I raced into the dorm, shut my door, and fell face down on my bed. I was too upset to even cry; I just lay there, not believing that my life had spun so wildly out of control so quickly.
I had flunked a test.
Then I had flunked another one.
I was the Relief Society president for my student ward, visiting teaching reports were due, and not a single person had done hers yet.
My boyfriend and I had broken up.
My roommate had gone on a trip.
I had gained five pounds, caught a cold, and my face had broken out.
But this was my first year at college, and I was determined not to call my mother. I was an adult after all; I could handle it.
It just didn’t feel like I could.
A headache was just beginning to form behind my right eye when I heard a quiet knock on my door. I debated whether or not I should open it; it could be more bad news. But I figured things couldn’t get much worse, so I staggered to the door.
It was a girl from down the hall. I never could remember her name, but I will never forget what she did for me that day. In one hand she held a box of crayons, in the other, a large tablet of art paper.
“You look like you need to color,” she said.
“Well, I’m just getting bogged down with the project I’m working on for my art class, and you, well … I’ve seen you looking better,” she replied.
She handed me the box of new Crayolas and set about arranging paper on the floor.
“Start with the happiest color you can think of,” she said.
I pulled a yellow crayon from the box. I stared at it, still dazed. I was absorbed in my thoughts, feeling sorry for myself.
“Well, do something!” she called out.
I knelt down and drew a large sun in the middle of one of the sheets of paper. I giggled and said, “Pretty original, huh?”
She smiled and started her own picture. So there we sat, two 18-year-olds, coloring like second graders. We talked about our families and old friends from high school. We talked about boys and classes—I carefully avoided the subject of tests—and what we were going to do over summer vacation. It was just idle chatter, really. She didn’t pry to find out what was bothering me; she just listened to what I wanted to talk about. Pretty soon I was laughing and having such a good time I had nearly forgotten what was bothering me.
After about an hour, she packed up her crayons and left to go back to her art project. My mind returned to tests, church reports, and all of the other things that were weighing so heavily on me, but somehow they just didn’t seem as bad as they had earlier in the afternoon. Most of my anxiety had spread out over the pages of smiling sunshines and purple daisies I now had tacked to my bulletin board.
It may have seemed a small thing to her, but the girl from down the hall did more service with that box of crayons than she will ever know. She didn’t come to see me so she could find out my personal secrets, and she didn’t do it so that other people would see her (actually, no one did see her). She simply saw my need for a friend and filled it.
She also taught me that service can be anything from helping a widow mow her lawn to smiling at the new kid when you pass each other at school. Good Samaritans come in all shapes and sizes. They listen when you talk, and they make you feel good about who you are. And sometimes they come with a big box of crayons.