched the crap out of him but she kept screaming over and over again live him i love him please don’t kill him.Hearing those word was like a knife piercing through my heart i was like you married to me and you tell me that you love him.As i could recall it was our wedding day how can this be happen.She call off the wedding party herself telling ever one that the marriage was over.I was broken not knowing what to do about it.She didn’t stop seeing him,i could not imagine the girl who was so excited about getting married could just walk out of one like that without thinking twice about it and to make things worse she hooked up with my best friend.All this was all i could think of but still, i was madly in love with a girl who cheated on me with my best friend.I had scarified too much to let go, i was not going to let Joe that is my suppose to be best friend to make a fool out of me.She refused to have contact with me i don’t know why and that made my plan even harder.I thought the internet would be of great help i tried all ways to get her back still it wasn’t yielding any result.Non made her to what to have contact with me.I stumbled on an article on how to make your ex fall in love with again using a spell.At first i was that is so impossible but still something inside made me to contact a spell caster BOLOGO. I wasn’t sure what i was doing, i just thought i should do something.I made it clear what i wanted him to do for me.He asked me to get some material which i got but could not get them over to him.I had to send him the money to get the materials.He told me he was going to send me some enchanting word that those enchantment will control her emotion and make she fall in love with me all over again.All what he told me will happen fell into place just as he said.I had the love of my life back in my hands and there was nothing Joe could do but to back off cos it was clear that she wanting nothing to do with him. BOLOGO is that one spell caster you can give your thrust to.Need to contact him use

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nadine

    With so much in my heart i am here to express myself on how Dr.dele saved my marriage from breaking up. Myself and my husband were having some misunderstanding and it was tearing our marriage apart to the extend my husband was seeking for a divorce. So i have no option than to go to the internet to seek for solution to my problem it was there i came across Dr.dele details and about how he has helped a lot of people by restoring there relationship. I contact Dr.dele and in less than 48 hours my husband cancelled the divorce papers. Now myself and my husband live together in peace and harmony all thanks to Dr.dele for saving my marriage from breaking up. Dr.dele contact information are via email on

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment NANCY

    True life story, My husband is back! After 6 years of marriage, my husband left me with two kids. I felt like my life is about to end i was falling apart. a friend of my introduce me to this great man Dr dele, I contacted him I explained my problem to him, he solve the problem peacefully In just 24 hours my husband come back home to show me and our kids much love and apologize for all the pain he have bring to the family. thanks Dr dele you solved my issues, and we are even happier than before you are the best spell caster, Dr dele i really appreciate the love spell you casted for me to get my husband back in my life i will keep sharing more testimonies to people about your good work Thank very much Dr you are in any problem you can contact him via email;

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