Friday, July 29, 2016

The impact of an inspiring friend: My beautiful friend Rachel

Can I tell you about one of my dearest friends in the whole world? Can I tell you about someone who inspires me and makes me want to be better?

Rachel lived across the street from me when we lived in Provo, Utah. I got to see her last month, and it was a joy! A mother of seven children, Rachel is one of the most unassuming, yet impressive individuals I've ever met. I was so inspired by her kindness, her zest for life, and her honest heart. I would have loved to follow her around and see how she reacted in every situation because her attitude about life and treatment of others so intrigued and motivated me. I got to do the second best thing, which was to be her neighbor and friend, and I count my blessings for it!

What was so different about Rachel? For me, it was as if those goals I'd always had for myself--to be kinder, more humble, to enjoy life a little more--were being lived out right in front of me. I no longer had to wonder what it would look like to live life this way, Rachel lived it. As her neighbor and friend, I saw much more of her life than one would of an acquaintance admired from afar. I saw her when she was stressed and tired, good days and bad days, and her attitude through it all. I saw her heart, and it is a good one. It impacted me in ways I am still discovering. I still find myself asking, "What would Rachel do in this situation?" now one year later after moving away.

Rachel will say right out what she loves about you. One of the first things that initially struck me about Rachel was her amazing ability to find something she loves in every single person she meets or talks about. Not only can she find such positive things--- but she will tell you outright! I mean literally, in our first conversation, a few minutes in, she says, "I like you! You're so..." to me, a complete stranger! Not only was I flattered, but she was being completely sincere. It's not some kind of gimmick, it's her honest opinion. She's a genuine "think no ill" kind of person. You can be guaranteed she sees the best in somebody, whether it be a first meeting or a long time aquaintance. She lamented to me once that she has a problem with just blurting out what she thinks all the time. How impressive and lovely that her initial thoughts are such kind, positive ones! It's such a breath of fresh air in our competitive culture that's constantly pointing out the negative that she's not afraid to admit she likes someone or that they have something worth admiring (and in fact likes and admires everyone!).

Rachel is completely down to earth. There's nothing about Rachel that is hoping to impress or put on a show. Rachel is completely herself. I think it is simply part of the package in which she came to this world, but my it makes for a lovely friend. She doesn't participate in any kind of competition game or compare herself with others. I remember when I was about to take these pictures and she saw Ammon had no pants on and she had a spot on her shirt. She just laughed and said, "Well that's real life, isn't it?" and smiled away. It's so fun to spend time with someone who loves who they are and understands their worth is not measured by any outward indicators.

Rachel is humble and prayerful. As neighbors, we often shared hard parts of our lives with each other, seeking advice or looking for a sounding board. I loved to hear Rachel's simple, sweet testimony of praying over troubling topics or studying the scriptures to find an answer. It was such an inspiration to me. She's always looking in the right place, seeking the right direction. I have such wonderful memories of her humility. I used to wonder if the Lord loved her a little more, she always seemed to be able to get special blessings out of Him, or receive tender mercies. I realize now that it was her doing. She decided to claim more of the blessings He is always offering to all of us.

Rachel loves life. Rachel has an infectious laugh, and she finds much to be happy about. She loves babies and sunshine, cozy fires and fresh snow. It's refreshing to be with Rachel because there's not much that gets her down, and there's always something she's excited about.

Rachel points out beauty when she sees it. True to her outspoken nature, Rachel easily expresses her love for things around her. After it's just rained, she'll tell you how much she loves the way it smells after it rains. When you stop by for a visit, she'll tell you how cute the curls are that frame your daughter's face. She's like a real live Ann Shirley! So many of the things I think about in retrospect that I like about life, Rachel shows gratitude for in the very moment she notices them.

I can never discount the role models in my own family, of having older siblings and learning from them on an intimate level. Our paths are forever intertwined, and those relationships have more of an effect on me than a friend ever would. But I think there's a place in our lives for friends, for mentors, for role models who are completely separate and different from us. Quite often our families are far away and not part of our day-to-day lives. Today's post is to thank God for placing people in our daily walk who inspire us to be better, and lift our sights to things we never would have imagined!

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